With a modicum of fanfare, NASA (the folks who got us to the moon) announced that they’ve been quietly working on a faster than light (FTL) propulsion system – and in fact, may be getting close to a breakthrough.
Yep; working on a really cool notion, NASA is working on developing the first version of a spacecraft utilizing Alcubierre Drive.
No way. Hold on, you say: Saint Albert (Einstein) wouldn’t stand for this! Didn’t Big Al say it wasn’t possible to go faster than light – and in fact, when you get closer to the speed of light, you don’t age much, but everyone back on Earth either ages and dies very quickly or becomes yet another movie version of “Planet of the Apes’?
Yes – and no.
Yes, there will always be version of ‘Planet of the Apes’ (it’s one of those scientific laws that cannot be denied – ‘damn you all to hell!’ *ahem*) but like any law, you have to read the fine print. In this case, what Big Al (Einstein) was referring to is that you cannot go faster than light in your local area of space – which, given that it’s everywhere, you ain’t gonna get around that law – except when one Dr. Miguel Alcubierre came along and asked ‘what if, rather you try to make the ship go fast, you make the space that the ship is go faster?‘ Put it this way:
Alcubierre Drive is actually based on Einsteins’ field equations. It suggests that a spacecraft could achieve faster-than-light travel. Rather than exceed the speed of light alone in a craft. A spacecraft would leap long distances by contracting space in front of it and expanding space behind it, which would result in faster than light travel.. Physicist Miguel Alcubierre was the first that we know to identify this possibility. He described it as remaining still on a flat piece of space-time inside a warp bubble that was made to move at “superluminal” (faster than light) velocity. We must not forget that space-time can be warped and distorted, it can be moved. But what about moving sections of space-time that’s created by expanding space-time behind the ship, and by contracting space-time in front of the ship,…?
So the ship stays in its spot in space; instead, we’re just picking up the space that the ship is in (including the ship, naturally) and moving everything along – very fast. Kind of like putting your entire bathroom on a flat-bed truck – and while you’re bathing, move you down the highway at high rates of speed while you shampoo, wash, brush your teeth and get dressed. You never leave the bathtub, but when you arrive at your destination you’re nice and clean while enjoying minty freshness! Doesn’t science rule,…!?
Impossible to achieve? Not according to NASA (http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20110015936_2011016932.pdf). In fact, James Hill, who co-authored the new paper with his University of Adelaide, Australia, colleague Barry Cox discusses such plans (the paper was published Oct. 3 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical and Physical Sciences).
In fact, we could be looking at a working model within the next 10 to 20 years, if not sooner (assuming, of course, that such hasn’t already been built already and, in fact, is orbiting Earth, fighting off intergalactic beings flying in pyramid-shaped spaceships – AAAGGGHHH! – whoops; been watching too much Stargate again,…).
But seriously, this is no longer just some Star Trek notion: the notion of FTL / Warp drive is now being taken up by some serious ‘big heads’. And of course this also underscores yet another important law of the known universe: The Law of Development As It Relates to Star Trek: everything we see on Star Trek is and will become real within sixty (70) years – or a regular human lifetime – from the final show of the original version of Star Trek. Think about it: talking computers (nothing new here), personal communication devices (yep; got that), replicators (3D printed food – coming very soon), wild sex with bizarre alien creatures (Internet Dating Sites – got that already),…
Get the picture?
And by the way, all of this talk of hyperdrive was previously discussed on one of my earlier postings: “Faster Than Light Travel is Actually Quite Possible In Our Lifetime” (October 2012).
For more on this subject, check out the following links: