Every Star Trek fan knows who Zefram Cochrane was – the inventor of the space warp engine. Few people know, however, who Miguel Alcubierre is: he is the physicist who, in 1994, said that it would be possible to use warp motors without coming into conflict with the Theory of Relativity. Now, two physicists have announced how to do this.
“Researchers are aware of the Alcubierre hypothesis, but they do not believe in warp engines within physics. This, however, is no longer correct; our research has shown that there are, in fact, other classes of warp motors that may exist according to General Relativity, ”said astrophysicist Alexey Bobrick, from Lund University.
Masses of immense grandeur naturally manage to deform space-time – this is what science calls the “gravitational well”, responsible, for example, for bending light. Alcubierre suggested that it would be possible to fold the fabric of the Universe in such a way that the spacecraft, comfortably installed in a bubble, would slide forward, advancing through space without actually moving out of place.
The problem: the engine would have to be built with exotic matter, generating negative energy – both existing only in the theoretical field.
Possible only in physics
Bobrick and co-author of the work, physicist Gianni Martire, are part of Applied Physics, “an independent group of scientists, engineers and inventors who advise companies and governments on science and technology for humanitarian and commercial applications.
The model suggested by the pair would be that of a disk-shaped ship (made of ordinary matter, in the absence of the exotic), which would slide pushed by inertia after reaching a certain speed.
Everything seems exciting, but the problem (there is always one) is that this prototype would have to be made of materials with densities unattainable by current technology. Even if it is physically and mathematically possible, a warp motor is still far from happening. “Although we can’t break the speed of light yet, we don’t have to do that to become an interstellar species,” said Martire.