Skip to comments.NASA: New "impossible" engine works, could change space travel forever
Posted on 08/02/2014 12:16:09 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Until yesterday, every physicist was laughing at this engine and its inventor, Roger Shawyer. It's called the EmDrive and everyone said it was impossible because it goes against classical mechanics. But the fact is that the quantum vacuum plasma thruster works and scientists can't explain why.
Shawyer's engine is extremely light and simple. It provides a thrust by "bouncing microwaves around in a closed container." The microwaves are generated using electricity that can be provided by solar energy. No propellant is necessary, which means that this thrusters can work forever unless a hardware failure occurs. If real, this would be a major breakthrough in space propulsion technology.
Obviously, the entire thing sounded preposterous to everyone. In theory, this thing shouldn't work at all. So people laughed and laughed and ignored him. Everyone except a team of Chinese scientists. They built one in 2009 and it worked: They were able to produce 720 millinewton, which is reportedly enough to build a satellite thruster. And still, nobody else believed it.
Now, American scientist Guido Fetta and a team at NASA Eagleworksthe advanced propulsion skunkworks led by Dr Harold "Sonny" White at the Johnson Space Centerhave published a new paper that demonstrates that a similar engine working on the same principles does indeed produce thrust. Their model, however, produces much less thrustjust 30 to 50 micronewtons. But it works, which is amazing on its own. They haven't explained why their engine works, but it does work:
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.
The entire idea that we have found something that seems to go against the the principle of conservation of momentum just seems crazy to me. But the fact that it has worked for two independent parties can't be denied. That's the laboratory speaking. Then again, perhaps both labs made a mistake. I'm sure this will be tested by the Russians and the Europeans too, but at least I'm glad we are working on it.
But the fact that we may be witnessing something completely new, something that may push us forward into sci-fi territory once again, is very exciting.
Love how scientists say it’s “impossible” because it violates “laws.”
“Hey! You can’t do that, it’s against the law!
If it works, our understanding of Physics is WRONG. Everything newer than Newton is suspect...
It violates ‘laws’ as established by man. There are many more laws we have yet to identify, especially in space.
Sometimes great leaps are made by those who try the impossible.
Adeo pro sedatus scientia.
Nothing unreal about physical laws.
And Chinese scientists? Why would they want to present something that works to NASA? Not that the NASA team has proven anything anyway (and the Chinese claim of 2.59 ounces force has not been independently verified by them, never mind their own alleged 0.00018 ounce force).
I taped our Dyson vacuum cleaner to an old microwave and fired them up. It’s a good thing I put that plastic bread bag around my head because we shot around Mars like Nancy Pelosi chasing Republicans.
I'll listen the next time they get a human up in low earth orbit.
Reminds me of the scene in the original Planet of the Apes, where Taylor’s translator tells the court he flew there, and the court says “flight is a scientific impossibility!”. Taylor then sends a paper airplane flying across the room.
The infinite improbability drive is a wonderful new method of crossing interstellar distances in a mere nothingth of a second, without all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace. It was discovered by lucky chance, and then developed into a governable form of propulsion by the Galactic Government’s research center on Damogran.
The principle of generating small amounts of finite improbability by simply hooking the logic circuits of a Bambleweeny 57 Sub-Meson Brain to an atomic vector plotter suspended in a strong Brownian Motion producer (say a nice hot cup of tea) were of course well understood and such generators were often used to break the ice at parties by making all the molecules in the hostess’s undergarments leap simultaneously one foot to the left, in accordance to the theory of indeterminacy.
Many respectable physicists said that they weren’t going to stand for this, partly because it was a debasement of science, but mostly because they didn’t get invited to those sorts of parties.
Another thing they couldn’t stand was the perpetual failure they encountered while trying to construct a machine which could generate the infinite improbability field needed to flip a spaceship across the mind-paralyzing distances between the farthest stars, and at the end of the day they grumpily announced that such a machine was virtually impossible.
Then, one day, a student who had been left to sweep up after a particularly unsuccessful party found himself reasoning in this way: If, he thought to himself, such a machine is a virtual impossibility, it must have finite improbability. So all I have to do in order to make one is to work out how exactly improbable it is, feed that figure into the finite improbability generator, give it a fresh cup of really hot tea... and turn it on!
He did this and was rather startled when he managed to create the long sought after golden Infinite Improbability generator. He was even more startled when just after he was awarded the Galactic Institute’s Prize for Extreme Cleverness he was lynched by a rampaging mob of respectable physicists who had realized that one thing they couldn’t stand was a smart-ass.
Listen, Scotty could have told us about this old technology; pre-warp drive , ya know.
Precursor warp drive?
That gives a lot of credence to Burt Rutan’s comment about NASA being pronounced “NaySay.” NASA dissed the technology but the Chinese didn’t...now we find out it’s real and we’ve lost 5 years of R&D time.
I want to know which Muslim discovered this so we can give appropriate credit...
Cool. Sounds like they have a device which is tapping into the quantum vacuum. You don’t need to bring your own reaction mass if you can do that.
As if Barry would’ve let them do anything with it.
I was thinking impulse engine myself.
Just using what is in abundance. Plenty of space in space.
Who is the idiot who wrote this article?
I doubt “every physicist” was laughing at Roger. Scientists are expected to be skeptical and demand proof. That is what the scientific method is all about.
Two experiments showed an extremely tiny amount of thrust. Not enough to be of any practical use but potentially a breakthrough. Physicists recognized the potential. More work needs to be done.
It may be it is a theoretical advance that if improved has the potential to change space travel or it may be just a very small error by the labs.
It is an interesting concept but get rid of the drama queen who wrote the article. He provided no scientific analysis. He just a made up story about scientists bullying this poor guy.
Had to re-read that. First glance had it ...
720 milliwonton. :)
Would someone please ping me when this engine can power a spaceship? Thanks in advance.
Given that this news is valid, what are students being indoctrinated with in science classes in USA schools?
Political hacks have already begun thinking of ways to tax it!
I wondered why my microwave was levitating.
Seriously, this is quite fascinating.
Write that yourself?
Then,it must have been created in India!
That would mean that 0bama is “impossible”.
Thanks 2ndDivisionVet, earlier on FR: NASA Confirms The Plausibility of Reactionless Drives??!!
It’s from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
And reaction mass, because you need so much of it, is the limiting factor.
Hey, these guys are messing with “settled science’”. Someone call Obama!
"Free Republic is here to continue fighting for independence and freedom and against the unconstitutional encroachment of ever expanding socialist government...
We believe in the founding principles with all our hearts and mean to defend them to our dying breath..."
(Ideal for quantum Vacuuming, plus containing other particulate matter -- Dark or not...)
That being said, if it's not a lab error redux, it is fascinating news. I always thought that when people/scientists said that aliens couldn't get here because of the vast distances, I thought of the arrogance of the human race. "We haven't discovered it, so it can't be done."
No doubt that way back when, if you told scientists that sound and images could be transmitted over the air, you'd have been laughed at - or burned at the stake.
Generally its believed to require far to much mass-energy equivalence to be practical but some researchers appear to have discovered a way to get a tiny curvature of space with considerably less mass energy. (Nanometers at this point)
Are you saying that since M = E/C2 then you are not going to get enough bang for the buck? Too much E to get a bit of M? If so, how do you get around that except by the expenditure of time?
Ah, now I see how these things work -- Zero Point Modules™
It breaks the law of Physics (conservation of motion).
If it works, our understanding of Physics is WRONG. Everything newer than Newton is suspect...
“Free Momentum” would indeed be a startling finding
The idea that there can be non-conserved momentum is would severely disturb Newton, and all Physicists forward.
I have this uncle who made a Chevy 350 get 200 mpg, then someone killed him.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
Is that how the Fed produces Fedbucks?
I always find it funny too.. Violated laws they know but I am sure their billion of laws yet to be discovered.
The video I’m listening to in another tab had a soundtrack resembling those YT vids purporting to reveal all about some top secret (and often imaginary) project. He should rethink that.
Here’s Shawyer’s site:
and a paper of his:
Actual scientists don’t use words like “impossible”.
If it can, without expending reaction mass, that's what we want, whether we know how it works or not.
Even small curvature “short cuts” over millions of miles would save much energy.
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