If travel to distant stars within an individual’s lifetime is going to be possible, a means of faster-than-light propulsion will have to be found. So far, even recent research about faster-than-light transport based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity would require vast amounts of hypothetical particles and states of matter that have ‘exotic’ physical properties such as negative energy density. This type of matter either cannot currently be found or cannot be manufactured in viable quantities.

New research at the University of Göttingen gets around this problem by constructing a new class of hyper-fast ‘solitons.’ The new class of hyper-fast ‘solitons’ uses sources with only positive energies that can enable travel at any speed. This reignites debate about the possibility of faster-than-light travel based on conventional physics.

The research has been published in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity.

Image shows how long it would take different types of spacecraft to travel from our solar system to Proxima Centauri (the nearest known star). Currently, the only option would be to use a chemical rocket meaning a journey time of over 50,000 years. Image Credit: Erik Lentz, University of Göttingen. Click image for the largest view.

The author of the paper, Dr Erik Lentz, analyzed existing research and discovered gaps in previous ‘warp drive’ studies. Lentz noticed that there existed yet-to-be explored configurations of space-time curvature organized into ‘solitons’ that have the potential to solve the puzzle while being physically viable. A soliton – in this context also informally referred to as a ‘warp bubble’ – is a compact wave that maintains its shape and moves at constant velocity.

Lentz derived the Einstein equations for unexplored soliton configurations (where the space-time metric’s shift vector components obey a hyperbolic relation), finding that the altered space-time geometries could be formed in a way that worked even with conventional energy sources. In essence, the new method uses the very structure of space and time arranged in a soliton to provide a solution to faster-than-light travel, which – unlike other research – would only need sources with positive energy densities. No “exotic” negative energy densities needed.

If sufficient energy could be generated, the equations used in this research would allow space travel to Proxima Centauri, our nearest star, and back to Earth in years instead of decades or millennia. That means an individual could travel there and back within their lifetime. In comparison, the current rocket technology would take more than 50,000 years for a one-way journey.

In addition, the solitons (warp bubbles) were configured to contain a region with minimal tidal forces such that the passing of time inside the soliton matches the time outside: an ideal environment for a spacecraft. This means there would not be the complications of the so-called “twin paradox” whereby one twin traveling near the speed of light would age much more slowly than the other twin who stayed on Earth: in fact, according to the recent equations both twins would be the same age when reunited.

Lentz expanded with, “This work has moved the problem of faster-than-light travel one step away from theoretical research in fundamental physics and closer to engineering. The next step is to figure out how to bring down the astronomical amount of energy needed to within the range of today’s technologies, such as a large modern nuclear fission power plant. Then we can talk about building the first prototypes.”

Currently, the amount of energy required for this new type of space propulsion drive is still immense.

Lentz explained, “The energy required for this drive traveling at light speed encompassing a spacecraft of 100 meters in radius is on the order of hundreds of times of the mass of the planet Jupiter. The energy savings would need to be drastic, of approximately 30 orders of magnitude to be in range of modern nuclear fission reactors.”

Continuing he said: “Fortunately, several energy-saving mechanisms have been proposed in earlier research that can potentially lower the energy required by nearly 60 orders of magnitude.”

Lentz is currently in the early-stages of determining if these methods can be modified, or if new mechanisms are needed to bring the energy required down to what is currently possible.

Well now, WOW. The first thought that comes to mind is the fiction in story lines like ‘Star Trek’ has gotten a lot closer to reality. The second thought is those UFO sightings just might be Ets dropping by (with no evidence at hand) to check on our progress. If they can come by our place and check us out and learn that we could come by their place that would likely dramatically change and update their views of us.

With human nature and our history in mind there are some very interesting questions that will need considered about how our introduction into the rest of the galaxy is handled.

Let your imagination feast on that starting point for a while.


2 Comments so far

  1. fan on March 28, 2021 10:29 PM

    For self motivation and inspiration it is well written article. Thanks for sharing nice post.

  2. Helena on March 29, 2021 2:00 AM

    It is great article.Thanks for sharing nice post.

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