Courtesy of our own Surly Badger comes news that getting the hell off this rock at speeds faster than light may just be possible after all. Or at least less impossible.
The basic idea does work, although we’re talking less a classic Trek warp drive and more a Futurama warp drive, and it’s heavily dependent on basically uncovering branches of physics that don’t exist yet. Basically the ship would warp spacetime around it while sitting in a bubble of separate spacetime. Like a slingshot firing a ship frozen in amber except it makes your brain hurt to think about it.
It would also require ridiculous amounts of energy that it wouldn’t be possible to generate, so we might as well just give up the whole… what’s that? The energy estimates were off?
[NASA scientist Harold] White calculated what would happen if the shape of the ring encircling the spacecraft was adjusted into more of a rounded donut, as opposed to a flat ring. He found in that case, the warp drive could be powered by a mass about the size of a spacecraft like the Voyager 1 probe NASA launched in 1977.
Furthermore, if the intensity of the space warps can be oscillated over time, the energy required is reduced even more, White found.
“The findings I presented today change it from impractical to plausible and worth further investigation,” White told SPACE.com. “The additional energy reduction realized by oscillating the bubble intensity is an interesting conjecture that we will enjoy looking at in the lab.”
… All we can say to that is: