Monday, July 28, 2008

Geeks of the world REJOICE!

Discovery News just published a story, and I think every geek just simultaneously creamed their pants.

Here you see a graphical representation of a new type of engine to drive space ships: a real, live, warp drive. Like in Star Trek. Honestly.

Scientists at Baylor University say it's possible*. And they're totally not joking.

"A design first proposed in1994 by Michael Alcubierre is illustrated. 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 cool part: "The tricky part is that the ship wouldn't actually move; space itself would move underneath the stationary spacecraft. A beam of light next to the ship would still zoom away, same as it always does, but a beam of light far from the ship would be left behind."

How bad-ass is that?

When I was a kid, sitting in the back of my parents' stupid renault, counting the lines on the road as they flashed by, I used to wonder if we were moving over the world, or if we were standing still, and the world was moving beneath us. Similarly, someone once asked Einstein why the chicken crossed the road. He replied, "Did the chicken cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?" I envision this "warp-drive" the same way. The space ship stays still, while space moves around it.

Totally bad-ass.

*Yes, they also said it's impractical, and probably still a couple millenia from fruition, but dude, come on, we landed on the moon ahead of time. Let's be optimistic here, people. I've got my eye on a time share in the general vicinity of Betelgeuse.