Is it possible that humanity will be able to fly through space in this century?

Some brilliant ideas come as an ‘epiphany’ to scientists in different ways . An apple fell on Newton’s head, and he came up with the Law of Universal Gravitation, Archimedes sat in a bath, and then ran naked through the city yelling “Eureka,” after all, he had just created Archimedes’ Law. Mexican theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre was struck by a revolutionary idea in the field of physics while he was watching Star Trek on television.

The plot of the film is quite simple, the crew of the starship “Enterprise” flies from planet to planet along the way, making feats and scientific discoveries, encountering various alien creatures

Miguel was interested in the way the Enterprise moved from star to star, he compressed the space in front of him, so the starship did not fly to the stars, but the stars themselves came closer to him.Imagine that there is a cup of coffee on the table covered with a tablecloth, you can reach out and take it, or you can move the tablecloth along with the coffee, you do not reach for the cup, but the cup comes to you.

More or less the same thing happens with space in the science fiction series. The idea seemed very interesting to the Mexican physicist, and for fun he decided to try to calculate the possibility of creating such an engine. Surprisingly, the space-bending machine shown in Star Trek turned out to be a valid solution to Einstein’s equations. That is, it is theoretically possible to generate such an engine.

A starship equipped with an Alcubierre drive must be surrounded by a bubble of curved space, a kind of hollow bubble of matter and energy. Then the cup moves closer to you.


If we discard all the complex calculations behind the spacecraft, the space swells, and in front, on the contrary, it contracts. This rather interesting concept was of great interest to NASA specialists, in particular, Dr. Harold White, who significantly revised Alcubierre’s original message, bringing it a little closer to practical implementation.Illustration of Harold White’s presentation for the 100 Year Starship Symposium conference in Orlando (2011).

A theme that follows implicitly from the possibility of creating an Alcubierre-Lenz-White bubble can be roughly called “metric nuclear energy.” The fact is that the stability of atomic nuclei and heavy elementary particles (first of all, protons and neutrons), as well as possible barriers to nuclear transformations, depend very significantly on the metric (that is, on the local properties of space-time). , or, what is the same, on the intensity and gradient of the gravitational field). Depending on the local metric, nuclear reactions can go in different directions and with different probabilities.

To some extent, this is analogous to the change in chemical equilibrium in the gas phase (known as the Le Chatelier-Brown principle), although the analogy is quite distant.


In nuclear physics proper, the dependence of transformations on the elementary parts of the metric is illustrated by the Chandrasekhar gravitational limit. If this limit is exceeded, during the compression of the star, the process of fusion of electrons and protons into neutrons takes place in it (a neutron star is formed). It is the neutrons that turn out to be the most stable under these conditions, although in the usual unperturbed metric (that is, where there is not such a high gravity), the neutron is unstable and undergoes beta decay (into a proton and an electron ).

Even more sensitive to the metric are atomic nuclei with a negligible margin of stability.

As noted above, the conditional boundaries of the Alcubierre bubble represent a certain feature of the local metric, and it is highly likely that nuclear processes in it develop significantly differently than in ordinary space with a slight gravitational curvature.

Unlike the idea of ​​a ship flying in a bubble, the idea of ​​nuclear reactions in the area of ​​the bubble’s boundaries does not require a significant size of the bubble and a significant time of its existence (relative to an external). observer). Everything can happen in a very small volume and very quickly.


This kind of nuclear power metric may not only be easier to achieve, but also (today) more relevant than ultrafast interstellar travel.It is quite possible that with the development of technology and the advent of quantum computers, which, as they promise us, are just around the corner, the first flight to the stars, although it may seem surreal to us, will already take place in this century.

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