25 Sep Jon Cartu Declares Alabama engineering student tells scientists ‘warp drive’ m…
It was standing room only when an Alabama engineering student told a national aerospace conference that warp drive might really work.
Warp drive, as Star Trek fans know, is the ability to fly through space at speeds faster than light. A report on University of Alabama in Huntsville student Joseph Agnew’s work succinctly explained the value of speeds like that: Unless we can do it, we’re not going very far from home.
Light is considered the fastest speed there is, but there is a model of reality combining space and time and known as spacetime. If we could move or warp spacetime itself with a spacecraft inside, instead of moving the spaceship through spacetime, faster-than-light travel might be possible, the theory goes.
“Mathematically, if you fulfill all the energy requirements, they can’t prove that it doesn’t work,” says Joseph Agnew, a mechanical engineering senior at UAH and an undergraduate research assistant with UAH’s Propulsion Research Center.
“Suppose you have a craft that’s in the bubble,” says Agnew in an article on the UAH website. “What you would do is, you’d compress space-time ahead of the craft and expand space-time behind it.”
The article compares the result as being like a low-pressure area in front of the spacecraft and a high-pressure area behind it. Physics says it would move rapidly toward the low-pressure area like a surfboard on a wave.
Agnew has authored a research paper on this theory and explained it recently to an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Propulsion and Energy Forum in Indianapolis. It was standing room only for the presentation.
“People used to say, ‘You’re dealing in something that would be great, but it takes the mass of the entire universe to do it,’” Agnew says. “Now, we’re down to where, it is still an immense amount of energy and exotic matter is still a problem, but if we had that energy, we could do it.”
The energy requirement reductions came after five to eight years of theoretical work, he says. “It’s been reduced by many, many orders of magnitude.”