In 1994, theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed a scheme for virtual faster than light travel using a real-world analog to the familiar science fiction trope known as "Warp Drive."
The basic premise exploited certain space-time warping effects predicted by General Relativity to fold space-time
, theoretically allowing a specially designed space craft to reach distant destinations effectively at FTL speeds without actually having to accelerate to light speed or beyond at all. There was, however, at least one major problem with the proposal: The math suggested it would require as much energy as the mass of the planet Jupiter to power the thing. But according to newer calculations based on a modified version of Alcubierre's original proposal
, warp speed travel may now theoretically be within reach
(warning: eyeball-gouging Space.com link), requiring drastically less energy than originally thought. Of course, not everyone's convinced
there's anything to see here. And even so, prohibitive energy input requirements may not be
the only serious challenge
facing the development of real-world warp drive technology, so don't go packing your bags for that long overdue vacation to Risa just yet.
posted by saulgoodman
on Sep 17, 2012 -