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So, warp drives have been in the news a bit lately, and I got myself into a bit of a rabbit-hole reading about them at lunch.
So, the story so far: a warp drive is a theoretical means of traveling faster than the speed of light in a vacuum without violating General Relativity by warping space so that the starship never accelerates to the speed of light (which is impossible), but effectively gets to its destination faster than light. The first warp drive metric was proposed by Mexican theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre. Objections to the Alcubierre drive include that it requires some kind of exotic matter/energy (negative energy) that may not actually exist in reality, and that it requires a tremendous amount of energy to create: initially, more than the total mass of the observable universe. Later physicists were able to alter the metric to lower the energy requirements to total conversion of the mass of Jupiter, and, subsequently, to the mass of Voyager I. None of that to say that it could be built – it’s just a mathematical construct.
That said! (Deep breath). It looks like the big theoretical blocker is the requirement of negative energy/negative mass, which, again, might not actually be a thing that does or could exist.
The first update is a paper that shows that *subluminal* warp fields can be made without negative energy, and reduces the negative energy requirement of *superluminal* warp fields by two orders of magnitude.
Another paper says that superluminal waves can be created purely through positive energy densities, and no exotic mechanisms. I don’t even understand the abstract, but there it is:
Thankfully, there’s an article in The Academic Times for people like me. It discusses primarily the first linked article, but references the other. It also quotes a few physicists who *don’t* think either of those articles prove anything useful, and that warp drives remain impossible.
I’m a huge Star Trek fan (Deep Space 9 variety), and I’d love to see warp drives proven possible. But if I could choose one Star Trek technology to have in real life, it wouldn’t be the warp drive; it would absolutely be the replicator.
Live long and prosper! :vulcan-tone2:
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