Monday, April 12 2021
5:15pm - 6:15pm
Masters Presentation
Beyond the Speed of Light

Light speed has come to be known as the cosmic speed limit on natural phenomena in their local space-time. But this is the business of special relativity. General relativity, on the other hand, provides a broader picture within which superluminal speeds, properly defined are not only possible but seem to have been a reality since the inception of the universe. According to cosmology, parts of the universe may be receding from us at FTL (faster than light) speeds, which would put them completely beyond the cosmic horizon and, therefore, completely isolated from us. Objects in those isolated regions of the universe e.g., galaxies may be nearly at rest with respect to their local environment i.e., region of space-time, as well as the cosmic microwave background radiation, but their respective environments are receding from one another at speeds exceeding that of light.
Alcubierre has proposed a means by which we may be able to mimic the inherent expansion mechanism of the universe. This proposed metric tensor i.e., solution of Einstein’s Field Equations describes the curvature of space-time surrounding a region of flat space housing a starship that is at rest with respect to its local environment. In effect the starship would be “propelled” in much the same way as a person standing on a conveyer belt inside an airport terminal would be, without having to take a single step (putting aside how they arrived on that belt). The advantages to this kind of scenario are great as we shall see, because motion that is due to the expansion and contraction of space-time itself is inherently immune to the “penalties” imposed by special relativity on objects traveling in space. Alcubierre has shown that a starship equipped with such a drive would be in free fall even when it accelerates relative to observers outside the effects of the warp apparatus; any measured acceleration of the vessel would be due to its environment accelerating. We keep in mind that space-time is referred to as a four-dimensional mathematical structure that, in fact, vibrates, contracts, expands and can be warped by mass and energy. Thus, the idea behind warp drive is a purely local expansion of the space-time “behind” the ship and an opposite contraction of the space-time in the direction in which the ship is meant to travel (in front of the ship), which is reminiscent of the science fiction space-time distortion associated with “warp drive”. In fact, it was the word warp in the title “warp drive” from science fiction that induced this investigation of the possibility of FTL travel by warping space-time.
Speaker:Alfred Wahabby
Location:See Zoom link from email

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