Star Trek aficionados will once again get to see their beloved Starship Enterprise traveling at warp speed – the speed of light - when the latest Star Trek movie opens in theatres today. While 'warp speed' has long been associated with the long-running science fiction entertainment series, the concept remains a pipe dream to practicing physicists and engineers involved with space exploration.
Or is it? Two physicists at Baylor University in Texas believe the concept of warp-speed travel is possible, within the realms of existing scientific theory. The scientists, associate professor of physics Dr. Gerard Cleaver and post-doctoral student Richard Obousy, theorize that creating a 'bubble' that expands the space-time dimensions around the spaceship could propel the ship to travel faster than the speed of light. According to Cleaver, manipulating the 11-dimension would create sufficient dark energy that would push the spaceship, encased in the bubble between the expanding and shrinking space-time dimensions, to travel at light-like speed.
The scientists explained that because space would move around the ship, their theory would not violate Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which states that it would take an infinite amount of energy to accelerate an object faster than the speed of light.
So what’s the hurdle? For one, the researchers estimate the amount of energy needed to produce the added dimensions to allow light-speed travel is equivalent to the entire mass of Jupiter being converted into energy. The trick is producing a mechanism to harness such an enormous amount of energy, which according to Dr. Cleaver is a long way off.
Maybe Captain Kirk or Dr. Spock can beam up some ideas.