To travel in space over considerable distances and in a reasonable timescale, it would be necessary to travel at least at the speed of light, at superluminal speeds. This type of travel is, for the moment, above all science fiction. Science fiction authors were the first to take up this concept and propose solutions for high-speed intergalactic travel, either through hyperspace or through warp drive, the warp drive being, for example, the one used by the ships in the Star Trek series.
In the real world, theoretical physicists are also interested in the speed of light. In 1994 physicist Miguel Alcubierre developed mathematical formulas known as the Alcubierre metric, making travel at superluminal speeds compatible with Einstein's theory of relativity.
The process developed by Alcubierre does not rely on the vessel's acceleration but on the propulsion engine's capacity to generate, around the vessel, a field of energy capable of folding space-time. Behind the vessel, the space dilates and extends, whereas in front, the space contracts.
The wave created allows the ship to move forward in a bubble without having to bear the constraints of space and time and thus to move from one point to another faster than light would. If this theory does not contradict any law of physics, it requires, on the other hand, to create of negative mass energy necessary to manage to bend space-time.
The positive energy mass created behind the ship would oppose the negative energy mass in front of the boat to begin a warp and allow the vessel to move. The existence of negative mass was imagined by Einstein, but it remains a hypothesis used by theoretical physics. To move beyond this solely theoretical concept, an international group of scientists, Applied Physics, investigated the issue of negative mass and published a study in 2021 in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity.
One of the authors of the study, Alexey Bobrick, says that the team of researchers demonstrated that within the framework of the theory of general relativity, there could be several classes of warp engines and that the physical impossibility of creating such an engine due to the need for negative mass could be circumvented. To do this. Applied Physics physicists have proposed several formulas that allow the creation of space-time warps without the use of negative groups and the equations developed to show that the flatter a ship is in front and behind, the less energy it will require.
However, to achieve this result, it is necessary to put a mass on space-time that is currently impossible to reach. This mass should, for example, be largely superior to that of the Earth, estimated at 5.972x1024. The interest of these studies, inapplicable for the moment, is to demonstrate that the construction of a warp engine is possible by using the laws of physics and that then when the technique will allow it, the supraluminal travel can perhaps be envisaged.
Unlike warp drive, hyperspace is a fictitious method of transportation allowing space travel on human time scales. Hyperspace is not based on a particular scientific theory even if it uses concepts borrowed from the theory of general relativity. One of the concepts most often used to enable hyperspace travel is that of the glass hole.
The glass hole is a kind of theoretical corridor developed by Einstein and Rosen following the theory of relativity, which would connect a black hole, an object that sucks in the matter, located in one place in space, to a white hole, the opposite of the black hole that gives back matter and locates in another place in area. To not complicate the stories with too technical explanations, science fiction authors frequently translated the concept of glass hole by the hyperspace.
For some authors, such as Isaac Asimov, hyperspace is associated with a set of physical conditions, which, when they are met, allow travel over vast distances in a concise time, or for other authors, such as in Star Wars, hyperspace is associated with an electronic component that allows superluminal travel.
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