.. Decades after the original “Star Trek” show had gone off the air, pioneering physicist and avowed Trek fan Miguel Alcubierre argued that maybe a warp drive is possible after all. It just wouldn’t work quite the way “Star Trek” thought it did.
Things with mass can’t move faster than the speed of light. But what if, instead of the ship moving through space, the space was moving around the ship?
Space doesn’t have mass. And we know that it’s flexible: space has been expanding at a measurable rate ever since the Big Bang. We know this from observing the light of distant stars — over time, the wavelength of the stars’ light as it reaches Earth is lengthened in a process called “redshifting.” According to the Doppler effect, this means that the source of the wavelength is moving farther away from the observer — i.e. Earth.
So we know from observing redshifted light that the fabric of space is movable. [See also: What to Wear on a 100-Year Starship Voyage]
Alcubierre used this knowledge to exploit a loophole in the “universal speed limit.” In his theory, the ship never goes faster than the speed of light — instead, space in front of the ship is contracted while space behind it is expanded, allowing the ship to travel distances in less time than light would take. The ship itself remains in what Alcubierre termed a “warp bubble” and, within that bubble, never goes faster than the speed of light.
Since Alcubierre published his paper “The Warp Drive: Hyper-fast travel within general relativity” in 1994, many physicists and science fiction writers have played with his theory –including “Star Trek” itself. [See also: Top 10 Star Trek Technologies]
Alcubierre’s warp drive theory was retroactively incorporated into the “Star Trek” mythos by the 1990s TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
In a way, then, “Star Trek” created its own little grandfather paradox: Though ultimately its theory of faster-than-light travel was heavily flawed, the series established a vocabulary of light-speed travel that Alcubierre eventually formalized in his own warp drive theories.
The Alcubierre warp drive is still theoretical for now. “The truth is that the best ideas sound crazy at first. And then there comes a time when we can’t imagine a world without them.” That’s a statement from the 100 Year Starship organization, a think tank devoted to making Earth what “Star Trek” would call a “warp-capable civilization” within a century.
The first step toward a functional warp drive is to prove that a “warp bubble” is even possible, and that it can be artificially created.
That’s exactly what physicist Harold “Sonny” White and a team of researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas are doing right now.
According to Alcubierre’s theory, one could create a warp bubble by applying negative energy, or energy created in a vacuum. This process relies on the Casimir effect, which states that a vacuum is not actually a void; instead, a vacuum is actually full of fluctuating electromagnetic waves. Distorting these waves creates negative energy, which possibly distorts space-time, creating a warp bubble.
To see if space-time distortion has occurred in a lab experiment, the researchers shine two highly targeted lasers: one through the site of the vacuum and one through regular space. The researchers will then compare the two beams, and if the wavelength of the one going through the vacuum is lengthened, i.e. redshifted, in any way, they’ll know that it passed through a warp bubble. …
I did recently see Star Trek: Into Darkness (or as I call it, the Different Wrath of a Different Khan) the day it came out, but I’ve been holding off on writing my review. As a long time fan of the series, I’m a bit embarrassed to say that, truth be told, I enjoyed Iron Man 3 more.
I’ve boiled it down to three things. First, a major element missing from this latest Star Trek was a Captain with a wry sense of humor. This Kirk still seemed like a too serious boy to me, plenty of the bravado but missing the sense of ease and humor that made Bill Shatner the best Kirk so far. There were some great and moments like Sulu’s bluff, great stunts, great CG and an interesting villain, however.
Second, the rewrites of events from the original series just didn’t seem right. They were at times out of character for the characters. Spock yelling “Khaaaaaaan,” for example, was totally illogical. This was fun and funny for long time fans, but was something you’d expect from a Saturday Night Live spoof rather than an addition to the Trek Legacy. It was playful fun, sure, but it took me out of the story and made me focus on the producers/writers rather than keeping me engaged in an enjoyable story.
Third, the pace was off somehow. I can’t put my finger on it, but the ride from wild action to peaceful relief was just not enjoyable.
Anyway, speaking of different Trek captains, check this out:
EPIX has announced the premiere of William Shatner’s new Star Trek themed mini-series, The Captains Close Up on May 16th. The premiere is part of EPIX’ “Trekkie Fest,” an entire night of programming related to Paramount’s latest Star Trek Into Darkness, opening on May 16th. Also screening on EPIX will be Shatner’s feature documentary on the world of Star Trek fandom; William Shatner’s Get a Life.
The Captains Close Up is a five-episode miniseries, directed by and featuring William Shatner. Each episode focuses on one of the Captains of Star Trek:Sir Patrick Stewart, Scott Bakula, Kate Mulgrew, Avery Brooks and of course, William Shatner, himself. Chris Pine, the newest Enterprise Captain, turns the tables to interview the original Captain of the Enterprise, William Shatner, and the two “Captain James T. Kirks” compare notes about love, life and family.
William Shatner speaks with each of the Captains of the Starship USS Enterprise for an up close interview of their life after Star Trek. Each half-hour is an intimate portrayal of these talented actors and includes interviews from the biggest names in the world of Star Trek including; Jonathan Frakes, Walter Koenig, Michael Dorn, Rene Auberjonois, Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, Robert Beltran, Ron Moore, Terry Farrell, Nana Visitor and Ira Steven Behr, to name a few.
The Captains Close Up miniseries is the 9th production with William Shatner from 455 Films and Love Lake Productions in association with Le Big Boss Productions. Shatner also serves as producer, along with Kevin Layne and David Zappone. Joseph Kornbrodt and Helene Layne serve as associate producers. Premium network EPIX is owned by Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM.
I once spoke briefly to Sir Patrick Stewart in a movie theater in Northern California. That was awesome.