NASA publishes EmDrive paper showing physics-defying engine works

Posted on 7 Dec 2016 by Tim Brown

NASA’s long-awaited and highly anticipated EM (Electromagnetic Drive) drive paper, which details the testing of an engine that defies the laws of physics, has finally been peer-reviewed and published.

NASA’s paper entitled ‘Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio-Frequency Cavity in Vacum’ reviewed and published the efforts undertaken by the NASA Eagleworks Laboratory in testing the EmDrive propulsion system which was first proposed by British inventor Roger Shawyer in 1999.

The Eagleworks Team put forward a hypothesis for how the EmDrive could produce thrust, going against humanity’s current understanding of physics.

The engine has been touted as a new way of propelling without propellant whereby the propulsion system which produces 1.2 millinewtons of force for every kilowatt of thrust.

Initial testing of the EmDrive suggest it defies the laws of physics in that goes against Newton’s third law, which states that everything must have an equal and opposite reaction.

The laws of physics state that for a system to produce thrust it has to push something out of the way, whereas the EmDrive achieves propulsion without doing this.

If it proves its efficiency as a viable source for space travel, the EmDrive will make spacecraft much faster, lighter and cheaper as instead of using heavy rocket fuel for propulsion and carrying around propellant, it can harness its innovative method of bouncing microwave photons around inside a metal drum at millions of times a second.

This propulsion method generates a small pushing force on each end of the drum, driven by the photons bouncing back and forth at lightning speed.

The EmDrive goes against the established laws of physics in that it produces thrust and energy from nothing. But with it’s means of self-propulsion without even the use of energy such as fuel, the EmDrive seems to go against this established wisdom of Newton’s third law.

NASA’s paper, which was published online in the Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Journal of Propulsion and Power on November 17, highlighted as part of its conclusions that the test campaign for the EmDrive consisted of a reverse thrust element that mirrored the forward thrust element, which included a null thrust test effort of three tests performed at vacuum at 80W to try to identify any mundane sources of impulsive thrust with none identified.

Meanwhile thrust data from forward, reverse and null suggested that the system was consistently performing very close to the average impulsive performance measured in air.

According to the British inventor Roger Shawyer, who first proposed such a propulsion system, the EmDrive could be so efficient with its propulsive power that it could power humans to Mars in just 70 days.

NASA Eagleworks offers theory for EmDrive

To explain how the EmDrive could possibly achieve thrust while not using a traditional propulsion system and defying the laws of physics, NASA’s Eagleworks team offer an hypothesis in their recent paper by explaining that: “the supporting physics model used to derive a force based on operating conditions in the test article can be categorised as a nonlocal hidden-variable theory, or pilot-wave theory for short.”

The pilot wave theory suggests that particles do have precise positions and momenta at all times are considered to be hidden variables. This raises the question that an unseen element such as dark matter could indeed be the undetected reaction powering the EmDrive, and therefore actually meets Newtons third law. Several other theories have also been put forward for how the device might work.

The EmDrive could potentially be the driving force of future space travel, with many advantages over previous propulsion systems featured on space craft. NASA is set to test the EmDrive in space within the coming months.