For Science!
5 Faster-Than-Light Travel Methods and Their Plausibility

CJ Miozzi | 18 Jun 2014 19:00
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Science tells us that it is impossible for an object to travel at light speed, let alone faster than that. But so many of our favorite science-fiction movies, games, and TV shows rely on faster-than-light travel to craft their interplanetary adventures.

Let's take a look at five means of FTL found in sci-fi that don't break the rules of relativity and examine how plausible they are based on the science behind them.


1. Hyperdrive

Popularized by Star Wars and used extensively in fiction, a hyperdrive enables a spaceship to travel at FTL speeds by entering another dimension known as "hyperspace." The spaceship isn't actually traveling faster than the speed of light, but rather is making use of hyperspace as a shortcut, and the hyperdrive is the mechanism that shunts the spaceship into and out of this parallel dimension.

Specific coordinates within hyperspace have corresponding coordinates in normal space, but the distance between those two points will be shorter in hyperspace, allowing for a faster journey. Before making a "hyperspace jump," calculations must be made to find the matching coordinates between hyperspace and normal space in order to know when and where to exit hyperspace at the desired normal space destination.

Is it plausible?

Physicist Bukrhard Heim proposed a theory in 1977 that FTL travel may be possible by using magnetic fields to enter higher-dimensional space. The theory uses a mathematical model that calls upon six or more dimensions in an attempt to resolve incompatibilities between quantum mechanics and general relativity, but Heim's ideas have not been accepted in mainstream science. Still, the fact that a theoretical physicist devoted a large portion of his life in pursuit of a theory that could lead to a means of space travel lends the concept of hyperspace a little more credibility than if it were simply the fancy of a sci-fi writer.

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