Category Archives: Tech

Engage Warp Drive

I’ll always love science fiction, if for no other reason than so much of yesterday’s SF becomes today’s science fact. By this time everybody knows the story of Gene Roddenberry’s legendary Star Trek series, communicators and cell phones. (For those that don’t, Mr. Roddenberry put forth the concept of being able to communicate with anyone anywhere on a planet with a small device. Thirty years later we have cell phones.)

There’s another science fact that is hard to get around – the speed of light. Einstein made it clear. Any object exceeding the speed of light becomes energy. Which really doesn’t sound very healthy for us corporeal creatures, since there is no formula to convert that energy back to solid form and maintain the pattern it existed in previously. Unfortunately, with that speed limit space travel becomes ponderous. The nearest planet, Mars, is something like three years away. The nearest galaxy is literally decades away. Any significant space exploration would take centuries.

But Mr. Roddenberry thought about that, too. He put forth the concept of a warp bubble, a sphere of energy that could travel faster than the speed of light. The nice thing about this sphere is it could exceed the galactic speed limit while all the objects inside maintained their integrity since they weren’t. Imagine it like being on a train. While it might be traveling at 60 mph, everything inside the cars isn’t. They’re still traveling at people speed.

Another one of my favorite authors is Author C. Clarke, whom I believe was the first person to put forth the idea of an electromagnetic drive (EMD) in SF, a brilliant concept. Take a magnet and wave it over a piece of metal. If the magnet is larger and stronger the metal comes to it, if the reverse is true the magnet holds to the metal. For a good example go look at your refrigerator. If it’s like mine, there are plenty of magnets hanging off it.

But what would happen if we took a stick and put it between the magnet and the piece of metal? On Earth there would be no visible effect because of that pesky gravity thing. But get away from that, virtually anywhere in space, and the magnet will push the bar forward, pushing the piece of metal away that the magnetic is trying to get to. Now imagine that the bar is your space ship. Poof, you have instant forward momentum with no moving parts to replace.

And here’s the part that I’ve been trying to get to. I read an article not too long ago that said NASA was testing an EMD, and some of the particles it was emitting were traveling faster than light. They theorize the EMD might have been trying to put forth a warp bubble. They did go on to caution that further testing outside of Earth’s atmosphere would be necessary to make sure.

But if they’re right, the sky is no longer the limit. The great exodus that’s so popular in SF where mankind spreads outward across the galaxy can begin. Humanity’s destruction because of a little thing like the world blowing up is no longer assured. And going to Mars could be where you plan that summer vacation.