Faster than light

Space is big, as Douglas Adams famously wrote (opens in a new tab) in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Like, really big. Alpha Centauri – the nearest star system to our own – is more than 4 light years away. Even within our solar system, massive distances make travel timely and difficult to plan.

With current technology, it would take us a century to reach Alpha Centauri. (opens in a new tab) We don’t have a spaceship that can go faster than the speed of light; the fastest speed we can reach using nuclear power is 4.5 percent of lightspeed. Let’s just say you’re going to need a lot of podcasts for the trip.

We haven’t cracked the faster-than-light (FTL) ceiling yet. But science fiction writers have.

The genre is full of examples of starships that can zip across the cosmos at speeds that are highly convenient. Some writers have drawn on real science and principles to explain their physics-bending technology. Others just kind of made it up as they went along.

Here are some of the most popular kinds of fictional FTL travel, and how they rate in reality.

“Stepping out into the universe, we must confront the reality of interstellar travel. We must reach far beyond our own lifespans.”

EINSTEIN-ROSEN BRIDGES

Also known as wormholes, Einstein-Rosen bridges are perhaps the most commonly known means of interstellar travel — and the most likely to actually exist. Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicted wormholes, although we haven’t seen one yet.

An Einstein-Rosen bridge, to put it as simply as possible, is a shortcut through space caused by the warping of spacetime. Massive objects like stars or black holes bend time and space like a bowling ball on a trampoline. A massive enough object could bend spacetime to create a connection between two otherwise distinct points.

Or, as one character says to another in Interstellar, picture a piece of paper folded on itself, then pierced with a pencil. If you want to travel across the surface of the paper to get point to point, it’ll take a while. But if you can use the pencil as a bridge, it’s a significantly shorter trip.

The entrance to a wormhole has often been represented as a tube, which makes sense given the name. But it’s also inaccurate. Interstellar, in one of its most intense scenes, got it right. From our perspective in 3-D space, a wormhole should look like a sphere.

Wormholes are an attractive approach to FTL technology because they don’t require you to break the speed of light. Physics tells us nothing can go faster than light. But with wormholes — shortcuts, basically — spacecraft could enter and exit at sub-light speeds.

That makes them a perfect fit for any fictional plot, allowing a quick way to get from Point A to Point B. In Douglas Adams’ satirical Hitchhiker’s Guide, the Earth was demolished by the Vogons to make way for a hyperspace bypass — a wormhole by any other name — which would supposedly speed up galactic travel.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is littered with wormholes. The Bifrost that allows Thor to travel from Asgard to Earth is explicitly described as an Einstein-Rosen bridge by Dr. Jane Foster in Thor. Invading aliens open a wormhole-like portal over New York city in The Avengers. Similar doorways are shown as part of a galactic superhighway system in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, while the Revengers escape from Sakaar through “The Devil’s Anus” in Thor: Ragnarok, described by Bruce Banner as “a neutron star colliding with an Einstein-Rosen Bridge” (read: plot device).

Wormhole theory also allows for the possibility of traveling between universes. Einstein-Rosen bridges are key to Rick and Morty’s various misadventures; the mad scientist’s portal gun can open doorways to other galaxies and parallel realities.

Some spoilsport scientists claim a wormhole caused by some sort of supermassive black hole would likely be too unstable to go through. A 1962 paper by John Archibald Wheeler and Robert W. Fuller argued such a bridge would collapse too quickly. On the other hand, physicists like Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne have theorized wormholes could be theoretically stabilized with the right amount of energy. But that’s a big “if.”

Realism rating: 4/5. Fairly high, considering how many of Einstein’s predictions have been proven right. Wormholes are probably out there . we just have to find them.

WARP ENGINES

Warp technology is synonymous with the Star Trek series. Even if you’re not a fan of the various Starfleet adventures that have hit our screens over the last 50 years, you’re probably familiar with terms like “warp factor five.”

But what does it really mean?

Like an Einstein-Rosen bridge, warp technology skirts around the impossibility of accelerating a ship past the speed of light. Instead, a warp drive bends space itself. It compresses space in front of the craft and expands it behind. The Enterprise is basically riding a bubble of regular 3-D space while the universe changes around it.

Star Trek’s different warp speeds aren’t just technobabble (opens in a new tab) . According to the writer’s guide for The Original Series, warp factor one is equal to breaking the light barrier; warp two is equal to 8x the speed of light; warp three is 27x light speed. Warp six is common cruising speed for the USS Enterprise NCC-1701. Any speed above seven risks damage to the engines or the ship itself.

Without warp technology, as we saw in the movie Star Trek: First Contact, humans never would have met spacefaring races like the Vulcans or founded the United Federation of Planets. The invention of the warp drive in the late 21st century is presented as a turning point for human civilization akin to the agricultural revolution or the printing press.

And, outlandish as it sounds, warp technology may be possible in reality.

In 1994, theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed a means of FTL space travel consistent with general relativity. Inspired by Star Trek, Alcubierre described an engine creating an energy field with lower density than the vacuum of space. By contracting space ahead of the ship and expanding it behind, a spacecraft could “ride a wave” forward.

Unfortunately, Alcubierre’s proposal raises the same theoretical problems as wormhole travel. Just as wormholes would require massive amounts of energy — and some as-yet unknown material to sustain it — so would warp drives. Star Trek provided that energy with a made-up element called dilithium: in crystal form, it is supposedly able to contain enormous, explosive reactions of matter and antimatter.

If we want our own warp drive, we’re going to need a similar exotic energy process, unknown to current science.

Realism Rating: 3/5. Fun to think about, but we’d need materials that may not even exist in this universe. Say, can you spare some dilithium crystals?

HYPERDRIVE

Problem: This universe doesn’t seem to allow faster-than-light travel. Solution: Well, just don’t travel through our universe. Duh.

Hyperspace is best understood as a sub-region of our real space where the same physical laws don’t apply. How does science fiction suggest we get there? It’s hard to say: Hyperspace has no theoretical basis like Einstein-Rosen bridges or warp drives.

In the Star Wars films, all kinds of ships are equipped with hyperspace drives, from small personal fighters like Poe Dameron’s X-wing, to larger freighters like the Millennium Falcon. Even that massive moon-sized space station, the Death Star, has a hyperdrive. How? We don’t know. George Lucas was determined to make space fantasy rather than science fiction.

In this case, “hyperspace” may merely be another name for lightspeed travel. In the original Star Wars, Han Solo brags his ship “can make point 5 past light speed.” In Star Wars novels — both the ones that are no longer canon (opens in a new tab) and those that are — we are told that ships are arranged by “class,” which corresponds to their speed. The lower the class, the faster the ship; the Falcon became a speedy Class 0.5 vessel.

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Even in Star Wars, ships traveling at hyperspeed must contend with some of the laws of physics. Hyperspace travel requires an astromech droid or a “navicomputer” to plot an unobstructed course and avoid collisions with stars or planets or other ships. As we know from The Last Jedi, lightspeed collisions can be catastrophic.

The hyperspace idea appears throughout science fiction, though different authors use different names to describe the same concept. The video-game series Halo uses the term “slipstream;” the tabletop game Warhammer 40,000 calls it the “Immaterium;” the YA series Animorphs uses “Z-space;” the comic book and movie Valerian calls it “Exospace;” Frank Herbert’s Dune series describes navigators “folding space” to travel great distances.

All of this narrative convenience leaves the actual mode of entering and exiting a “hyper” state a mystery — one that is farther outside the realm of possibility than wormholes or warp engines.

Realism Rating: 2/5. This one is definitely more plot contrivance than real science. But if you’re ever stranded on Tattooine, give Watto a call.

“We’re a long way from home. We’ve jumped way beyond the Red Line, into uncharted space. Limited supplies, limited fuel.”

JUMP DRIVES

Hyperspace and warp drives describe a means of traveling way over the speed of light, but both still take a quantifiable amount of time. Han Solo, Luke and Obi-Wan had time to hang out and chat about the Force before they arrived at Alderaan.

But what if you could get there in no time at all, avoiding what Douglas Adams called “all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace?”

The Jump Drives in Battlestar Galactica made interstellar teleportation possible with virtually no delay. Both human ships and their Cylon counterparts used FTL drives. We were told the human ships are powered by refined tylium — an incredibly rare ore 10 million times more energetic than gasoline. We were also told that when a ship jumps, it warps the space around it and can damage other nearby vessels.

As with hyperspace, jump drives apparently require complex calculations before and during a jump to avoid the risk of a ship materializing too close to a planet’s atmosphere — or within the planet itself.

Instantaneous teleportation is a convenient trope in sci-fi tales; it’s even used in Star Trek to “beam” individuals between ships and planets below. But does it have roots in any real scientific theory?

Short answer: maybe.

Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon where groups of particles behave similarly, even when separated by great gulfs of space. Einstein dubbed this “spooky action at a distance.” Author Ursula K. LeGuin (opens in a new tab) used this idea to invent a fictional device called the “ansible” that could communicate instantly with other ansibles, no matter where they were in the universe.

In theory you could “teleport” a ship or a person using the same kind of technology, though it gets even more complicated. You’d have to “transcribe” quantum information from particles at one end and transfer them to particles at the other end. This would get you out of the problem brought up by other kinds of fictional teleportation, namely that you’d either have to kill the original version or create a clone of yourself every time you teleported.

For now, quantum entanglement (opens in a new tab) is a thing we can observe — on an extremely small scale. We’re a long way from teleporting people or jumping ships.

Realism Rating: 2/5. Instantaneous teleportation, anywhere in the galaxy? Probably not going to be a reality any time soon.

“All of time and space; everywhere and anywhere; every star that ever was. Where do you want to start?”

CLOSED TIME-LIKE CURVES

The last form of FTL travel that we’ll dig into seems the least scientific. For 55 years, Doctor Who has chronicled the adventures across time and space of the Doctor and his/her human companions. Their means of transportation? A big blue box known as the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) that can take them anywhere, and anywhen, they want to go.

Built (or, rather, grown) by an ancient species known as Time Lords, TARDISes are more magical than the tech of Star Trek. As the Doctor has himself explained, his means of transport can get a little “wibbly wobbly, timey wimey.” There does seem to be some sort of delay on the way — it’s more hyperdrive than jump drive. But essentially the TARDIS disappears here, flies through the Time Vortex, and reappears there. That’s all you really need to know.

Or is it? It turns out even the TARDIS has more of a theoretical basis than the hyperdrive.

In 2013, physicists Benjamin K. Tippett and David Tsang published a paper proposing a theoretical means of creating an actual retrograde-capable time machine: a way to travel to your own past. The title of the paper: Traversable Achnronal Retrograde Domains in Spacetime (check the acronym, nerd).

Tippett and Tsang describe a bubble of spacetime containing a time-traveler entering a Closed Timelike Curve (essentially the same as an Einstein-Rosen bridge). Within that curve, the traveler can go anywhere on his or her own timeline, while within the bubble time seems to pass normally.

The two physicists even theorized that timelike curves could be split and connected, opening up the possibility of traveling not just along your own timeline — but anywhere in time and space.

All of which could make the TARDIS the winner of the theoretical faster-than-light travel stakes. With apologies to Han Solo, going point five past light speed may seem impressive, but there’s nothing faster than arriving before you set off in the first place.

Realism Rating: 1/5, and that’s being generous. For now the TARDIS is just wibbly wobbly, timey wimey, spacey wacey.

5 Faster-Than-Light Travel Methods and Their Plausibility

Science tells us that it is impossible for an object to travel at light speed, let alone faster than that. But so many of our favorite science-fiction movies, games, and TV shows rely on faster-than-light travel to craft their interplanetary adventures.

Let’s take a look at five means of FTL found in sci-fi that don’t break the rules of relativity and examine how plausible they are based on the science behind them.

1. Hyperdrive

Popularized by Star Wars and used extensively in fiction, a hyperdrive enables a spaceship to travel at FTL speeds by entering another dimension known as “hyperspace.” The spaceship isn’t actually traveling faster than the speed of light, but rather is making use of hyperspace as a shortcut, and the hyperdrive is the mechanism that shunts the spaceship into and out of this parallel dimension.

Star Wars Hyperspace

Image Source: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Specific coordinates within hyperspace have corresponding coordinates in normal space, but the distance between those two points will be shorter in hyperspace, allowing for a faster journey. Before making a “hyperspace jump,” calculations must be made to find the matching coordinates between hyperspace and normal space in order to know when and where to exit hyperspace at the desired normal space destination.

Is it plausible?

Physicist Bukrhard Heim proposed a theory in 1977 that FTL travel may be possible by using magnetic fields to enter higher-dimensional space. The theory uses a mathematical model that calls upon six or more dimensions in an attempt to resolve incompatibilities between quantum mechanics and general relativity, but Heim’s ideas have not been accepted in mainstream science. Still, the fact that a theoretical physicist devoted a large portion of his life in pursuit of a theory that could lead to a means of space travel lends the concept of hyperspace a little more credibility than if it were simply the fancy of a sci-fi writer.

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2. Jump Drive

Battlestar FTL

Image Source: Battlestar Galactica Season 2, Episode 19

Seen in such works as Battlestar Galactica, a jump drive allows for instantaneous teleportation between two points. Similar to a hyperdrive, coordinates must be calculated to ensure a safe jump; the longer the desired travel distance, the more complex the calculation. In theory, there is no limit to how far a jump can take a ship, but an incorrect calculation may result in a catastrophic collision with a planet or space debris.

The Dune universe’s FTL, based on the fictional “Holtzman effect,” can also be considered a jump drive.

Is it plausible?

Master of hard sci-fi Isaac Asimov was the first to suggest the idea of a jump drive in the Foundation series, which lends some credibility to the idea. However, most fiction doesn’t clearly explain the principles of physics that allow for this teleportation, making it impossible to claim a jump drive as plausible. However, if it functions by opening a wormhole…

3. Wormholes

Stargate Wormhole

Image Source: Stargate franchise

A wormhole, as seen in the Stargate franchise, allows for near-instantaneous travel across vast distances. Wormholes may be naturally-occurring or man-made, but are almost always temporary and serve as tunnels through spacetime.

Imagine our universe as a piece of paper, and an ant walking on that piece of paper as a spaceship. If the ant wants to walk from one end of that piece of paper to the other, the fastest way to do so would be to travel in a straight line. But paper, like space, bends. If you bend the paper into a U shape, the ant’s journey goes largely undisturbed – it still has to traverse the same distance along that line. However, in 3D space, the two ends of the paper are very close to each other now. Cut off a piece of a drinking straw and let the ant use it as a bridge or tunnel between the two ends of the paper, and the journey is suddenly much shorter.

Wormhole

Is it plausible?

While we have never directly observed any evidence for one, wormholes are theoretically possible. Albert Einstein and his colleague Nathan Rosen first discovered wormholes in 1935 as solutions to equations within Einstein’s general theory of relativity – the math says they can exist.

Since then, other scientists, including Stephen Hawking, have argued that it may be possible to traverse a wormhole, under the right circumstances. The debate surrounding wormholes isn’t about their plausibility, but rather how they may be created and sustained.

4. Slipstream

Andromeda Slipstream

Image Source: Andromeda

The concept of slipstream can be found in such works as Star Trek, Doctor Who, and the Halo video game franchise, but there is no widely-agreed upon definition of what slipstream is or how it works beyond it being a means of FTL. We’ll consider the slipstream seen in Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, where it is “not the best way to travel faster than light, it’s just the only way,” as per the show’s protagonist.

Slipstream is a form of interdimensional highway in which ships ride a series of slipstream “strings” – the unseen connections between all objects in the universe. These strings are in constant flux and form a tangled mess of intersections and divergent paths. Any time a pilot reaches a fork in the road, he has to guess which is the correct path to take to continue along toward his desired destination. Before the pilot makes that decision, both paths are simultaneously the correct and incorrect route, and it is the act of choosing a path that forces one to be correct and the other to be incorrect – if this made you think of Shrödinger’s cat, that does seem to be the basis for this concept. A computer selects the “correct” path 50% of the time, but due to intuition, a human picks the correct path 99.9% of the time.

Is it plausible?

There are no mainstream scientific theories that support this idea of slipstream. Reading the “lore” of this means of FTL evokes fantastical interpretations of string theory, quantum entanglement, and other concepts in modern physics, but the ideas are supported only through their internal consistency rather than actual fact, much like a well-explained magic system that allows fictional wizards to cast spells.

5. Warp Drive

Star Trek Enterprise at Warp

Image Source: Star Trek

Popularized by Star Trek, a warp drive distorts space around a ship while leaving the ship itself inside a “bubble” of normal space. The space in front of the ship is contracted, while the space behind it is expanded, and the ship “rides” the distortion wave at FTL speeds. Technically, it is not the ship that is moving, but rather space itself, which is how we avoid breaking any laws of physics.

Imagine a surfer slowly paddling back to shore. When a wave comes, it will lower the water level in front of him and raise the water level behind him, and he can ride the downward slope all the way to shore. Relative to the wave, the surfer isn’t moving – he’s staying between the crest and the trough, and it is instead the wave that is moving.

Surfing doesn’t quite work like that, but it’s a simplification that we can all visualize. In a similar manner to how a wave will distort water to propel a surfer, a warp drive will distort space to propel a ship.

Star Trek Warp

Is it plausible?

In 1994, the Alcubierre drive was proposed as a theoretical means of FTL travel and is based on a mathematical solution to equations within Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Just like a warp drive, the Alcubierre drive would contract space in front of a spaceship and expand space behind it.

NASA has been actively researching this technology since 2012, and the lead researcher even worked with a 3D artist to develop a model of what a warp-capable ship might look like. As far as real-life FTL goes, warp is the current front-runner to becoming reality.

As far as real-life FTL travel goes, the fictional favorites can be found in Star Trek and Stargate: the warp drive, and wormholes. Both are theoretically possible; however, both require further scientific breakthroughs before practical testing can begin. In either case, we need to discover “exotic matter” – hypothetical particles with negative mass – to get these mechanisms to work. “Element zero” from the Mass Effect series, the rare material that is essential to FTL travel in that universe, doesn’t quite fit the description, but the lore is at least scientifically sound in suggesting that some new, rare form of matter is required to make this technological leap.

The good news is that scientists don’t believe this is a matter of if, but rather when. There will be a time in the future when a stately, bald man in uniform will sit back in a command chair and relay the order, “Engage.”

5 Faster-Than-Light Travel Methods and Their Plausibility

Science tells us that it is impossible for an object to travel at light speed, let alone faster than that. But so many of our favorite science-fiction movies, games, and TV shows rely on faster-than-light travel to craft their interplanetary adventures.

Let’s take a look at five means of FTL found in sci-fi that don’t break the rules of relativity and examine how plausible they are based on the science behind them.

1. Hyperdrive

Popularized by Star Wars and used extensively in fiction, a hyperdrive enables a spaceship to travel at FTL speeds by entering another dimension known as “hyperspace.” The spaceship isn’t actually traveling faster than the speed of light, but rather is making use of hyperspace as a shortcut, and the hyperdrive is the mechanism that shunts the spaceship into and out of this parallel dimension.

Star Wars Hyperspace

Image Source: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Specific coordinates within hyperspace have corresponding coordinates in normal space, but the distance between those two points will be shorter in hyperspace, allowing for a faster journey. Before making a “hyperspace jump,” calculations must be made to find the matching coordinates between hyperspace and normal space in order to know when and where to exit hyperspace at the desired normal space destination.

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Is it plausible?

Physicist Bukrhard Heim proposed a theory in 1977 that FTL travel may be possible by using magnetic fields to enter higher-dimensional space. The theory uses a mathematical model that calls upon six or more dimensions in an attempt to resolve incompatibilities between quantum mechanics and general relativity, but Heim’s ideas have not been accepted in mainstream science. Still, the fact that a theoretical physicist devoted a large portion of his life in pursuit of a theory that could lead to a means of space travel lends the concept of hyperspace a little more credibility than if it were simply the fancy of a sci-fi writer.

2. Jump Drive

Battlestar FTL

Image Source: Battlestar Galactica Season 2, Episode 19

Seen in such works as Battlestar Galactica, a jump drive allows for instantaneous teleportation between two points. Similar to a hyperdrive, coordinates must be calculated to ensure a safe jump; the longer the desired travel distance, the more complex the calculation. In theory, there is no limit to how far a jump can take a ship, but an incorrect calculation may result in a catastrophic collision with a planet or space debris.

The Dune universe’s FTL, based on the fictional “Holtzman effect,” can also be considered a jump drive.

Is it plausible?

Master of hard sci-fi Isaac Asimov was the first to suggest the idea of a jump drive in the Foundation series, which lends some credibility to the idea. However, most fiction doesn’t clearly explain the principles of physics that allow for this teleportation, making it impossible to claim a jump drive as plausible. However, if it functions by opening a wormhole…

3. Wormholes

Stargate Wormhole

Image Source: Stargate franchise

A wormhole, as seen in the Stargate franchise, allows for near-instantaneous travel across vast distances. Wormholes may be naturally-occurring or man-made, but are almost always temporary and serve as tunnels through spacetime.

Imagine our universe as a piece of paper, and an ant walking on that piece of paper as a spaceship. If the ant wants to walk from one end of that piece of paper to the other, the fastest way to do so would be to travel in a straight line. But paper, like space, bends. If you bend the paper into a U shape, the ant’s journey goes largely undisturbed – it still has to traverse the same distance along that line. However, in 3D space, the two ends of the paper are very close to each other now. Cut off a piece of a drinking straw and let the ant use it as a bridge or tunnel between the two ends of the paper, and the journey is suddenly much shorter.

Wormhole

Is it plausible?

While we have never directly observed any evidence for one, wormholes are theoretically possible. Albert Einstein and his colleague Nathan Rosen first discovered wormholes in 1935 as solutions to equations within Einstein’s general theory of relativity – the math says they can exist.

Since then, other scientists, including Stephen Hawking, have argued that it may be possible to traverse a wormhole, under the right circumstances. The debate surrounding wormholes isn’t about their plausibility, but rather how they may be created and sustained.

4. Slipstream

Andromeda Slipstream

Image Source: Andromeda

The concept of slipstream can be found in such works as Star Trek, Doctor Who, and the Halo video game franchise, but there is no widely-agreed upon definition of what slipstream is or how it works beyond it being a means of FTL. We’ll consider the slipstream seen in Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, where it is “not the best way to travel faster than light, it’s just the only way,” as per the show’s protagonist.

Slipstream is a form of interdimensional highway in which ships ride a series of slipstream “strings” – the unseen connections between all objects in the universe. These strings are in constant flux and form a tangled mess of intersections and divergent paths. Any time a pilot reaches a fork in the road, he has to guess which is the correct path to take to continue along toward his desired destination. Before the pilot makes that decision, both paths are simultaneously the correct and incorrect route, and it is the act of choosing a path that forces one to be correct and the other to be incorrect – if this made you think of Shrödinger’s cat, that does seem to be the basis for this concept. A computer selects the “correct” path 50% of the time, but due to intuition, a human picks the correct path 99.9% of the time.

Is it plausible?

There are no mainstream scientific theories that support this idea of slipstream. Reading the “lore” of this means of FTL evokes fantastical interpretations of string theory, quantum entanglement, and other concepts in modern physics, but the ideas are supported only through their internal consistency rather than actual fact, much like a well-explained magic system that allows fictional wizards to cast spells.

5. Warp Drive

Star Trek Enterprise at Warp

Image Source: Star Trek

Popularized by Star Trek, a warp drive distorts space around a ship while leaving the ship itself inside a “bubble” of normal space. The space in front of the ship is contracted, while the space behind it is expanded, and the ship “rides” the distortion wave at FTL speeds. Technically, it is not the ship that is moving, but rather space itself, which is how we avoid breaking any laws of physics.

Imagine a surfer slowly paddling back to shore. When a wave comes, it will lower the water level in front of him and raise the water level behind him, and he can ride the downward slope all the way to shore. Relative to the wave, the surfer isn’t moving – he’s staying between the crest and the trough, and it is instead the wave that is moving.

Surfing doesn’t quite work like that, but it’s a simplification that we can all visualize. In a similar manner to how a wave will distort water to propel a surfer, a warp drive will distort space to propel a ship.

Star Trek Warp

Is it plausible?

In 1994, the Alcubierre drive was proposed as a theoretical means of FTL travel and is based on a mathematical solution to equations within Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Just like a warp drive, the Alcubierre drive would contract space in front of a spaceship and expand space behind it.

NASA has been actively researching this technology since 2012, and the lead researcher even worked with a 3D artist to develop a model of what a warp-capable ship might look like. As far as real-life FTL goes, warp is the current front-runner to becoming reality.

As far as real-life FTL travel goes, the fictional favorites can be found in Star Trek and Stargate: the warp drive, and wormholes. Both are theoretically possible; however, both require further scientific breakthroughs before practical testing can begin. In either case, we need to discover “exotic matter” – hypothetical particles with negative mass – to get these mechanisms to work. “Element zero” from the Mass Effect series, the rare material that is essential to FTL travel in that universe, doesn’t quite fit the description, but the lore is at least scientifically sound in suggesting that some new, rare form of matter is required to make this technological leap.

The good news is that scientists don’t believe this is a matter of if, but rather when. There will be a time in the future when a stately, bald man in uniform will sit back in a command chair and relay the order, “Engage.”

Source https://mashable.com/feature/faster-than-light-space-interstellar-travel

Source https://www.escapistmagazine.com/5-faster-than-light-travel-methods-and-their-plausibility/

Source https://www.escapistmagazine.com/5-faster-than-light-travel-methods-and-their-plausibility/#:~:text=5%20Faster-Than-Light%20Travel%20Methods%20and%20Their%20Plausibility%201,5.%20Warp%20Drive%20Image%20Source:%20Star%20Trek

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