Mark McCandlish on Faster-Than-Light Travel

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This is a transcript of a debate between Mark McCandlish and James Giglio of the National Skeptics Association. The focus of this document is on the topic of “Faster than Light” (FTL) travel both within the context of General Relativity in addition to emerging models of physics.

“True, “nothing can travel faster than light”. But it is how you say that phrase that makes the difference between science fiction and reality. In his 1994 Physics Essays paper, Miguel Alcubierre describes how it might be possible to modify a local space-time, (“nothing” – the vacuum), “within the framework of general relativity and without the introduction of wormholes….. in a way that allows a spaceship to travel with an arbitrarily large speed. By a purely local expansion of space-time behind the craft and an opposite contraction in front of it, motion faster than the speed of light as seen by observers outside the disturbed region is possible”.

Unlike Alcubierre, I do not believe that “exotic matter”, (read anti-matter), is required to accomplish the proposed “dynamically engineered local space-time”. From those physicists whom I have spoken with and the physics literature available to us, I have seen expressions of the energetic density of Zero-Point Fluctuations embedded in space-time being as high as 10 to the 26th power Joules per cubic meter, or as having a mass equivalency of 10 to the 94th power grams per cubic centimeter. This is the very reason Einstein maintained that space-time is curved…”–Mark McCandlish

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