David Kirkpatrick

September 30, 2010

Metamaterials and warp drives

Filed under: et.al., Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:20 pm

It’s almost time to call metamaterials simply that science fiction stuff. Usually you hear about metamaterials around these parts in posts about actual invisibility cloaking technology, and here’s one about metamaterials and warp drives. Metamaterials — turning science fiction into science fact …

From the link:

That means physicists can use metamaterials to simulate the universe itself and all the weird phenomenon of general relativity. We’ve looked at various attempts to recreate black holes, the Big Bang and even multiverses.

But there’s another thing that general relativity appears to allow: faster than light travel. In 1994, the Mexican physicist, Michael Alcubierre, realised that while relativity prevents faster-than-light travel relative to the fabric of spacetime, it places no restriction on the speed at which regions of spacetime can move relative to each other.

That suggests a way of building a warp drive. Alcubierre imagined a small volume of flat spacetime in which a spacecraft sits, surrounded by a bubble of spacetime that shrinks in the direction of travel, bringing your destination nearer, and stretches behind you. He showed that this shrinking and stretching could enable the bubble–and the spaceship it contained–to move at superluminal speeds.

Today, Igor Smolyaninov at the University of Maryland, points out that if these kinds of bubbles are possible in spacetime, then it ought to be possible to simulate them inside a metamaterial.

1 Comment »

  1. It appears that someone has done it without metamaterials. This link goes to an article about Marshall Barnes and his warp drive prototype technology that is demonstrable – http://www.topix.com/forum/cleveland/TNGLUCKQACNTF2NSJ

    Comment by Julian Robbins — February 27, 2011 @ 8:10 am


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