In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Force of Nature, we find that warp drive damages space and that one area of space is more unstable than others. But not only are all galaxies rushing out from the center of the Universe, but the Milky Way rotates.

In one year, when the Earth returns to where we are in orbit, Earth will still not occupy the same point in space because Sol will have moved around the core of the galaxy in a large orbit and the entire Milky Way has moved farther away from the center of the Universe (supposedly the source of the Big Bang). So how can warp drive "wear down" any area of space or have an impact on space that will still be near us much longer?

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    Side issue. The universe is not expanding away from anything. The space itself expands, it isn't movement in the traditional sense. There is literally more space between the galaxies over time.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Oct 23, 2011 at 6:01
  • damage moves with nearby physical objects. Imagine a trailer, moving away from a city, and someone tears a hole in the floor. The hole stays where it was relative to the trailer, but moves away from the city
    – Petersaber
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 6:49
  • But the road doesn't move.
    – Tango
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 7:00

3 Answers 3


Warp drives damage subspace, not space. There lies the key, the properties of subspace are what the writers need them to be, so if it needs to "stay in place" or "move with the galaxy", it does.

In the end, it's just an allegory for the impact of modern day transportation on the environment.

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    +1: It's all relative. You might equate it to an oil slick on the ocean. The slick can expand, contract, drift with currents, even split into pieces. That movement can be predicted to some degree, and no matter exactly where it is, it's a navigational hazard. Space is such a big place, and the damage done equally big, that the damage being caused to the "normal" interstellar travel routes would be a hazard even given a few light-years' shift in its actual location relative to those routes.
    – KeithS
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 19:22
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    @JürgenA.Erhard It's not a fun or inspired answer, but it's usually the answer.
    – MPelletier
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 22:11
  • @MPelletier: if it's "physics" vs "entertainment", it's -- with very rare exceptions -- the only answer. Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 23:13

Relativity tells us that there is no such thing as "the same point in space". The Big Bang did not occur at one particular point; it occurred everywhere, and space itself has been expanding ever since.

As for how warp drive can damage space -- explain how warp drive works, and maybe we can answer that. (And warp drive probably violates known physics anyway, so explaining its effects in terms of known physics is difficult, to say the least.)

Speculation: perhaps the effect that warp drive has on space is tied to whatever mass is nearby. Think of the "damage", whatever form it takes, being dragged along with the mass of the nearby stars.

Any explanation is going to require a great deal of hand-waving.

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    Yes it is, but the physics behind warp drive have actually been theorized in the form of the Alcubierre Drive. Basically the drive would create a "bubble" or "envelope", within which the space-time continuum appears to be normal, but the bubble will "pull" its contents through space at FTL speeds. One could theorize that the massive energy needed to do this would naturally add to the entropy of the universe, basically "polluting" the space-time continuum with ripples that would make it more unstable especially in the places it was most often used.
    – KeithS
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 19:27
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    This would be almost analogous to frame-dragging. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frame-dragging
    – RomaH
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 18:29

The damaged section of space moves in relation to the rest of the universe, staying in a "stationary" position to everything else around it. Infact, in moving (through the expansion of the universe) the tear may expand, just as wearing clothes with a tear may open it further.

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