I’ve predicted a lot of things on this blog and on The Other Blog. One thing I’ve kept silent about, though is faster-than-light travel. I established my “method” (if you can call it that) of predicting the future on The Other Blog. In short: whatever will happen in the future is whatever is possible coupled with whatever is wanted/needed/desirable. I further define “whatever is possible” to be “whatever is not expressly forbidden by the laws of physics as we know them”. The catch is, of course, is  that we don’t fully understand the laws of physics yet, so something that seems possible today may turn out not to be possible tomorrow or vice versa.

Faster-than-light travel is obviously desirable. There’s no question about that. But is it actually possible? From where I sit today, I would say that it is most likely not. You see, there are several potential ways of FTL travel that have been discovered in modern physics.

First is the wormhole. Einstein and Rosen first mathematically discovered wormholes with general relativity. Later, Kip Thorne discovered how to make them actually traversable, and even use them to contruct time machines! Next is warp drive. In 1994, Miguel Alcubierre discovered a way to potentially alter the geometry of the  space-time continuum so that any object (say, a spaceship) could be propelled arbitrarily fast on a moving section of space-time. In short, space itself is compressed in front of the ship and expanded behind it. The beauty of it is that space is not limited by relativity and can expand or contract however fast it wants.

So what’s the problem with these methods? The main sticking point is that both require a form of matter called exotic matter. It’s matter which has a negative energy density. This is matter which has never been shown to exist, and it’s not even known whether this kind of matter can exist. In addition, even if you could gather enough exotic matter to make either of these possible, you’d need far more than the amount of matter in the universe. It’s not possible to create or destroy matter, so where’s it going to come from?

Because of this weak point, I would tend to discount faster-than-light travel entirely. Which is a shame because it would be so awfully useful.


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