Want Faster-than-Light Travel? Easy! Just Change the Fabric of Space-Time

Illustration for article titled Want Faster-than-Light Travel? Easy! Just Change the Fabric of Space-Time

Albert Einstein predicted long ago that faster-than-light travel was impossible. More specifically, he said the laws of physics forbade the observation of any speed faster than that constant 299,792,458 meters per second — no matter how great the energy involved. Einstein's postulate holds true for any reference frame within the fabric of the space-time continuum we're used to. So that means the speed of light's the absolute limit for any object. But now two theoretical physicists from Baylor University are saying that they know how to travel faster than that — and all they'd have to do is change the fabric of space-time itself.Citing the Big Bang Theory, Baylor's Gerald Cleaver and Robert K. Obousy note that parts of the space-time continuum have already managed to move faster than the speed of light; physicists have observed this as they've investigated the accelerating expansion of the universe. Cleaver and Obousy's proposal, which will be published in this September's issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, suggests a way to recreate those cosmic shifts for our own purposes. And hey, that should be doable after only a few millenia, according to Cleaver. I'd start cleaning and pressing your Starfleet outfit as soon as possible, though — just in case. Warp Speed Engine Designed [Discovery News] Putting the "Warp" into Warp Drive [arXiv.org] Image from Orbital Vector.

DISCUSSION

Corpore Metal

I always read with interest science news that mention newly discovered loopholes that might, usually under extreme conditions, allow for faster than light travel or information exchange. But usually what happens is, a few years laters, further research closes the loophole and leaves us stranded in the tedious real world where no information can be sent faster than the speed of light.

Back in '94 it was Alcubierre space warp, which was then mostly invalidated. Then the Krasnikov tube, which was then mostly invalidated. And now it's this. Here's hoping, right?

Anyway all these potential loopholes based on bizarre space-time geometries require one thing we have never seen—negative mass, sometimes called "exotic matter."

Exotic matter probably doesn't exist simply because, with it, you can do all kinds of crazy magical, things—time travel, perpetual motion motions, faster than light travel, reactionless drives—you name it, really.

Anyway, here's hoping theoretical loophole that allows for the bizarre effect in this news remains open or finds some experimental evidence to back it up.