The warp drive key must be in… antifreeze!

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A warp drive, or warp drive, would theoretically allow us to travel at FTL through space by locally warping spacetime. This concept is a dream, and more and more scientists have been working on it for several decades. An engineer from the University of Houston-Victoria said today that he is almost ready to test his own theory.

Warp drive has long been considered pure science fiction. Then, in 1994, Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed the “Alcubierre metric,” a theoretical means of FTL that is consistent with Einstein’s equations. FTL travel then became “thinkable” and several scientists began to take an interest in the subject, notably Dr. Harold G. “Sonny” White, a former NASA engineer. Since 2018, he has been working at the Infinite Space Institute, which brings together scientists and engineers whose goal is to find a way to travel in deep space.

However, we are still very far from the spatial travel of Star Trek or Star Wars. The distortion engine would indeed require a colossal amount of “exotic” negative energy material that is difficult to produce with current technology… In 2021, the team proposed an approach that partially solves the problem, but the resulting engine may not travel faster than light. University of Houston-Victoria professor Dr. Chance Glenn told The Debrief today that his research could finally lead to the development of a true warp drive.


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Model of positive energy based on dielectric materials

A warp drive is not a drive in the proper sense of the word: it should be thought of as a device capable of creating a “space-time bubble” whose fundamental properties will be different from those outside. A spacecraft protected by such a warp bubble would travel faster than the speed of light through a series of stretches and contractions in the fabric of space-time around it.

At the moment, Dr. Glenn, who has several degrees in electrical engineering, including a master’s and doctoral degree from Johns Hopkins University, has focused his research not on ways to create a warp bubble, but on ways to warp time and space. He revised previous models, including those of Alcubierra and White, and this time succeeded in developing a theoretical model based on positive energy density. Now he wants to put his theory into practice.

To do this, he plans to use dielectric materials. ” Difference [entre son modèle et les autres] is that I’ve identified stuff that I think can get us there that mathematically matches what the equations say. Many of the existing distortion theories have not been discussed as to how they might be applied,” Glenn told The Debrief.

He managed to find a material with exactly the properties he was looking for: ethylene glycol, often used as an antifreeze, is a common and surprisingly basic material for a rather complex experiment. “The experiment I envision involves pulsing a laser beam through a radio frequency (RF) camera, and if somehow, even slightly, space-time is distorted, it can be detected,” he told the magazine.

Specifically, Glenn plans to fill the chamber with ethylene glycol. By aiming a laser at this chamber, he hopes to detect traces of gravitational waves with an interferometer – in other words, ripples in space-time. “If you can concentrate [l’énergie radiofréquence] at some point – which allows us to make the camera that I design – it may be enough, at the atomic level, I’m only guessing, to really warp space-time, ”he explains.

The first experiments are scheduled for spring 2023.

The pulsed signal not only tunes and shapes the RF to improve performance and reduce the overall energy required, but is also a method to ensure that any spatiotemporal disturbance that is (possibly) detected is indeed the result of the RF and not an external influence. force, sums up the magazine.

Therefore, the first goal of a scientist is to observe this distortion of space-time, and not build a real warp ship. However, the results of this experiment may have important implications for future warp drive development efforts. Namely, that this project is also part of a much larger plan to make the space “accessible to everyone”: “I represent a group called the Morningbird Foundation. Our goal is to make sure that access to space is beneficial for everyone, not just the rich,” the professor emphasized.

The design of the chamber has not yet been finalized to ensure the concentration of RF energy at one point. To do this, Glenn uses digital modeling software called COMSOL. It is also necessary to raise the necessary funds for the construction of the chamber, buy tools (in particular, a modern interferometer) and pay the team. Everything seems to be going well on that side: his preliminary proposal for a grant to the National Science Foundation has already been accepted, and the professor has established valuable contacts at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and at SpaceX. According to The Debrief, Dr. White even offered to use his lab!

Thus, the experiment is almost ready to be executed. “I hope to be able to conduct the first experiments in the first half of 2023. Maybe in March or early spring,” Glenn said.

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