Let’s Build a Warp Drive

Hey Figg Newtons,

We’re going to 1985, hitching a ride in a DeLorean with Marty McFly.

But let’s forget about those flux capacitors and Doc Browns, this week we be talkin’ ‘bout warp drives. Real. Bodacious. Warp. Drives.

Why is that so awesome? Well, for starters they go faster than 88 mp/h we can bend space and travel—wait, do I even need to explain this? It’s a freaking warp drive, and NASA is actually trying to develop them. Trekkies have had this on their collective wishlists about as long as “lose my virginity”—and perhaps were wanting it almost as badly.

Clichéd jokes aside, I use Trek as an example because speeding through space is not new in the slightest. A substantial amount of 20th-century science fiction was enraptured with the possibilities of interstellar space travel. La Planête des Singes and the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are notable for capitalizing on popular interest in the mysteries of space, bringing these big new ideas to those beyond the confines of science fiction writing and physics labs.

The plan right now, according to project leader Harold White, is to build upon the equations laid out by Miguel Alcubierre in his 1994 paper The warp drive: hyper-fast travel within general relativity.

If completed, the warp drive could propel a vessel through the cosmos by—you guessed it, sports fans—warping time and space. The universal speed limit would finally be broken, technically (see: the quantum vacuum, but I digress). We could get to the closest neighbouring system, Alpha Centauri, in about two weeks. That’s about four light years away. Light travels at 186,400 miles per second; my head is too sore to even try to compute how fast a warped ship would be travelling.

Until next week, some words from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams and a lesson: those creepy mannequins really are staring at you.

“Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.”
—Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless: book 5 of Hitchhiker’s series (1992)

Bitted and spaced,

Andrew Brennan
Assistant News Editor

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