Is the Alcubierre warp drive a doomsday weapon or our passport to the Universe?
The Alcubierre warp drive is a theoretical tool that would allow for spacecraft to travel long distances in space rapidly, by
deforming the space-time continuum in a bubble around the spaceship.
Miguel Alcubierre, a Mexican physicist, proposed this warp
drive in 1994 as a way to travel globally faster than light, overcoming the limit on particles travelling at such speeds in Einstein's theory of special relativity.
"It sounds like it's straight from science fiction, and in a way it is, as the Alcubierre warp drive is a theoretical solution to the
problem of travelling the huge distances in space in a reasonable amount of time.
But unlike science fiction, the Alcubierre warp drive
completely obeys Einstein's general theory of relativity," said Professor Geraint Lewis of the University of Sydney's School of Physics.
"All innovations start with theory, however, so these calculations contribute to our understanding of how such speeds could be achieved.
Our team decided to consider what would happen to particles and radiation that a spacecraft, travelling in a bubble created by the Alcubierre warp drive,
would come across as it travelled through space," explained Professor Lewis.
"What we've shown is that when this spacecraft decelerated to arrive at its destination, it'd release high energy particles which would destroy
anything near the spacecraft's landing spot."
While scientists have examined how it's theoretically possible to create a bubble around a spacecraft with the Alcubierre warp drive compressing
space-time in front of the bubble and expanding it behind the bubble, there has been little consideration of how this high-speed bubble would
interact with particles of matter and light.
Credit: Anderson Institue
"Our calculations show that particles that come in contact with the warp bubble can get caught up and congregate in front of the spacecraft, and
some particles even enter the warp bubble," said Professor Lewis.
The space-time warp created by the Alcubierre warp drive, which would theoretically allow a spacecraft to travel the long distances in
space in a rapid amount of time.
Credit: University of Sydney
"When the spacecraft decelerates to stop at its destination, the particles collected at the front of the spacecraft are released with such high energy
that they would destroy anything they came in contact with.
Also, during the journey, the particles picked up and included inside the bubble could
threaten the safety of people travelling in the spacecraft."
Brendan McMonigal said, "Interestingly, the energy burst released upon arriving at the destination does not have an upper limit.
You can just keep on traveling for longer and longer distances and the energy that will be released will continue to increase - one of the odd effects
of General Relativity.
This is what a warp drive spaceship looks like
"Even for very short journeys the energy released is so large that you would completely obliterate anything in front of you," said Brendan.
"It seems that human exploration of the universe will have to wait until we've worked out how to avoid the destructive
deceleration of a spacecraft in an Alcubierre warp drive bubble."
While the study may seem like a fun theoretical consideration, exploring the implications of Einstein's theory of
relativity is significant and has all sorts of practical uses, such as relativity correctors for GPS systems, found in virtually all smart
phones, that correct for the time difference between the ground and satellite.
Is it possible the Alcubierre warp drive can be a doomsday weapon?
“We didn't look at the full 3-D effect of the bubble, so we don't know if when you stop the drive if it sprays off particles in all directions or
if it’s just a very finely collimated beam, but we do know it will throw off beam of high-energy particles,” said Lewis. “So we don't know [yet]
how much to the left or the right you need to stand to be safe!”
MessageToEagle.com based on material provided by the University of Sydney
Powerful Jet Pointing Directly At Earth
They are among the most fascinating cosmic phenomena. Astronomers know them as blazars and each of them harbors a supermassive black hole and jets emanating
in opposite directions from near its poles. These sources are unique evidence of the most extreme speeds and energies known in the extreme Universe...
Earth Is In The Middle Of A Space-Time Vortex
Earth sits in the middle of a space-time vortex.
Einstein predicted this almost 100 years ago and he was right.
Space-time around Earth seems to be distorted, just a general relativity predicts.
Does Elusive Higgs Boson "God Particle" Really Exist?
Probably the hottest topic on the energy frontier of particle physics is the search for the Higgs boson.
Several large experimental groups are hot on the trail of this elusive subatomic particle which is thought to explain the origins of particle mass.
Radio Emission From Ultracool Dwarf Detected By Arecibo Telescope
The Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico has discovered sporadic bursts of polarized radio emission from the T6.5 brown J1047+21.
Because Arecibo is a single, fixed-dish telescope, it has a restricted practical sensitivity to weak, quiescent emission from radio sources...
Invader From Another Galaxy
This alien intruder from another galaxy is in many ways different from other exoplanets observed by astronomers.
Located about 2000 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Fornax (the Furnace), the Jupiter-like planet orbits a dying star of
extragalactic origin and risks to be engulfed by it.
Power To See Most Distant Objects In The Universe
The 3C294, is one of the most distant galaxies recorded by Chandra, the most sophisticated X-ray observatory ever built.
The cluster 3C294 is even 40 percent farther (!) than the next most distant x-ray galaxy cluster.
Chandra focus on X-rays from high-energy regions of the Universe and see the invisible.
It is so sensitive that it can capture images of particles as they disappear into a black hole deep in outer space.
"Pillars Of Creation" Are Gone
Every time you look at the beautiful and famous image of the Pillars of Creation taken by Hubble back in 1995,
you are actually admiring something that no longer exists.
In fact, the Pillars of Creation were already long gone by the time the image was captured!