Harold White is a name that you need to know right now. He’s the man in charge of NASA’s current program to determine the viability of a real life, functional warp drive. The concept is pretty simple and familiar: by bending space around a ship using an Alcubierre warp bubble, a ship could make the journey of several light years in several weeks without breaking the laws of physics as we know them.
We often think of a warp drive with science fiction or interstellar travel, but there are 7 real ways that a functional drive could change life on Earth in some amazing ways.
#1. Solar System Colonization Could Begin in 40 Years
Even though the project is still in the speculation phase, the development of technology is advancing at rapid speeds. We’re talking about a Mars Colonization in the 2020’s. We could be talking about solar system colonization in the 2050’s with a functional warp drive. Even an engine that produces speeds just 1% of the speed of light would put this within reach. Even if Alpha Centauri isn’t an immediate possibility, maybe Europa or Titan would be.
#2. Instant Data Transfer
The concepts of special relativity as we know them right now forbid the speed of light from being broken, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t journey on the flows of spacetime. By expanding and contracting spacetime, we could have instant data transfers not across the planet, but potentially across the solar system or even beyond. Instant is relative, of course, but what’s a few seconds between New York City and Pluto?
#3. Immortality [Well, Sort Of]
According to the identical twin example put forth by Einstein, the twin that goes into deep space will return to Earth younger than the twin that stayed on the planet. This time paradox may or may not be true – no one really knows how cosmic rays might change this equation over time, but the concept itself is sound. This sort of travel could extend human life beyond what we think of it as right now. It won’t stop the biological clock, of course, but it could dilate it by an unknown amount, especially if cosmic radiation can be blocked effectively.
#4. Suspended Animation Could Become a Reality
The work behind modern suspended animation has helped in the advancement of severe injury treatments, but work on the warp drive could take it to new levels. Current theories have suspended animation potentially working with a blood replacement. A cold saline solution is used instead and this stops almost all cellular activity. Almost. If reversed with a few hours, the thought is that life can be preserved, even though someone met the clinical definition of death for several hours. Now imagine being able to warp spacetime so that events happen faster here on Earth then they do for the person in suspended animation? It’s possible that years could pass in the span of these localized hours in suspension, thus giving critically ill people the chance to be cured.
#5. Travel To New Universes
What if time isn’t fully relative, but has a component of “realness” to it? According to one theory, the origins of the universe we have could have been started in a black hole. If that has some truth, then with a warp drive that has the ability to manipulate spacetime, it would also be theoretically possible to break the Event Horizon and reach into a new universe.
After all, if everything has an equal and opposite reaction, all that stuff being sucked out by a black hole must be transferred somewhere. Why not a new universe that you could visit?