Could the “impossible” engine really be possible? Or did the British media get itself duped?
The International Business Times says a NASA peer-reviewed report on the EmDrive space propulsion system was briefly leaked online, nearly a month ahead of its reported scheduled publication by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The report says NASA was able to replicate the claims made by space research and developer Roger Shawyer – meaning his radio frequency resonant cavity thruster might actually work after all.
According to the paper, Shawyer’s EmDrive achieved a force of 1.2 milli-newtons per kilowatt in a vacuum. That might not mean much to us lay people, but it could show that the engine does create thrust – the kind that would require no fuel to burn.
It’s because of that why many scientists and physicists have called Shawyer’s work impossible. As an electromagnetic thruster, radiation is confined to a microwave cavity, pushing the cavity in specific directions based on how the radiation “reflects” in the category.
Such a device would, some scientists say, violate Newton’s Third Law of Motion: That to every action, there is always an equal opposite reaction. This type of engine does not create that reaction, according to the scientists, thus is impossible in the eyes of Isaac Newton.
Yet, a refined version of Shawyer’s engine, if it’s real, could make long space flights possible – something that currently is hindered because of the amount of propellant fuel needed to conduct such a voyage. If the fuel is no longer needed for thrust, it could change space travel as we know it.
The Australian who reportedly leaked the document, Phil Wilson, told the Business Times he did it because he feared the report would never be published the way he says it’s supposed to.
“Very significant EmDrive research has not seen the light of day, and many around the world make (the) incorrect assumption about the non-functionality of the EmDrive and the work that (NASA Eagleworks) achieved.
“I need to ensure this information sees the light of day, and is not held back from the public.”
Eagleworks, by the way, is a more common name for the Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. It not only is reportedly exploring the EmDrive, but also another so-called “reactionless” drive known as the quantum vacuum plasma thruster.
After the New Scientist magazine published a story on an earlier incarnation of Shawyer’s engine a decade ago, several scientists blasted the magazine, including physicist Paul Friedlander.
“In a conventional rocket, thrust is achieved without breaking (Newton’s law) because the combined momentum of the craft and the exhaust gas from the rocket cancel each other out as they move in exactly opposite directions. The principle of conservation of momentum is every bit as true in the world of relativity and quantum mechanics as it was when set down by Newton. The Shawyer drive is as impossible as perpetual motion.
“Relativistic conservation of momentum has been understood for a century, and dictates that if nothing emerges from Shawyer’s device, then its center of mass will not accelerate.”
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