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Alcubierre warp drive
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  • Description of the implementation
The Alcubierre drive, Alcubierre warp drive, or Alcubierre metric (referring to metric tensor) is a speculative idea based on a solution of Einstein's field equations in general relativity as proposed by Mexican theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre, by which a spacecraft could achieve apparent faster-than-light travel if a configurable energy-density field lower than that of vacuum (that is, negative mass) could be created.

In 1994, Alcubierre proposed a method for changing the geometry of space by creating a wave that would cause the fabric of space ahead of a spacecraft to contract and the space behind it to expand. The ship would then ride this wave inside a region of flat space, known as a warp bubble, and would not move within this bubble but instead be carried along as the region itself moves due to the actions of the drive.

The Alcubierre metric defines the warp-drive spacetime. It is a Lorentzian manifold that, if interpreted in the context of general relativity, allows a warp bubble to appear in previously flat spacetime and move away effectively faster than lightspeed. The interior of the bubble is an inertial reference frame and inhabitants experience no proper acceleration. This method of transport does not involve objects in motion at speeds faster than light with respect to the contents of the warp bubble; that is, a light beam within the warp bubble would still always move faster than the ship. Because objects within the bubble are not moving (locally) faster than light, the mathematical formulation of the Alcubierre metric is consistent with the conventional claims of the laws of relativity (namely, that an object with mass cannot attain or exceed the speed of light) and conventional relativistic effects such as time dilation would not apply as they would with conventional motion at near-light speeds.

The Alcubierre drive, however, remains a hypothetical concept with seemingly difficult problems, though the amount of energy required is no longer thought to be unobtainably large.

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Source: Wikipedia

It was thought to use too much negative energy until Harold Sonny White said that the amount of energy required could be reduced if the warp bubble were changed into a warp ring.

In 2012, a NASA laboratory announced that they had constructed an interferometer that they claim will detect the spatial distortions produced by the expanding and contracting spacetime of the Alcubierre metric. The work has been described in Warp Field Mechanics 101, a NASA paper by Harold Sonny White. Alcubierre has expressed skepticism about the experiment, saying: "from my understanding there is no way it can be done, probably not for centuries if at all".

Source: Wikipedia

Two-dimensional visualization of an Alcubierre drive, showing the opposing regions of expanding and contracting spacetime that displace the central region
Miguel Alcubierre Moya

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Miguel Alcubierre Moya (born March 28, 1964) is a Mexican theoretical physicist. Alcubierre is known for the proposed Alcubierre drive, a speculative warp drive by which a spacecraft could achieve faster-than-light travel.