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NASA Unveils Incredible Star Trek-style Warp Drive Space Ship: PHOTOS

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This week, NASA engineer Harold White and digital artist Mark Rademaker unveiled the IXS Enterprise - a years-in-the-making CGI design concept for a potential warp drive space ship of the future. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto sadly not included. 

The Washington Post reports:

“We wanted to have a decent image of a theory conforming Warp ship to motivate young people to pursue a STEM career,” Rademaker said in an e-mail interview. “It does have some Sci-Fi features that might never transfer to a possible final design, unless we really want to.”

A warp ship such as the IXS Enterprise could allow travel to interstellar space in a matter of weeks rather than, say, centuries. And the science behind why it might be possible is truly mind-boggling.

An over-simplified explanation is that the concept seeks to exploit a “loophole” in Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity that allows travel faster than the speed of light by expanding space-time behind the object and contracting space-time front of it.

When asked the question on all our minds – “When can I get one of these?” White said that proving that the math behind the model is the first and most important step in the process. 

For now, we'll just have to make do with the awesome photos of the design, which you can check out AFTER THE JUMP...

[photos via Flickr]

Warp1

Warp2

Warp3

Warp4

And check out this video of White explaining his project (starts at 41:54)

 

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Comments

  1. This is fascinating. Alcurribe drives holds so much promise. I wonder if it could be used to collide protons at speeds higher than the speed of light.

    Posted by: Rafael | Jun 12, 2014 12:53:19 PM


  2. This is fascinating. Alcurribe drives holds so much promise. I wonder if it could be used to collide protons at speeds higher than the speed of light.

    Posted by: Rafael | Jun 12, 2014 12:53:20 PM


  3. I just fanboy-gazamed in my pants.

    Posted by: Dave | Jun 12, 2014 1:11:16 PM


  4. Awesome!. Humans now pesting other galaxies

    Posted by: Alain | Jun 12, 2014 1:42:48 PM


  5. @Rafael : no, protons won't collide at speeds higher than the speed of light. Locally, all massive objects move slower than the speed of light.

    There is also no "drive" - what exists instead is a solution to the general-relativity field equations that showed that a 'warp drive' would be possible if you could create a region of space with a negative energy density. The original paper showed there were such solutions - but the energy needed to run the thing was way too large to be practical - you'd have to tow a star along 0r do something equivalent to have a power source up to the task. The work at NASA showed that with a variant of the original idea, you could reduce the power requirements to something that is not way too high to be practical.

    Right now they are trying a lab experiment to see if they can generate a slight blue shift in a light beam, measuring it using interferometers. The expected shift is very small - so small as to be very hard to detect.

    Posted by: Bill | Jun 12, 2014 2:40:48 PM


  6. Whoooooa.

    Posted by: Robert | Jun 12, 2014 4:11:21 PM


  7. Very cool. But when we engage the warp drive all us humans will become big chunks of salsa on the back walls of the ship. :op

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Jun 12, 2014 5:15:08 PM


  8. "NASA Unveils Incredible Star Trek-style Warp Drive Space Ship"

    No.

    NASA released an artist's rendering, otherwise known as "vaporware".

    Lies like these are what give creationists their power.

    Thanks a lot, NASA.

    Posted by: Randy | Jun 12, 2014 6:26:27 PM


  9. To boldly go where no man has gone before!

    Posted by: jarago | Jun 12, 2014 6:29:31 PM


  10. Who pissed in your cornflakes, randy?

    Posted by: Rich F. | Jun 12, 2014 6:42:16 PM


  11. Grow up, people - science fiction is FICTION. This is the circuses part of bread and circuses - your government wasting your taxes to keep you dumb, happy, and ignorant.

    The speed of light is an absolute speed limit in the universe, both for communications and objects; that's just a fact of life. And it means that we will never, never be exchanging billets doux or boxes of chocolates with little green men. Even if those little green men exist (likely enough, I suppose, given the incomprehensibly huge size of the universe) the odds are overwhelming that they are too far away, way way way too far away, to have a conversation with.

    So yeah, Randy, I'm in your camp. NASA is a necessity (possibly mostly for military reasons, but still a necessity); they shouldn't have to inflict this pablum on the public to make sure they have funding. On the other hand, they shouldn't be wasting our money like this.

    Posted by: tominsf | Jun 13, 2014 12:34:04 AM


  12. I agree with Tom and Randy.

    Posted by: EchtKultig | Jun 13, 2014 1:00:12 AM


  13. Everything physical begins as fiction in someone's head.

    One example: Arthur C. Clark, scientist AND science fiction writer, was one of a handful of people who described geostationary satellites before we even had artificial satellites AT ALL.

    All *ideas* are fiction. Until they get built.

    Human flight was pure fiction until the Wright brothers did it.

    Posted by: Raybob | Jun 13, 2014 10:18:47 AM


  14. Randy and Tom are right. This is nothing but a fantasy. Just like all those powerful handheld devices that Star Trek imagined everyone would be carrying around.

    Posted by: crispy | Jun 13, 2014 10:26:18 AM


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