At the moment Warp Drive, the ability to travel faster than light, is science fiction even though mathematicians have recently suggested that it is actually possible.
Or at least it was science fiction until the world’s first warp bubble was accidentally discovered by DARPA funded researchers, according to the scientists report. It was discovered by the Limitless Space Institute (LS) team led by former NASA warp drive expert Dr. Harold G “Sonny” White.
“To be clear, our finding is not a warp bubble analog, it is a real, albeit humble and tiny, warp bubble,” said White in a statement, quickly dispensing with the notion that this is anything other than the creation of an actual, real world warp bubble, “… hence the significance,” he added.
The discovery took place during a research project studying not warp drives, nor the 1994 theories of mathematician Miguel Alcubierre that first offered the potential for what warp technology might look like. Rather, it happened during a project studying Casimir cavities and their ability to produce energy.
Through an incredible fluke it took an engineer conducting the research at the exact right time — one who was familiar with warp technology research and knew what he was looking at — to realize that this totally unrelated research had produced a warp bubble.
The observed effect was not an analog, not something similar to a warp bubble, but a very small, very humble, true to life structure that matched Alcubierre’s research perfectly – AKA it was an actual real life warp bubble.
The world’s first ever real warp bubble …
Now, for the first time, we finally know what physical tools it’s going to take to create a real warp bubble which means that warp field theory has made the move from outlandish science fiction into something that we can actually build in the real world, using tools and technology we already have. And that’s awesome!
Most people are familiar with the concept of warp drive through what they’ve seen on Star Trek, but today our spacecraft are currently limited to the laws of standard Einsteinian physics. To accelerate your ship, you have to throw something in the opposite direction to the one in which you wish to travel. Throughout the history of aviation and aeronautics, this meant burning fuel and shooting out the back of the ship in a vigorous physical reaction. The limitation of this approach is that eventually you run out of stuff to throw.
The other limitation is that your ship is still subject to Einstein’s equation describing special relativity, which states that as you approach the speed of light, more and more of the energy you expend goes into increasing your own mass, until you reach the point where no matter how much more energy you put in you can’t go any faster — and you never quite reach the speed of light. It’s impossible to accelerate faster than light using standard physics, because your ship just gets more massive the more energy you put in, and it gets so massive you can’t do anything more with it.
The concept of the Alcubierre warp bubble makes things interesting. If you surrounded the local Euclidean space your ship occupies with a warp bubble, and then push the warp bubble instead of the ship itself, Einsten’s equation is sidestepped. It’s still valid inside the warp bubble, but the bubble itself can theoretically move faster than light without breaking the laws of physics to do it.
“While conducting analysis related to a DARPA-funded project to evaluate possible structure of the energy density present in a Casimir cavity as predicted by the dynamic vacuum model,” reads the actual findings published in the peer-reviewed European Physical Journal, “a micro/nano-scale structure has been discovered that predicts negative energy density distribution that closely matches requirements for the Alcubierre metric.” And that, in turn, opens the door to investigation of possible future investigation of warp fields, and potential applications. Scientific study of the potential of warp drive is now officially on the table.
The warp bubble observed though is tiny. We’re talking nano-scale tiny, and a result of negative energy research using Casamir cavities, exploiting some of the bizarre quantum physics effects of these unusual structures. While this is very much a beginning, it opens the opportunity to do more research into the specific question of warp bubbles and Alcubierre’s equations.
Because as it happens out, Alcubierre turned out to be right.
Reference(s): Peer-Reviewed Study, The Debrief,