J.J. Abrams’ second Star Trek outing “Into Darkness” will hit movie screens this week, no doubt packed with excitement, explosions, mind-melding Vulcans and phasers set to stun. But there will also be the USS Enterprise traveling faster than the speed of light, carving up the vast expanses of interstellar space as if it was a short jaunt to the shops.
Over the years, warping spacetime has become more than a sci-fi notion, however. Star Trek may have popularized the mode of space transportation with Captain Kirk at the helm in the 1960s original series, but today, there are some serious efforts underway to establish whether spacetime can be warped in a useful way. Could warpships really be the future of zippy space travel? Or should the very notion of warp speed be resigned to the darkness of interstellar space? Read more