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FTL = Faster Than Light-speed.

I've always been intrigued by Science Fiction -- and even more so actual Science.

So it's intriging to see FTL travel, making some headway in the theoretical domain.

Warp Drive Feasible?  Relativity Loophole Means 'Star Trek' Device Might Actually Work, Physicists Say

by Jillian Scharr, TechNewsDaily; -- 05/14/2013

In the "Star Trek" TV shows and films, the U.S.S. Enterprise's warp engine allows the ship to move faster than light, an ability that is, as Spock would say, "highly illogical."

However, there's a loophole in Einstein's general theory of relativity that could allow a ship to traverse vast distances in less time than it would take light. The trick? It's not the starship that's moving — it's the space around it.

In fact, scientists at NASA are right now working on the first practical field test toward proving the possibility of warp drives and faster-than-light travel. Maybe the warp drive on "Star Trek" is possible after all.

What one person can conceive of, another may eventually capture ...

like lightning in a bottle.

NASA discusses its warp drive research, prepares to create a warp bubble in the lab

by Sebastian Anthony, -- Aug 20, 2013

Late last year, it emerged that a small team of NASA researchers were working on warp drive technology in the lab. Led by Harold “Sonny” White, the team devised a variation of the Alcubierre warp drive that could almost be feasibly produced — if we can work out how to produce and store antimatter. Now, White is ready to discuss some other facets of his warp drive, such as the energy requirements, what a spacecraft with a warp drive would look like, and what it would be like to travel at warp speed.

As the name suggests, a warp drive enables faster-than-light travel by warping space-time around it. In essence, Miguel Alcubierre proposed a device that causes the space in front of the spacecraft to contract, while the space behind it expands. This creates a warp bubble that carries the spacecraft through space-time at 10 times the speed of light. We know from our observations of the universe that such deformation of space-time is probably possible, but in this case there’s a huge step between theoretical and experimental possibility. There are numerous problems with an Alcubierre drive — such as whether you’d be able to survive inside the bubble, or my personal favorite: annihilating the entire star system when you arrive at your destination — but the sheer amount of energy required to reach the speed of light, let alone surpass it, is probably the main drawback.

[...] He [NASA researcher Sonny White] begins with a warp bubble analogy, to help explain how superluminal (faster-than-light) travel is even possible in the first place: “You are walking along at 3 miles an hour, and then you step onto [a moving airport walkway]. You are still walking at 3 miles an hour, but you are covering the distance much more quickly relative to somebody who isn’t on the belt.”

SO there is a universal speed limit -- unless of course, the universe itself 'is moving' ... like an ant marching across a moving freight train.  Won't the ant be surprised, once it finally reaches its destination ...

            Alcubierre warp drive -- from Wikimedia Commons

If we (or our progeny) are to ever explore the galaxy, ultimately the FTL limit has to be broken -- 'warped' into another form of conveyance, one not bound by space-time relativity.

NASA working on faster-than-light space travel, says warp drives are ‘plausible’

by Ed Oswald, --Sept 19, 2012

Alcubierre’s design called for an American football-shaped spacecraft with a flat ring attached to the ship. Space time would warp around it, accelerating the ship to as fast as 10 times the speed of light without the ship itself ever breaking the speed of light. This would make trips to local stars a relatively quick jaunt: a trip to Alpha Centauri — some four light years away from Earth — would take just shy of five months.

Up until now, the biggest problem was that the Alcubierre warp drive required prohibitive amounts of energy to power it. That may no longer be true, say NASA researchers.

Dr. Harold “Sonny” White, of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, was able to significantly reduce the amount of energy required by altering the shape of the ring around the ship from flat to more of a rounded donut. Instead of requiring a ball of antimatter the size of Jupiter to power the theoretical warp drive, only 500 kilograms are now required, or a ball about the size of the Voyager spacecraft. White says that if the intensity of the warp bubble is oscillated, the amount of energy is reduced even more.

"Only 500 kilograms" -- hey that weighs far less than my car!

"Crank up those Di-Lithium crystals, Scotty."

Faster Than the Speed of Light?

by Danny Hakim, -- July 22, 2013

The team is trying to determine whether faster-than-light travel — warp drive — might someday be possible.

Warp drive. Like on “Star Trek.”

“Space has been expanding since the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago,” said Dr. White, 43, who runs the research project. “And we know that when you look at some of the cosmology models, there were early periods of the universe where there was explosive inflation, where two points would’ve went receding away from each other at very rapid speeds.”

Nature can do it,” he said. “So the question is, can we do it?

What one universal force can do, another universal force may one day do, too ...

The FTL drive uses space time to move space time, not accelerate itself. Like in the Star Trek movie from 2009:
Scotty: "It never occurred to me that space was the thing that was moving!"
Probably, never occurred to Einstein either, given the wire-framework with which he framed Space-Time, in his ever-bending cosmos equations, either ... (?)

        From Wikimedia Commons

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
-- Hamlet (1.5.166-7) -- Shakespeare

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