Warp Drive – Plausible?

We already knew that warp drive (faster than light travel) was theoretically possible, but the energy required to attain these speeds was greater than that contained in the mass of Jupiter (if you converted all of that mass into energy somehow).  Well, good news!  By making the ‘ring’ around the spacecraft more like a rounded donut than a flat ring, the energy requirements become much more plausible, more along the lines of the mass of the Voyager 1 space probe (still a lot of energy, but at least closer to reality now).  Further improvements are possible with this approach too, and with theoretical speeds approach ten times the speed of light, it’s a pretty cool development for space travel (but admittedly a long ways off from a prototype!).  This type of engine is known as an Alcubierre Drive, and you can read more about the details at Wikipedia.

So how is this possible when nothing can travel faster than the speed of light?  Well, the spacecraft doesn’t actually travel faster than light, but warps space-time around it so that this disturbance in space-time is propagated at more than the speed of light, taking the spacecraft along with it for the ride.  Fantastic stuff.

(via Space.com)

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