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.
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