Is it possible to get to extrasolar planetary systems faster than the speed of light? Harold White claims that it is. With his team at NASA, he manufactures a superluminal engine for interstellar travel. For example, such a vessel would arrive in just 2 weeks to the system of Alpha Centauri, which is 4 light years from the Sun.
White’s research is an effort to continue and expand the idea of the Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre, which had caused heated debates in the scientific world in 1994. The scientist suggested that the space should “shrink” in front of the spacecraft and expand behind it. The spaceship should behave as if placed inside a “bubble” of the deformed space and remain motionless in there, preventing people within it from facing any overloads. Thus, the spaceship will be moved by the running space around it, which can expand and shrink at a speed greater than the speed of light.
The creation of the “bubble” requires a mysterious substance, the negative mass of which in the conditions of complete dissolution will free the necessary “dark” energy. The calculations of the supporters of the Alcubierre’s theory mentioned various sizes – the equivalent to three solar masses and the mass of Jupiter. Harold White in his calculations reduced it even more – up to 700 kg provided that the “bubble” will not have the form of a sphere, but a toroidal or doughnut shape. White says that the results of the calculations are promising. His research group with the help of laser produces a microscopic model of the Alcubierre Drive.
However, is it really possible to build this spaceship? First of all, it is necessary to find a way of ‘taming’ the negative mass, which is linked to the possibility to develop the speed of galaxies and Universe expansion. But for now physicists are only ready to discuss various mathematical models and laboratory experiments.