Alcubierre Metric: A theory to travel faster than light

Miguel Alcubierre is a Mexican theoretical astrophysicist. In 1994, he outlined a design for a “warp drive” that could theoretically allow travel faster than light without breaking any physical laws.

The Alcubierre Metric is a theoretical model of superluminal travel (faster-than-light travel).

Learn about Alcubierre’s Metric

The Alcubierre Metric was postulated in the scientific journal Classical and Quantum Gravity.   According to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, it’s physically impossible for anything to travel faster than the speed of light. As an object moves faster, its mass increases. By the time the speed of light is reached, mass approaches infinity. It would also require infinite energy to accelerate to the speed of light.  

According to the theory postulated by Alcubierre, an object can move displacing the space – time behind it, while in front it would be contracted. The theory is explained below:   Imagine sitting right in the middle of a long carpet that stretches in front of you and behind you. Now imagine that you need to reach a ball that you have a couple of yards ahead. Instead of walking towards the ball, you pull the carpet to bring it closer.   In this manner, the long carpet (of space-time) ahead of you contracts while the space behind expands. In the center is a “flat” region of space-time where you can travel in comfort. It wouldn’t even feel as if you were moving. Behind you, light years would be “pushing”.  

The Alcubierre Metric suggests that a spaceship would be bringing a star closer to it, rather than the ship going towards the star. This involves generating a bubble of negative energy around it.   The Alcubierre Metric explains that the sphere created around the spaceship is referred to as the Flat Deformation Bubble. The bubble would remain stable in the middle of two space-time distortions.  

In theory, the bubble that is created around the ship protects the vessel. This supports space-time displacement, like a surfboard on the waves.  Thus, the true ship to travel through space-time would be the Flat Warp Bubble.  “Warp Drive” is a fictional form of superluminal propulsion that originated in the Star Trek universe. The Star Trek enterprise travels via a distortion impulse that moves it closer to its destination. This imaginary propulsion allows travel through the cosmos at speed greater than the speed of light and avoids problems associated with time displacement.  

“Warp Drive” usually involves exotic physics that are out of reach. It uses an unimaginable amount of energy to create a bubble around it and generate space-time distortions.   According to the Alcubierre Metric, to generate a bubble of a huge amount of energy could be achieved by mastering exotic forms of matter. Exotic matter is negative energy.   Through the imagination of Miguel Alcubierre, reality may surpass fiction. His metric may allow travel that is faster than the speed of light as a contribution to future studies and proposals. His theory could change travel through outer space forever.

Discover the source for Alcubierre’s theory

Miguel Alcubierre Moya was born in Mexico City on March 28, 1964. He studied physics at the Faculty of Sciences of the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 1988 and completed a master’s degree in science. He moved to Wales in 1990 and completed a doctorate in numerical relativity.  

Since 2002, he has served as full-time researcher in the Department of Gravitation and Theory. He is also a professor at the Faculty of Sciences of the UNAM.   In 2012 he was appointed Director of the Institute of Nuclear Sciences of the UNAM. He is dedicated to scientific dissemination, encouraging people of all ages to be interested in the physical-mathematical sciences. He has provided many interviews, written works, and presentations.  

Miguel Alcubierre was inspired by Star Trek to create his Metric.

Can We Travel Faster Than Light? with Dr. Miguel Alcubierre – YouTube


Michael Irving

Classical and Quantum Gravity journal