by Kerry Mcdermott Daily Mail
Should scientists make the dreams of a million Star Trek fans come true by designing a spacecraft capable of travelling faster than the speed of light, it would be pretty frustrating to discover such a ship would obliterate any planet it landed on.
But that is exactly what NASA researchers suspect could happen after new analysis revealed a flaw in designs for a so-called ‘warp drive’ – the theoretical technology that would propel spaceships to speeds faster than light – could cause catastrophic explosions the moment intrepid space explorers reached their destination.
Rocket scientists at the Space Agency have been researching the possibility of a spaceship that could achieve warp speed travel via a real-life warp drive, the fantasy version of which is familiar to fans of Star Trek and other sci-fi shows.
Equations based on the laws of relativity have allowed warp speed in theory; but the energy required to make it happen would require the energy-mass of a planet the size of Jupiter.
Recently scientists studying the model for a warp drive proposed by the Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre concluded its power requirements were not as impossible as once believed.
But new research from the University of Sydney has suggested that, while the warp drive could work, disengaging the system at the end of a journey could prove extremely problematic.
Alcubierre’s design features a ship made of a central pod surrounded by a large, flat ring – scientists are yet to establish what matter this ring would be made of, as it would need to be capable of bending the very fabric of the universe.
Nonetheless they claim that, with enough energy, space and time can be bent to allow the spacecraft to travel through ‘loops’ in space.