Warp speed ahead.
After months of debate, speculation, ridicule, and name calling a long-awaited peer-reviewed paper by NASA scientists proves the “impossible” EMDrive really does work, and it could get us to Mars in 70 days.
Scientists from NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratory published the research paper describing the engine that produces thrust in a vacuum without fuel or exhaust, something that should be against the laws of physics.
The team of NASA scientists even put forward a theory describing why the “impossible” engine seems to work, but their hypothesis depends on yet another controversial theory and starts a brand new physics discussion.
The peer-reviewed paper, published in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)’s Journal of Propulsion and Power, describes a study proving the “impossible” EMDrive produces 1.2 millinewtons per kilowatt of thrust in a vacuum.
“This test campaign was not focused on optimizing performance and was more an exercise in existence proof.”
It’s not as powerful as a rocket, but neither does it need fuel, a major constraint for space travel, and it’s faster than other forms of zero-propellant propulsion like solar sails, laser propulsion, and photon rockets.
In theory, the EMDrive would allow spacecraft to travel between planets using only the power of the sun to generate electricity, astronauts could reach the moon in four hours, Mars in 70 days, and Pluto in 18 months.
For the uninitiated, British scientist inventor Roger Shawyer invented the EMDrive, Electromagnetic Drive, back in 1999, but was widely ridiculed by mainstream scientists because his engine appeared to break Newton’s Third Law of Motion.
The law of physics states that for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction: for a rocket to go up, exhaust must come down.
The EMDrive works by firing microwaves into a cone-shaped cavity where they exert more force on the flat surface than the cone thereby generating thrust, but it’s a closed system with no exhaust. With nothing pushing back, it appears to be impossible a vehicle could move forward.
When rumors started to circulate that NASA researchers were attempting to prove the EMDrive actually worked, the internet went crazy with derision and when the paper was leaked to the public there were many who refused to believe it.
Now, the peer-reviewed study has been officially published and the world can see the evidence for themselves; the publication of the paper means the research has been reviewed by scientists independent of the Eagleworks lab.
There is one big caveat, however, the study merely proves the science behind the EMDrive, not that it actually works, as Motherboard reported.
“Keep in mind that peer-review doesn’t mean the argument necessarily holds water, only that the measures taken to arrive at the conclusion were considered sound.”
NASA Eagleworks researchers offered a theory about why the impossible EM Drive appears to work using the idea of pilot-wave theory, which is a controversial interpretation of quantum mechanics and brings up an entirely new argument.
Meanwhile, the mainstream scientific community remains unconvinced; a few days ago, a Motherboard article was deleted from Reddit because the moderators consider it to be pseudoscience.
One company is already planning to test the controversial EMDrive in space. Guido Fetta, CEO of Cannae Inc., plans to launch an EMDrive-powered cubesat into orbit aboard the first test of NASA’s Space Launch System with an Orion crew capsule in 2018. The cubesat will be left in space for six months to prove the technology actually works.
If the engine proves to be feasible it could revolutionize space travel. Astronauts and Martian settlers could reach the red planet in a mere 10 weeks, making colonization of other worlds much easier. In a few decades, humans could be zipping around the solar system establishing off world colonies.
Who will be the first to build a spaceship with EMDrive technology?
[Featured Image by Sylphe_7/Thinkstock]