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New Warp Drive Papers

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In the last half a year or so, two new research papers have been published which validate warp drives as potentially achievable at some point. Which is super exciting! There has been very little progress on warp drives since Alcubierre first proposed this theoretical method of travel. One of the largest hurdles was that up to this point, any solutions to Einstein's field equations which satisfied the conditions for warp bubbles required negative energy, which as far as we are aware, is physically impossible. Thus, it has been assumed that such technology would require exotic matter, which is physicist for "matter which shouldn't exist based on our current understanding." However, these two new papers have found solutions which require purely positive energy. This first one, "Introducing Physical Warp Drives" by Alexey Bobrick and Gianni Martire, found a solution with positive energy requirements for subluminal velocities in addition to optimizing the energy requirements. The second paper, "Breaking the Warp Barrier: Hyper-Fast Solitons in Einstein-Maxwell Plasma Theory" by Erik Lentz, discovered solutions for superluminal warp fields, so assuming his calculations prove correct, FTL travel is officially possible given our current understanding of physics. Bear in mind that these paper have yet to be peer-reviewed, but from what I've heard they both stand very good chances.

Even given these new solutions, though, warp drives remain far outside of our current capabilities. The lowest theoretical energy requirement yet obtained for a 100 m warp bubble is 0.1 M, or 10% the mass of the sun. For comparison, Alcubierre's original model required more energy than was contained in the universe, so at least we've made progress? Plus we're far from exhausting methods of reducing the energy requirements. I watched a lecture by Lentz summarizing his paper, and he was positive that within the next decade, someone will either find a solution with practical energy requirements or the obvious routes for decreasing energy requirements will be exhausted and we'll have to wait for another breakthrough. Another practical issue with warp drives is that all of the current models assume constant velocity, and so acceleration has to be figured out. And there's probably numerous other problems that I'm unaware of. Still, I'm amazed we're making any progress at all. With any luck, I'll live long enough to see us experiment with warp bubbles in the lab. It's a long shot, but less of one that it seemed one year ago. 

This video summarized the new findings really well, and it also provides links to the original papers in the description.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vk5bxHetL4s&t=142s

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