View Full Version : Nasa approves 'impossible' space engine design that apparently violates the laws of physics

The One
13th August 2014, 09:17
Nasa approves 'impossible' space engine design that apparently violates the laws of physics and could revolutionise space travel

Engineers from the space agency managed to produce tiny amounts of thrust using a microwave engine design that could turn space travel on its head.In a quiet announcement that has sent shockwaves through the scientific world, Nasa has cautiously given its seal of approval to a new type of “impossible” engine that could revolutionize space travel.

In a paper (http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20140006052) published by the agency’s experimental Eagleworks Laboratories, Nasa engineers confirmed that they had produced tiny amounts of thrust from an engine without propellant – an apparent violation of the conservation of momentum; the law of physics that states that every action must have an equal and opposite reaction.

Traditional spacecraft carry vast amounts of fuel with them into orbit in order to move about, using the thrust created by this fuel to move in zero gravity like a swimmer in a pool pushing off against a wall. This method works fine but it's costly - both in terms of obtaining the fuel and then launching all that extra weight into space


The Atlantis Space Shuttle launches - the brown tank is all for fuel.
Nasa’s engineers have tested an engine known as a ‘Cannae Drive’, a machine that instead uses electricity to generate microwaves, bouncing them around inside a specially designed container that theoretically creates a difference in radiation pressure and so results in directional thrust.

In an ordinary engine the rocket moves forward as fuel is flung backwards - the momentum of the rocket (a measure of both its mass and velocity combined) is 'conserved' because it is moved from the rocket to the fuel. However, with the Cannae Drive there is no fuel - the microwaves aren't expelled from the engine (as ions are with weak-but-reliable Ion Thrusters) they're just kind of moved about within the container.

All this might be theoretical no more however. Nasa’s scientists tested a version of the drive designed by US scientist Guido Fetta and found that the propellant-less engine was able to produce between 30 and 50 micronewtons of thrust – a tiny amount (0.00003 to 0.00005 per cent of the force of an iPhone pressing down when held in the hand) but still a great deal more than nothing.

(Fetta has said that the name refers to the Battle of Cannae when a small Carthaginian force led by Hannibal improbably defeated a much larger Roman army - although many have suggested that he is also referring to the engineer Scotty in the Star Trek series and his recurring and plaintive protest that he 'cannae change the laws of physics'.)

The results, first reported by Wired UK, are less than a thousandth of the thrust produced in tests by Chinese engineers of a similar invention known as the EmDrive - another fuel-less thruster designed by British scientist Roger Shawyer. Bother Shawyer and Fetta have spent year evangelizing their designs but this has invited as much suspicion as it has support, with many looking sceptically on claims that apparently violate the laws of physics.

It's not surprising then that Nasa is presenting its positive test results as objectively as possible, with its engineers making no attempt to explain the mechanisms at play and instead only reporting on the integrity of the test procedures and their results. They did, however, allow themselves a brief moment of speculation:

"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.” (emphasis added).

A model of the EmDrive - the shape of the engine (including numerous interior wells and channels) are intended to create directional thrust from microwaves.
This 'quantum vaccum' is what the microwave drives might theoretically be 'pushing off' against - it's essentially a dimension of the Universe that represents the lowest energetic state physically possible; a ‘base layer’ of reality that physicists sometimes suggest might be the origin of the equally mysterious ‘dark energy'.

If all this sounds like the realm of science fiction, well it is - so far. Despite multiple experiments now confirming that these ‘impossible’ drives work, there’s still plenty of room for mistakes (see for example the 2011 CERN experiments that mistakenly observed faster-than-light neutrinos) and recreating the physical vacuum necessary for the tests could go wrong in countless ways.

Still, if further experiments continue to confirm the reality of these microwave thrusters then it could trigger a new era of space travel. Nasa's involvement is no guarantee of success, but it does suggest that scientists are taking the possibility of 'impossible' engines seriously. Perhaps we should too.


Healthy Skeptic
13th August 2014, 10:12
After almost 100 Years, NASA has 'discovered' Quantum Physics/Mechanics !!!!

13th August 2014, 11:59
Newton was a capital fellow and all — a tad on the arsey side, but of adequate intelligence — but his crude brand of physics has lasted far too long.

Healthy Skeptic
14th August 2014, 02:26
Newton was a capital fellow and all — a tad on the arsey side, but of adequate intelligence — but his crude brand of physics has lasted far too long.

And, from what I have read, he was very 'Up Himself' (Pardon my language).
At this point of time we have 3 branches of Physics:
1. Newtonian/Einsteinium Physics
2. Quantum Physics/Mechanics
3. Particle Physics
Unfortunately, "Never the 'twain shall meet'".
To me, having studied all three, I feel that we are 'missing something'.
We can only theorize and speculate on what we 'observe'.
If you were to quantify the available Light Spectrum and represent it as being 1 Metre in length,
then 'us humans' only 'observe' a band of about 2 Millimetres of it.
That is why we "haven't got it yet" - eventually we might, but we have to 'think/look outside the box'.
What gets me 'suspicious' of NASA, is that they appear to only be thinking in Point 1 above - until now.
Here is another thing for 'food for thought' : http://www.aulis.com/moonbase.htm
Cheers, HS

21st August 2014, 08:29
Ah, so you cannae breakthe laws of physics then ! :-D

Healthy Skeptic
23rd August 2014, 04:07
Ah, so you cannae breakthe laws of physics then ! :-D

Which 'Laws of Physics' are you referring to?? - It's different depending on which branch (1,2 or 3) you are referring to.
Love, HS

23rd August 2014, 07:26
What, you mean you've never watched star trek? ;-)

Healthy Skeptic
25th August 2014, 04:41
What, you mean you've never watched star trek? ;-)

Well, "Beam me up Scotty".
Of course I have seen Star Trek.
The 'mixture' of 'Physics' on that show was very Hypothetical at the time - funny, a lot of it has become 'true' today.
Maybe NASA might 'regress' themselves and take note of the concepts that were expressed at that time.
With Love,

Healthy Skeptic
25th August 2014, 07:06
OK, I will give some "Food for Tought".
We all have USB Sticks, don't we??
We all can probably understand the principles of how they record information, but has anyone given thought to how Data is 'erased'.
Well, there is a 'barrier' between where the Data is recorded. So, therefore, to erase Data, this 'barrier' must be 'overcome'.
It is, in electrical terms, an Insulator. Therefore ''impenetrable". So how do you 'erase' a USB Stick??
Hint: It's got to do with 'Quantum Jumping' - which according to Einstein was 'impossible' - yet Today we have USB Sticks with which we record and erase at 'will'.
With Love,