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New research suggests faster-than-light travel is plausible

Stashed in: Science!, Light, The Universe, Star Trek!, The Future, science, Energy!, Transportation!, NASA

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The hypothetical FTL drive would rely on the bending spacetime, an idea common in sci-fi novels such as Dune.

Previous studies concluded that the amount of energy required to move a spaceship beyond the speed of light barrier by these means would require more energy than is contained in the entire planet Earth. But a more recent computer simulation made some tweaks to the design which increased the efficiency of the engine by many orders of magnitude.

Now, instead of needing the mass energy of the planet Jupiter (1.90 × 10^27 kilograms), the drive could be powered by a fuel supply small enough to fit on a space shuttle.

However, it seems that scientist are not sure how to actually create the necessary spacetime distortions, and theorize that it may require some form of "exotic matter."

It could happen in our lifetimes:

Dr. White's FTL machine relies on the very sci-fi warp bubbles. Warp bubbles are small distorted sections of space-time--quirks that arise from the mathematics describing our universe. Warp bubbles are merely pockets of space that are distorted more than they should be by gravitational forces alone. To make a FTL craft out of that, all one needs to do is compress the space ahead of the craft and stretch it behind. Presto, you can exceed the speed of light without ever moving faster than a walking pace.

Dr. White and his team are actively hunting for proof that these bubbles exist in nature. Using a device called a White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer, he scans for microscopic warp bubbles. As he explains:

Although this is just a tiny instance of the phenomena, it will be existence proof for the idea of perturbing space time-a "Chicago pile" moment, as it were. Recall that December of 1942 saw the first demonstration of a controlled nuclear reaction that generated a whopping half watt. This existence proof was followed by the activation of a ~ four megawatt reactor in November of 1943. Existence proof for the practical application of a scientific idea can be a tipping point for technology development.

Read more:

Physicists extend special relativity beyond the speed of light:

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