My flying car (pace The Jetsons) could be imminent.
NASA has tested an "impossible" electric space drive that uses no propellant – and found it works even when it is designed not to. EmDrive space motor The EmDrive space engine ... a long time coming This has sparked immediate skepticism of the technology. The system is designed to use microwave energy reflected along a …
With a claimed 2.5kW to produce about 3/4 of a Newton, and about 10kN needed to balance the mass of a small car against gravity, your flying car is going to need about 40 000HP. The good news is that an RR Trent 900 exceeds this comfortably. However, as the Trent produces about 300kN of thrust on its own account, it really isn't worth the bother of messing around with large amounts of microwaves as well.
If this works, maybe the "2G" version of the EmDrive will work as well...
"BTE-Dan: You describe a 2nd generation of EmDrive which uses a superconducting microwave cavity where 1kW of input power is capable of lifting 3 tons of mass. Of course if this worked it would be mind blowing. When do you think a prototype of a 2nd generation EmDrive could be built given adequate funding of a development project?
Roger: A prototype 2G thruster, giving 3kN for 1kW microwave input could be available in 3 years. A large prototype 2G thruster giving 800kN [80 metric ton-force] for an 80kW input would take 6 years."
So if we fire this 2G thruster for 1 second then we have used i kJ of energy (1kW for 1 second). On the other hand, we have produced a force of 3 kN for 1 second. If the mass of this craft is such that the 3 kN thrust for 1s causes the craft to move to a height of 1m against gravity, then we have produced a potential energy of 3kJ with the 1kJ input. Wonderful! Three times better than a perpetual motion machine!
Except they didn't get the same result on the control, the control produced significantly less thrust. Now that thrust on the control might be a measurement error, but the difference between control and experiment indicates something is going on. And it's not like this is the first time the experiment was tried.
The fact that they got ANY result from the control shows that they had a problem of SOME sort. And unless they repeated both experiment and control, each set up again from scratch each time, and the results from each were similar each time (but different between control and experiment), it could simply be that the instrumentation problem was weaker on one occasion than the other.
I'm with others on this. I'd love it to be verified - it would not only be potentially revolutionary, but throw a spanner in the works of current orthodoxy - rarely a bad thing. But frankly this feels a lot like cold fusion did when it was first trumpeted. Sorry - exceptional claims (apparent violation of conservation laws) require exceptional evidence, and I'd say the jury is still decidedly out.
These gadgets were tested in a vacuum chamber, but THE DOOR WAS LEFT OPEN because their RF amplifier contained cheap capacitors that would not survive a vacuum.
This will almost certainly be attributed to thermal effects, perhaps the power wires heating up.
Or maybe their GPS has a loose connection (joke alert, yes, I know...)... LOL.
You have to read other sources, good as El Reg is, to learn more of the back story on this. I've read extracts from the actual paper that mention that they used a vacuum chamber, but were forced to leave the door open because the electrolytic capacitors in the RF amp were not vacuum certified. So the experiment was a last minute thing, obviously, performed in a vacuum chamber with the door open.
GZ: "...tank of water heated by a ground based tight laser beam makes a good interplanetary engine..."
Ah, the issue is bringing mass to orbit. Energy isn't really the issue, as it can be sourced from nuke or solar cells. The issue is having to throw mass out the back to make it go forward. In other words, the tank of water needs to be left on the ground.
The average insolation at the orbit of Mars is about 40% that of the Earth in very rough terms. A typical rooftop solar panel installation in the UK is around 2.5kW peak, but that's with atmospheric losses. So a top of the head, no maths or calculator estimate, is around twice that of a typical UK roof, possibly quite a bit less for the sort of solar cells you would use for a spacecraft.
I'm sure someone will come along with an accurate estimate in a few minutes.
Not that big at all really, quite doable.
I'm not quite the rocket scientist you were hoping for but here's a couple of pence worth;
NASA have PV panels that can hit over 40% efficiency, nearly double that of most commercial high end panels so a space craft fitted with them is going to perform fairly well.
The only thing that will need a bit of calculating is the turnover point for deceleration, as the inverse square law will have to be taken into account, so the turnover point will necessarily be less than half way in order to ensure sufficient braking at Mars to avoid either overshooting or smacking into mars.
The only thing that will need a bit of calculating is the turnover point for deceleration
Off the top of my head, use a Bussard collector to pick up ionised hydrogen along the way, store it somehow (a tokamak since you're generating a magnetic field anyway? an aerogel-like substance?) and then use it somehow (mixed with LOX?) for the "descent" stage to provide more thrust than could be achieved by the outbound engine.
Nothing wrong with hybrid systems I guess. If you can make a solar panel that doubles as a sail (like a parachute, or perhaps a neat origami structure) you could probably get useful thrust for part of the journey out of that. Maybe if you could get LCDs working, you could vary the albedo of the sail so that you can transition between converting solar power to electricity and direct propulsion, depending on what you need at any point along the journey.
Anyway, this sounds very interesting. Let's hope that they can continue to test and maybe one day get something up there that can be tried out for real, and not just in the realm of sci-fi or "possible, but not practical" systems...
"that's the easy part."
There is _no_ difficult part, it is only the combination that causes issues - we know how to launch a few tonnes of kit successfully, we know how to land on Mars, we know how to keep men alive, we know how to return them to Earth, but each of these requires weight, pushing the launch weight up to levels that will move the Earth in its orbit...
The Dawn spacecraft, currently in transit twixt Vesta and Ceres has two 18 sq. metre solar arrays which combined produce 10kW at 1AU and 1300W 3AU out in the Asteroid Belt. Inverse square and that's about what you'd need for 2.5kW at Mars distance.
Earth to Mars takes around 9 or 10 months on the cheapest ballistic transfer orbit depending on exactly when in the launch window they're sent, the Indian and Nasa probes launched back in November are due to arrive this September. Even quite modest continuous thrust can cut that by a lot, but it also greatly extends the launch window so you don't need to wait until the planets are exactly aligned and can launch at almost any time.
Nuclear power is what this thing is made for.
This device means that, finally, a lot of sci-fi novels have just become simple fiction, not sci-fi anymore. Spaceships flying between planets at will, without the need for reaction mass - we have just passed a singularity in space exploration and human civilization expansion and the world at large have barely even noticed. Wow.
fission plants, even small ones, are very heavy, that already rules them out. Besides, when will the guyz on el reg understand, nuclear is evil, nuclear is evil, nuclear is EVIL ?????
I had a chat with the blokes over at ITER the other day and, the only reason the ITER project exists is to extend life of current nuclear facilities.
Seriously, if you believe nuclear fission is an acceptable solution for anything but human extinction you are completely deluded.
"when will the guyz on el reg understand, nuclear is evil, nuclear is evil, nuclear is EVIL ?????"
"The sun is EVIL! It could destroy the earth if it went super-nova!"
Seriously, take your tin foil hat off. Modern nuclear fission technology is safer than most other generation methods, and the only one which could allow a significant reduction in carbon emissions while providing current and future power requirements.
If 18 sq. meters of solar panel produces enough energy for 720mN of thrust then we can say such a space craft produces 40mN/m^2 pressure.
Solar sails produce 8.25μN/m^2 after losses, according to wikipedia. It should be noted that sails are simpler and probably lighter than an EmDrive + panels.
If this is true then it's great news! However something tells me that a photovoltaic panel working at 40% efficiancy shouldn't be able to collect 5000x more energy than a reflective sail working at 90% efficiancy.
"a photovoltaic panel working at 40% efficiancy shouldn't be able to collect 5000x more energy than a reflective sail working at 90% efficiancy."
Use both. A toroidal mirror-sail concentrating lots and lots of sunlight in a smaller solar panel (or another different device for energy production, e.g. a stirling engine) and you have the best of both worlds. That is, if the results obtained insofar are not a rounding error. Crossing my fingers on that part.
With a little bit of luck we could be sending fecking tourists to Mars in a few decades!!!
"However something tells me that a photovoltaic panel working at 40% efficiancy shouldn't be able to collect 5000x more energy than a reflective sail working at 90% efficiancy."
A solar cell absorbs the incident photons, collecting X% of hν of energy from each. A solar sail absorbs the incident photons and then re-radiates them; it doesn't get access to anywhere near the same amount of energy.1 It's the difference between burning hydrogen and nuclear fusion.
1. I'm not actually sure where a solar sail gets its energy from. My instinct is it keeps some of the energy delivered by the photons - i.e. re radiates them at a lower frequency. But that would mean a perfect reflector wouldn't experience radiation pressure, which seems wrong.
I'm not actually sure where a solar sail gets its energy from.
The Wikipedia article seems decent. Basically, EM radiation - regardless of whether you consider it as wave or particle - has momentum, even though photons are massless. Since it has momentum, it will transfer some of that to a surface it encounters. A perfectly reflective surface would gain momentum through elastic collision; a perfectly absorptive one through a completely inelastic one. (Of course any real surface will be partly reflective and partly absorptive.)
The actual quantum-scale interactions are more complicated, but you can just say "EM radiation has momentum" and at the macro level it's quite straightforward. The calculations are simple for perfect absorption and perfect reflection.
It's surprisingly small! .01g will get you 400,000,000 kilometers (the maximum distance Mars is ever from Earth) in 2.2 months in a straight line run (turning around halfway). At .001g, it would take about 7 months. Continuous acceleration ROCKS, even if it's minuscule.
In a real trip to Mars, you couldn't do a straight-line trip with this kind of drive - you'd plonk one into orbit conventionally, and then use the thrust to gradually raise the orbit until it intersects Mars. I'll leave it to someone with better skills to estimate how well that would work, but I think it's quite practical.
On the other hand, all sorts of things are practical with magic tech - let's not put the cart before the horse.
I'm not a rocket scientist so, being basically lazy, I Googled up this site:
If I'm doing this right, an acceleration of 0.1G would get you Earth to Mars at nearest approach in 5.5 days and at their farthest, 15 days (plus a bit extra on that last one to avoid taking a straight line and running into the sun).
If you're not in a hurry, or are on tight power rations, accelerating/decelerating @ 0.01G would get you to your destination in 17 and 47 days respectively.
The beauty of constant acceleration, of course, is that -- just like keeping your money in the bank and letting the interest repeatedly compound -- constant acceleration quickly builds on itself to your advantage. So while our 0.1G drive could get us to Mars in between 5 and 15 days, it would get us out to the Jovian moons in something like 20 days, or to Pluto in less than 60. (These are all really quick and dirty averages but I'm really rather abusing the privilege with Pluto, since its orbit is so screwy, but the average should be in there, somewhere.)
Rockets to Mars, blah blah blah... Who cares?
The Laws of Physics as we know them would have to be wrong, fundamentally wrong. That's the important bit... Or there's a glitch in the (obviously-flawed*) experiment. Place your bets.
(* They left the door open to their vacuum chamber because their RF amp wasn't vacuum compatible. Sounds last-minute to me, otherwise why would they being using a vacuum chamber with the door open?)
"How much continuous thrust would be needed to get a reasonable payload from Earth orbit to Mars orbit within a timescale of a few months?
How big would a solar panel array need to be to generate even 2.5KW when in Mars orbit?"
Frank ly - they wouldn't, with a small Nuclear reactor and using layered tiles of carbon nanotubes packed with gold and surrounded by lithium hydride are under way. Radioactive particles that slam into the gold push out a shower of high-energy electrons. They pass through carbon nanotubes and pass into the lithium hydride from where they move into electrodes, allowing current to flow.
This was technology identified a few years ago, and is already being used.
So you'd get loads of power for thrust, and for many years, adding the solar panels for top up, would be a bonus
Until one works out where all of that power comes from.
Close to the Sun you may have solar panels, and farther out you might use a RTG for power, but with 2.5kW needed for 720mN of thrust you are looking at serious power levels to cut the flight-time to Mars.
Also did they bother to funnel the wast heat for more drive?
Sorry Paul, I'm afraid you're missing the point. With a conventional rocket you fire once in the direction you want to go, accelerate quickly up to speed, and then cruise the rest of the way, until its time to turn around and put the brakes on. That means you get quickly to a crusing speed and then its coasting all the way, you cannot go faster.
With a continuous action drive (like this one or an ion drive), you only need to apply a small thrust because there is nothing slowing you down. So you are constantly accelerating, the acceleration might be much lower, but you are always getting faster and faster. It doesnt take long even with very modest accelerations to start travelling faster then your conventionally powered satellite (which is still stuck at the same speed it was when its rockets turned off).And once your faster, you will quickly catch up and overtake the conventional satellites.
These things are no use in the atmosphere, where things slow you down, but out in Space, they have great possibilities...
A typical satellite with 2.5kW of power is in the big communications class, so its likely this would be similar, so around 1000kg.
With 0.72N of thrust you get an acceleration of 7.2E-4 m.s^-2 (i.e. 7.3E-5 g) or 62.2m/s per day. To double the escape velocity of about 11km/s would take about 176 days, and then double that time to stop the craft again.
So of course you keep accelerating, but this is not suddenly going to make interplanetary travel convenient.
Are you trolling, or just stupid?
The electrical requirement of a satellite has nothing to do with the weight. You can put big panels on something small, or small on big.
A double deck bus has a 200 HP engine. So everything with 200HP must weigh 18 tonnes, right? So an F1 car with ~1000 HP must weigh 90 tonnes. Can't be very exciting watching them race.
Also, 0.72N is the first demonstrated prototype. There's this thing called development that I think you've forgotten about. Heck, they don't even really understand what's happening here yet!
Nah, 2.5kW is in the class of reasonable (big) size imaging or science satellite. Big communication class is more like 15kW - 22kW. Of that maybe 1kW is used by the platform and the rest is for the payload.
As for solar panels, I'm not sure I believe 40%. For space you need GaAs, not silicon because of the radiation, especially as you move out of LEO orbit and out of the atmosphere. I think maybe 32-35% might be achievable at the cell level, but your panel isn't 100% cells - you have wiring, mechanism, other circuits, etc. Outside the atmosphere you get an average insolation of ~1370W/m², but as has been said, that drops to ~40% by Mars. Given that I don't have Mathcad on my mobile, I'll leave the calcs to someone else.
The Russians had quite a few satellites with thermal nuclear power plants that would go nicely with this tech for getting to/from the outer planets.
I think his point was re. needing fuel (for powering the thruster), rather than whether or not the low thrust would suffice. Solar becomes problematic even at Mars orbit, and is completely impractical in deep space. NASA has had very good results with RTGs in deep space, so I would imagine some sort of RTG would be used, or perhaps a SRG (Sterling Radioisotope Generator).
Yep, it's a steam punk star drive alright.
Plus if they do actually do a superconducting version there ought to be a lot of mist floating around as well. That'd drive the SPF (Steam Punk Factor) off the top of the scale.
If they are going to super cool it they might as well just add a few steam nozzles and noise valves just to convince everyone that something is causing it to work. As humans we're just not ready to believe that something can sit there working without flame / smoke / ear splitting noise / deep visceral rumbling / significant humming / a lot of sparks and stuff. Ion drives (which we all know do actually work) produce nothing more convincing than a slight blue glow, which is barely enough to believe in at all.
It is typical of the current ossified scientific community that you not only need to demonstrate results for them not to call you a fraud, you also need to provide an acceptable theory to explain it. For instance, the following is a clean, virtually free, and super abundant energy technology (LENR) which has been verified (more than once by the way) by an impeccable third party:
The following explains more fully, along with some NASA quotes verifying LENR:
>For instance, the following is a clean, virtually free, and super abundant energy technology (LENR) which has been verified (more than once by the way) by an impeccable third party:
f''k's sake. If what you say is true, why hasn't it been taken up by any commercial company that wishes to cut its energy bills?
Also, why haven't they claimed the $1 Million USD reward offered (by the marvelous Dick Smith) to anyone who can prove LENR works?
In February 2012 Smith expressed himself skeptical of the purported Energy Catalyzer Cold fusion device. On 14 February, he offered the inventor Andrea Rossi one million US Dollars if he were to repeat the demonstration of 29 March of the year before, this time allowing particular care to be given to a check of the electric wiring of the device, and to the power output. The offer was declined by Rossi before the lapse of 20 February acceptance deadline that had been set by Smith.
Smith has subsequently offered one million US dollars "to any person or organisation that can come up with a practical device that has an output of at least one kilowatt of useful energy through LENRs (low energy nuclear reactions)." The offer remained open until January 2013.
"Sorry for the lateness of my post - it's due to the transmission delays between you on Earth and my lair on Mars."
You really need to update to one of my sub-etha transceivers, I'll ship one over to you once I get my hands on one of these drive upgrades, just need to pop over to Lave and Diso for some, err, shopping :)
Cold Fusion, at the time of the first claims, attracted some substantial research budgets. The potential pay-off was so high.
This is in some of the same territory.
Cold Fusion was given a good chance. There are potential pay-offs on this too, though it might not be powerful enough a thruster for station-keeping on a satellite. But the fuel supply is a limit on satellite lifetime.
This thruster will get a good chance. Results need replicating. That's all part of good science.
"Results need replicating. That's all part of good science."
And that is the brilliant bit, NASA are duplicating the original designers results!
Lets hope this brings him funding so he can afford to get to work on it and either prove it 100% that his idea will bring the results he thinks, or not.
Maybe only 1 in 10,000 crackpot ideas will turn out a gem that changes the world, but I think all should be funded as best possible, you never know which idea will work until it does...
Look how much has been wasted on toroidal fusion, its always 50 years away yet costing us billions, so a few million £s thrown at a crackpot idea might prove itself worth it!
As we all know, crackpot ideas only work if they are a one in a million chance, and throwing a few million pounds at each one would cost several trillion pounds to get one to work. Therefore, all the effort should be devoted to the (almost) infinitely improbable drive. Once we get to an improbability of one million to one, cold fusion and reactionless drives will just start popping into reality all over the place.
From the first link:
"As I said the other day, bear in mind that the starting product is water: H20, and 97% of the output is Hydrogen. So, apparently, the oxygen is somehow being transmuted into hydrogen in their "symphony" of 16 different functions happening simultaneously (none of which have anything to do with "solar" in the classical sense). This implies that some kind of clean nuclear or similar phenomenon is in play. We're talking new physics."
That anyone with a modicum of scientific knowledge could give this credulity...... Haa Haaa Haaaaaaa
Glass of alchemical beer anyone? I guarantee it will give you the sexual proclivity and stature of a bull!
And I won't charge you too much.
Alchemical beer? Make mine homeopathic please!
On a slightly more serious note, I'm a bit surprised at how many people think there could be not just surprises in electromagnetic effects left but surprises of this magnitude. Quantum Field Theory works to so many decimal places, with such complete consistency, that an effect like this is not merely pretty much ruled out, but about as unlikely as people starting to levitate to work tomorrow.
I'll wager my house against anyone's penny that this effect will never be replicated under proper controlled conditions.
...for the fact that conventional rocketry would be needed to bring it to orbit, this is quite something. I hope the scaled-up version exceeds the promise of the model they constructed.
I can only see one potential problem: It's using microwave energy to produce thrust. If that casing leaks (micrometeorites etcetera), everyone on board the ship it's pushing is likely to wind up as rubber chicken, unless there are some significant Faraday cage considerations given to the crew compartment.
Never the less, let's hope this works - I want to see us establish a permanent, fully manned, and expanding, facility on Mars before I pop my clogs!
Space capsules are already shielded because of the need to account for the raw radiation abundant in space (which you don't see much on earth due to its natural magnetic fields). When you have to deal with high-energy gamma and cosmic rays, infrared microwaves should be relatively easy.
Let's test it! They guy inside will be reduced to the consistency of peanut butter.
The future in space is robots. Not those ridiculous little Martian toys but 4-5 foot-tall robots with long striding ability to walk up and over large rocks, replete with all human sensory, including the big one, TOUCH, sent back home instantaneously, all movements controlled from here. Without the need for food, sleep, oxygen or gravity so their "muscles'' won't melt away en route or upon landing. Made much tougher than us for 100s of blast-off and landings. Any nation can build them to be shot out into space in differently-designed ships taking advantage of a non-human robot's need and abilities, not a human's.
And any human that gets jealous and wants to grow up to be a space robot, science will eventually be able to transform them into one. Then an entire population of 'em can live indefinitely on a real star trek, undergoing periodic on-board repairs that will allow them to live for millenia. THAT'S the ticket!
Tactile feedback on a remote-controlled device like that is going to feel pretty awkward, given that, at the least, feedback is going to go through a minimum 6-minute lag (the closest Earth can come to Mars is some bit over 54 million kilometers). As the saying goes, sometimes, the only way to do things right is to get up close and personal.
Yes, but being there, experiencing it first hand - Exploration - is part of what makes us human. We've been doing it for centuries.
Personally I'll be watching this one with great interest. This is really cool, and NASA have some immensely clever boffins working for them.
And a decent budget.
And permission to play....
Not that I'm jealous at all!
Not at all.....
As not much of that makes actual science/sense.
Though theoretically you could fire photons out of a ship, just as you'd fire any energy source in any other form of propulsion. Microwaves would have a similar effect, though I don't know the specifics.
Most of the claims though, could end up to be nothing more than FTL neutrinos, especially seeing as the control also gave a result! (That's not suppose to happen!)
Read the abstract of the paper, linked in the article. The concluding paragraph of which is:
Test results indicate that the RF resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and therefore is potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma. Future test plans include independent verification and validation at other test facilities.
The last sentence is in keeping with the scientific method.
"We did X and observed Y. We were surprised by Y. Can anyone help us confirm that we didn't overlook unknown factor(s) Z? Thank you!"
""We did X and observed Y. We were surprised by Y. Can anyone help us confirm that we didn't overlook unknown factor(s) Z? Thank you!"
Indeed, and in fact it's pretty rare that a theoretician has successfully predicted a result that has been confirmed experimentally. In particle physics it's happened, I think, only twice. Normally an experimenter demonstrates beyond doubt that something weird is happening, and the theoreticians spend the next few years thinking up an explanation and then even longer dreaming up reasons why they hadn't thought of it first.
For entertainment go and ask a theoretical physicist to explain the Mpemba Effect, and don't let them bluff their way out of the challenge.
Indeed. Even the populist science gurus in Mythbusters work to fairly strict standards and if they get an answer they don't expect they look to see why. They are peer-reviewed (viewer responses) and have re-visited with different test methods to verify their results. Even then they are not always willing to label an experiment as passed or failed and leave it in the middle ground.
From the News Site viewpoint though they need viewers and that often requires click-bait headlines.
El Reg is exempt that accusation though as everyone knows they would never tease with a headline (or sub-head I hear)*.
*OK, I made that bit up.
"Translation: you could use photons; on the other hand photons might work too."
Thanks for spotting it, I was waiting to see who would. But still got the downvotes. :(
So, this thing is a photon drive. I'd expect the same results as a photon drive, and not claims of magic (from news sites, as I'm sure the scientists who wrote the paper are above that) game changers to space travel.
Now, if there is some interesting effect, it would be great to see some proper tests and results. Like Vasmir has been getting or similar projects done with ion drives. They are being used in space right now, so we know the actual processes and the results given.
This current "effect" is dangerously close to "oops, it was Dave leaning on the table with his coffee" as the effect. :P
Although the exact science is way out of my league, (and I'm sure I might be confusing some terms, please don't laugh) I suspect the reason this works is that at a quantum level, energy and matter are basically the same thing. So you can produce thrust by 'throwing out' energy that you've collected from the sun (or that you're generating in an onboard nuclear reactor)
I really hope it is fully open to all. That means specifically not patented.
The idea of patenting is to stop an idea being used by anyone else.
The World Wide Web was not patented. That is why it caught on so big. Anyone who wants to can create a web server. You can't call it IIS but you can call it your own.
Does anyone remember all those myths about all the oil companies buying up the patents for better electric cars so that we would all stay with them? We certainly have done that.
If this turns out to have something to it, it needs to be something that anyone can do. Then all we need is a Great Glass (Space) Elevator and people can start getting off this rock !
"I really hope it is fully open to all. That means specifically not patented.
The idea of patenting is to stop an idea being used by anyone else."
As we have seen with the US patent system, patents may be required to protect and keep something open. Otherwise some big corp comes along and patents it for themselves. Once it's been granted, it takes serious money to get it oiverturned, even when there is obvious and blatent "prior art".
"quantum vacuum virtual plasma"
Star Trek science alert.
The last time I saw that "microwave-based reactionless drive", the prétendu thrust was conveniently plotted without error bars. That was also when it appeared in NewScientist and I decided to not renew my subscription.
The system uses microwave energy reflected around a specially designed chamber to produce thrust.
The last time I thought about it, it seemed evident to me that the force towards the "front" would exactly equal the force towards the "back". So turn the engine around and it will still work the same ... uh ... wait ...
Additionally, in case it magically works, then we have the good old Aether and an absolute reference system back. So no, it won't work. Fracking self-licking icecream drive.
What do make of the CMB reference frame then?
ITT: People who are not into reference frames and special relativity. And probably still in high school.
Furthermore... actually written by Greg Egan:
However, I really was gobsmacked by the level of scientific illiteracy in the article “Fly by Light” in the 9 September 2006 issue, concerning the supposed “electromagnetic drive” of Roger Shawyer. If Shawyer’s claims have been accurately reported, they violate conservation of momentum. This is not a contested matter; in its modern, relativistic form it is accepted by every educated physicist on the planet. The writer of this article, Justin Mullins, seems aware that conservation of momentum is violated, but then churns out a lot of meaningless double-talk about “reference frames” which he seems to think demonstrates that relativity somehow comes to the rescue ... Mullins quotes one engineer who says Shawyer’s claims are “a load of bloody rubbish”, but that’s really not good enough, when the rest of the article is full of apparent endorsements from various authorities. If Mullins had tried, I’m sure he could have found someone to explain to him exactly why, however clever Shawyer’s design might be, the only possible source of net thrust for this device would be the release of the microwaves in a unidirectional beam, and that the ceiling on the thrust imposed by relativity is P/c (where P is power), or 3.33 microNewtons per kilowatt. As the article stands, it leaves readers with the impression that while one engineer has raised some unspecified quibbles, it’s quite likely that Shawyer is correct.
So, super-extraordinary claims with no extraordinary evidence. This happens continually of course, no need to get into high dudgeon etc., keep you well-annoted classical physics book on the shelves, do not throw them out etc.
The fact that this "thrust" is measurable on the null test article too, makes me think this is much more likely a case of a measurement problem than an actual effect. It is quite common that a piece of crank technology appears interesting precisely because the effect is hard to measure properly. Another example would be not using an RMS multimeter when trying to tally up current in a motor-based perpetual motion scheme.
Of course I would love to see this be a real thing, because even if it takes large amounts of power, it is STILL a space drive, and that would be universe changing. It would open a new chapter in Fermi's paradox too - if it's possible to build a space drive, it's hard to believe we're the first intelligent species in the galaxy to discover it.
The fact that this "thrust" is measurable on the null test article too, makes me think this is much more likely a case of a measurement problem than an actual effect.
Alas, this is what I fear as well. Especially given the order of magnitude discrepancy.
>The last time I thought about it, it seemed evident to me that the force towards the "front" would exactly equal the force towards the "back".<
Then you will be surprised to hear about the technology called the "sail", by which ships are enabled to move "upwind", into the wind.
However, I understand that the suggestion here is that there is a mysterious quantum force. My analysis of quantum forces is that they are mysterious, and that my humble intuitions about the nature of Newtonian mechanics are of no help in predicting quantum effects.
"The last time I thought about it, it seemed evident to me that the force towards the "front" would exactly equal the force towards the "back"."
Because that's quite obviously why a balloon will zip around the room when you let go after blowing it up and not sealing it.
I theorize that the chamber itself is acting as a balloon whereby small amounts of energy released at the quantum level from 'stuff' popping in and out of existence are being held temporarily in the chamber, building pressure. The opening at one end allows the energy to escape and generate a small amount of thrust.
The addition of microwaves to increase the internal energy pressure of the chamber could then explain the increased thrust that was seen.
You never know do you? I much prefer 'hmm, that's odd' to 'Eureka'.
The last time I thought about it, it seemed evident to me that the force towards the "front" would exactly equal the force towards the "back".I guess that you come from flatland and can only thonk 1-dimensionly. If you think 3-dimensionly and use vectors, you realise that the conoical sides are supposed to generate a net difference in one direction compared to the other. I'm not saying it works, but hey, that would be a great thing, no?
If the trip to Mars can be shortened to weeks, that means the trip to Mars does not have to be one way. People could go there, do research, or work, and then return to Earth. That means colonies are possible.
I'm not a scientist and so cannot evaluate the scientific part of this but from an economic view, I find this all very interesting and I hope to live to see this actually happen.
You still need the big thrust to get off Mars again, even if not quite the magnitude of leaving Earth's gravity pool.
At the thrust figures mentioned here (even assuming they are right), that means carrying chemical fuel, or making said fuel on Mars, or using some nuclear thruster (not necessarily Project Orion, but as heat source for expanding/accelerating a propellant) that you would not get permission to use on Earth for safety fears.
You need to read more Feynman. If a theory / law / hypothesis doesn't fit correctly measured physical results then it doesn't matter how complete or satisfying that theory is, it's wrong.
NASA's chaps would be well aware of the career limiting ridicule that would ensue if they reported a result as unexpected and 'ridiculous' as this without very careful checking. They've already done a control experiment and got another unexpected result. The very fact that they've published this at all implies that an awful lot of work has gone into checking their experimental set up, and they still can't explain it away.
And anyway, measuring force is such a trivial thing to do with very good accuracy there's hardly anything to check.
The idea of publishing this is to say "we've looked at everything we can and can't explain away this effect". They're hoping others will take up the challenge, and either find a flaw in their methodology, or after enough people replicate the experiment with similar results and fail to find a flaw, to make it more likely it is true. If they got to that point, then they can change the experimental conditions in various ways to try to get to the bottom of how it works, and what its limitations are.
Science doesn't work by "this is impossible to according to our current understanding, thus it must be wrong" and nothing further need be said. At least it shouldn't, because if you have that attitude, progress will be artificially constrained.
This is basically what the Italian researchers did last year with the FTL neutrinos, and a flaw in the experiment was eventually found. Maybe the same will happen here. I hope not, a reactionless drive would be a very useful invention!
DougS, correct. Not first time something like this has happened. FermiLab had anomalous results on the last runs they did getting more energy out than they put in when they were not doing fusion or fission. They published the anomalous results asking for comments on what they had missed. No idea if they got answers. As Asimov wrote, progress happens when someone says, "That's odd" NASA made no claims on groundbreaking, just something was observed that does not fit current understanding. Anything that might be messing with quantum effects, especially quantum foam is in "not sure about that "territory IMHO. Have a thumbs up
"You need to read more Feynman. If a theory / law / hypothesis doesn't fit correctly measured physical results then it doesn't matter how complete or satisfying that theory is, it's wrong."
I think you needed the emphasis on correctly measured, not on wrong. And the level of doubt increases as the law of physics that is violated becomes more fundamental. Conservation of momentum is a pretty fundamental law of physics, so the fact that some guy with a metal jar can violate it seems like it's a problem with the experiment, not with the law. Violate CoM a few more times, in verifiable and repeatable experiments (for example, this time they could pump out the air to see if it works without air currents, like the Crookes radiometer).
Read a more in-depth analysis of the experiment by John Baez here: https://plus.google.com/117663015413546257905/posts/C7vx2G85kr4
This post has been deleted by its author
If the acceleration is only 0.1G, it's not going to be all that useful for astronaut health. A big problem is that we do not know how the human body reacts to different gravitational fields. The only data we have is 1G and 0G. This is why I advocate a return to the moon with stays long enough to get data on how the human body might adjust. It might be a big problem to find that after 2 years on Mars astronauts could not return to Earth. Then what? Continue to send them care packages indefinitely or apologize for abandoning them on another planet to die.
I'm having a bit of a problem with people that think 1kW or even 2.5kW is sufficient to complete a trip from Earth to Mars in a couple of weeks. Regardless of the method of propulsion, it takes a certain amount of energy a certain amount of time to accelerate a given mass to a specified velocity. I'll leave the math as an exercise for the student since I need to get to the post office before they close.
I'll show you the back of my envelope for getting to Mars in 23 days (ignoring gravitational wells along the way):
Mass = 10 tonnes = 10^4 kg (Apollo CM+SM+LEM was ~5 tonnes, but a lot of that was fuel)
Time = 10^6 s (11.5 days)
Distance = 200 million km = 2x10^11 m
We want to get half way (10^11 m) at constant acceleration and then turnover and start slowing down, which gives an acceleration of 0.2 m/s^2 (0.02g) (s = a.t^2/2)
Peak velocity = a.t = 2x10^5 m/s (450,000 mph!)
Kinetic energy is m.v^2/2 = 2 x10^14 Joules
Dividing by time (10^6 secs) gives us a power consumption of 200MW (and, of course, you wouldn't get anywhere near 100% efficiency).
At the tiny efficiencies quoted for these speculative drives, we're looking at 20GW and up. Good luck with fitting the necessary number of nuclear submarine reactor/generator sets into a 10 tonne mass.
I think you've just explained quite neatly why nobody is going to be zipping around the solar system from planet to planet in a few days. Ever.
Chris Miller - If your power source is solar, turn over is going to be much less than half the distance as insolation will be dropping off as the square of the distance. Your estimated mass is also low. It's a much longer duration, more food, water, air and other consumables to bring along. More fuel for a lander. I would also expect that the mission would be more than flag planting, so there will be more supplies to do research with.
>The men that went came back fine and their entire trip was monitored, if I am not mistaken.
MachDiamond was talking about years on Mars, not a few days. However, there have been a fair few astronauts and cosmonauts who have spent extended periods in orbit, so NASA and other agencies have a fair bit of data about the effect of microgravity on the body, and the physical exercises the crew do to mitigate them. Most of the issues are related to muscle and bone density, and to the distribution of fluids in the body.
Though the gravity on Mars is less than that of Earth, at least exercise would be easier (less need for crazy-looking elastic gym machinery) than in microgravity.
Personally, if I were to be sent to Mars, I'd place the gravity issue fairly low down on the list of things that were bad for my health... behind radiation, stranded by drive failure, life support system failure and being skinned alive by a crew mate who has succumbed to SPAACE MAADNESS! Okay, not sure about that last one...
I'm more interested in the economics of this.
If the trip to Mars can be shortened to weeks, that means the trip to Mars does not have to be one way. People could go there, do research, or work, and then return to Earth. That means colonies are possible.
I'm not a scientist and so cannot evaluate the scientific part of this but from an economic view, I find this all very interesting and I hope to live to see this actually happen.
I'm wondering if this has been tested in a vacuum. Ideally inside of a Helmholtz coil to cancel out any possible influence of the earth's magnetic field. And even then the effect may still be dependent on the distance from the Sun.
But even if it this only works for LEO (Low Earth Orbit) to GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit), it is still a very useful technology that should be pursued to reduce the cost of getting mass into space.
I agree, this would need to be tested in a "Hard Vacuum" with to eliminate the possibility that you are just microwaving the gas particles in the air, also some method of testing that ablation of the chamber walls is not contributing reaction mass to the engine.
"it is still a very useful technology that should be pursued to reduce the cost of getting mass into space."
No, it won't work to get mass into space, way too feeble. But once it's lugged into space by a conventional rocket, it would be great for getting mass around space
Damnit, Scotty!! I need engines if we are going to get to our rendevous with the nubile green space women of Coitus 5!!! Is there anything you can do!?
Well Capt'in, I can try to set up a propulsive momentum transfer via the quantum vacuum virtual plasma, but it will take 12 hours!
You have 6 hours, Mr. Scott!!
(Yes, I watched WAAAYYYY too much Star Trek as a kid)
I too will take this with lots of grains of salt until it is proved out a lot more. However, I would like to contribute another reactionless drive scheme for you all. :-)
Make a smallish particle accellerator. Accellerate particles from one end to about the half-way point. Then decellerate the particles. Reverse, and send the particles back. Keep them going back and forth. No resulting momentum is imparted to the structure of the chamber because it all cancels out. But, make the thing strong enough to accellerate the particles to close to the speed of light in the middle. Now you get a mass increase in the particles. Still no big deal.
Now use two different waveforms - one to accellerate and one to decellerate, such that the particles spend different amounts of time at different near-speed-of-light speeds. Do both phases contribute the same momentum to the the chamber's structure? We would assume so, but I'm not good enough at math to actually do the calculations to prove it.
If its not balanced, you have a reaction-less drive. If this actually works, some theory as to why it works would be needed, and this "quantum vacuum virtual plasma" stuff doesn't seem to be involved.
(I first had this thought in my undergrad days, which is a loooong time ago.)
But the center of mass of the system as a whole is not affected. It is like running up and down a small boat. The boat will move backwards and forwards a little but you can't do more than oscillate the boat around an average position and the center of mass of the whole system does not move.
I hope this is not redundant. The first time I tried to post it seems to have evaporated.
Before anyone calculates trip time with an "assumed" acceleration, some simple calculations should be done (and shame on the headline writer for not doing them).
The key number is specific power (W/kg).
F=ma (Force equals Mass times Acceleration so....
a = F/m
From a slightly old source, the "long term goal" for specific power of solar panels on spacecraft was 300 W/kg, and this was at Earth orbit, It will decrease on the way out. If we use the optimistic 300 and the optimistic Chinese data with .72 Newtons/2500 Watts we get:
a = (0.72 kg-meter)/(2500 Watt-second^2) * 300 Watt/kg
a = 0.086 m/s^2
1 g is 9.8 m/s^2 so we have less than 0.01 g (without any spacecraft body or payload).
There is a rule of thumb that the power source is 25-35% of a satellite's dry mass, which means we get (assuming the optimistic-for-payload smaller number) less than 0.0025 g acceleration.
Based on previous calculations by Pet Peeve, this gives us a 14 month straight line to Mars time and (if I read it correctly) that is straight acceleration without slowing down. This is an impressive number, but no big improvement over what we can do now.
It may be possible to better this if the craft takes a slingshot journey near the sun, since it will be able to greatly increase the acceleration while it's in close.
Don't look towards nuclear power to improve on this. The now cancelled ASRG was supposed to improve on present RTG (Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator) technology and it would still have had a specific power of only 7 W/kg. This is useful out around Jupiter, where sunlight is dim, but not for the topic under discussion.
Finally someone demonstrated how the microwaves are generated. Depending on solar activity this could be highly variable. If the one designed to fail worked, perhaps the actual enabling mechanism is not the one theorized. Totally useless for Deep Space(beyond our solar system).
This post has been deleted by its author
Hmm. Ignoring the many bits I don't understand (I'm no rocket surgeon), I am minded of what I wrote on these very forums two weeks ago:
"Or a fantastic new means of propulsion (that doesn't involve lots of mass to weigh the rocket down at launch) so you can accelerate the rocket at 9.8M/s^2 for half the distance and flip it around and decelerate it at the same rate for the other half. (And back again)."
Okay, we're not talking 9.8M/s^2 in this case, but still. Neat. If it really works.
(Also, on the bonus side, if microwaves are involved, that's a handy way to heat up the astronauts' meals: Just hang 'em out of the back of the ship. Job's a good 'un.)
Hmm I remember reading about this when it came out, at time it was relatavistic effects causing photons to exit different ends of the cavity with non matching momentum thus exerting a force without propellant.
And I seem to remember at the time a lot of people looked at it and came to the conclusion that yes the device was capable of generating a force BUT only if it didn't move in the direction of that force. So you can generation 10 newtons of force to counteract gravity but you can't generate 20 and go up, something about the relative movement of the inertial frames. So if you get the efficiency up you may get a hover board but not a starship.
I wonder if anything has changed or whether this is just a repackaging. You always have to worry when gen 1 produces a barely perceptible effect that even it's existence can be debated, but the gen 2 that's in development (just need a bit more seed capital) will produce a floating building.
Still I'm not saying I wouldn't want to live in a universe where it worked.
This engine uses microwaves to accelerate a pair of virtual particles in the opposite direction of it's vector, thus transferring momentum from the resting virtual particle pair into the rear-facing direction of the device, and due to conservation of momentum, the device is moved 'forward' while the particles move to the back, but because of their virtuality the particles (annihilate?) / seize to exist before they'd impact the back-wall of the device and thus will not accelerate the device in the opposite direction again, leaving the momentum of the thrust-device intact?
In dumb terms: It's creating a 'stone' inside it's hull 'throws' the 'stone' in the direction of the back of the device and thus gains momentum (equal and opposite reaction and all), but lets the 'stone' disappear before it hits the back-wall.
At least that's what my imagination says whats happening. Unfortunately I'm not very well versed with technical terms so, yeah.
Actually, I was thinking of dropping them an email to ask if they had cloud chambers to mount at either end. If virtual particles are being produced it should be a pretty straightforward(!) matter to calculate the energies and see if they appear in the trace. Maybe even synchronised.
Just a thought...
Photons have momentum if the thing broadcasts microwaves the existence of thrust is not a surprise. The size of the thrust is it should be the power divdided by the speed of light but is two big. but there are lots of possible explanations like the vaccum not being perfect and it causing ionsation and acceleration of ions or an unintended interaction with the test chamber.
I'm sure they had an article about the problems of long distance space travel, and someone suggested a drive based on heating metal up. The glow of photons would create a tiny thrust, which - over time - would accelerate to quite a speed. IIRC the artists illustration (OMNI had some stunning sci-fi fantasy artwork) showed something like a car cigarette lighter in space ....
Good going NASA for testing this out, I am really surprised they proved it really works, but very pleased of course! When no sound came out of china after they started research on it, I expected it was either they failed and didn't want to loose face or they succeeded and decided to not publish...
A pint for the British boffin thinking outside the box (or should I say thinking inside the box considering how this works)
Now we just need to get a decent mini nuke reactor to power it!
Not only does this make manned interplanetary travel more practical, but interstellar travel becomes possible with constant acceleration!
This post has been deleted by its author
No, they didn't. And that is a potential problem - until that thing is tested free-flying in space there will still remain a possibility that the thrust might be caused by some unaccounted for conventional factor.
Having said this, they have done some elimination tests - like putting one of the devices backwards and replacing the "thruster" with a dumb load.
... if they tested it in less-than-perfect vacuum (a bit hard to avoid) and were measuring the force exerted by the device on the test rig (and not the force exerted by the sealed test rig on the environment) then certainly more likely mechanisms for transfer of momentum are available.
Is this not just another tap off the planet's magnetic field and is hence useless for propulsion outside of said field?
I remember another system that tapped the power of the planet's field via creating and collapsing magnetic fields that disappeared due to perpetual motion scepticism again minimal power output the result of the energy recovered from collapsed EM fields. So yes this standing wave thruster will work here within the Planet's magnetic field but outside of our relatively strong bubble this drive will have nothing to push a
I'm not saying I believe this experiment - though sooner or later somebody *will* find a large-scale engineering solution to exploit quantum relativistic effects, and I bet they get all the same flak as this one.
But to quote someone from another field altogether - 'new paradigms don't become accepted when they're proven; they get accepted when the people who believed the previous one all get old and die, and nobody is left who *didn't* think the new paradigm worked'.
Sorry, but that is a load of bull.
Relativity did not have any problem to get accepted. Quantum mechanics, too.
Because these things were proven conclusively and repeatedly. Sure, there were probably people who did not "believe" until their deaths, but actually most of the academic world quickly catched up.
If this thing "works", then it will be absolutely no problem to replicate the setup and confirm that it really works. Perhaps somebody will also eliminate the possible causes of concern, such as the fact that the NASA chaps did not test in vacuum. If the proposed invention is really meaningful, it will have no problem with replication and confirmation in a rigorous setup.
In reply to "Sorry, but that is a load of bull. Relativity did not have any problem to get accepted. Quantum mechanics, too. Because these things were proven conclusively and repeatedly. Sure, there were probably people who did not "believe" until their deaths, but actually most of the academic world quickly catched up."
Ironically, Albert Einstein had serious theoretical issues with quantum mechanics and tried for many years to disprove or modify it. If *he* wasn't sure at first, I don't see any grounds for anyone to be smug. The modern academic world does - and should, objectively - continue to challenge new hypotheses, and there will always be those who fail to be convinced.
Photons have a rest mass of 0; microwave photons -- doubly so.
But the idea to use microwaves in a resonating cavity was thought up by Franklin Chang-Diaz and used, not to spill those microwaves out of the open end, but to excite, accelerate and spew argon ions. These are cheap (much cheaper than Krypton and Xenon) and much heavier than light particles.
The difference between VASIMR and other ion engines is, I thought, that the other engines need some kind of electrified grid for the acceleration, so that grid gets degraded as the ions bump into it; it gets sandblasted away. VASIMR should be able to perform much longer without eating up the engine.
Years ago, NASA was supposed to launch and test Ad Astra's VASIMR on the ISS, but I haven't heard anything about it ever again.
The point is that this is supposed not to be using ions as propellant, so it won't run out of reaction mass. Argon, krypton, xenon, Rn produced in your onboard fission reactor, it hardly matters because in the longer run you will use it all up.
Of course, if it works and is practical another one of Newton's laws hides under a table and curls up in a small ball hoping nobody will notice it. But since all of Newton's universe turned out to be correct just in the limit as velocity -> 0, and microwaves obligingly travel at c, it may not be very surprising.
(incidentally, pedantic note, the very concept of a rest mass is meaningless for photons as they are either travelling at c or don't exist. A rest mass is only meaningful for a particle which can actually be at rest. For me, the spookiest thing about photons is that from a photon's point of view, its lifetime is zero. To anything outside the photon, it has a transit time. To the photon itself, it never exists. God may not play dice, but she has a sense of humour.)
I've read a few articles and scientific debunkings of this over the past couple of days, and each time i'm left with just one response in mind.
Don't tell me that its wrong, it can't work that way, it breaks laws of physics, its junk science.
Show me, make one yourself, prove that it can't work - you know, do the science yourself.
Err, actually it works the other way: people with extraordinary claims need to come up with extraordinary proofs.
Inventor claims he invented a brilliant new method of propulsion, which seems to violate some physics laws. No biggie, if it really works I am quite sure the inventor will have no problem selling / licensing / giving away / whatever implementations of his invention.
If people had to recreate every single silly apparatus just to state that it does not work, the civilization would be busy with recreating garbage.
Mind you, I am not saying this particular thing is garbage, maybe it is a paradigm shift in space travel. But the burden of proof is on the inventor and people claiming the invention works.
NASA experiment did not prove this thing work. The fact that they got something out of deliberate setup designed NOT to work casts doubts on the validity of experiment. It also does not help that they did not perform the experiment in vacuum.
Nevertheless, if this invention does indeed work, it will have no issue whatsoever in being confirmed experimentally.
"The fact that they got something out of deliberate setup designed NOT to work casts doubts on the validity of experiment."
Actually, it doesn't. All it does put in doubt is the underlying hypothesis of why and how it should work, which is what they themselves admit.
"It also does not help that they did not perform the experiment in vacuum."
That is true, because there may conceivably be some conventional mechanisms involved, creating thrust through interaction with the surrounding air (ionisation etc). Let's hope they will test in a vacuum soon (once they change the capacitors to vacuum-hardened ones).
I've often had the thought that since mass is a function of energy (isn't everything?) that sub-atomic activity could be create mass on a tiny scale, yet taken over a large enough volume of space it could potentially account for some of the Univserse's missing mass.
Although why there are areas of varying density I'm sure I have no idea, it's all bit exotic to me.
From my limited understand of things, I think you my be in error, Sir.
The Biefield-Brown effect utilises considerably more energy input than I believe was used in this experiement.. "ranging from a few kilovolts and up to megavolt levels" in order to achive some form of ionisation.
Assume this thing works...
Then load an unmanned satellite with enough power source to keep this thing propelling until it reaches C and see if it gains mass or disappears in a beam of light into the horizon.
Napkin math says that if you keep a full 1G over 1 year you should reach luminal speed.
(assuming 300.000.000m/s for C you get 30.612.244 seconds at 1G which is 354 days by Newton's Law.).
0,1G should put you on a 306122449 seconds trip time which is 9,7 years.
If we can do any of these, we should do it. For the sake of science. But at 0,01G it would take... 97 years?
I still struggle with the concept of gaining mass as anything reaches ever close to C, so we should throw something really fast that could potentially reach C to know what would happen. The dream of every junior scientist, a simple, crude experiment to see if stuff really works as the theory says. Nobody actually proved it experimentally, for, say, 0,9G where things should get really weird and relativity should really kick in hard and be noticeable. Well, not proved yet.
By the way, when I turn on flashlight in my hand... is it LOSING mass? Photons on the direction of the beam? How much momentum is gained on that? If I turn on a really big flashlight in space do I get propulsion then?
Come on, think like a 6 year old, people!
When you turn on your flashlight the batteries releases chemically stored energy. It is believed* that also release of chemical energy results in a loss of mass, but that the amount of mass is so small that we are not able to measure it. I am not sure, but I do not believe that how the energy leaves the flash light matters. Be it via light or thermal conduction to it's surroundings.
*or so I have read on the Internet. Consult Stephen Fry if you are to use this information as anything other than trivia.
You can't reach luminal velocity. The implications of the various bits of Relativity Theory in play mean that as you get faster the spacecraft gets more massive requiring more and more oomph just to maintain the same acceleration. The change isn't linear either. Near the speed of light the energy required to nudge the craft up to the line (photonic speed-wise) goes asymptotic. At least, it did some thirty odd years ago when I last did the maths involved to see what was what using equations I found in Einstein's own book "Relativity" (very readable, worth a look).
We don't need to do the experiment you describe to confirm the mass-gain at fractional lightspeed velocities. We use the effect all the time in supercolliders.
Actually it's very spot on with the scientific observations and calculations. The problem is though, if this is possible, as soon as someone theorised the quantum "foam" they would have tested for these kind of effects... no?
The first thing to do would have been "can we use the quantum foam like a sea and sail through it/drain it/use it as a resource". However, I never see anyone, not even Stephen Hawkins, suggesting that one.
Actually, I first heard such suggestion in a Soviet popular science TV program back in 1990 or so...
Then there is Buzz Aldrin's 1996 novel "Encounter with Tiber" which describes a starship propulsion system based on Casimir effect and, of course, 2004-released Half-Life 2 with its "zero-point energy field manipulator"...
Everyone is missing the point. Whether or not we get a viable space engine out of this is trivial. What matters is that we have apparently broken the Law Of Conservation of Momentum by bouncing microwaves off the quantum vacuum virtual plasma (http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20140006052).
Note the words quantum and virtual and plasma in the previous paragraph. This leads me to suspect we are looking at a gamechanger here, the first inkling of a whole new branch of physics (subject to exceptional proof being provided by the scientific community as a whole).
Would any of my betters care to comment?
""Test results indicate that the RF resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and therefore is potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma," "
Prediction: No, it isn't.
Just a thought, but if the effect works better with high Q resonators then using very thin layers of diamagnetic bismuth alternating with manganese oxide doped pyrolytic graphite (well known high Q material) might allow it to work without the need for superconductors at all.
For that matter, dispense with the bulky chamber and make the whole thing out of a monolithic block of Bi:MnO2:C microwave resonant metamaterial with an emitter at one end, using mobile phone base station parts.
Ought to work far better than the Gen 1 device due to thousands of small chambers rather than one large one.
The big barrier to getting anywhere in space is the current travel technology that uses constant velocity, so takes literally months or years. This is the first step to the required technology of constant acceleration. At 1G you can get from Earth to Mars in six days. Yes, six DAYs. LESS THAN A WEEK.
Yesyesyes. Every 12 year old has done that math (or I would hope they had).
But this thing doesn't put out 1G. This motor would not pass muster in any sort of planetside test by the Galactic Patrol as it cannot make way in even an asteroidal gravity well.
Consider: To make the microwaves and steer them about you need lots of metal. To actually get any useful thrust from this motor it would need to be made entirely out of soap film.
Last time I debunked this one the setup was the same.
A torsion balance is very rigidly constrained sick that it had only one degree of freedom. Add to that a microwave source with a rotating cooling fan, and you will get 'lift' as there is a centripetal force interaction. You can do this by picking up a bench grinder and twisting it around.
Remove that constriction of movement and exactly nothing happens.
You can't, in a closed system, turn a torque moment into actual thrust.
the crap site has been taken down by the FBI americants and all the UFO rubbish
the basics :
you need :
a few electric ring magnets
a micro timer
some plastic pipe
then you place the ring magnets some retracting pole force mm apart, and set the watts to 1 greater then the other, and the micro timer to turn them off 1ms before the last,
so then, you have a dodgy electro magnetic pulse propulsion drive, without using nano seconds like a maglev train
which in a lab you would have good magnets like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyvfDzRLsiU
so all phyics aside, the last of the remaining field, gets push out the pipe through the ring magnets which is needed for the next pulse
so if you have 50w per kilo like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysTMByWXphQ
you will need a 440kw perpetual generator to lift 22tons into space with earth gravity, using your wind turbine dynamo which can go upto 10Mw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T52brmhYaTs
although there are plenty of working perpetual generators on youtube using my way
The elephant in the room is the inescapable fact, true for all propellantless drive ideas, that it is not only a perpetual motion machine, but that it can be made to generate free energy forever. This can be seen using very basic school physics. Constant input power generates constant thrust (it is claimed) and thus we get constant acceleration. Thus total input energy increases linearly with time, but output (kinetic) energy increases quadratically with time. It should now be clear that if you put this device on a wheel, there exists a breakeven speed above which free energy can be continuously obtained.
Therefore Shawyer is talking out of his arse when he says that the stored energy drops as the machine goes faster. Physics demands there be no preferred frame of reference, so pray tell, Roger old chap, how the cavity knows its velocity relative to its original rest frame?
I believe the thrust measurement is an artifact of induced patch charges. The only way to truly settle the debate is to do a space-based test.