Star Trek’s ‘warp drive’ is portrayed as a safe, easy way to travel from galaxy to galaxy, barring occasional hiccups with the dilithium crystals.
But scientists warn that the reality of faster than light drives might be rather different, after simulating what a ‘real’ warp drive might do.
“Any people at the destination would be gamma ray and high energy particle-blasted into oblivion,” claims a new paper by University of Sydney physicists.
However ‘boldly’ Captain Kirk might go, he would arrive at a series of dead, sterilized solar systems and the TV series would have made considerably less interesting viewing.
The physicists analyzed how matter might behave around a theoretical ‘warp drive’ known as an Alcubierre drive.
The simulation found that particles would cluster lethally around the bubble in space-time used to ‘jump’ through space.
The real problems start when the Enterprise hits the brakes.
“The region of space in front of a ship decelerating from superluminal velocity to subluminal velocity is blasted with a concentrated beam of extremely high energy particles,” say the physicists.
The Alcubierre (warp) drive is a theoretical, faster-than-light drive, dreamt up by physicist Miguel Alcubierre in 1994, where a bubble of ‘negative energy’ around a craft expands space and time behind it, while compressing space in front of it.
The drive could make faster-than-light travel possible, at least in theory. But it now seems that it would also be very unwise.
“Interestingly, the energy burst released upon arriving at the destination does not have an upper limit,” said the University of Sydney’s Brendan McGonigal.
“You can just keep on traveling for longer and longer distances to increase the energy that will be released as much as you like. It’s one of the odd effects of General Relativity.
Unfortunately, even for very short journeys the energy released is so large that you would completely obliterate anything in front of you.”
Since Mankind has yet to unlock the secrets of faster-than-light travel, it might seem odd that ‘serious’ physicists might be researching ‘warp drives’ at all, but the research warns of what COULD happen.
No fear though. Creating a bubble of negative energy is also currently impossible, so we won’t be hitting ‘Warp Factor Ten’ for some time anyway, regardless of the possible consequences.
Attribution: Daily Mail