In Pursuit, Warp 9

Star Trek wouldn’t be the same without the ability to warp. With a galaxy as vast as the Milky Way, it’s the only thing that would grant humans (and aliens) the ability to travel such long distances without taking decades or longer to reach far off places in the galaxy. Since Star Trek is merely a fictional series, it stands to reason that warp capabilities are also fictional – except, not quite.

Einstein was a genius, and it’s likely very few will argue with that assessment. He was the one who came up with the Theory of Relativity. Within this theory is a loophole that might mean warp speed is actually possible. However, rather than the ship moving, it’s the space around it that moves!

In the Star Trek universe, the opposite is true. Ships are powered with matter-antimatter engines that allow them to traverse the galaxy at phenomenal speeds. It was in this manner that Roddenberry used a work around to allow objects in space (the ships) to travel faster than light. When the matter and antimatter butted heads, so to speak, they created kinetic energy that propelled ships forward.

Star Trek isn’t really the place to go if you want to get knee deep in real physics, but Physicist Miguel Alcubierre, who just so happens to be an avid Star Trek fan, theorizes that warp speed may be attainable after all. Rather than the physical ship moving, he questions what would happen if the space around the ship moved instead.

Space move? Space doesn’t specifically have mass, yet it’s there and it’s flexible. After all, scientists believe that space is still expanding, so it can obviously move. Alcubierre speculates that by bending space around a vessel, having it contract in front while expanding in the back, the ship would be surrounded by a bubble. Within this bubble, the ship would never move, but the bubble would! Alcubierre has even gone so far as to form theories on warp drives.

While all this scientific theorizing might sound crazy, it’s believable enough that even NASA has decided to look into it, although cautiously. Already Dr. Harold G. White has begun to put on various experiments to see if such theories can be proven. Richard Obousy, a supportor of White’s work, feels that more money should be spent on such experiments. Obousy is actually president of an organization that currently works on faster than light travel – Icarus Interstellar. It’s possible, they speculate, but NASA isn’t the only one who is cautious, so is Alcubierre. He warns that the bubble would protect the ship, but also gather particles. Once the ship stops, those particles would be released at high velocity and destroy anything in their path. Yet that hasn’t deterred determined and daring doyens to take a crack at it.

So what does this all mean? In a nutshell, warp capabilities may be less fictional and more possible than we ever imagined.

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