Imagine an engine that pushes a rocket at incredible speeds and needs no fuel – we now have one called an EMDrive and it works! Scientists have confirmed that this amazing machine, which defies the laws of physics and would shock Sir Isaac Newton to his core, really does work, even though nobody with any basic knowledge of physics believed it would.
According to Newton, an action must have an equal and opposite reaction. If you are floating in space and blast some air from a tube in one direction, you will move in the opposite direction. The EMDrive thruster can go in one direction without needing any equal and opposite action beforehand.
Image of a prototype EMDrive built by scientists at NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratory. (Image: Wikipedia)
Tests confirm EMDrive works
Scientists from NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratories wrote in the Journal of Propulsion and Power (citation below) that after carrying out a series of independent tests, they have determined that the EMDrive generates thrust by harnessing particles of light and bouncing microwaves around inside a cone-shaped closed chamber.
This movement generates thrust at the thin, tapered end of the cone, and drives the engine forward.
Put simply, electromagnetic waves bounce around inside the EMDrive, creating photons which in turn generates thrust. However, it has no fuel to eject, which defies Newton’s third law of physics.
The publication of this latest paper is official confirmation that it works.
According to Roger Shawyer, the inventor of the EMDrive, not only does it work, he also insists that anybody can build one and find out for themselves. That is exactly what the Eagleworks Laboratory scientists did, and then wrote about it in the journal.
With the EMDrive thruster, microwave technology converts electrical energy directly into thrust. No propellant (fuel) is used in the conversion process. EMDrive is short for Electromagnetic Drive. (Data source: peswiki.com)
Scientists have dubbed the EMDrive the ‘Impossible’ engine, because for it to scientifically and successfully work, it needs to break our understanding of what the Universe is and how it exists.
If you are a lay person and would like to appreciate how creepy this concept is for physicists everywhere, imagine somebody telling you that they managed to get a rowing boat to move from one end of a calm indoor swimming pool to the other without using oars, or paddling with their hands or feet, and no use of a pulling rope, etc.
EMDrive deep space missions
If we can successfully use EMDrive thrusters, we will be able to get to Mars in just 10 weeks. Mars at its closest point is 225 million kilometers from Earth. To cover that distance in 10 weeks, a rocket would need to be travelling at 133,928 km/h (83,219 mph).
According to mars-one.com, with our current technology, it takes about 7 months to travel to the Red Planet.
Traveling at ultra-fast speeds would open up a vast range of destinations for manned spacecraft. Humans would be able to look at the surface of several planets, asteroids and other celestial bodies in our Solar System at close range.
In some cases, they might even be able to walk on the surface of distant worlds.
Rockets would not need to carry all that fuel, so they would either be smaller and lighter, or the current-sized ones would be able to carry more astronauts and equipment.
Citation: “Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio-Frequency Cavity in Vacuum,” Harold White, Andre Sylvester, David Brady, Paul Bailey, Paul March, James Lawrence and Jerry Vera. Journal of Propulsion and Power. November 17, 2016. DOI: 10.2514/1.B36120.
Video – The EMDrive
This DNews episode came out just before the latest paper was published. However, it is worth watching as it explains clearly and simply (for lay people) why physicists are so confused and excited by EMDrive technology.