Admit it. You got a little excited when you heard that it might be possible to construct a working “warp” drive, capable of moving an object faster than the speed of light. Sadly, it’s since been shown that such a trip could kill you and now, Aussie researchers believe it would be deadly for everyone at your destination too.
Brendan McMonigal, Geraint F. Lewis and Philip O’Byrne of the Sydney Institute for Astronomy published a paper early this year suggesting if one were to travel on a space-faring vessel utilising the so-called Alcubierre drive “[anyone] at the destination would be gamma ray and high energy particle blasted into oblivion”, courtesy of the mentioned particles being collected in the ship’s wake. An article on the paper by ExtremeTech points out that, due to their being no upper limit on the number of particles that could be collected, the destructive energy would simply increase the faster and longer the ship travelled for.
And that’s not all — those on-board would need sufficient shielding to protect them from “potentially dangerous” blue-shifted particles. Simply put, the warp drive is sounding more like a weapon (a suicidal one at that) than a mode of transportation.
The way I look at it is that any sort of faster-than-light travel, or even near-FTL, will require technologies developed in concert. It’s not like NASA just strapped a capsule to the top of a rocket and shot it into space. Well, OK, it kind of did, but the most recent NASA shuttles feature many different support systems that took years of continuous testing and research to get right. The warp drive, if it ever eventuates, will be no different.
Image: Star Trek Online