Bad News About Time Travel, Good News About Faster Than Light Travel


Thu, Aug 4th, 2011 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

The bad news is that scientists have demonstrated that time travel is impossible by proving that a single photon, or unit of light, "obeys the traffic law of the universe."

From the article:

"Einstein claimed that the speed of light was the traffic law of the universe or in simple language, nothing can travel faster than light," the university said on its website.

"Professor Du's study demonstrates that a single photon, the fundamental quanta of light, also obeys the traffic law of the universe just like classical EM (electromagnetic) waves."

The possibility of time travel was raised 10 years ago when scientists discovered superluminal -- or faster-than-light -- propagation of optical pulses in some specific medium, the team said.

It was later found to be a visual effect, but researchers thought it might still be possible for a single photon to exceed light speed.

The good news is that faster than travel light is possible if we skip the whole travelling-faster-than-light business using a warp engine. Yeah, just like they do in Star Trek:

Seems strange, but by manipulating extra dimensions with astronomical amounts of energy, two Baylor University physicists have outlined how a faster-than-light engine, or warp drive, could be created that would bend but not break the laws of physics.

"We think we can create an effective warp drive, based on general relatively and string theory," said Gerald Cleaver, coauthor of the paper that recently appeared on the preprint server

The warp engine is based on a design first proposed in1994 by Michael Alcubierre. The Alcubierre drive, as it's known, involves expanding the fabric of space behind a ship into a bubble and shrinking space-time in front of the ship. The ship would rest in between the expanding and shrinking space-time, essentially surfing down the side of the bubble.

The only catch is that, while faster-than-light requires an infinite amount of energy, the warp engine only requires the amount of energy you'd get if you converted the entire mass of Jupiter into pure energy via E = mc^2. Not a lot, but more than we can realistically produce today.



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