NASA is preparing to create a warp bubble in the laboratory




At the end of last year it became clear that a small team of researchers at NASA is developing a so-called warp technology in the laboratory. Under the leadership of Harold “Sonny” White’s team has developed the possible use of Alcubierre warp engine, but with one difference: it is really possible to build. Unless we figure out how to produce and store antimatter. Now White is ready to discuss some details of his warp engine: energy demand will be like a ship with a warp engine, what would be like traveling at the speed of warp.

When it comes to interstellar travel long distances because the only possible solution to reach other planets and stars in the optimal time is the transport that travels at the speed of light or even faster. The nearest star system, Alpha Centauri , is only four light years from us – and at a speed of 62,136 km / h (the speed at which the flies “Voyager 1”) we’ll get to it for 67,000 years. There are a number of proposed power plants, such as ion engines, but none of them comes close to the speed we needed to explore other planets within a few thousand years. Warp engines, though far from the very first test (if at all possible), it is one of the few options that will allow us to “travel the cosmos” for life.

As the name implies (warp = «deformity”), warp drive is faster than the speed of light, due to the distortion of space-time around it. Miguel Alcubierre proposed a device that makes the space in front of the spacecraft to decline, while behind him – to expand. This creates a kind of bubble, which carries a spaceship through space-time at a rate 10 times greater than light . From our observations of the universe, we know that such distortion of space-time is quite possible, but only in the event of a huge step from theory to practice. The engine Alcubierre a lot of problems: from the fact that within the bubble to survive, and ending with the destruction of an entire star system on arrival at the destination. However, the amount of energy required to achieve the speed of light, perhaps the biggest drawback.

Last year, Harold White has shown a new design (the picture above) for Alcubierre engine, which reduces the need for the mass-energy of the size of the planet Jupiter to the mass-energy “Voyager 1” (700 kilograms). We say “mass-energy” because no one really knows how to feed the engine Alcubierre. Some studies show that it will take more energy than exists in the observable universe, and some – it will take the negative energy. However, preliminary studies NASA say that the energy costs are lower when the engine is made in a toroidal shape instead of a flat disk.

Asked in an interview with New Scientist, Harold White pointed out several issues that arose prior to the team in 2012. He started with the warp bubble analogy to explain why superluminal travel is possible in principle:

“You’re going at a speed of 5 km / h, and then get on the escalator. You are still moving at a speed of 5 km / h, but it is much faster than those who just go on foot. What do you feel going into warp travel? As if watching a movie in fast mode. ”


On what will be like a ship with a warp engine on board?

“Imagine a ball for American football, for simplicity, around which there is a toroidal ring. In the ball will be in the crew and robotics, and the ring around will contain exotic matter. “Exotic Matter” will be a source of energy, which we as yet know little (and, therefore, use a phrase such as “mass-energy of Jupiter ‘).”

As a result, the White reassured us that the first true warp engines will not be soon. A team of researchers NASA will take “concrete steps and controlled to create a convincing proof of concept” to see that the physics engine Alcubierre works in practice, but it will be microscopic warp bubble, which has little to do with the real prototype. It will take probably a decade or more, before we create the warp engine size of a car – and even then, only if we do not find the elusive “exotic matter”, we will not be able to ride in it.
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