CafeTerra: Inter-stellar Star Trek-type travel possible?

By | May 8, 2009

Nearby stars could one day become your weekend getaways if researchers are to be believed. Physicists say that the warp drive, one of Star Trek’s hallmark inventions, could someday become a reality.

Faster-than-light travel technology could enable humans to jet between stars, but the trick is to ditch the rockets. The science is complex, but not strictly impossible, according to some researchers studying how to make it happen.

The trick seems to be to find some other means of propulsion besides rockets, which would never be able to accelerate a ship to velocities faster than that of light, the fundamental speed limit set by Einstein’s General Relativity.

Luckily for us, this speed limit only applies within space-time (the continuum of three dimensions of space plus one of time that we live in). While any given object can’t travel faster than light speed within space-time, theory holds, perhaps space-time itself could travel.

“The idea is that you take a chunk of space-time and move it,” quotes Marc Millis, former head of Nasa’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project, as saying. “The vehicle inside that bubble thinks that it’s not moving at all. It’s the space-time that’s moving.”

One reason this idea seems credible is that scientists think it may already have happened. Some models suggest that space-time expanded at a rate faster than light speed during a period of rapid inflation shortly after the Big Bang.

Already some studies have claimed to find possible signatures of moving space-time. For example, scientists rotated super-cold rings in a lab. They found that still gyroscopes placed above the rings seem to think they themselves are rotating simply because of the presence of the spinning rings beneath. The researchers postulated that the ultra-cold rings were somehow dragging space-time, and the gyroscope was detecting the effect.

via CafeTerra: Inter-stellar Star Trek-type travel possible?.

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