I know I’m supposed to be all a-tizzy about American Idol judges and Breaking Dawn’s dream couple reunited, but I’d rather watch a good borg fight on the holodeck than the latest Project Runway. For those of us who sometimes cast our nerdy hearts and eyes towards the starry sky there’s some good news: promising new experiments in warp drive technology are going on right this very second. That’s right, warp drives could be a real actually-possible soaring-across-space thing. I think we all know what happens next: prep the jukebox like Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact.
Science fiction adventure fans (aka geeknerds) have long been familiar with the concept of “warp drive technology” (aka jump drives, hyperdrives, etc. etc.) as the hypothetical engine system that would propel a spaceship faster than the speed of light, allowing explorers to zip across the universe without having to be A) cryogenically frozen and woken up to a chest-bursting alien or B) aged to the ripe bloom of 10,000 years by the time they reach their destination. Studies show that movies about frozen old people wouldn’t be very interesting and yard-long nails tend to freak people out, so Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry invented a way around it. Now, for the first time, science is stepping up to make entertainment’s dreams real.
Actual scientists have pondered the feasibility of warp travel for years but based on a warp drive proposal put out in 1994 (no, seriously), they thought that it would require a source of energy so huge it wouldn’t even be worth investigating– until now. Physicists adjusted their calculations to reveal that instead of taking the energy of something like the entirety of Jupiter it could take as little as the same energy that was output by the Voyager 1 probe.
Since discovering faster-than-light travel might be plausible instead of ridiculous, NASA has been testing the new theory on a miniature scale at the Johnson Space Center. Aside from triggering a massive geek-out for Star Trek fans everywhere, the success of these new experiments would be a scientific breakthrough of epic proportions. Before you know it we’ll be speeding across space slicing red shirts to ribbons with our lightsabers and having brief dalliances with exotic aliens.