Space geeks and Trekkies like myself have been jumping up and down with excitement because NASA may have accidentally discovered a warp field. That’s the path leading up to spaceships that can travel faster than the speed of light without using rocket fuel – something that, until now, has only been science fiction fare.
Remember Captain Kirk’s line in Star Trek? “Warp speed, Mr. Sulu.” And then the Enterprise would shoot past galaxies in the blink of an eye. Oh, the joy!
In the 1990s, physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed the idea of a wave that would cause the space ahead of a spacecraft to contract, while the space behind it expands. This distortion would create a warp bubble, in which a ship would travel while itself remaining stationary. Alcubierre’s vision, demanded a tremendous amount of energy, which made it difficult if not impossible to translate into reality. Harold White, leader of NASA’s Advanced Propulsion Team, has been trying to improve upon Alcubierre’s concept, trying to reduce the energy requirements.
Concurrently, NASA and other space programs were experimenting in their labs with the EmDrive, a thrust engine that would be able to move in space without the need for rocket fuel. And while testing the EM drive, NASA may have accidentally created a warp bubble.
The “EM drive” is an engine that creates thrust by bouncing microwaves around inside a chamber. It directly converts electrical energy to thrust without the need to expel any propellant. What is so bewildering about it? It manages to produce thrust without expelling any propellant, even in vacuum, seemingly in violation of the law of conservation of momentum.
This EM drive may be producing a warp bubble/field. According to posts on the NASA Space Flight forum, when lasers were fired into the EmDrive resonance chamber, it was found that some of the beams were traveling faster than the speed of light. Which means the EmDrive may be producing a warp field or bubble. A forum post says that “this signature (the interference pattern) on the EmDrive looks just like what a warp bubble looks like. And the math behind the warp bubble apparently matches the interference pattern found in the EmDrive.”
It seems the discovery was accidental.
From the Space forum:
“Seems to have been an accidental connection. They were wondering where this ‘thrust’ might be coming from. One scientist proposed that maybe it’s a warp of the spacetime foam, which is causing the thrust.”
Now, to prove that the warp effect was not caused by atmospheric heating, scientists will have to replicate the test in a vacuum. If they see the same results, it could be concluded that the EmDrive is producing a warp field. That would mean warp drives would be a possibility and someday in the not-so-distant future humans will be able to zip back and forth galaxies.