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Are warp drives actually possible? New study says yes

Published May 14th, 2024 4:36PM EDT
space-time warps around a wormhole
Image: rost9 / Adobe

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A recent study has sparked excitement in the scientific community, suggesting that warp drives, a staple of science fiction, could actually be possible. Published in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity, the study offers a new perspective on faster-than-light travel.

The research challenges previous assumptions about the energy requirements for warp travel, which posited that you would need some “exotic matter” or “negative matter” to power them. These energy demands were considered insurmountable, rendering the concept purely theoretical. But that could all change in the future.

This new approach harkens back to the basic idea of the Alcubierre drive, a warp drive first speculated about in 1994. This model suggested creating a “warp bubble” that would contract space-time around the spacecraft, allowing it to achieve apparent faster-than-light travel.

A fictional spacecraft approaches the Moon.
Future spacecraft could be able to use warp drives. Image source: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (KBRwyle)

The new model still focuses on using a warp bubble, but the researchers say the drive would still operate within the normal bounds of physics, and thus, the spacecraft wouldn’t actually travel at faster-than-light speeds. The most important thing, though, is that the study possibly proves this could all be done without the need for “exotic matter.”

The concept of warp drives has long raised intriguing questions about the nature of space-time and the fundamental limits of physics. If faster-than-light travel is possible, it would require reevaluating our understanding of the universe. This could lead to groundbreaking discoveries in theoretical physics and cosmology, which would further expand our knowledge of the cosmos.

Of course, this paper is just one in a long list of studies that have sought to bring the creations of science fiction to reality. And while it does offer some promising insight into what the future of space exploration could look like, we’re still a long way from tearing wormholes in the universe to get from one point to the other.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.