Astrophysicist Geraint Lewis from the University of Sydney in a speech explained that, theoretically at least, super-fast warp speed travel is probable according to Einstein’s theory of relativity. All we have to do is find the right materials to accomplish it.
Lewis told ABC Science in an discussion before his appearance in Sydney “If you look at the equation that Einstein gave us, it shows you can bend and warp space so you can travel at any speed you like in the Universe,” Obviously, the difficulty is that even if warping space is theoretically possible, we have no clue how to do it. To reach warp speed, it won’t be our rockets that need upgrading. According to Lewis, rather than upgrading our rockets we’ll need to find a material that has a “negative density energy”.
This is something that the NASA’s Eagleworks lab is studying at the moment. Run by mechanical engineer Harold ‘Sonny’ White, the lab last year made mock-upsof what a possible warp drive spaceship might look like. As you can all see above, the ship is suspended within two huge rings, which would hypothetically generate a warp bubble that twists space around the spacecraft.
This is the similar type of thing that Lewis is suggesting, and it means that the ship itself would never essentially be roaming faster than the speed of light – it would basically twist space to make its target closer, so it wouldn’t need to break up any of Einstein’s laws.
But how do we even start to know how to warp space? White’s group has now set up aninterferometer test bed, where they’ll use several tools to try and produce and spot microscopic occurrences of little warp bubbles by means of a device called the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer. For the time being, they haven’t found a way to bend space, but they have to make a first step.Lewis told ABC Science:
“You just have to look at the work of Newton 400 years ago, and even people who work in quantum physics 100 years ago, and those things are real today and they started off as dreams essentially. Einstein’s theory is already a hundred years old, but we have only started to scratch the surface … I think in the next 100 or 1,000 years we will reveal a lot more about the Universe and maybe this hyper-fast travel will be realizable.”
One thing’s for certain, if we do ever discover a material with negative density energy and then find how to handle it, it would certainly revolutionize space travel. According to calculations, White’s hypothetical warp drive spaceship could get to our nearby neighbouring star system, Alpha Centauri, in “two weeks as measured by clocks here on Earth”. And that’s something we definitely need if we ever want to get serious about traveling and exploring the Cosmos.
“Even travelling at the speed of light, it would take four years to go to the nearest star and 2 million years to go to the nearest large galaxy. [These distances] would stop you colonising the Universe … so you would need some sort of way to beat that speed limit, and Einstein’s theory of relativity gives it to you.”