Scientists: Warp Drive Might Not Be a Good Idea

And here I was getting all excited about scientists working on warp drive: A different group of physicists in Italy have determined that such an engine could create a black hole that would kill everyone on a spaceship and then suck Earth into it, according to Discovery News. [via gearlog]

"Warp drives are so far the best case scenario to attain faster-than-light travel," said Stefano Finazzi of Italy's International School for Advanced Studies in the article. This paper "makes it much harder to realize, if not almost impossible, warp drives." There are two ways that humans could move faster than the speed of light (normally an impossibility). One would be a worm hole, but that's tough to make in a backyard garage. The other, "more appealing option," is to design a warp drive that, with enough energy, could propel space around a space ship to move faster than the speed of light.

Here's the problem, according to the Italian physicists: a warp drive would create a bubble of energy behind the ship and a lack of it behind the ship, which the ship could then surf on. But maintaining the bubble would require a tremendous amount of dark energy (which we still know very little about). Once that energy ran out, the bubble would rupture, causing the temperature to rise to about 10^32 degrees Kelvin--and possibly collapse into a black hole, taking Earth with it. Otherwise, it shouldn't be a problem.

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