Aerospace engineers and enthusiasts, as well as science-fiction fans, are the latest Eagleworks experiment.
The White-Juday warp field interferometer was designed and developed to record warped space and help scientists better understand the space-time bubble that would be required to break Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
Albert Einstein theorized that a particle cannot travel faster than the speed of light because it would require infinite energy. Specifically,in his 1905 paper “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” Einstein describes what has been called the special theory of relativity: A particle (that has rest mass) with subluminal velocity needs infinite energy to accelerate to the speed of light, although special relativity does not forbid the existence of particles that travel faster than light at all times.
The current Eagleworks experiment uses a helium laser which is split; one beam passes through a ring lined with high-voltage capacitors (23,000 volts when charged), and the other beam passes unimpeded to the data recording device, a black-and-white commercial charge-coupled device (CCD). If the beam going through the ring warps space, NASA Engineer Harold “Sonny” White says, “the resulting interference pattern will be starkly different.”
This experiment is the first step in creating a warp drive, detecting whether we can actually warp space. The second step involves negative energy and White is very tight-lipped about this subject except to say that they have had a breakthrough. The warp drive is based on the Alcubierre drive explored in 1994 by Miguel Alcubierre, a Mexican theoretical physicist.
The second experiment underway at Eagleworks is the Quantum Vacuum Plasma Thruster (QVPT), testing whether we can use quantum fluctuations in empty space to fuel a spacecraft. If successful, a spaceship powered by this technology would require no propellant—a stark contrast to modern space engines.
This mil/aero geek is encouraged by the efforts of NASA and Eagleworks to bring physics propulsion research light years into the future.