Theoretical “Lentz Drive” Could Make Star Trek-Style Warp Technology a Reality
by Christopher Plain | The Debrief
Ever since Captain James T. Kirk first ordered Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott to jump the Starship Enterprise to warp speed, real world scientists and engineers have looked for ways to bring the concept of faster than light travel into reality. A number of solutions have been proposed, but nearly all require a highly theoretical substance called ‘exotic matter’ to operate, or are otherwise limited to sub-luminal travel to avoid having to use exotic matter altogether.
Now, a recent paper by a physicist with over ten years experience in practical applications has proposed a solution that may finally break through those limitations, which has the potential of bringing into existence the first real-life warp drive.
“The solutions I pursued in my paper are able to travel at arbitrary speed, either below or above the speed of light,” said Dr. Erik Lentz, the author of the new proposed warp drive in an email to The Debrief. “This is the first example of positive energy superluminal solutions in the literature.”
Background: Enter the Lentz Drive
The first real world attempt to move the warp drive concept from science fiction to science fact was made by Mexican mathematician Miguel Alcubierre, who’s 1994 proposal represents the beginning of the official literature. Unfortunately, the “Alcubierre Warp Drive” as it has come to be known, requires a staggering amount of energy, along with that dreaded exotic matter. As previously noted, this highly radioactive stuff is only theoretical in nature and not something researchers have actually observed in nature, much less created.
A handful of variations have been suggested since, including a 2010 update to the Alcubierre Drive’s physical design made by former NASA engineer Dr. Harold G. “Sonny” White. That change was able to reduce the amount of energy needed to a less daunting number, although still well out of the realm of viable application. White’s solutions also still required exotic matter, albeit significantly less than the Alcubierre solution.
Since then, a handful of new solutions have cropped up, with each one seemingly offering its own set of limitations and benefits. One such drive concept covered by The Debrief involved a whole new way of looking at physics, leading the engineer behind that warp drive to apply for an actual patent. As of March, 2021, that patent application was still pending.
Around that same time, a group out of Switzerland known as Applied Physics (APL) put forth their own concept, and unlike previous solutions, their drive required no exotic material to create its warp bubble. Unfortunately for Captain Kirk and his resourceful, if not somewhat culturally inappropriate engineer, (especially for the 23rd century, right?) this shift to conventional materials limited their drive to subluminal speeds. In short, they got rid of the need for exotic matter, but lost the ability to go faster than the speed of light.