Set a course for Earth, maximum warp

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Anyone who has taken 5 minutes to get to know me knows that I’m a major Star Trek buff.

It’s not all the pew pew pewing and playing starship that fascinates me, it’s the technology used in the show and how much of that technology has actually been invented (e.g. data teleportation, light to matter conversion and transparent aluminium) or is being used in our society (e.g. cellphones, tablet computers and microscopic tractor beams) It raises the question which technology will make it into our world next. The most interesting one being warp drive.

So what is a warp drive?

A warp drive is an engine that allows faster than light (FTL) travel. I’m sure the Einstein fans among you are already looking for pitchforks and torches, but hear me out for a second. A warp drive bypasses Einstein’s special relativity theory (nothing can travel faster than light within spacetime) because the vehicle isn’t actually moving. A warp drive ‘warps’ spacetime by expanding it behind the vehicle and contracting it in front, while the vehicle rests in a bubble of normal spacetime, as pictured below.

Star_Trek_Warp_Field

The idea of creating such a thing any time soon seems rather far-fetched, right? Well we’re closer than you’d think. The mathematical wizardry has already been done by a Mexican theoretical physicist called Miguel Alcubierre (officially the warp drive is called the Alcubierre drive, but let’s face it, no one is going to call it that) two difficulties remain however. To power the warp drive you need an extremely powerful energy source. The only feasible one would be a matter-antimatter reactor, but so far we can’t produce or collect antimatter. The other problem is that you need negative energy to create the warp field. We don’t even know for certain if negative energy exists.

Nonetheless NASA does all it can with the little funding it gets. They recently even released an official design for their future warp ship. Which of course they named the Enterprise.

140611-ixs2_d7c4f0196d2d6b7159be68acf263a457.nbcnews-ux-800-600

A lot of scientists remain sceptical, but look at how far technology has come since Yuri Gagarin first shot himself into space. With the rate of new technology growing almost exponentially, we might even hope for a PR meet on Pluto.

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4 thoughts on “Set a course for Earth, maximum warp

  1. No kidding, I went to a huge impact crater in Arizona USA, 2 days ago. Its called, creatively enough, “Meteor Crater”. I picked up some rocks but they don’t resemble the Dilithium Crystals needed to power a federation ship. However, the imminent advancement of quantum computers could help us solve our power problems 4-eva! Controlled fusion is not an unrealistic solution. Which is also on the cusp of fruision. All in all the future looks bright! I too love Star Trek. The science, the human condition/”Universal” problems we all share and Yes, the Pew Pew! JJ Abrams nailed the new ones and I can’t wait to see his new Star Wars! You’re not alone Grody 🙂

    • Quantum computers, another intricate piece of Starfleet technology about to be implemented into our society. Too bad you couldn’t find any dilithium. If a guy can build a nuclear reactor in his basement (true story) then why not a warp engine? It’s basically what Zefram Chochrane did anyway :p I agree the future looks bright, although I have my doubts about some of our technology (in the ethical sense) but I’ll save that for another post.

      Lol, we* are not alone 😉

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