Nerds know by now that Sonny White, at NASA’s Advanced Propulsion Lab, is attempting to detect space-time distortions that could potentially allow for de facto faster than light travel without violating General Relativity. In my opinion, this experiment is incredibly overhyped, however noble it may be is extremely misguided for the simple reason that it is not currently possible to distinguish between genuine warp bubbles and instrumentation errors. Simply put, HE DOESN’T HAVE ENOUGH SIGNIFICANT FIGURES IN HIS DATA!!! This is not a fault of his own, but his instruments simply cannot measure as precisely as they need to measure in order to detect such a distortion. There’s a lot about quantum radiation that scientists still don’t understand and that could change the way we view any of his positive data-points as well. Nonetheless, even if his experiments are unlikely to actually get us closer to building a warp drive, I still support the experiments because he is only using $50,000 of government funds and he will almost certainly discover effects that are useful for other purposes, even though he lacks the sig-figs to make his data adequate for demonstrating the possibility of superluminal travel.
We won’t break the light barrier, with respect to travel, in the next hundred years. It’ll be a miracle if we manage to break it in the next thousand. Here’s why:
1) Our society is not concerned or interested enough in space travel to even attempt to make strides in the field. We’re lucky we even have probes and enough interceptors to prevent Kim Jong Un from destroying the country.
2) An aging population in the civilized nations of the Earth will siphon off potential investment in space travel and put it into healthcare. This is necessary as larger life-expectancy will be necessary to create a space-faring civilization.
3) There’s too much bureaucratic infighting. When Spain and Portugal sent explorers to America, their crowns were newly and tightly unified against the threat of brutal Muslim conquest. Ditto for England and Scotland after the Protestant Reformation. This allowed for capable Venetian and Dutch capitalists to fund long voyages. By contrast, imperial infighting among Ming bureaucrats and misguided venture capital restrictions prevented China’s Zheng He from establishing colonies in the Americas, and the same burdens of prosperity prevented Japan’s Tanaka Shosuke from establishing permanent colonies in the Western Hemisphere and Polynesia. Today, the policies of significant international organizations such as the WTO and UN hinder space exploration efforts by eliminating much of the hypothetical motive.
4) People are too impatient to work on a project of such magnitude gradually. The possibilities adduced from the imaginations of science-fiction writers have been confused with the entitlements today. Investments in space travel won’t turn quick profits, not even within one’s lifetime, so people won’t fund space travel.
5) As Sean Carroll has repeatedly pointed out, we would need to spend our entire current economic output on antimatter generation for about sixty years in order to currently generate enough antimatter for such a craft to even be tested once, and in a situation that the first craft would almost certainly be destroyed. (See Jason Torchinsky’s article at Jalopnik with the link[http://jalopnik.com/the-painful-truth-about-nasas-warp-drive-spaceship-from-1590330763])
Here are my recommendations to researchers trying to make positive strides towards space travel:
1) Work on ways to make space permanently habitable.
2) Work on ways to increase the life-expectancy of our species to make lengthy sub-luminal voyages to other planets a practical reality someday.
3) Work on terraforming.
4) Work on cheaper ways of generating antimatter. We need antimatter, a lot of it, before we can even begin to test for super-luminal travel. We need 10^15 times more antimatter than what the entire Van Allen Belt possesses.
5) Work on cheaper ways of developing Felber’s sub-luminal gravity drive that could plausibly go at least 0.75% of lightspeed via gravitomagnetism. Unlike the Alcubierre warp-drive which relies on relatively(ha ha) circumstantial theories that are still unproven, Felber’s gravity drive is extremely plausible and could actually be built with enough testing and investment! If Felber’s drive were to be built, travelers could reach other solar systems within their own lifetimes even though they’d leave all of their loved ones to die due to time dilation.
6) Improve the online access and resources concerning the teaching of higher math to make differential geometry and set-theory more accessible to the common man.
7) Inspire, above all else inspire. Just as the Jews have been inspired to await their Messiah’s arrival for thousands of years, and just as the Christians have been inspired to await their Messiah’s return for thousands of years, so do we need to be inspired perpetually so our hopes may one day become reality.