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article imageNASA may have discovered the secret to faster-than-light travel

By Stephen Morgan     Apr 30, 2015 in Science
The barrier to interstellar travel seems to have always been our inability to go faster than the speed of light. Now, NASA may have discovered the secret to the famous warp drive, which propelled the Starship Enterprise across the galaxies.
In fact, NASA scientists didn't exactly discover speeds faster-than-light (FTL), they sort of stumbled upon it. Researchers at the space agency were carrying out an experiment in which they were looking into future methods of space travel to the Moon and Mars.
The EDM was originally built to explore the possibilities of faster travel without a propellant. Tech Times says that, "It's electrically powered, it features no moving parts and doesn't require any material fuel to move. If it ends up working as planned, there's a good chance that it could lead to a new breed of engine."
In the course of exploring these possibilities, the scientists shot lasers into a machine called the EmDrive (Electromagnetic Drive) resonance chamber and were astonished to find that some of the particles hit such colossal speeds that they appear to have moved faster than the speed of light.
ABC News reports that, in fact, the pulse traveled 310 times the distance it would have covered if the chamber had contained a vacuum.
IFL Science explains what happened.
"The unpublished experiment that led to this exciting possibility was performed in the vacuum of space. After shooting laser beams into the EM Drive’s resonance chamber, where the light is resonated to increase its intensity, researchers found that some of the beams of light were moving faster than the speed of light constant: approximately 300,000,000 meters per second."
But just why the experiment led to light beams accelerating at superluminal speeds is still unanswered.
The reason why the discovery was such a surprise to the team is because it's accepted by the overwhelming majority of the science community that nothing could move faster than the speed of light. The speed of light is considered a constant which can't be passed.
But, if the NASA findings prove to be true, it will put in question one of the corner stones of modern physics – Einstein's theory of relativity – which states that nothing can go faster than a beam of light.
The revelations have come out in NASA's Space Flight forum, and have led to a quite long and very serious discussion of what the implications would be. One of which is the problem that, according to Einstein's theories, going faster than light, would also mean going back in time. Experts on the forum are debating whether this could be got around for space travel at superluminal speeds.
ABC quotes Lijun Wang, a researcher with the private NEC Institute, who commented that;
“This effect cannot be used to send information back in time. However, our experiment does show that the generally held misconception that ‘nothing can travel faster than the speed of light’ is wrong.”
From a technical standpoint, IFL Science explains that the beams seem to be creating some sort of warp field or warp bubble in space foam, which would create the thrust to power a space ship at FTL speeds.
The effect wouldn't be anything like what we normally associate with travel. In fact, the space ship wouldn't itself travel faster than light, but would be carried beyond the speed of light by the warp bubble.
NASA image
NASA image
Space-time would contract in front of the ship, then flow over and expand back to normality behind it. It would be space-time, which would be moving around the ship faster than the speed of light. The space craft itself would effectively not move, but would be shot forward at gigantic speeds by the space-time bubble.
Tech Times quotes from the NASA Space Flight forum that;
"...this signature (the interference pattern) on the EmDrive looks just like what a warp bubble looks like. And the math behind the warp bubble apparently matches the interference pattern found in the EmDrive."
The process isn't so far fetched, because evidence suggests that right after the Big Bang, the universe exploded outward at speeds greater than light. Therefore, says IFL, why couldn't scientists warp space-time, in order to beat the subluminal speed limit.
Potentially, all of the limitations we now face for space exploration could be brushed aside. Travel to nearby planets would take minutes and visits to other galaxies would be well within our reach.
It could be one of the most important discoveries of all time, which would open up an entirely new epoch for humanity.
However, despite all the chatter on NASA websites, there is quite a way to go before FTL warp drive technology can be developed, and it should be noted that the news still needs to be officially confirmed and verified in experiments by other experts.
More about NASA, Speed of light, Faster, Discovered
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