Warp Drive Closer to Reality
The idea of the warp drive has been confined to science fiction since the notion was first widely introduced in the original “Star Trek” TV series. But this faster than light (FTL) method of zipping through space has always been considered a practical impossibility.
Back in 1994, a physicist named Miguel Alcubierre came up with a model for a workable warp drive, but it would have required “prohibitive amounts of energy.” Now, some NASA scientists are saying that a new design could bring the idea closer to reality.
On Sept. 14, during the 100 Year Starship Symposium, Harold White of NASA’s Johnson Space Center suggested that adjustments could be made to Alcubierre’s model that would reduce the amount of energy required. The original model, which involved a football-shaped vehicle with a large ring of “exotic matter” encircling, would have required energy equal to the mass-energy of the planet Jupiter. But White has calculated that, by changing the shape of the ring around the spacecraft from a flat ring to a “rounded donut,” the drive could be powered by a mass around the size of the original Voyager 1 probe.
“The findings I presented today change it from impractical to plausible and worth further investigation,” White told SPACE.com. “The additional energy reduction realized by oscillating the bubble intensity is an interesting conjecture that we will enjoy looking at in the lab.”
You can download a copy of White’s research here.