Perhaps We’re Not Bound to Our Solar System After All

So, Matt Peckham in Time Magazine has reported that NASA is “Actually Working on a Faster-Than-Light Warp Drive.” No, really. And it’s brilliant:

“By placing a spheroid object between two regions of space-time — one expanding, the other contracting — Alcubierre theorized you could create a “warp bubble” that moves space-time around the object, effectively re-positioning it. In essence, you’d have the end result of faster-than-light travel without the object itself having to move (with respect to its local frame of reference) at light-speed or faster.”

Basically, rather than accelerate an object, this method simply changes the very fabric space-time (wow). And it doesn’t violate Einstein’s special theory of relativity. And they’re gonna start lab experiments too. The assured extinction of the species when the Sun goes Red Giant on us, now looks less eschatological. Alpha Centauri or bust by 2100.

Also, this is weirdly reminiscent of the last few pages of Thomas Pynchon’s, Against the Day [2006], in which the Chums of Chance skyship, the Inconvenience, becomes capable of time travel:

Inconvenience herself is constantly having her engineering updated. As a result of advances in relativity theory, light is incorporated as a source of motive power–though not exactly fuel–and as a carrying medium–though not exactly a vehicle–occupying, rather, a relation to the skyship much like that of the ocean to a surfer on a surfboard–a design principle borrowed from the Æther units that carry the girls to and fro on missions whose details they do not always share fully with “High Command.” (1084)

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