Archives For warp drive


According to the Cthulhu Mythos, somewhere between New Zealand and Chile in the waters of the South Pacific, an underwater city known as R’yleh houses a malevolent monster that came to our planet eons ago and is now dead-dreaming until the stars align and he can once more send his spawns across the land, sowing death, destruction, and chaos, feeding on souls of both his followers and his victims. Of course this is just a setting for a string of horror stories and there’s no record of such things as Cthulhu, R’yleh, or the Necronomicon, but that doesn’t mean that a curious physicist can’t have a little fun with a sci-fi horror story and see what it would take for the mythical city of bizarre geometry and warped dimensions to exist. His conclusion? R’yleh’s odd distinguishing features described in The Call of Cthulhu are either powered by a warp drive or the effects of a cloaking device which works much like a warp drive would. And that would make the mythos’ main character’s description as an alien invader seem a lot more convincing…

How would the sailors who landed on the island housing R’yleh see a warped landscape and an enormous eldritch metropolis that made no sense to them. The layout and architecture would’ve obviously been made for alien creatures, so it’s unlikely it would’ve resembled building patterns we use in our own cities. Winged extraterrestrials who either float or move on tentacles wouldn’t need stairs and strictly defined doors, floors, and windows are unlikely to be mandatory. But that doesn’t explain the strange colors and the seemingly impossible geometry. That’s the effect of a gravitational lens on a very small scale, one created by the warp drive enveloping R’yleh. Light would be bent in very unusual ways, giving familiar things bizarre colors and shapes, and giving the sailors constant optical illusions, making the whole city look like a giant M.C. Escher sketch with a liberal touch of late Eocene Clawed and Tentacled Horror and Mild Acid Trip. And just to add to the weirdness, time inside R’yleh would move much slower than it would on the outside of it due to the time dilation effects created by the active warp drive or gravitational cloak.

You certainly wouldn’t want to get stuck in this city if you were lost at sea. Not only would space and time appear and flow differently for you, the primeval ruins populated with only FSM knows, or more likely doesn’t know, what that may be eager to devour you or tear you limb from limb to satisfy their curiosity about the strange bipedal squishy thing making lots of noise in their home, could turn even the shortest stay into decades if you ever make it back to the real world. Good thing this is all just one spine-tingling story from a pulp sci-fi magazine of a long-gone era and in the many decades since it accurately described what sounds like an alien generation ship there hasn’t been so much as a hint of anything weird in the South Pacific pole of inaccessibility where R’yleh was said to be sitting at the bottom of the sea. Well, if you don’t count The Bloop — which no one has been able to explain to full scientific satisfaction. But as I’ve already said, it’s all just creepy fiction. We’re all probably just fine. Probably…

See: Tippett, B. (2012). Possible Bubbles of Spacetime Curvature in the South Pacific arXiv: 1210.8144v1

varies starship concept

Well ladies and germs, it appears that when I tried to calculate how much effort it would take for an alien civilization to create a warp drive, I may have been wrong and so were the theoreticians on whose work I based my numbers. And that’s a good thing because the latest buzz from the DARPA sponsored 100 Year Starship Symposium is that warp drives are many, many orders of magnitude more feasible than initially assumed. Rather than requiring the mass energy of all of Jupiter to jump start, it would require just 67.8 exajoules, which translates to roughly 755 kilos of material. Considering that just a few decades ago, the first theoretical basis of warp drives was considered to be impossible because it seemed like it would take more than the energy of the entire cosmos to create a space-time bubble, the new requirement lowers the bar to interstellar travel down to almost nothing. Yes, there’s the matter of how we can create a burst of energy approaching 68 exajoules, but we certainly have ideas involving large and powerful lasers.

Hold on though, how did we go from having to turn Jupiter into a spark plug to less than one ton of matter to kick-start a warp bubble? By fine tuning the warping of space and time required. In the classical scenario, we’d need a spherical bubble containing the ship, and aside from causing a number of rather nasty side effects, this arrangement turns out to be very energy-demanding since there’s so much space to warp. The first downgrade came from changing how the energy was applied. Rather than blasting out a space-time bubble, you’d basically implode space and time around you to manipulate the cosmological constant, or the Λ in Einstein’s equations, also known as dark energy. This downgrade in energy requirements does away with the warp bubble and proposes an oblong doughnut shape in which the ship is propelled in an area of normal and stable space-time being moved faster than light. For all intents and purposes, the spaceship will stand still as the universe moves around it. It sounds like a sci-fi cliché, but it may just work.

From what I’ve read on the subject, I could speculate that entirely possible that there would be a leak of Hawking radiation or a high-energy halo from the warp field, but these may not be big obstacles to warp travel. If anything, we may want to use powerful magnetic fields to channel all this energy into acceleration and really put the pedal to the metal when traveling to very distant stars. We’ll need to do a lot of experiments to know for sure and those experiments are already starting as a small NASA lab is trying to create space-time disruptions on an atomic scale with laser beams. When it can do that reliably, it can start scaling up to real-world objects and see if space and time will cooperate. If it does, we may be on our way to becoming the kind of space-faring species we only read about in sci-fi novels and space exploration will become a lot easier and more important. But at the same time, we have to stay realistic and understand that this is a tentative first baby step towards warp drives and into barely charted territory in which the laws of physics may cooperate with us just as easily as they might hinder us…

[ illustration by Adrian Mann ]

Speaking of space-based weapons, here’s an interesting one for you. Once upon a time, when writing about warp drive physics, I asked whether the creation of a warp bubble by a superluminal ship could have some very nasty effects on any nearby planets due to the energy involved, and had my fears validated by a paper on the potential energy output of a warp drive. Now, a small group of theoretical physicists took a look at an interesting related problem, the violent interactions of the warp bubble with the fabric of time and space. A few years ago, we looked at how such bubbles can create showers of radioactive particles inside them to see whether a ship could survive being in said warp bubble and whether the bubble could be stabilized. But what about the space outside the bubbles? Space may be famous for its vast voids between stars and planets but it’s not entirely empty since streams of particles constantly travel through it. So as you’re blasting along with a superluminal spacecraft possibly feeding off the energy the bubble generates internally, what happens to the countless particles picked up by the gravitational distortion? When the ship stops, the particles still have  a lot of inertia and become unstable high energy tachyons easily capable of annihilating anything in their path.

Sounds like a rather straightforward application of Newtonian physics with some relativity for context, but let’s keep in mind that the physics in question are anything but straightforward and the entire idea relies on a warp bubble behaving like an object moving at superluminal speeds. But that’s not really how warp bubbles should behave since they’re wrapping a physical object in a closed pocked of space-time, not creating a shield which lets the physical object inside accelerate past the speed of light. To visualize the difference, imagine driving a car on a long stretch of highway through a swarm of insects. The faster you go, the more bugs will smack into your windshield and with greater force. As conceptual insects, they don’t actually squish and stick to the glass because they have no internal organs, but stay on because you’re moving a lot faster than they could. If you’re suddenly stopped, these imaginary bugs will fly forwards with the same speed your car was going as classic Newtonian physics dictate, and smash into something else. But now, imagine your car traveling in its own air pocket and these imaginary insects are carried by wind around your vehicle, never even knowing that its there. The former scenario is how the paper treats active warp drives, and the latter is how they should work.

Certainly, an accelerating warp bubble screeching to a sudden stop, swiftly followed by a lethal aurora of very unstable particles with were just accelerated beyond the speed of light and now need to regain some sort of equilibrium irradiating entire planets into oblivion sounds like an awesome sci-fi weapon. However, wouldn’t accelerating particles surfing on a space-time tsunami violate some law of physics? The authors allude to an unlikely result as a giveaway that something seems to be off when they say that the accelerated particles will not have a limit to how fast they could move or how much energy they give off. Would that not violate the widely accepted mass-energy equivalence principle codified in Einstein’s famous equation? Obviously, the math is very complex and far be it from me to double-check it (comp sci math is very different from physics math), but random particles being able to drifting through the bubble throughout the journey sounds really off because it implies that the bubbles generated by warp drives are permeable. And if these bubbles really are permeable, they should then be subject to a set of physical phenomena that would render superluminal travel impossible for any object with mass. As spacecraft in the bubble try to accelerate to relativistic speeds, they will be pelted into oblivion by the incoming dust and cosmic rays, while being vaporized by the thermal energy generated by the bubble itself, something the warp bubble should prevent if it’s supposed to carry a craft through space.

On the other hand, however, one wonders exactly what happens when a superluminal craft casts off the warp bubble when it arrives at its destination. How big of a gravity wave would it generate? Would be detectable by someone on the planet near which it emerged? Could such waves propagate widely enough through a stellar neighborhood to be used as a SETI detection method? Considering that the energy required to create warp bubbles would be on par with vaporizing Saturn for a decent sized interstellar ship, one could conceive of at least a faint echo from a nearby solar system being detectable by sensitive enough instruments. But a caveat to trying to figure all this out using theoretical physical constructs we have for superluminal propulsion is that we don’t really know if a warp drive would work the way we envision and protracted investments in figuring out how it would affect space around it could well turn into the search for a proper adjective to describe the colors of the emperor’s new silk cape. It may be a somewhat safer bet to see what it would take to keep a ship using something like a black hole engine safe from bombardment by particles and radiation, or running into rogue, or previously unknown planets as it careens through space and see how much energy would be generated in the process. That way, we’ll have a good idea for what needs to be achieved to build relativistic rockets, and a clue as to what high energy events nearby we might want to investigate for signs of alien intelligence.

See: McMonigal, B., et al (2012). The Alcubierre Warp Drive: On the Matter of Matter Phys. Rev. D arXiv: 1202…

There have been a number of posts about interstellar travel on this blog, including one on the feasibility of an idea from Stephen Hawking regarding the use of Dyson spheres to absorb a star’s energy and focusing all this power to create a warp bubble, theoretical spaceships powered by artificial micro black holes, and a review of a very grounded relativistic rocket. And while most of these posts focused on how hard it is to get the energy necessary to bend space and time to allow for faster interstellar travel, as well as how hard it is to build an honest to goodness warp drive, this time I thought we’d do something a tad different and take a look at violent events in our universe to see which of them could provide either us, or advanced alien species with the energy necessary to warp time and space if we, or they, ever found a workable way to harness them.

First, we need to establish a baseline. We need 1042 J at our disposal to start altering the flow of space itself and we need to be find an event that will release at least this much power very quickly and in one place. Sure, we could set up enough solar panels around enough stars and wait for billions of years until we store enough energy, but that’s wildly impractical even for the most advanced species out there. No, we need one burst that could be harnessed and channeled into creating a warp bubble, or fuel a relativistic rocket of nearly any size to over 95% of the speed of light so relativity could take over and remove the time limits on the trip. And that’s why we’re going to turn our attention to supernovas first and foremost. When massive stars that quickly burn a lot of fuel die, they release more energy than it would take to completely disintegrate our heavy, large Sun, and more than is thought to be required to make an interstellar trip. Hypernovas, which happen when a heavy star between 8 and 130, or 250 solar masses and above, collapse into a black hole. Suns that tip the scales at 130 to 250 solar masses will simply vaporize when they explode.

A typical supernova could release as much as 1.2 × 1044 J and a hypernova can put out an average of 1046 J, between 100 and 10,000 times the energy we’d need to alter the expansion of space-time, respectively. With a power source like that, any warp ship could hurl itself across vast stretches of space at superluminal speeds. Of course the only question is how to harness all that energy and focus it into a beam just a few meters wide since supernovas cover a very wide area. Hypernovas might be more convenient since as newly formed black holes try to feed on the leftover stellar matter, they belch out extremely powerful beams of gamma rays in just two directions, focusing the energy with magnetic fields which twist like corkscrews. If they were focused even further by a hypothetical spacecraft riding along them, maybe, they could be used to summon a warp bubble and pave us a way to another star. Unless the spacecraft in our scenario come way too close to a beam and get fried, or even worse, pulled into the black hole’s maw by its powerful tidal forces. It would be awfully hard to try and carry out an interstellar mission that way…

And there’s another potential energy source for a would be warp ship, capable of producing up to 2.7 × 1048 J with only a slight twitch. We’re talking about a magnetar, a neutron star with a magnetic field over a quadrillion times stronger than that of our planet, and a curst under so much pressure and with such a high density, that just a centimeter of movement during a quake causes a massive magnetic line reconnection and an eruption of energy strong enough to be felt some 50,000 light year away. Actually, we already felt the shockwave of an immense quake on magnetar SGR 1806-20, which is halfway across the galaxy from us. With quakes more than two million times greater than a warp ship’s baseline, magnetars could power even the biggest craft with just one eruption. However, since stars which can produce hypernovas or leave magnetars are in the minority of the galaxy’s population, the craft in question would need to be able to get to them in the first place. Plus, the magnetic fields measuring 10 billion tesla could easily fry any spaceship and instantly kill its occupants if the craft gets a little too close to one of these hyper-magnetized stellar zombies.

While trying to harness the power unleashed by dying and dead stars might not be practical anytime soon, the numbers do show that there is enough energy out there to make an interstellar trip should we find out how we can capture and manage it. But hopefully there’s a simpler way out. The baseline figure for a warp drive given in this post relies on the idea that all this energy at very high densities would speed up the ongoing expansion of the cosmos locally and temporarily. However, what if there’s another way to trigger a warp bubble? What if it takes a lot less energy than we think due to physics we don’t yet know? The only way to know is to experiment with extremely high energy phenomena and find out for ourselves through trial and error…

[ CG illustration of a magnetar via National Geographic ]

Usually, when I post about a scientific paper, the focus is on its methodology and interpreting its conclusions into real world applications. This time, we’re going to do something a little different and use an oft cited paper on the plausibility of warp drive propulsion to build a theoretical model of our own. You see, when physicists Richard Obousy and Gerald Cleaver put together the energy requirements for a warp drive, they noted that a sufficiently advanced civilization could one day build it. And we’re going to use those requirements to find out whether a civilization like that could conceivably exist and what would happen to their solar system if they ever tried to create a device that warps space and time by locally boosting the ongoing expansion of the universe.

alien hyper-city

So how much energy does it take to get a warp drive revving? A jaw dropping 1042 J / m3 which is like taking a planet a bit more massive than Saturn, crushing it into a cube about the size of a nightstand and turning all of that into raw, pure energy. Do that, say Obousy and Cleaver, and you effectively start changing the value of the cosmological constant, the Λ in Einstein’s general relativity equations. Each time you do that, you’ll get a cubic meter of warped space-time which will propel your ship forward at the speed of light. This is the kind of energy output that our hypothetical alien race interested in superluminal travel would have to meet to get then within a whisker of their goal. We’ll have to assume that they’re tens of thousands of years ahead of us in science and technology, and have an industrial capacity we could only dream of for the foreseeable future. Otherwise, any chance of them building any kind of warp device would be nil.

For the sake of argument, let’s get our aliens started with a more or less conventional approach. To pinch the fabric of space and time, they’re going to have to build an enormous bomb that will essentially implode into a cubic meter of warped space-time. Why a bomb? Because this energy would have to be delivered in a burst, or it will simply dissipate. Even though it sounds like a lot, the energy requirement we’re dealing with isn’t that much on a cosmic scales. Supernova explosions give off far more energy which simply spreads through their galaxy in a bubble measuring light years across. We want to take all those Joules and focus them on the area of space-time we want to manipulate. So how big would the bomb have to be when we use a technology that both we and our advanced aliens would know very well?

One of the most powerful explosive designs we’ve created was the Tsar Bomba which was initially built with a stunning 100 megaton yield that was later reduced due to concerns over widespread fallout. But let’s say that our aliens build an explosive sphere of staged thermonuclear devices with the full intended yield and with the same size and density. If we run through a quick blizzard of math, we’ll come up with a device that should be the stuff of nightmares for just about any intelligent species. It would be 7.5 billion km across and tip whatever monster scales you’d use to measure it at 50 quintillion metric tons. In other words, it would be roughly as big as a solar system and have a mass comparable to Mars. Clearly that’s not a very practical project since even at a rate of a million bombs a year, the giant device would take some 2.3 quintillion years to complete and the result wouldn’t be a reusable method of propulsion for a fleet of spacraft. Oh and by the way, those quintillions of years are longer than the lifetime of our current phase of the universe. The very last star would’ve died eons before the bomb is built and ready to go. Clearly, we’re not off to a good start here.

Luckily for us and our hypothetical aliens, Obousy and Cleaver provide an alternative in the form of 1028 kg of antimatter which could be used to generate more than enough power for a warp bubble accommodating one spacecraft with a volume of a cubic kilometer. Unfortunately that’s not a great alternative either. If we take half of that antimatter and come up with a chunk of matter just as huge, then collide them, we’ve effectively made a doomsday machine that would wipe out our hypothetical alien species. When matter and antimatter collide in an explosive reaction, they emit a flood of gamma rays. The ionizing radiation from the equivalent of blowing up Jupiter could easily decimate life in the solar system where the device is being built by triggering horrifying mass extinctions and changing the chemical structure of previously habitable atmospheres. It would be like a gamma ray burst from a hypernova and it doesn’t seem very likely that any civilization could survive triggering one in their own backyard. Besides, the sheer mechanics of assembling this much matter would be easily on par with the bomb scenario and whatever species started the project would be extinct long before completing it. Even boosting production rates by thousands of times wouldn’t help.

Finally, let’s go back to the initial requirements and consider what a density of 1042 J / m3 actually means. By converting this energy to mass, we’ll see that it far exceeds the density of the core of a neutron star. And since neutron stars are as dense as matter can get until it collapses into a black hole, anything that would create a similar energy density could essentially create a black hole about 33 meters across with an expected lifetime of 3.6 × 10^60 years if it recreated the conditions needed for Obousy and Cleaver’s theoretical spacecraft to hit the speed of light. To escape the shockwave and be able to aim the GRB far enough away, the civilization that created this black hole machine would have to build it hundreds of millions of miles away from the planet it would occupy. Though, as we saw already, any civilization capable of building a black hole machine would be living in a cold, dark universe lit by embers of old, dead stars slowly simmering away into dense, solid matter, even if it started working on the project now. And in my humble opinion, such an advanced species would find other things to do with its time or just opt to make the best out of relativistic rocketry to get around.

See: Richard Obousy, Gerald Cleaver (2008). Warp Drive: A New Approach JBIS arXiv: 0712.1649v6

A few weeks ago, I was talking to Dr. Ian O’Neill about the current research into warp drive physics and asked whether putting out the energy equivalent of Jupiter’s mass could have some rather destructive side-effects. After doing some more research, I wrote a post about the possibility of warp drives releasing enough energy to create a wake with the power to destroy a planet or push it out of its orbit. And wouldn’t you know it, just four days later there’s a study by physicists who say that not only could warp drives affect everything around their space-time bubbles, they could also trigger the formation of black holes as these bubbles collapse.

warp bubble collapse

The bad news for sci-fi fans were broken by Stefano Finazzi who just happens to be the lead researcher of an earlier study which also cast a doubt on the stability of asymmetric warp bubbles that should theoretically be able to move whatever’s inside them faster than light. According to his calculations, the problem isn’t so much releasing the energy as it is containing the raw power necessary to keep space and time warped. Most warp drive concepts include the use of dark energy which is supposed to act as gravity’s evil twin. In order for all the dark energy to keep the warp bubble stable, you need to keep putting out more and more power. While you’re streaming out absolutely phenomenal amounts of energy, you’re fine. But when the energy runs out, the entire structure collapses violently and depending on a wide variety of factors, it either explodes with incredible force or implodes so quickly, it forms a singularity. Either way, things don’t end well.

Like a wise scientist once said, nature lets you take shortcuts but it makes you pay for every one of them in the end. When we try to bend space and time with immense energy, we bump up against the kind of high energy physics that pretty much no technology would be able to sustain without either violating the laws of space and time or requiring us to bottle up a massive star and learn how to wield its power. However, even that might not be a death knell to future warp drives after all. Many physicists seem to agree with Finazzi’s numbers, but like the Mythbusters after an experiment with somewhat muddled results, they’re not ready to call faster than light travel a dead end just yet. The universe works in strange ways and the semi-classical physics used to make the predictions don’t present the whole picture. There might be other ways to make warp drives and break the speed of light through a shortcut in the complex fabric of space and time. Then again, I suppose that’s just a nice way of saying that maybe, someday, somehow we’ll make it work.

Imagine a habitable planet with vast blue oceans and tens of thousands of square miles of vegetation which helps support an entire biosphere of complex life. Floating in its orbit is a giant spaceship built by a creative and intelligent species to explore nearby stars, and designed to travel faster than light with the use of a warp drive. As the ship’s crew fires the main engines, one question they should probably ask themselves is if their planet will be there if and when they get back. They might be accidentally turning on a very effective doomsday device which will either completely obliterate their world or knock it out of its stable, life-supporting orbit.

distant planet

In a previous post about warp drive technology, we found out that the power output required to warp space and time into an asymmetric bubble, roughly equals the mass of Jupiter converted into raw energy. That’s like turning our world into heat, light and radiation some 318 times over. While physicists focus on what happens inside the warp bubble and how stable it would be, one question that doesn’t seem to appear very often in an astrophysical paper is what happens to the bubble’s surroundings when all that energy is released. Could it generate a powerful shockwave that would wreak havoc on a planetary scale? Would it send a wake through the very fabric of space and time, knocking planets out of orbit?

The closest thing we have to witnessing the effects of serious warping of space and time is black holes. They form after the core of a very heavy star collapses so quickly, it overcomes the degeneracy pressure of a heavy supernova remnant and distort the surrounding space-time plane. The black hole’s birth also creates a huge blast of gamma rays and generates powerful shockwaves as the energy of the collapse pushes some of the surrounding matter out. Of course warp drives aren’t going to be anywhere as powerful as that, but they would be putting out enough energy to harm multiple planets. Not only that, but they would have to release all of this energy quickly so it doesn’t simply dissipate before it can bend space. And what would happen if a warp drive misfires and essentially blows up with incredible force in all directions?

If you want to explore space firsthand, a warp drive isn’t just a good idea that could save you a lot of time and resources. It’s an absolute must. Without it, exploring even 1% of the galaxy would take eons. Luckily for future interstellar explorers, physicists are on the case and have so far been able to derive a theoretical basis for a real warp drive thanks to Michael Alcubierre from the University of Mexico. The concept he presented in 1994 has been the basis for years of theoretical fine tuning, hopes of space minded futurists and science fiction stories requiring writers to put aside relativity. But now, a group of Italian physicists think they’ve found a snag.

warp spacecraft

A warp drive as we understand it today is an asymmetric bubble of space and time wrapped around the craft that needs to move faster than light. By stretching this bubble in a certain direction, the spacecraft can move without actually moving, having the bubble of space ferry it to where it needs to go. Because special relativity only puts a limit on objects moving through space, there’s no limit to how fast space itself can be moved. For a period of time after the Big Bang, there could’ve actually been enough energy to expand space faster than the universal speed limit of 299,792,458 meters per second. A warp drive would create very similar conditions on a small scale. All it needs is an output roughly similar to converting the entire mass of Jupiter into pure energy and bend numerous dimensions into a bubble around itself. See, nothing to it!

However, by bending these dimensions, it could effectively form an event horizon around itself and that event horizon could flood the inside of the bubble with Hawking radiation. As the spacecraft approaches the speed of light, it’s bathed in a dose high enough to fry it to a crisp. The Hawking radiation itself consists of particles that appear out of the quantum mesh and ordinarily disappear back into it. In the presence of warped space though, the balance of their typical behavior is broken and they’re free to bombard anything and everything like any other type of radiation out there.

Another problem with the warp bubble is the exponential increase of something called a renormalized stress- energy tensor. This is basically stress that builds up on the deformed sections of the bubble as it moves with increasing speed. Because of the quantum phenomena that come into play when the bubble is created exert a lot of force on this shell of space and time, they build up stress. When the bubble moves quickly enough, the stress can become too great and the bubble itself pops. What will happen to the spacecraft inside? Well that is a very tricky question. Ideally, the bubble peels away and the craft is suddenly stationary somewhere in the vast expanses of interstellar space. Because the sheer distance between stars, that’s the likeliest place for it to end up. If momentum is somehow preserved through a mechanism we don’t know yet, the craft would be spat out at such an enormous speed, it would be torn apart by the interstellar medium or crushed by its own momentum as special relativity says. Or, the bubble could collapse, destroying the craft inside. Marooned or annihilated. Neither option is good, although maybe it won’t take you more than a few years to get back home from the point where your warp bubble popped.

But before you shed a tear for warp drive technology and reach for the shovel, keep in mind that these physics are so new and require so much testing to be confirmed on such a large scale, we can’t rule out the idea that one day we will have the technology to move faster than light. There are other ideas out there and maybe the combination of several different approaches will yield something that works. The very first calculations of the amount of power it would take to hit warp speed said you’d need infinite energy since the calculations were based on special relativity. After applying general relativity and extra dimensions, that requirement shrunk to just the mass of Jupiter which is an absolutely amazing and encouraging downgrade. Who knows that other phenomena we’ll find in the future or even as soon as the completion of the LHC experiments? Maybe they’ll help us overcome pretty much any quantum limitation to dreams of our faster than light travel…

See: Richard K Obousy, et al, (2008). Putting the Warp into Warp Drive Spaceflight, 50 (4) arXiv:0807.1957v2

Stefano Finazzi, et al (2009). Semiclassical instability of dynamical warp drives arXiv arXiv:0904.0141v1