November 29, 2012
Is "it" possible? What is "it"? - Glad you asked.
The idea came to White while he was considering a rather remarkable equation formulated by physicist Miguel Alcubierre. In his 1994 paper titled, "The Warp Drive: Hyper-Fast Travel Within General Relativity," Alcubierre suggested a mechanism by which space-time could be "warped" both in front of and behind a spacecraft.
...But, as Dvorsky explains, White has recently come up with a new design for a warp drive, one that, theoretically, would require way, way less energy. "I suddenly realized," he told Dvorsky, "that if you made the thickness of the negative vacuum energy ring larger -- like shifting from a belt shape to a donut shape -- and oscillate the warp bubble, you can greatly reduce the energy required -- perhaps making the idea plausible."
White believes that with his new design, warp drive could be achieved with the power of a mass that is even smaller than Voyager 1's.
I'm not going to pretend that I have the faintest clue how this would work or how NASA would conceivably build such a thing, but the idea that physicists at NASA are even toying with it gives me hope that interstellar travel could one day be possible, even if this isn't how it is ultimately accomplished.
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