New calculations involving the warp drive suggested by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre in 1994 may lead to faster-than-light travel without impractical energy requirements.
Dr. Harold “Sonny” White of NASA’s Johnson Space Center described the Alcubierre warp drive to the 100-Year Starship Symposium on September 14. A spacecraft would be attached to a large encircling ring, potentially made of exotic matter, that would cause space-time to warp around the starship, creating a region of contracted space in front of it and expanded space behind. The ship itself would stay inside a bubble of flat space-time that wasn’t being warped at all.
And according to White’s calculations, by adjusting the shape of the ring to that of a rounded donut the drive could be powered by a mass similar in size to the Voyager 1 space probe. (Click to read White’s paper ”Warp Field Mechanics 101” [PDF file].)
White and his colleagues are experimenting with these ideas using the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer at the Johnson Space Center, trying to create micro versions of space-time warps that will perturb space-time by one part in 10 million.
Another accessible article is here in The Register.
[Via Chronicles of the Dawn Patrol.]