▷ What is the Alcubierre bending motor?

It is always good to know that the prevailing concepts in science fiction are based on scientific fact. Cryogenic freezers, laser guns, robots, silicate implants… Let’s not forget the Alcubierre bending motor! Believe it or not, this concept (aka FTL, speed of light, hyperspace) actually has a place in the real world of science.

In physics, this is the so-called Alcubierre warp drive. This is a highly speculative solution to Einstein’s field equations (especially how space, time, and energy interact), but it can be an effective solution.

In this special mathematical model of space-time, certain functions are obviously reminiscent of the fictional “distortion impulse” or “hyperspace” from the famous science fiction series, so they are associated.

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Theoretical basis of the Alcubierre bending motor

Since Einstein first proposed the special theory of relativity in 1905, scientists have been working under the limitations of the universe of relativity. One of these limitations is the belief that the speed of light is unbreakable, so there will never be FTL space travel or exploration.

The IXS Enterprise spacecraft is a NASA concept capable of traveling at curvature speeds greater than that of light.
Credit: NASA

Although future generations of scientists and engineers managed to break the sound barrier and overcome the effects of Earth’s gravity, the speed of light seems to be the barrier that must be maintained. But in 1994, the Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre presented a proposed method to expand the structure of space-time, this method can theoretically accelerate the travel speed of FTL.

Alcubierre’s bend motor concept

In short, this method of space travel involves stretching the structure of spacetime into waves (in theory), which will cause the space in front of the object to shrink and the space behind the object to expand. An object in the wave (ie, a spaceship) can pass over this area, which is called a “distorted bubble” of flat space.

This is the so-called “Alcubierre metric”. Interpreted in the context of general relativity, this metric allows distorted bubbles to appear in the previously flat region of time and space and to move away effectively at a speed that exceeds the speed of light. The inside of the bubble is the inertial frame of reference for any object that lives in it.

Since the ship does not move in the bubble, but is transported with the movement of the area, traditional relativistic effects (such as time expansion) will not apply. Therefore, it will not violate the rules of time and space and the theory of relativity in the conventional sense.

One reason for this is that the method will not exceed the speed of light in a local sense because the light in the bubble will always move faster than the ship. In a sense, this is “faster than light,” meaning the ship reaches its destination faster than a beam of light coming out of a twisted bubble.

Technological difficulties of the Alcubierre bending motor

However, there are some problems with this theory. For one thing, there is no known method of creating such bubbles in areas of space that do not yet contain bubbles. Second, I suppose there is a way to create such bubbles, but a way to remove the bubbles is not yet known. As a result, Alcubierre’s driving force (or measure) at this time still falls under the category of theory.

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Mathematically speaking, it can be expressed by the following equation: ds 2 = – (a2-B i B i) dt 2 + 2B i dx i dt + g ij dx i dx j, where a is the span function, giving the interval For have enough time between nearby hypersurfaces, B i is the displacement vector related to the spatial coordinate system at different hypersurfaces, and g ij is the positive definite metric on each hypersurface.

NASA development attempts

In 1996, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) established a research project called the “Advanced Propulsion Physics Project (BPP)” to study various spacecraft proposals and technologies. In 2002, funding for the project was suspended, prompting founder Marc G. Millis and several members to create the Tau Zero Foundation. The organization is named after the famous novel of the same name by Poul Anderson and is dedicated to researching interstellar travel.

In 2012, NASA’s Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory (also known as Eagleworks) announced that they had begun experiments to see if it was possible to perform a “warp drive.” This includes the development of interferometers to detect spatial distortions caused by the expansion and contraction of time and space as measured by Alcubierre.

In 2013, members of Dr. White and Eagleworks released the results of their 19.6 stress field tests under vacuum conditions. These results are not considered conclusive and were presented at the 2013 Icarus Spacecraft Interplanetary Conference in Dallas, Texas.

When it comes to the future of space exploration, it seems hard to avoid some thorny issues. There are also questions like “How long will it take us to get to the nearest star? This seems worrisome when we don’t consider some kind of speed-of-light or speeding conversion method. When all available methods take centuries (or longer) or when it comes to delivering nanotechnology, how do we expect to be an interstellar species?


Such things do not appear to be entirely within the scope of possibility. And try to show that you are not yet successful or inconclusive otherwise. But, as history teaches, over time, what is considered impossible changes. Who knows what we’ll achieve one day, but before that, we just have to wait patiently for future research.

We have written many articles on Alcubierre’s “Warp” development momentum for “Universe Today”. After all, this may be an impossible Warp booster, and Warp boosters and stealth gadgets are no longer just science fiction.

Will it become a reality in the future?

When we think about the future of space exploration, there are some problems that we cannot ignore. Considering how long it will take us to get to the nearest star, this is infuriating. At least if we don’t consider a method that allows us to travel faster than light. If all available methods force us to go through hundreds of years of travel, how can we expect to be an interstellar species? Or if we could only use microscopic probes to reach other stars?

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For now, it seems unlikely that we will see Al Kubir’s tilt motors work. At least so far, attempts to make this theory work with failed or inconclusive results have ended. Fortunately, if our own history teaches us anything, it is change that we think is impossible over time. Who knows what we will think in a few decades, or how our future generations will perceive it.

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