Feeds

21st century travel: building your own warp drive

Better than a bendy bus

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

There is to be a gathering of boffins in London next Thursday (15 November), at which the future of intergalactic spaceflight will be discussed.

Not content with merely watching Star Trek re-runs, the good folk of the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) have organised a conference to discuss how to make faster-than-light travel a reality*.

According to Einstein (and we're not going to pick a fight with him...) the universal speed limit is the speed of light in a vacuum. Nothing can break that limit, which rather disappointingly restricts our ability to explore the universe.

The problem is simple enough for science fiction to solve: don't move faster than light, warp space instead, in the same way that a large mass does. And in 1994, a scientist suggested it might even be possible.

The BIS writes: Miguel Alcubierre used Einstein's theory of gravity to design a metric that resembled a bipolar distortion otherwise known as a spherical warp bubble in space-time.

The idea is that you build yourself a machine that moves some of space time along with you, much as airports have moving walkways that speed you along as you walk. In this way, you can effectively change the local speed of light. You'll never exceed light speed in your space time bubble, satisfying the laws of physics, but you'll still get to your destination much, much faster.

There are a few technical difficulties, such as the amount of (negative) energy you need to get something to warp space time. Or as the BIS puts it: "Calculations show that physically enormous and unobtainable amounts of negative energy are required to generate the desired geometrical warpage."

Which is why it is hosting the conference. Organiser Kelvin Long told The Guardian: "The main purpose is to raise awareness of this obscure field of research within general relativity and quantum field theory and attract new and particularly young researchers to work on the technical problems."

He argues that no one really took the idea of black holes seriously at first, and it is only after a huge effort, and literally hundreds of papers on the subject, that we have a good understanding of how such a beast might actually work. He says that with a similar level of work on warp drive theory, humanity could reap huge benefits. ®

*At some point. Not this week, not this year, and probably not even this century.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.