“We are what we are, and we’re doing the best we can. It is not for you to set the standards by which we should be judged.” -Captain Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation
Fifty years ago, on September 8, 1966, the first episode of the original Star Trek premiered. It introduced a vision of humanity’s future that included the ability to travel interstellar distances and investigate new, never-before-seen worlds at speeds far exceeding the speed of light. The technological advance that enabled it all? Warp drive, with the power to bend the fabric of space so severely that light years could be traversed in mere days.
A warp field from Star Trek, which shortens the space in front of it while lengthening the space behind it. Image credit: Trekky0623 of English Wikipedia.
For decades, warp drive was thought to be a mere imagination, but in 1994, a solution that was fully consistent with General Relativity was found, and it followed the procedure and mechanism outlined by Star Trek itself. No, there were no nacelles or warp cores, but if the right kind of exotic matter (or energy) were shown to exist, the physics becomes very straightforward. All that will ...