More Star Trek Technology Becoming Reality

First, it's the communicator, capable of contacting anyone anywhere on the planet, translated into the Motorola StarTAC Flip Phone cell phone. Then it's the medical diagnostic bed in the form of CAT, MRI, and PET scanners. After that it's high energy lasers capable of destroying missiles and artillery shells in flight or performing surgery with little or no bleeding. Then it's the transporter, even if it's only capable of teleporting a photon from one side of a lab to another. There are even cloaking devices and Bird of Prey stealth aircraft.

Many of the technological wonders of Star Trek have become reality, even if not quite in the form many might have liked. So what's next?

How about the Warp Drive?

If you think it's nothing but something from a science fiction movie, think again.

With the latest installment of the Star Trek franchise packing theaters, researchers are again speculating about the feasibility of building a faster-than-light "warp drive" similar to the one powering Star Trek's "Enterprise" star ship.

Researchers at Baylor University (Waco, Texas) claim that dark energy--the force causing the universe to expand--could power a warp drive by expanding the fabric of space behind the ship while simultaneously contracting space ahead of it. The scheme could theoretically enable a ship to traverse light years in distance without violating Einstein's prohibition on faster-than-light travel.

This space-warping mechanism for faster-than-light travel (without actually exceeding the speed of light) was first proposed in 1994 by the Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre. At that time, there was no known mechanism to explain how the effect could be realized. Thanks to string theory, the Baylor scientists claim that dark energy could theoretically be harnessed to realize a warp drive.

To quote Glenn Reynolds (and no pun intended). “Faster, please.”

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