For decades we dreamed of visiting other star systems. There is only one problem – they are so far away, with conventional space travel it would take tens of thousands of years to reach even the nearest one.
Physicists, however, are not the kind of people who give up easily. Give them an impossible dream, and they will give you an incredible hypothetical way to realize it. Maybe.
In a new study by physicist Erik Lentz of Göttingen University in Germany, we may have a workable solution to the dilemma, and it could prove more feasible than other future warp disks.
This is an area that attracts a lot of brilliant ideas, each offering a different approach to solving the riddle of a faster-than-light trip: getting a means to send something across space with superlight speeds.
However there are some problems with this notion. In conventional physics, according to Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity, there is no real way to reach or exceed the speed of light that we would need for any journey measured in light years.
However, this did not prevent physicists from trying to break this universal speed limit.
While pushing matter beyond the speed of light will always be a big no, spacetime itself does not have such a rule. In fact, the far reaches of the Universe are already expanding faster than its light could ever hope to match.
To bend a small bubble of space similarly for transport purposes, we would need to solve equations of relativity to create an energy density lower than the empty space. While this kind of negative energy occurs on a quantum scale, accumulating enough in the form of a “negative mass” is still a realm for exotic physics.
In addition to facilitating other kinds of abstract possibilities, such as wormholes and time travel, negative energy could help power what is called the Alcubierre warp.
This conjectural concept would use principles of negative energy to warp space around a hypothetical spacecraft, enabling it to efficiently travel faster than light without challenging traditional physical laws, other than the reasons explained above, we cannot hope to provide such fantastic fuel. source to start.
But what if it were possible to somehow achieve a faster-than-light journey that holds faith in Einstein’s relativity without requiring any exotic physics that physicists have never seen?
In the new work, Lentz proposes a way we could do this, thanks to what he calls a new class of hyperfast solitons – a kind of wave that retains its shape and energy by moving at a constant speed (and in this case speed). faster than light).
According to Lentz’s theoretical calculations, these hyperfast soliton solutions can exist within general relativity, and spring only from positive energy densities, which means that there is no need to consider exotic negative-energy-dense sources that have not yet been controlled.
With enough energy, configurations of these solitons could function as “warp bubbles,” capable of superlight movement, and theoretically enabling an object to pass through spacetime while shielded against extreme tidal forces.
It is an impressive feat of theoretical gymnastics, although the energy required means that this warp ride is only a hypothetical possibility at present.
“The energy required for this spacecraft traveling at the speed of light spanning a spacecraft of 100 meters in radius is in the order of hundreds of times the mass of the planet Jupiter,” says Lentz.
“The energy savings would need to be drastic, about 30 sizes to be in the range of modern nuclear fission reactors.”
While Lentz’s study claims to be the first known solution of its kind, his article arrived almost exactly at the same time as another recent analysis, published just this month, that also offers an alternative model for physically possible warp driving that doesn’t require negative energy to work.
Both teams are now in contact, Lentz says, and the researcher intends to share his data further so that other scientists can explore his figures. In addition, Lentz will explain his research in a week’s time – in a live YouTube presentation on March 19th.
There are still many puzzles to solve, but the free flow of such ideas remains our best hope of ever having a chance to visit those distant, glittering stars.
“This work has moved the problem of faster than light travel one step away from theoretical research in fundamental physics and closer to engineering,” says Lentz.
“The next step is to figure out how to drop the astronomical amount of energy needed in today’s range of technologies, such as a large modern nuclear fission power plant. Then we can talk about building the first prototypes.”
The results are reported in Classical and Quantum Gravity.