Figuring out the impossible

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People are starting to figure out how the EM drive might work.

It was declared to be an impossibility - a reactionless drive. Then someone had the brilliant idea to build one and test it. It worked.

Now peole are scrambling to find out how it works - the folks at MIT have an idea:

The Curious Link Between the Fly-By Anomaly and the “Impossible” EmDrive Thruster
About 10 years ago, a little-known aerospace engineer called Roger Shawyer made an extraordinary claim. Take a truncated cone, he said, bounce microwaves back and forth inside it and the result will be a thrust toward the narrow end of the cone. Voila … a revolutionary thruster capable of sending spacecraft to the planets and beyond. Shawyer called it the EmDrive.

Shawyer’s announcement was hugely controversial. The system converts one type of energy into kinetic energy, and there are plenty of other systems that do something similar. In that respect it is unremarkable.

The conceptual problems arise with momentum. The system’s total momentum increases as it begins to move. But where does this momentum come from? Shawyer had no convincing explanation, and critics said this was an obvious violation of the law of conservation of momentum.

Shawyer countered with experimental results showing the device worked as he claimed. But his critics were unimpressed. The EmDrive, they said, was equivalent to generating a thrust by standing inside a box and pushing on the sides. In other words, it was snake oil.

Since then, something interesting has happened. Various teams around the world have begun to build their own versions of the EmDrive and put them through their paces. And to everyone’s surprise, they’ve begun to reproduce Shawyer’s results. The EmDrive, it seems, really does produce thrust.

More at the site - there should be a Nobel Prize in there somewhere. This is fundamental Physics being done.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on April 21, 2016 10:54 AM.

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