A pair of researchers at Applied Physics has created what they describe as the first general model of a warp drive, a model for a spacecraft that could travel faster than a speed of light without actually breaking physics laws. The warp drive flies in the face of what we have long thought about as the crazy concept of warp speed travel: that it requires exotic, negative forces.

Warp Drive Technology for NASA Use

PhysOrg reports that scientists Alexey Bobrick and Gianni Martire have written a paper describing their ideas for a warp drive and have published it in IOPs "Classical and Quantum Gravity." Bobrick and Martire start with an Alcubierre warp drive concept, a concept developed by Miguel Alcubierre in 1994.

Alcubierre envisioned it as a spacecraft that could contract space-time in front of the vehicle while expanding it behind the craft. But such a ship would require a massive amount of negative energy that would not be feasible for a real spacecraft.

Theoretically speaking, warp drive bends and change the shape of space-time to exaggerate differences in time and distance that, under some circumstances, could see travelers move across space faster than the speed of light.

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Bobrick and Martire suggest instead that a massive gravitational force could be used to bend space-time. The trick is finding a way to compress a planet-sized mass to a manageable spacecraft-module size to use its gravity. Because of the implied difficulties, a warp drive created from the researchers' model could not be built today, but it does suggest that someday it might be possible.

Popular Mechanics reports that scientists have been studying and theorizing about faster-than-light space travel for decades. One primary reason for this kind of interest is pure pragmatism: without warp drive, human space travel will probably never make it to neighboring star systems.

'Star Trek-inspired' Space Technology

To better understand the term "warp drive," some may be familiar with the 60s Sci-Fi show "Star Trek," where the crew needed to go somewhere fast, Captain Kirk gave his famous command (Mr, Sulu, Execute"). The ship was pushed swiftly to another distant destination. Physics has scoffed at the idea of a real warp drive because it suggests travel faster than light.

However, as the drive's name suggests, such an engine did not push the spacecraft faster than the speed of light; instead, it merely warped space-time in a way that allowed for using a shortcut.

But, the new study has a workaround. According to researches from the independent research group Applied Physics based in New York, it is possible to ditch the fiction of negative energy and still make a warp drive, albeit one that is slower than in "Star Trek," ScienceAlert reports.

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Written by: Luis Smith

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