What Really Is Warp Speed?
What Really Is Warp Speed?

We all want to boldly go where no man has gone before, and for many, space travel is dependent on getting things like Warp Enginesin Star Trek. Join us as we explore whether that's fantasy or a reality. 


What Really Is Warp Speed?


Set a course, Mr. Crusher...Warp 9! Ok, we all know the phrases, and depending on which Star Trek series or movie you'rewatching you likely know the various numbers of Warp Drives. 

But for simplicity sake let's talk about the most used ones in the series, mainly, the Warp Drives that could deliver Warp 1-9. But, even though we KNOW that they can travel vast distances via the Warp Drive and going Warp 9, what exactly does it mean to go Warp? 

How fast are they really going? Well, even at the most basic of Warp Factors, in this case, Warp Factor 1, they're basically going faster than light, which is a feat that humanity honestly can't hope to accomplish at this point in time. Sure, we can create things and objects that move faster than light, but not in the way that it can power an entire spaceship without causing massive problems. 

You know, like death. To give a more concrete factor, in an episode of Star Trek Enterprise it was stated that at Warp Factor 2 it would take the Enterprise10 years to travel 130 light-years. So, by doing basic math, that means that even at Warp Factor 2 they're going 13 times the speed of light. And there are 8 levels of Warp higher than that. 

What's more, each Warp Factor does NOT follow a linear path. For example, in regards to Warp Factor 5, it's stated that it's basically 200 times the speed of light. No easy path takes us from 13 times to 200times. By the time you get to Warp 9, Mr. Crusher? 

That's about 840 times the speed of light given by references in Star Trek. So as you can see, the people in Star TrekREALLY aren't playing around. They can go really fast, and that's why they're able to do so much in regards to the exploration of space. They can just get there a heck of a lot faster. Unlike...


What Really Is Warp Speed Is Warp Speed Really Possible


Where Are We At Right Now, Exactly?


Sadly, when it comes to where we are right now as a space-faring (in potentia) race, we aren't even close to getting to where theWarp Drive is. Mainly because we just don't have the technology that is allowed to do the wondrous things that the ships in Star Trek. It's just not possible right now. 

Now, before you start complaining about how"the future is a lie", you need to remember that Star Trek really is in the future. So much so That right now it's about 240+years away (the original Star Trek is set in 2265). So technically, we do have time to figure everything out, it's just that when you look at where we are now, to where Star Trek in 200 years, you can understand the skepticism that we'll make it that far. 

Especially when you consider the fact that right now...we're struggling just to get to another planet with people. Now sure, we've done a lot with the technology we've got. We've sent probes like the Voyager into the solar system and gotten very far with them. We've set up telescopes that can look into the far reaches of space. 

We've been to the moon several times and are aiming to get back there. But in terms of traveling to other worlds? Yeah, we're really not advancing well on that front. Not that we're not trying! But rather...we're not succeeding as well as you might think. 


Current Travels


Current Travels


You'd think that with all the computer technology and advancements in things like weapons and lasers that we'd make a ship that could easily take us to Mars, which is very much our goal right now in terms of space travel. But...it's not. 

Even with geniuses like Jeff Bezos (creator of Amazon) and Elon Musk (creator of Tesla) making their own private engines push humanity to colonize the red planet, it's not easy, or fast. For example, the estimates of the craft that we know about in terms of their engines state that to get from Earth to Mars would be about150-300 days. 

This is of course based on estimates about the distance between the planets at the point of launch, the maximum velocity of the ship, course alterations, etc. So let's be generous and say that SpaceX (who at this point is the likeliest candidate to reach Mars first) can make a spaceship that can get to Mars in 150 days. 

That's 5 months to travel 54.6 million kilometers. And that's just one way, so getting a roundtrip out of the deal would take about 10-11 months give or take. That's not fast, and that's the real problem with space travel right now for the world. 

We're using things like fossil fuels to try and get us to the stars, and that's just not reliable. We need something better, and fast, we need the Warp Engines...but is that even a possibility? 


Is Warp Speed Really Possible?


Well...yes and no. To tell you the truth this is ANYTHING but a simple science, especially since we prove almost daily that we don't know as much about science as we think we do. But, there have been many theories about whether such things as Warp Engines are possible, even Einstein had something to say on this via his theory of Special Relativity. 

I won't explain that in full because it is a very complex science, but to put it in the most basic of terms, he states that it is possible to go lightspeed via things like Warp Engines because all you need to do is change either the mass of something or put out enough energy to make you go. 

They're interchangeable basically, you don't need to have both to get it down. That being said, the problems that come with trying to get one of those things to work is incredibly hard. For example, right now, it's nearly impossible for anything with more mass than a photon to go light speed. 

Which is very bad for a ship that will likely weigh thousands of tons. So is the solution to put more energy into it and thus just get them to go faster and faster until they reach light speed? Sure...but...that amount of energy is almost impossible to get. It would need to be nearly infinite. 

While some things are infinite per se, to try and make something like that that would power a ship? Not within our scope. Ok, so what about the other thing? Not changing the energy, but the mass? Well, that kind of is what a Warp Drive is, it's something that puts the ships of the Star Trek Universe in a "bubble" of sorts, and manipulates the space around them to get them to go the speeds they need to. 

That's a loose interpretation but go with it, ok? Could we do that? Theoretically yes, we know that there are certain objects in space that warp space around them. You're already familiar with one of them...a black hole. But to try and get that to work on a spaceship level is problematic at best. 

Again, Star Trek has 200+ years on us, and it should be noted that there is a BIG difference in the speed of ships from the original StarTrek series and Next Generation.

In the original series, they only went to Warp 4 or 5 at max, where TNG could go to Warp 9.99 before nearly destroying their engines. So even they have and had problems getting the Warp Drives to do exactly what they wanted all the time. 

There are limits, but in our case, the ability to reach those limits are far beyond our own at present. Plus...have you ever wondered...?


Warp Speed
Warp Speed


What Would Warping Through Space Feel Like?


That is a question that gets lost in a lot of this chat about warp travel and lightspeed births and all that. What is the effect that such a speed would have on the human body? After all, if you ride in a car, you don't feel too much if you're going fast, right? 

If you go up in a plane, you're not feeling yourself getting pulled out of your seat, right? But, when you start going REALLY fast, and are in speeds that aren't natural in many ways, your body starts to feel it. This is called G-Force, or "GravitationalForces" and it comes when you start to bend the laws of nature. 

This is something that happens a lot with fighter pilots, they're going insane speeds in the air while also having to do insane maneuvers. To counter this, they wear G-Suits that help them counteract the effects of these gravitational forces, but even then...they can blackout. So now imagine that you're going many times the speed of light. 

That can't feel good. Yet, if you look at Star Trek (any version), barring a malfunction in the ship, they never seem to notice that things are zooming by them. Why is that? Well, part of that is basic of the Warp Drive, which is moving space around them so that they can go faster. But just as important is a shield. 

The Enterprise has shields that protect the ship from the ill effects of space travel, institute artificial gravity, and more. So even if we could reach light speed capabilities like the Warp Engines, we would need to make sure that those speeds wouldn't hurt us in the long run. This is actually akin to our own early days in space. 

Because before we launched humans into the atmosphere to orbit the Earth, we would launch animals. And one of the earliest things that we learned was that the heat of re-entry, and the radiation of space, is something that can be very harmful. Thus, NASA and other space agencies designed suits to protect the astronauts from such issues. 

What we would need to create to protect ourselves from the effects of light-speed travel is a bit unknown. Because we honestly can't say for certain what the effects of such speeds would do to our bodies. But...I'm sure you can make some guesses. 


Star Trek science at this point


You're likely thinking that anything close to the Warp Drive is impossible, or another case of "Sci-Fi Science", and to an extent, you're technically right. 

However, much like all Sci-fi stories, they'remeant to inspire. And Star Trek has already inspired the world that we live in. It's because of Star Trek that the idea of cell phones came to be. Oh, and Replicators? 

We're closer to that technology than you realize. As for the Warp Engines, there are many people out there who have broken down the physics and the abilities of these engines from the show and even put pen to paper to write out how this could possibly work. 

Including one person who found a "loophole" in the Einstein Special Relativity equation via something I mentioned earlier: warping space itself. 

If you were to put a ship in a type of "bubble" and then compress the space around the bubble, you're not moving the ship, you're moving space. Space has no mass in the ethereal sense, and thus, it can move faster than the speed of light. But... 


Can You Really Contract Space To Make you move?


Yeah, you can believe it or not, and its happening right now even if you don't feel it. You see, space itself is malleable, meaning that it can be bent and stretch to directions you likely didn't think possible. 

Right now, the effects of Earth's natural gravity is manipulating the space around it. Thus proving that it can be manipulated and bent. As for black holes, they're bending space in a way that doesn't allow light to get out, as well as bringing space into its core known as the Event Horizon. 

Which is also stated to have things moving faster than the speed of light in it...somehow. The point is, in this theoretical experiment, one could bend space around a "warp bubble" so that it contracts in front of the ship(thus making it go faster) and then elongates behind it. 

With that as the basis, we could go faster than light, and in fact go WAY faster than light. In this very odd yet very fun case, the sky would be the limit. A sky (meaning space) that is infinitely stretching and growing. 


To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone before where does that leave us?


Is the future very much like Star Trek in terms of space travel? It's hard to say, who knows where we'll be in 200 years, or even 10 or 5. But, unlike many other shows, there is a lot of pure science in Star Trek, which has been proven via these models and the inventions they inspired. 

While Warp Engines and Warp Factor 9 is definitely a lifetime away barring a major innovation, it would be wrong to say that it is something that is pure fantasy. The physics are there, the math checks out, the only problem is our ability to make these things work like we want them to. 

It's not impossible to get a warp engine, it's just something that will take a while to get it to where it's like the USS Enterprise. However, should we reach that peak, should we be able to do this, it would quite literally change the Earth and the universe. 

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Thanks for reading! What did you think of this breakdown of whatWarp Speeds are actually like and whether we can achieve them or not? Do you think we'll be able to get to Warp Speed one day? Will you be the first to "Engage"? Let me know in the comments below.

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