Researchers at the NASA’s Johnson Space Center are convinced they can turn science fiction to fact and prove warp speed might someday be possible.
To do this, they would need to break, or at least bend the rules of time and space famously laid out by Albert Einstein over 50-years ago.
Undeterred, Dr. Harold G. White and his team have begun small-scale experiments using infinitesimally small photons that could have galactic sized ramifications for the future of space travel for mankind.
Dr. White, 43, is trying to manipulate or ‘warp’ the trajectory of a photon – put simply, he wants to see whether he can fold time and space around the photon to allow it to travel a greater distance, but at the same speed.
‘Space has been expanding since the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago,’ said Dr. White to the New York Times.
‘And we know that when you look at some of the cosmology models, there were early periods of the universe where there was explosive inflation, where two point would’ve went receding away from each other at very rapid speeds.
‘Nature can do it. So the question is, can we do it?’
Despite the speed of light being seen as an absolute, Dr. White has been inspired by Mexican physicist, Miguel Alcubierre, who postulated a theory that allowed for faster-than-light but without contradicting Einstein
His theory was published in 1994 and involved enormous amounts of energy being used to expand and contract space itself – thereby generating a ‘warp bubble’ in which a spacecraft would travel.
Allowing space and time to act as the propellant by pulling the craft through the bubble, Dr. White explained it to the New York Times as stepping onto a moving walkway at an airport.
Despite Dr. Alcubierre stating his theory was simply conjecture, Dr. White thinks he and his team are edging towards making the realm of warp speed attainable.
However, Dr. White admits that his research is still small-scale and is light years away from any type of engine that could be constructed into a space ship like the USS Enterprise.