Mr. Sulu, take her to warp two. — Captain Kirk
Those of us who grew up watching Star Trek dreamed of a future when humans would explore strange new worlds; seek out new life and new civilizations; and boldly go where no man has gone before.
But, until very recently, that future seemed out of reach, or at least, not in our lifetimes. According to the Star Trek back-story the Warp drive would be invented by Zephram Cochrane in the year 2063. Good try, Star Trek writers, but you might be off the mark by almost 50 years. Because NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory may have just taken the first important step toward the development of the warp drive.
NASA scientists have been working on a project called EmDrive. During a recent test they shot laser beams through the EmDrive’s resonance chamber and took measurements. The readings from that test caught the scientists by complete surprise. The indication is that the EmDrive’s resonance chamber sent these laser beams faster than light speed. This, my friend, is the essence of warp speed.
The word spread fast around NASA. Scientists are buzzing about the discovery on a NASA discussion board where they discuss current projects. Therefore, the announcement that laser beams may have breached the speed of light traveled almost that fast to the engineering community.
True to the nature of engineers and scientists, they admit more study is needed. They want to perform the same test in a vacuum to rule out the possible false reading due to atmospheric heating. But they are still scratching their heads and wearing silly grins on their faces.
One commentor in the forum wrote, “This signature on the EmDrive looks just like what a warp bubble looks like. And the math behind the warp bubble apparently matches the interference pattern found in the EmDrive. Seems to have been an accidental connection. They were wondering where this ‘thrust’ might be coming from. One scientist proposed that maybe it’s a warp of the spacetime foam, which is causing the thrust.”
In a 1994 paper, Physicist Miguel Alcubierre, A Mexican Theoretical Physicist, proposed the concept of a warp bubble that would warp spacetime around an object. A space ship would be situated stationary inside the bubble. The bubble would squeeze spacetime in front of the ship, while expanding from behind. Since the ship is stationary within the bubble, space travelers would not feel any movement. The theory was never proven feasible until this recent EmDrive finding.
If the warp speed is achieved in the vacuum test, some on the NASA Spaceflight forums are even imaging the possibility of time travel. You could conceivably, take a trip to Alpha Centauri in 2 days, look out the back window and observe Earth as it was four years ago. Try to wrap your brain around that.
In the TV production, “How William Shatner Changed the World” Miguel Alcubierre made a special appearance where his warp bubble theory was discussed. If interested, you can hear this theory at timestamp 1:07:00 in the video below.
The link below takes you to the NASA discussion board where the conversation gets interesting on April, 20, but as of May 21 there are now 203 pages devoted to this topic alone. This time it really is rocket science and its happening in our lifetime