shawyer

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NASA’s EmDrive could break the laws of physics and possibly get us to the moon in four hours

The Electromagnetic Drive, called the EmDrive, is an electromagnetic thruster (rocket) concept designed by aerospace engineer Roger Shawyer in 2001. It’s a superfast engine that gives off no radiation and consumes no propellant, or fuel. Hypothetically, it could get us from Earth to the moon in four hours. How? It would allegedly use the hypothetical model of a radio frequency resonant cavity thruster — sort of like a microwave.

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NASA’s Impossible Space Engine, The EMdrive, Passes Peer Review

“What has happened here is that a device has been designed that, when large amounts of power are pumped into it, tiny amounts of thrust are observed. The thrust-to-power ratio observed is 1.2 ± 0.1 Newtons per Megawatt, where 1.2 Newtons is the equivalent of the weight of an iPhone 6, while a Megawatt is enough energy to power everything in your entire house… and 649 others, all at once. Which is to say, it’s an incredibly large amount of power required for an incredibly tiny amount of thrust. Nevertheless, if you break the laws of physics, and you do it with such small measurement uncertainty compared to the signal you measure, surely that’s meaningful, important and robust, right?”

For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. While Newton may not be the final word in mechanics anymore since the development of relativity and quantum physics, this law – better known as the conservation of momentum – has held up from the 17th century through the 21st in every interaction ever observed. Unless, that is, the EMdrive is everything it claims to be. A propulsion-less device that results in thrust would be revolutionary, regardless of its efficiency. The tests done by NASA Eagleworks on this device have allegedly just passed peer review, meaning these results of a positive thrust with no observed exhaust (of an action with no reaction) are about to be published. But does that mean these results are real, and the laws of physics can now be considered broken? Or does passing peer review mean something else?

Spoiler: it’s something else! Find out what it means, and how we’re likely continuing to fool ourselves, today.