The distance between Earth and the nearest star outside the solar system is so vast that it takes light traveling from Alpha Centauri 4.5 years to get here. With today's technology, it would take a spaceship from Earth thousands of years to make the journey.
Although the theoretical and technological barriers to achieving light speed are considerable, a team of NASA scientists in Houston is working on a way to make warp drive more than just a trope on "Star Trek."
Albert Einstein insisted that there are universal constants that can never be overcome. One is the impossibility of making a propulsion system capable of accelerating a ship's mass to the speed of light.
If humans are to travel to the stars, it will require finding a way to manipulate space and time around a vessel by creating a "warp bubble." Theoretically, it may be possible to expand space on one side of a ship and contract it on the other by using a small amount of an exotic matter present throughout the universe that many suspect already violates physical laws.
Right now such speculation is closer to science fiction than scientific reality. But without major breakthroughs in understanding the physics of time and space, humans will never achieve long-distance space travel.
Outlandish theories like warp drive are part of what it means to be human. Every great journey begins with a bold, sometimes crazy, step into the unknown. Once science starts down that road, people may find that things weren't as impossible as they thought.