Warp speed — traveling faster than the speed of light — is a staple of science fiction, but physicists have pointed out that the speed of light is the universal speed limit. Perhaps that’s not the case, according to Astrophysics Professor Geraint Lewis from the University of Sydney, and Einstein’s theory of relativity holds the key.
According to the Daily Mail, Albert Einstein invented his theory of special relativity in 1905, which revealed that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light. In the following years he developed the theory of general relativity, which created the idea that space and time could be bent and leave open a possibility for travelling galactic distances.
Professor Lewis cites the theory as a vague blueprint for building a warp drive.
“If you look at the equation that Einstein gave us, it shows you can bend and warp space so you can travel at any speed you like in the universe. It’s theoretically possible.”
The professor still left open the question of if it would ever be possible, explaining that the actual construction of a “warp drive” would require materials with a negative density energy. Unfortunately for the professor, humanity still doesn’t know of anything with that property.
“It is not a material that we actually have in our hands, but there are signs that there are aspects of the universe that actually have this kind of property.”
ZME Science reports that Lewis believes empty space itself has a negative density energy.
“The big question is if we could mine it and shape it, we would basically have a warp drive there and then, but we just don’t know if that’s possible.”
Despite all the potential problems, Lewis believes that humanity will understand the universe well enough to achieve warp speed in the “next 100 or 1,000 years.”
As for his detractors, Professor Lewis points to the work of Isaac Newton or people working on quantum physics 100 years ago, saying that “those things are real today and they started off as dreams essentially.”
Others are dreaming of the Star Trek future as well.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, NASA recently conducted experiments to test a potentially revolutionary propulsion system that actually appeared to break the laws of physics. Despite the hype from the discovery, officials dismissed the results saying they were not “tangible.”
As for Professor Lewis, his ideas may be something for the distant future, but the idea of warp speed continues to spur the imaginations of science fiction lovers around the world.
[Image Credit: NASA/Wikimedia Commons]