It is possible to travel faster than light; the catch is that you just wouldn't travel faster than light and the total mass/energy contained in the planet Jupiter would be needed to propel a starship the size of the Enterprise to beyond the speed of light. That's a lot of dilithium crystals!
Two Baylor University physicists believe that if the 11th dimension could be shrunk behind a spaceship it would create a bubble of dark energy, the same dark energy that is causing the universe to speed up as time goes on. Expanding the 11th dimension in front of the ship would eventually cause it to decrease, although two separate steps are required. One slight problem though is exactly how the 11th dimension would be expanded and shrunk is still unknown.
We think we can create an effective warp drive, based on general relatively and string theory," said Gerald Cleaver.The next question is how do you expand space behind the ship and contract it in front of the ship?
Cleaver and Richard Obousy, the other coauthor, propose manipulating the 11th dimension, a special theoretical construct of m-theory (the offspring of string theory), to create the bubble the ship would surf down.
"These calculations are based on some arbitrary advance in technology or some alien technology that would let us manipulate the extra dimension," said Cleaver.
The warp engine is based on a design first proposed in1994 by Michael Alcubierre. The Alcubierre drive, as it's known, involves expanding the fabric of space behind a ship into a bubble and shrinking space-time in front of the ship. The ship would rest in between the expanding and shrinking space-time, essentially surfing down the side of the bubble.
The tricky part is that the ship wouldn't actually move; space itself would move underneath the stationary spacecraft. A beam of light next to the ship would still zoom away, same as it always does, but a beam of light far from the ship would be left behind.
That means that the ship would arrive at its destination faster than a beam of light traveling the same distance, but without violating Einstein's relativity, which says that it would take an infinite amount of energy to accelerate an object with mass to the speed of light, since the ship itself isn't actually moving.
The fabric of space has moved faster than light before, says Cleaver, right after the Big Bang, when the universe expanded faster than the speed of light.
"We're recreating the inflationary period of the universe behind the ship," said Cleaver.
What the scientists were able to estimate was the amount of energy necessary, if the technology was available, to change these dimensions: about 10^45 joules. "That's about the amount of energy you'd get if you converted the entire mass of Jupiter into pure energy via E = mc^2," said Cleaver, an energy far beyond anything humanity can currently envision creating.
If there are extra dimensions and we could manipulate them, that would open up all sorts of exciting possibilities.
"Warp drive isn't doable now, and probably won't be for the next several millenia," said Cleaver.
Posted by Casey Kazan.
Source link: http://arxiv.org/abs/0807.1957