Print 106 comment(s) - last by theapparition.. on Feb 19 at 4:13 PM

EmDrive  (Source:
It's a a propellantless microwave thruster that defies Newton's laws of motion

Chinese scientists have taken on a heavily criticized space drive idea that could one day launch satellites, deep space probes and even flying cars.

The research team hails from Northwestern Polytechnic University in Xi'an, and was led by Yang Juan. What they developed was a propellantless microwave thruster called EmDrive, which is a controversial idea because it goes against Newton's laws of motion -- and many have claimed to create a "propellantless" thruster before and failed.

Newton's laws of motion are all based on the idea that firing propellant out of the back at a high speed will push a craft forward. While solar cells offer infinite power, thrust is limited by propellant. Many have tried to get around this, but several scams have made this particular field a joke in the scientific world.

While space drives tend to rely on Newton's laws of motion, the EmDrive is a closed, conical container that has a net thrust toward the wide end when filled with resonating microwaves. This goes against Newton, who said that no closed system could have a net thrust. However, EmDrive works because the microwaves have a group velocity (the speed of a collection of electromagnetic waves) that is greater in one direction than the other -- which is where Albert Einstein's theory of relativity comes in.

British engineer Robert Shaywer, who began looking at the concept of a propellantless thruster when he opened his own company called Satellite Propulsion Research in 2001, is the original creator of the EmDrive. He made demonstration thrusters to prove it could be done, and even made sure the test results were accurate (meaning, the results weren't affected by friction, ionization, air currents, electromagnetic effects or interference). The first, made in 2003, had a thrust of 16 mN. This was enough to show it could be done.

However, he received a ton of criticism for his idea and was ridiculed in his own country. But the Chinese team at Northwestern Polytechnic University believed in his research and took the project head on to author the latest study, "Net Thrust Measurement of Propellantless Microwave Thruster."

The Northwestern Polytechnic University team was able to create the EmDrive with 720 mN of thrust with a couple of kilowatts of power.

So what purpose does EmDrive have? It could halve launch costs of satellites because as much as half the launch weight of these objects are attributed to propellant.

Shawyer is even working on a superconducting thruster that could be ready as soon as 2016. It would boost the Q value of the cavity, which determines the amount of thrust produced. He said it could be boosted by a factor of several thousand, possibly equating to a tonne of thrust per kilowatt of power.

Source: Wired

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Game changing...
By wordsworm on 2/16/2013 2:44:54 AM , Rating: 2
Science does not know the value of pi. You have to use a word to describe it. In math, you have to round it somewhere. Math doesn't deal well with the infinite, while the universe and the energy and matter within it are. The scientific community is always trying to cram the universe into finite space.

Math is a language that cannot calculate much more than basic geometry and pennies in a bank. It has been fairly effective for a number of things, and in many instances it's the best tool we have. But at the same time, we have to recognize its limitations.

I have no idea who the people are you mentioned. There are a million names in the world worth remembering. I'm not about to begin figuring out who each of them is or how they're important.

Metaphysics... well, maybe you never got around to watching Stephen Hawking's Universe. The first words out of his mouth were "Where do we come from? How did the universe begin? Why is the universe the way it is? How will it end?" These are questions which are philosophical and more specifically metaphysical. They're good questions. Your problem is that you don't seem to know very much about science history, its origins in philosophy, the effects of philosophy on science.

You might find these branches interesting. But, you might also burn those books. I know that's what folks of faith tend to do when they hear heresy.

In any case, the reason the scientific community fears a device like this is that it would make them look like fools. It's one thing to uproot a theory, but to disprove laws of motion? That would be monumental. If this device works, and is developed and used for space transportation, we will see a fundamental shift in space travel which will rival our discovery of propellant. Going to Mars? No problem... it would take just a few months. Having a hard time funding the space station because of the constant necessity of having to use propellant? No longer required. Just upgrade it with one of these gadgets and it could be used to travel to inner planets.

And you? Well, continue shaking your head in disbelief. It might even be possible to use this device to break the speed of light, which would really make you irate.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

Most Popular ArticlesSmartphone Screen Protectors – What To Look For
September 21, 2016, 9:33 AM
UN Meeting to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance
September 21, 2016, 9:52 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM
5 Cases for iPhone 7 and 7 iPhone Plus
September 18, 2016, 10:08 AM
Update: Problem-Free Galaxy Note7s CPSC Approved
September 22, 2016, 5:30 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki