top of page

Alcubierre Warp Drive

Is faster than light travel possible?

The ship is not moving through space-time (but moving space-time itself) It is analogous to a surfer riding a wave; the surfer isn't moving rather the wave is moving the surfer.

The Alcubierre drive is a speculative idea by theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre which is based on a theoretical solution of Einstein’s field equations in general relativity. The idea is to create a spacecraft that could achieve faster-than-light travel. The ship isn't actually travelling at any speed, but rather, it's moving the space-time around it. And since space-time can move faster than the speed of light, way faster, it creates the effect of the ship travelling faster than light. So, essentially the warp drive is actually curving space-time so much that it takes space-time with it, rather than travelling through space-time. As you can see, the warped space-time that the drive creates is moving the space rather than the ship moving through space.

It is very similar to how gravitational waves work by squeezing and stretching spacetime. The gravitational waves were discovered by Ligo, so observations show that is it possible to warp space and time in nature, therefore the alcubierre drive, in theory, could work. So, the warp drive, for example, can travel to Proxima Centauri, not in four and a half years, but rather in a few weeks. But it does get a wee bit more complex because we have to take into consideration the fact that the ship does not move at all, so the speed is quite irrelevant as essentially what is occurring is that the warp drive in away is stealing a piece of space-time and then placing it somewhere else.

You may be thinking that this violates the speed of light but the ship isn't moving through space-time at all. This very odd propulsion system is manipulating space-time by generating a so-called warp bubble. It would expand space on side of the spacecraft and contract it on another. In this way, the spaceship will be pushed away from the Earth and pulled towards a distant star.