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If I do not phrase this question right, please forgive me in advance because I am a layman on the subject of physics, but a software engineer, nonetheless. I do understand many technical subjects. That said, I currently am writing a science fiction novel and an important thought occurred to me while describing the fiction's technology- could a theoretical Alcubierre drive actually allow for faster than light travel?

I ask this because in my reading on the subject I learned that both gravity and gravitational waves propagate at the speed of light and no faster. If this is true, then how can a ship ride a wave of distorted space-time that moves faster than light? I know that in a local frame of reference the ship technically would not move at all, but if you consider the "warp bubble" the ship is inside as moving at some velocity relative to an outside observer, then it seems pretty clear that the warp bubble could not surpass the speed of light.

Of course, this is a science fiction I am writing, so I have ample room for "bending the rules" with the theoretical, but I have great respect for science and literature, and want to get things right enough as to seem plausible.


marked as duplicate by ACuriousMind, Kyle Kanos, JamalS, Pranav Hosangadi, Neuneck Feb 11 '15 at 9:28

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    $\begingroup$ possible duplicate of How does "warp drive" not violate Special Relativity causality constraints? (see Jerry Schirmer's answer, which is the clearest and is quite correct) $\endgroup$ – user10851 Feb 11 '15 at 3:07
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! That is somewhat my concern here, but this is not a duplicate question. Regardless, the information given is relevant. I hesitate to divulge, but violation of causality is not at issue in my novel because of the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics. In other words, going back and killing your grandfather is not a problem because you killed your grandfather in an alternate timeline. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Dannemann Feb 11 '15 at 3:26
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, after really looking close at Schirmer's comments, it is apparent he or she came to some of the same ideas as me, albeit, with somewhat different assumptions. Thanks again! That is great information! $\endgroup$ – Joshua Dannemann Feb 11 '15 at 3:36
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    $\begingroup$ You might be interested in World Building, which is specifically built for getting more scientifically-founded ideas for science fiction stories. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Feb 11 '15 at 3:42
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Kyle! If that were a Stackexchange answer, then I possibly would mark it. What be it with this site and all it's sub-domains? I have a question about physics in the context of writing... and I end up in the wrong place? Actually, maybe I came to the right place. If my novel is not palatable to people who love physics, then it's probably not worth publishing in my opinion. ;) $\endgroup$ – Joshua Dannemann Feb 11 '15 at 3:49