FTL Travel

Is faster than light travel possible?

Short answer: no. Can I stop there? No?
Ugh. Fine.

This is an area of physics called theoretical physics. But anything really interesting and applicable to their specialty gets attention, and it does my layman enthusiastic self as well. Least possible first.

Brute force. Accelerate until you pass light speed. Brilliant. Just a couple little problems. Up to 90% light speed will distort your timeframe relative to an observer’s. For you if a month goes by 100,000 years has the observer. You’re becoming extremely massive due to General Relativity (you’re carrying an enormous amount of energy). Keep accelerating. Every tiny increase makes your mass increase by factors. You need more fuel as your mass increases. You can probably tell why this is ridiculous. IF matter could travel AT light speed, time stops. And your mass is infinite. Increase to above light speed time flows in reverse. Violating causality. Next!

Quantum wave function collapse. It’s a nice concept. You could send anyone anywhere instantaneously. Half the observable universe away? No problem. Every subatomic particle (the building blocks of protons and neutrons) is constantly zipping around at instantaneous speed. They don’t have what we’d call an exact location. They have a higher probability of being where they are and less further away. Picture a dot as the particle. And a cloud around it that’s the most dense at the center. The cloud is thinner the further from the particle. That’s a quantum wave function. BUT, every particle has an extremely remote probability of being anywhere in the universe. The idea is locating one of these probabilities and forcing it to the probability of 1. You’re now wherever you aimed for. Flight time: 0. Unfortunately this violates multiple core principles of quantum theory. Frankly I think we lack the level of comprehension necessary for a better understanding of physics than we have. This would likely be a travel system aliens far more advanced than we use if it’s not impossible . Only superior minds that have a higher level of comprehension to know if this really isn’t possible. If it is, that’s probably what they use. There’s nothing better. But what tool can look at, even with enhancements, could possibly locate a probability of a supatomic particle? This probably isn’t possible.

Any Trump fanatics here? Could you keep watching Star Trek if you knew “warp drive” is a mathematical theory by a Mexican? Miguel Alcubierre is a Mexican theoretical physicist. Decades ago he discovered that the mathematics of the Big Bang theory suggested that space itself must have traveled a thousand times light speed during the first trillionth trillionth of a second. He checked his math with special relativity and found they cooperate. If you’re in a pocket of space moving any velocity higher than light you’re violating nothing of our current understanding of physics. Because matter isn’t moving faster than light in its spacetime frame.

It’s called the Alcubierre Drive. And Star Trek couldn’t exist without it. Did Gene Roddenberry ever put the guy’s name in a script of an early episode? Of course not. But that’s exactly what the Enterprise uses along with everything else in that universe. It only has one big problem. In Star Trek, the warp nacelles warp subspace. Creating the bubble around the ship. Subspace is actually a concept in several areas of science, and none of them refer to a different level of space. In Star Trek it’s totally made up. Based on nothing. Only two things can change the shape of spacetime: energy and matter. If you want to force space to do what you want, you need negative energy and/or negative mass. And that’s where Dr. Alcubierre left it. No physicist on earth would have any idea what negative energy and/or mass is. Theoretical physicists aren’t looking for it because it shouldn’t exist under the Standard Model of particle physics. Dr. Alcubierre described what could do it. How is for applied physicists. Theoretical physicists just tell you what’s possible and what isn’t to the best of their knowledge. I’d say check back in a thousand years. We might have figured this out.


Skip to toolbar