A paper, published in 2010 but only recently released to the public by NASA, details with the hypothetical possibility of a warp drive. Yes, that warp drive, like in Star Trek or Star Wars. The paper deals heavily with the physics necessary to conduct the thought experiments which allow for such travel. It is, a dense read if you are not the physics-inclined (it’s a NASA report, don’t act surprised), and it is more confusing because it is dealing with intangible ideas.
Тo а non-physicist а quantum field may, at first, be а strange concept to grasp. This is because one generally likes to visualize the things one thinks about; for example, an electron and even а photon provides something one can, on some level, picture in one’s minds. Simply put, а quantum field is an intangible mathematical object whose properties are ideal in explaining nature.
Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at Caltech and studies the topics covered by the report. He discussed it with Business Insider. While he admits that all of the physics in the paper are real physics, he believes that the analysis goes too far. In fact, in his discussion with Business Insider, Carroll doesn’t see any of these hypotheses coming to fruition for an incredibly long time.
There is something called a warp drive, there are extra dimensions, there is a Casimir effect, and there’s dark energy — all of these things are true….There’s zero chance that anyone within our lifetimes or the next 1,000 years are going to build anything that makes use of any of these ideas, for defense purposes or anything like that.
To be fair, the writers of the article do acknowledge the fact that we are still missing pieces needed to bring these ideas to reality. The paper mentions the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and the insights that could be gleaned from the work being done there. It mentions specifically the need for a better understanding of “dark energy” and the verification that separate dimensions. However, the report acknowledges the speculative nature of its conclusions, closing with the statement:
This is by no means а certainty, but if we may make predictions based on the innovative history of scientific pioneers of the past, then it seems entirely possible that the creative minds of the future may indeed find ways to accomplish what, to us, may seem like magic.
That is what science is about after all. While it might not be possible any time in the near future, it is still important to speculate about what may be possible, if only for the imaginations of those who come after us. I know I’m going to be jumping back into my Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Cosmos by Carl Sagan. I might grab Carroll’s newest, The Big Picture, too. You know, for variety.
What about you? Did all this talk of warp drive and physics make you curious? Do you think warp drive is possible in our lifetimes or is it strictly the stuff of science fiction? Let us know in the comments!