Happy 50th Preversary Of First Contact Day – Could Breaking Warp Barrier Come Sooner?

According to Star Trek history, humanity will break the light-speed barrier on April 5th, 2063 – leading to the first contact with an alien race – and this day will be a holiday forevermore in the Federation. And so today TrekMovie celebrates the 50th ‘preversary’ of First Contact Day. But could breaking the warp barrier come sooner? More on the holiday and real warp science below. [UPDATED: More Trek celeb tweets and FC web links added]


In just 50 years…

On April 5th, 2063 Dr. Zefram Cochrane (who got some help from the crew of the Enterprise E) will break the light-speed barrier with his warp ship The Phoenix, and this will get noticed by some Vulcans in the neighborhood. This event will help unite the planet as the citizens of Earth embark on a journey to become members of a wider galactic community. And henceforth First Contact Day was celebrated in the Federation. 

Or at least that is what we are told in our Star Trek history. The moment itself was immortalized in  Star Trek First Contact

Of course in the Mirror Universe, things worked out a bit differently (as seen in Star Trek Enterprise).

Real-life Zefram Cochrane Says Warp Drive is Feasible

Could it be that we wont have to wait 50 years to break the warp barrier? Well NASA scientist Harold “Sonny” White (who runs the advanced propulsion program at Johnson Space Center) thinks that it possible. He made a big splash at the 2012 100-year Starship Symposium, with his "Warp Field Mechanics 102" presentation – saying that warp drive was feasible.

White is already conducting experiments to put the theory to the test. He has built a testbed at the Johnson Space Center that uses lasers to create and detect a microscopic warp bubble in the lab.

Harold White using the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer test bed at Johnson Space Center

This week White was profiled by Popular Science. And here he is recently talking to Bloomberg TV about his experiments.

Celbebrity Tweets and more First Contact Day online

TrekMovie will update this article with more First Contact Day events around the web during the day.

First Contact tweets

More #FirstContactDay on Twitter.

First Contact Day on the web

  • Official Star Trek store has 20% off sale use code "ASSIMILATE" (ends 2PM PDT)
  • Star Trek Online game is celebrating First Contact Day with a special event which kicks off at 10 AM PST today (and runs until April 11th). Details are at the official site.

Visit Utopia Planitia for special First Contact Day event in Star Trek Online

How will you celebrate First Contact Day?

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Happy FCD everybody ;))

Счастливого Дня первого контакта!!!

I’ll be 97 years and a bit old when this happens!

Has anyone noticed a similarity between White’s warp ship and the Vulcan design used during Enterprise?

– Harry

ill be 104 god willing! dribbling on my bib!

An actual warp drive? Highly unlikely. But NASA should continue to fund White’s research. Who knows what will happen?! :)

I’ll be long gone by then, but one of my sons intends to live long enough to be in Bozeman on that day, just in case ;-)

Good to see an article on First Contact Day, and on warp drive.

Let’s hope we can get the FTL breakthrough without the war… I may be an obsessive trekkie, but I’ll be very happy if some of the more nasty bits of Trek ‘history’ don’t happen.

I don’t see how warping in the back and in the front of the ship is going to propel it. It needs something to push the warp fields for them to push the ship as well otherwise it will just be a ship with a warp field behind it and in front of it.

Happy First Contact Day!

Anthony, are you going to do another live First Contact movie watching via Twitter again? It was fun last year.

@8. the dogfaced boy

I’m no physicist, but my limited understanding is that the object in the field (eg the ship) does not move. It is space that is distorted around it, by the warp field. Hypothetically, you need to shape the field right to get the desired effect.

I’ll be the ripe old age of 76 years old 50 years from today.

Happy First Contact Day, my fellow Trekkies!

7–Yeah, the whole World War III thing would be a bit of a bummer. I’m finally reading the novel for First Contact (I know, I’ve had it for years and only now am reading it) and Dillard gives a little more detail about the war, and it was no picnic.

Re: the possiblity of warp drive, I’m sure it’s possible. For all our faults, mankind can be very resourceful. If it can be done, we’ll find a way to do it.

And frankly, it’s really the only way to move manned space exploration forward. Without some sort of FTL travel, we will always be limited to our own solar system. FTL travel will be the only way to reach the stars (well, unless someone is willing to go into suspended animation for years, or willing to risk time dilation effects.


Happy First Contact Day! :) I’ll watch FC when I get home from work today.

Did Jonathan Frakes send that tweet from the future? The time on it says 12:28 PM April 5, 2013 and it’s only 9:03 AM on the east coast right now.

As for #8’s question, the warp field “shrinks” the space in front of the ship and “expands” it behind the ship to allow the ship to travel to one part of space to another without actually moving. There was even a episode of the TNG that explained how warp fields work and it was similar to what this scientist is proposing.

@15. miketen

Well it’s currently 12:05AM April 6, 2013 where I am. Different time zones…

Happy First Contact Day! I’ll be 77, not toooo bad. :)

@the dogfaced boy – the warp drive works by catastrophically collapsing space in front of the ship and catastrophically expanding space behind the ship. It’s that catastrophic expansion that pushes the space that surrounds the ship.

I’m no physicist, either, but my limited understanding is that I just order some ensign to take us somewhere really, really far and he presses some buttons and we go crazy fast to get to see some weird looking people.

Happy First Conquer Day. The Day The Empire Stole the Vulcan Ship and Started to Dominate the Univere.
Long Live the Empire.

I’ll be 7 weeks shy of 98.

@19. T’Cal

Nope – that only works in the movies ;-)

Without FTL we will never leave this solar system with manned vessels. The Voyager probes launched in 1977 are only now close to leaving the system. There’s currently some scientific argy-bargy going on regarding whether or not the edge of the system has been actually reached yet. The point is, space is too vast, almost unimaginably vast. If some method of FTL turns out to not be possible, then it matters not if we are the only intelligent life in this universe, or only one of billions of civilisations, the effect is the same: we are in our own little petrie dish unable to do more than look out (and back in time) at the expanse of creation.

It’s never failed to work for me…

Ah, yes. To paraphrase the late Mr. Ebert, Trek is once again raising the yo-yo finger toward science….

First contact will be by transmission, not someone stopping by to say hi.

Will we actually see a manned mission to mars by then? I’ll be 90.

There was a good recent article about how that catastrophic warp (bubble, wave, thing?) might annihilate the place you’re visiting. Okay, and physicists here please advise — even the most optimistic of these reports say they’ll need as-of-now still undiscovered exotic matter to make any of this possible, even though it might be impossible.

Am I wrong in saying this differs from previously-declared-impossible things like flight, jet flight, space flight, splitting the atom etc. in that those achievements were somewhat based on observations of actual phenomena? Isn’t this entirely theoretical?

22. “If some method of FTL turns out to not be possible, then it matters not if we are the only intelligent life in this universe, or only one of billions of civilizations, the effect is the same: we are in our own little petrie dish unable to do more than look out (and back in time) at the expanse of creation.”


@19 T’Cal.

I was reminded of this sort of thing when I watched The Watch last night (I know, but it was pretty much the only thing I hadn’t seen on Netflix) and, yes, it’s bad. But there’s a standard movie scene where they need to disable an alien transmitter before it’s fully charged and able to transmit and somebody (spoiler alert) asks an alien what they should do — and his answer is, “How I should I know, do you know how your cell phone works?”

BTW, in those we-must-stop-the-transmitter-before-it-sends-the-signal-triggering-an-invasion movie scenes (like in First Contact) — theyoften stop the signal just as it has started to transmit (usually a second or two). Wouldn’t that signal reach the target, and wouldn’t somebody notice? :)

@ Jack.
In all the past examples, it was impossible only because the construct didn’t exist to preform the task. FTL only exists at the quantum level – in theory, yes, you should be able to warp space around your vessel, in reality, no one has a clue how to actually do it, or even if it could be done. I’m a lay person, and if someone with more expertise cares to elaborate I’ll defer to their opinion.

Trek created subspace radio as a plot device to move transmitted signals along at FTL speeds, too. I think I read somewhere that early TV signals are now just approaching other solar systems that may be capable of supporting life. If they are actually there, I’m hoping they are not so xenophobic that I Love Lucy reruns don’t spark an interstellar war….

I’m celebrating by exploring what would really happen if we met intelligence extraterrestrial life and how we can achieve the utopian future of Star Trek – http://brainknowsbetter.com/news/2013/4/5/first-contact-with-aliens-could-bring-peace-but-we-might-end-up-killing-our-extraterrestrials-guests

I’ll be 95.

Whoops, I meant to say “intelligent extraterrestrial life” in #28. That’s embarrassing.

Anyway, I think we’ll eventually achieve warp speed. My bigger concern is if we as a global society will be in a position to achieve Star Trek’s utopia. First Contact didn’t just magically fix humanity’s problems – it happened right after we almost destroyed ourselves in WWIII. Humanity was primed and ready for change.

It’s like continuously falling down towards a mass (forward gravity) while being pushed from behind (antigravity). The artificial mass and antimass centers are taken with us in constant distance, like a horse always following the carrot held in front of it.

27. Thanks. “If they are actually there, I’m hoping they are not so xenophobic that I Love Lucy reruns don’t spark an interstellar war….”

The thinking: Why won’t that dark-haired male give the red-headed female sufficient money for clothing or support her in her artistic endeavors — obviously a slave class, we must free them!

First Contact Day will be my 75th birthday. Cool present! “Vulcans? For me? You shouldn’t have!” _\\//

#32 Jack:

The thinking: Why won’t that dark-haired male give the red-headed female sufficient money for clothing or support her in her artistic endeavors — obviously a slave class, we must free them!

LOL! This cracked me up. Should not have been drinking coffee as I read it as some of it just came out my nose, but completely hilarious nonetheless. ;)

*sigh* I will be 100. Not looking good for my making it to 2063, though who knows, maybe I’ll still be around.

I hope to celebrate this 103rd birthday of mine, what better way?

@32…I can hear the rally cry now. Ohhhhhh. Looooooooo .Ceeeeeeeeee.

I also smell a script for a Galaxy Quest sequel in there somewhere…

Funny stuff…

No, FTL is impossible, even those supposedly ‘scientific’ methods linked rely on something that does not exist, exotic matter. Sorry folks.

Sadly, mankind will never leave this solar system during the brief time it has left. Nice dream though.

Here’s a compilation of all the warp drive effects in all of the movies:


BTW, after seeing the clip from TMP again, I am reminded as to why I prefer TMP as my favorite ST film. Now THAT film was truly science fiction.

The good news is that it is feasible.

The bad news is that it requires a live T. Rex chasing after the ship.

Quantum entanglement is probably a much more likely form of transportation in the future. Assuming the lab coat guys figure out how to transport something bigger then an atom, without the energy output of the entire planet to get it done…

So who’s up for meeting outside of Bozeman, MT in 50 years?

I’ll be 92 by then, but hey, I’m game if I’m still around.


Man I’ll be 78 then. Oh well, see you guys there! I’m going to bring drinks. :)

As soon as they figure out how to install an entire brewery in a spaceship we’ll have Warp Drive!

I’ll be 87. Not too too old? Maybe? I dunno.

Happy First Contact Day everybody!

Time to listen to some Ooby Dooby.

#42- I’m in! I’ll be 79 but I hope to be a spry 79 year old who enjoys hiking.

I will be 76 in 50 years’ time. Happy First Contact Day, everyone! Live long and prosper!

I’m not clear as to whether you’re asking if warp drive will be achieved by 2063 April, or before we meet any aliens,let alone ‘Vulcans’ WHENEVER that will be.

I’ll be 97.

I’ll be 72 by then! :)