Related to the this question about not going SPLAT. That one was for conventional travel through space at high speeds.

Now I want to know about how things would work with an Alcubierre drive. I'm trying to understand how this will work and how it will affect other objects. I know that it is supposed to work by distorting space in front and stretching it out behind.

Now, is this little bubble of space moving with the ship inside? If so does that mean that the ship is actually stationary relative to everything inside the bubble and so isn't likely to run into anything? Does that mean the 'warping' affect pushes things aside and around the bubble? What about large objects? What size gravity wells will start to affect the ship and pull them off course?

Or does the ship move the bubble at slower speeds and matter can flow through the bubble? Would matter coming into the bubble leave time to 'maneuver' around it or would that depend on the size of the bubble?

  • $\begingroup$ For some reason this question put an image of two daredevil pilots entering an Alcubierre race of chicken due to some disagreement in a space bar... $\endgroup$
    – M.Herzkamp
    Jun 12, 2017 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ @M.Herzkamp: I'm certain the results of the collisions of two warp drives are horrendous. $\endgroup$
    – Joshua
    Nov 6, 2017 at 23:05

1 Answer 1


For the person travelling? Yes. The craft is fairly stationary with respect to its local spacetime. Effectively, there's a tiny bubble of spacetime in which everything is stationary. The drive warps space around this bubble to move the craft forwards.

Any particles in the path of the moving spacecraft get swept into the warped regions in front of and behind the spacecraft. This, however, does lead to a problem. When the spacecraft comes to a stop, and un-warps the space around it, all of these particles are released. Explosively. Here's an article talking about it.

  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting article. I wonder if by changing the shape of the field it could affect this? I know someone recently played with the geometry and knocked the power theoretical power consumption down to something almost within our grasp. $\endgroup$
    – bowlturner
    Dec 18, 2014 at 16:26

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