Not Quite an Alcubierre Drive
Many of you probably don’t know (or care) about the Alcubierre Drive – with good reason. Those who have heard of it probably know of it as the ‘Warp Drive’ from Star Trek which originally inspired the theoretical drive. The Alcubierre drive is a theoretical propulsion method which would allow a spacecraft to effectively move from one point to another faster than it would take light to travel the same distance, but without technically exceeding the speed of light. The theoretical drive instead distorts space-time around the spacecraft, creating a positive energy-density area behind the spacecraft and a negative energy-density area in front of the spacecraft, propelling the space containing the spacecraft forward.
This kind of drive has always been considered theoretical and a bit far-fetched, although entertaining to speculate. So entertaining that one NASA group – the Advanced Propulsion Team – is dedicated to conceptualising and developing advanced propulsion techniques including practical experimentation into the existence of Alcubierre drives.
The team performed an experiment using their White-Juday warp-field interferometer with an EmDrive (invented by Roger Shawyer) which resulted in the detection of variations of the path-time of laser light around the drive. Although temperature anomalies were also detected, it has been theorized that these variations in path-time may indicate the warping of space-time within the chamber. The results, which were deemed to be significantly above system noise, were replicated four additional times with this system.
While those that are over-excited are claiming that this is a technology that will take us to Mars with a travel time of less than 3 months, even skeptics admit that if this proves not to be anomalous interference or miscalculation then it could be an interesting new step towards new technologies. Definitely something to keep an eye out for in the future!