The Nibblonian Poop Warpdrive
Intro to the Essay
I love the show Futurama and have seen every episode too many times to count! Created by Matt Groening in 1999, it follows the character Philip J. Fry as he awakens from a cryogenic slumber 1000 years into the future. From there he meets up with his future nephew, gains a cast of crazy friends, becomes an epic delivery boy, and falls in love with a cyclops. It is awesome.
I wrote this piece a while ago as an ode to one of my favorite episodes, and am happy to share it today. To preface the short essay, there is an episode in which the space ship’s dark-matter engines need to be repaired, but the professor is the only one who understands how they work. It turns out he doesn’t really know either because the idea came to him in a dream. I try to explain the dark-matter engines that power Bessie, the Planet Express space ship. The theoretical physics I use to explain the faster-than-light travel was inspired by Michio Kaku’s book, Physics of the Impossible. The Futurama episodes are cited at the bottom in case you’re not familiar with the show and want to watch them:
This Just In!
Recent discoveries have lead to the creation of a dark-matter warp drive designed to enable galactic exploration. By combining extreme heat with a Nibblonian’s “dark-matter” poop, humankind has created an engine that combines principles of general relativity, negative energy, and quantum mechanics to accelerate human-carrying spacecraft beyond the speed of light, bending space itself. The invention can be attributed to Dr. Hubert J. Farnsworth. His achievements in meta-particles that transform dark-matter into useful energy, and his lucid dream in which he built the dark-matter warp drive have pushed humanity beyond the stars.
The engine itself is extremely easy to build; however, its functionality is based on principles barely understood by the best trained physicists on the planet. To build the engine, one needs a dark-matter furnace attached to a dark-matter-to- negative-energy generator. The ship is then wired to act as a “ground” for the negative energy generator, while the positive and negative ends are wired to a negative-energy powered Penning Positron® antimatter rocket engine.
The dark-matter converts to negative energy by means of the Casimir effect. The effect predicts that two identical plates suspended in a vacuum will undoubtedly generate negative energy. This is because the theory of quantum mechanics states quantum activity occurring in the vacuum creates a pressure that forces the plates together. By using radioactive (e.g. Plutonium) plates and electromagnetic reduction, we have been able to harness the negative kinetic energy that is generated from the plates being pressed together.
Once the furnace has been attached to the generator, you must wire the ship as the generator’s ground. Once the engine is activated, the ship will be encased in a shield of negative energy. This is the key mechanisms behind faster-than-light travel because as long as you have thrust, you will warp space behind you while still allowing space to exist in front of you.
After the generator has been grounded, wire the positive and negative ends to the appropriate couplings of the negative-energy powered Penning Positron® antimatter rocket engine. A Penning Positron® model must be used because it is currently the only antimatter rocket engine that can successfully power a positron-generating particle accelerator with negative energy. When turned on, the engine generates positrons at nearly the speed of light. These positrons explode as they mix with normal atoms and accelerate the craft only slightly slower than the negative-energy bubble around the ship warps space behind it. The end result of using the Nibblonian-poop warp drive (traveling faster than the speed of light) is actually possible because of a loophole in the general theory of relativity, which allows space itself to stretch. By stretching the space behind the ship and accelerating the ship towards space in front of it, space warps and the ship remains still just as the Professor describes.
Because the ship and everyone inside is surrounded in a bubble of negative energy and not actually moving, time would not change like it would if an object accelerated to the speed of light; time would remain normal. Hence, any spacecraft using the Nibblonian-poop warp drive would arrive at its destination in the blink of an eye.
In other news, “Man’s blink breaks light speed…”
Episodes referenced and disclaimer:
Carey-Hill, Dwayne, dir. “Bender’s Game.” Futurama. 20th Century Fox. FOX, Minnesota, 04 Nov. 2008. Television.
Kerrone, Patric M. “A Clone of My Own.” Futurama. 20th Century Fox. FOX, Minnesota, 20 Apr. 2000. Television.
Futurama, all characters, insignia and related stuff are property of Twentieth Century Fox and are used without permission or affiliation.