≡ Menu

Marc Millis: Testing Possible Spacedrives

Marc Millis, former head of NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics project, recently returned from another trip to Germany, where he worked with Martin Tajmar’s SpaceDrive project at Germany’s Technische Universität Dresden. Recent coverage of the ongoing experimental work into spacedrives in both the popular and scientific press has raised public interest, leading Millis to explain in today’s essay why and how the techniques for studying these matters are improving, and how far we have to go before we have something definitive. Millis is in the midst of developing an interstellar propulsion study from a NASA grant even as he continues to examine advanced propulsion concepts and the methodologies with which to approach them.

by Marc Millis

Two recent articles, one in Scientific American [1] and the other in Acta Astronautica [2], prompted this update about the experimental tests of possible spacedrives. In short, the experimental methods are improving, but definitive results are not yet in hand. While this update is mostly on the “Mach Effect Thruster,” it also touches on the infamous “EmDrive,” as well as a refresher on the general quest for spacedrive physics.

First, what is a spacedrive? Presently, a spacedrive is still a goal rather than a proven device. The ambition is to find a fundamentally different way to propel spacecraft rather than rockets or sails. Rockets are limited by having to carry their entire journey’s reaction mass with them (propellant). Sails are limited by one-directional photons (or particles) from an external source. Imagine, instead, if there was some way for a spacecraft to interact with its surrounding spacetime to move in any direction and be limited only by the amount of available energy. That ambition is the essence of a spacedrive.

That detail – of interacting with spacetime to induce motion – is a matter of undiscovered physics. That makes it harder to grasp, harder to explain, and harder to solve. It’s easier to grasp engineering challenges that are based on known physics, since there are already operating principles to cite. With spacedrives, the operating principles are works-in-progress – more akin to lines of inquiry than having complete packages ready for scrutiny. Though theories for faster-than-light warp drives do exist (one type of spacedrive), the physics of the required negative energy is still debated – which itself is a prerequisite to devising how to engineer a warp drive. In addition, though there are experimental replications of thrusts from possible spacedrives, separating experimental artifacts from actual thrusts is also, still, a work in progress – and the main point of this update.

Before getting to the latest experiments, here is a bit more background behind the challenges of a spacedrive. At first blush, such wishful thinking might seem to violate conservation of momentum – a crucial detail. Conservation of momentum is easy to grasp for a rocket; the rearward-blasted propellant matches the forward momentum of the spacecraft. The situation is less obvious with spacedrives. There are a least 3 approaches to address conservation of momentum: 1) using a reaction mass indigenous to space or spacetime, 2) negative inertia, or 3) exploring the physics about inertial reference frames – the backdrop upon which the conservation laws are defined.

The majority of this update is related to the 3rd option – inertial frames. For new readers, a more complete introduction to various approaches and issues of both spacedrives and faster-than-light flight are spelled out in the book Frontiers of Propulsion Science [3]. If you’re curious about that broader coverage, that book and subsequent papers are one starting point.

Back to inertial frames and conservation laws: An inertial frame is such a ubiquitous property of spacetime that it is often taken for granted. It is what allows accelerated motion to be felt – the reference frame for Newton’s F=ma and the subsequent conservation laws. If you’ve never thought about it before, this can be hard to grasp because it’s so foundational. One useful book is Mach’s Principle: From Newton’s Bucket to Quantum Gravity [4], which articulates several different attempts to represent how inertial frames exist. What makes this book particularly useful is that it compiled workshop discussions about the differing approaches. Those discussions are illuminating.

One of those attempts is called “Mach’s Principle,” which asserts that the surrounding matter of the universe gives rise to the inertial frame properties of space. Or stated differently, “inertial here, because of matter, out there.” A similar perspective is something called “inertial induction.” The implication of these is that inertia is more than just a property of mass. Inertia is an interaction between mass and spacetime – and perhaps with undiscovered nuances.

Perhaps an analogy might help. When you plot trajectories on graph paper, you usually don’t give much thought to the paper. The paper is just some fixed, reliable background upon which the more interesting details are plotted. But what if the paper was not uniform nor constant over time? What if the trajectories might vary because of the properties of the paper itself? In this case, the rules for plotting on graph paper would have to be updated to account for the rules about the paper itself. Here, the graph paper is analogous to an inertial frame and “plotting trajectories” is analogous to Newton’s F=ma and subsequent conservation laws. If there are deeper details about inertial frames and their effect on inertia, then Newton’s F=ma and the conservation laws would have to be refined to incorporate those finer details.

In terms of Einstein’s general relativity – an established refinement of Newton’s laws – inertial frames and momentum conservation are treated only locally. I’m not sure quite how to put this in words, so I’ll defer to examples. With the warp drive, Einstein’s equations describe the local effects on spacetime from the warp drive itself, but cannot describe how (or if) momentum is conserved across a whole journey, encompassing the departure and arrival points as a total picture. Similarly, the momentum conservation of traveling through a wormhole cannot be described. While the local effects at each throat can be described, the bigger picture encompassing both the entry and exit throats and the mass that went through, cannot. There is room for more advances in physics.

Mach’s Principle and Inertial Induction are still open investigations in general physics, though not a dominant theme. Their relevance to spacedrives is because Mach’s Principle was a starting point for what is now called the “Mach Effect Thruster.” It began around 1990, when a reexamination of Mach’s Principle led to new hypotheses about fluctuating inertia, which then led to a 1994 patent for a propulsion concept [5]. Experiments followed. By 2016, three other labs were observing similar thrusts, which led NASA to award a 2017 NIAC grant for further investigations.

The original theory, from James Woodward of the University of California at Fullerton, showed that the inertia of a mass would fluctuate with a change of power of that mass. At first, varying the power of the mass took the form of charging and discharging a capacitor – where the capacitor was that mass. By doing this with two capacitors, while also changing the distance between them (via a piezoelectric actuator), a propulsive force was claimed to be generated (see figure and caption).

Figure 1. Transient inertia applied for propulsion: While the rear capacitor’s inertia is higher and the forward capacitor lower, the piezoelectric separator is extended. The front capacitor moves forward more than the rear one moves rearward. Then, while the rear capacitor’s inertia is lower and the forward capacitor higher, the piezoelectric separator is contracted. The front capacitor moves backward less than the rear one moves forward. Repeating this cycle shifts the center of mass of the system forward.

Since the center of mass of such a system moves without the opposite motion of a reaction mass, it appears to violate conservation of momentum, but does it? Since inertia is no longer constant, the usual equations do not fit without some reconsideration. This is a debated issue – debated in a constructive way. One version asserts how momentum conservation is indeed satisfied [6]. Others would prefer that the original fluctuating inertia equation be further advanced to explicitly address the conservation laws. Another desired refinement is to have the original equations explicitly connected to the experimental hardware – to show what dimensions of that hardware are the most critical.

Armed with an apparently working device, Woodward and his team concentrated on improving the experiments rather than that additional theoretical work. Over the years of making modifications to the device to amplify the effect, the ‘fluctuating inertia’ capacitors and the piezoelectric actuator were merged. Now a stack of piezoelectric disks serves both the functions of the inertial fluctuations and the oscillating motion. The power that affects the inertia now includes the mechanical motion too.

This is where the Scientific American article is worth mentioning. That article gives a decent review of the history and status of the Mach Effect Thruster (which also goes by the name “Mach Effect Gravity Assist (MEGA) Device”) as conducted by Jim Woodward and Heidi Fearn. It includes some perspectives that are useful to read separately, instead of needing to repeat those here. It addresses other aspects of the bigger picture of pursuing these kinds of research inquires.

The other article that prompted this update is in the journal Acta Astronautica. In addition to Woodward’s team, a group at the Technical University of Dresden, Germany, led by Martin Tajmar, secured funding for a broader project to research spacedrives in 2017. That group is one of the 3 labs that replicated the Woodward results in 2016. The recent Acta Astronautica article is an update on their experimental hardware and procedures, in preparation for careful testing of the Mach Effect Thruster, the EmDrive, and other possible spacedrive effects.

A preceding work by Tajmar that fed into this latest update was an attempt to advance Woodward’s original fluctuating inertia equations into a form that mapped to the experimental hardware [7]. With such equations a new thruster could be designed to maximize the thrust and experimental predictions could be made for the existing hardware. To span the possibility of debated assumptions (such as what kind of power affects the inertia; mechanical, electrical, other?), more than one version of such equations was derived for future tests.

Though this paper is more about the testing methods, in the course of that preparatory work, it became evident that none of the analytical models match the data. The models predicted correlations between the thrust and operating frequencies that was not observed. If the Mach Effect Thruster is indeed working, it is not producing thrust per these models derived from the original theory. Hence, that thruster is now considered a “black box” – a term used to denote a device whose operating principles are unknown, and where the test program concentrates on seeing if, and under what circumstances, it functions.

To test the thrusters, they are placed on the end of a torsion beam that can twist horizontally (vertical axis). The term “torsion” means that the beam is sprung, its rotation is limited and proportional to how much thrust occurs at the tip. This is the same concept as the Cavendish balance that measured Newton’s gravitational constant. When the thruster is pointed one way, the beam deflects one direction. When pointed in the other direction, the beam deflects in the other direction. And the third important orientation is when the thruster is pointed in a direction where it should not deflect the beam. By comparing the actual deflections in each direction (and under different operating conditions), the performance of the thruster can be assessed.

Deciphering actual thrust from all the other things that can look like thrust is difficult. A major clue for a false positive is if the beam is deflected when the thruster is not pointed in a thrusting direction. Another major clue is revealed when the power is delivered to a dummy device instead of to the thruster – to see if simply delivering the power through the apparatus affects the apparatus. Another possible effect is from the peculiarities of the balance beam itself while powered up (e.g. thermal drift of the electronics). When testing the thruster in a thrusting direction, there might be slight shifts in the center of mass as the thruster warms up – where that thermal effect might look like thrust. And then there is the challenge of how vibration might shift the position of the balance beam. There are more possible side-effects than these, but these are the major ones.

Another false positive that merits separate mention is confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is not an instrumentation phenomenon, but a psychological phenomenon. After people reach a conclusion, they tend to filter evidence to fit their preconceived notion, rather than letting the data speak for itself. It happens way more often than it should. It is so insidious that we seldom know when we are guilty of it ourselves. Our bias skews, well, our bias. The important lesson here, for you the audience, is how to spot those biases when you come across new articles. If an article sounds like they it’s trying to prove or disprove, rather than decipher and conclude, then its findings are likely skewed.

The Acta Astronautica article comes across like an investigation in progress, rather than a conclusion in search of evidence (or advocacy). The article outlines the performance limits of their hardware and the procedures used to distinguish the aforementioned side-effects from potential genuine thrust. To measure a claimed thrust of 2 µN, the thrust stand has demonstrated a sensitivity of 0.1 µN, as well as plots of the background noise showing less than ± 0.02 µN. The procedures include calibration with known forces before and after each run, measuring the thermal drift of the electronics, and automated operation that repeats a set of runs 140 times to get ample data to average. The tests are conducted in vacuum and the thrusting directions can be changed during a test sequence remotely without having to break vacuum or risk affecting other configuration settings.

Other than the aforementioned conclusion that the Mach Effect Thruster is not following analytical models, there are no other conclusions to report. Sample data is shown for the Mach Effect Thruster (more than one version) and the EmDrive, but only to illustrate the measurements that can be made, rather than any attempt to report on the viability of either of those thrusters.

In closing

Conferences are coming up where more progress will be reported. Consider this article a preparation for interpreting these next series of papers. Carl Sagan’s adage, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” is exactly the tactic here. The results only have as much substance as the fidelity of the tests. This most recent progress bodes well for that fidelity. The prior tactic of “quick and cheap” experiments to test other claimed devices turned out to be neither quick nor cheap. Promotional material and sensationalistic articles are easy to create. Reliable findings are harder, less glamorous, and take longer.

The implications of a genuine new propulsion method, plus the independent replications, are driving the perseverance to wade through these complications. If it turns out that a new propulsion method is discovered, then not only will we have a more effective way to propel spacecraft, but also a new window into the lingering mysteries of physics. The less obvious value is if it turns out to be a false positive. In that case the years-long ambiguity will be resolved, and the lessons learned will make it easier to assess future claims of new thrusters.

References

1. Scoles, S. (2019). The Good Kind of Crazy. Scientific American, 321, 59-65.

2. Kößling, M., Monette, M., Weikert, M., & Tajmar, M. (2019). The SpaceDrive project-Thrust balance development and new measurements of the Mach-Effect and EMDrive Thrusters. Acta Astronautica, 161, 139-152.

3. Millis, M. G., & Davis, E. W. (Eds.). (2009). Frontiers of propulsion science. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

4. Barbour, J. B., & Pfister, H. (Eds.). (1995). Mach’s principle: from Newton’s bucket to quantum gravity (Vol. 6). Springer Science & Business Media.

5. Woodward, J. F. (1994). U.S. Patent No. 5,280,864. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

6. Wanser, K. H. (2013). Center of mass acceleration of an isolated system of two particles with time variable masses interacting with each other via Newton’s third law internal forces: Mach effect thrust. J. of Space Exploration, 2(2).

7. Tajmar, M. (2017). Mach-Effect thruster model. Acta Astronautica, 141, 8-16.

tzf_img_post
{ 55 comments… add one }
  • David September 20, 2019, 16:57

    I want to thank Marc for all he hasvdone over all these years. I stll have conference report he sent me too many years ago.
    I just want to point out we do have this dark energy we cant get a handle on. We have all the weirdness of Quantum Mechanics and so on. We clearly dont have a complete physics.
    i would add we should not let this slow us down with what we do know which is breakthrough starshot.

    Marc once wrote even if we had a UFO with spacedrive. It would be like the 19th century or heck the Egyptians with a 747. This thing is giant and it somehow flys but how does it work.

    Have no idea what made me think of that old UAP quote of Marcs.

    • wdk September 29, 2019, 23:04

      Funny. I discovered I had the same thing happened to me.
      Flash cards?

  • Robin Datta September 20, 2019, 21:53

    Thanks to Marc Millis for a clear limning of nuances at the limits of our ken. As has been said
    J. B. S. Haldane, in Possible Worlds and Other Papers (1927), p. 286: “The Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose”.
    That of course implies a realm not only beyond our ken, but beyond what we might grok. Let’s hope that there is enough of a handle to let us grasp it for practical use.

  • Project Studio September 21, 2019, 0:48

    Thank you for the update.
    BTW: One of the valuable references is also available here:
    https://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/papers/MachPrinciple.pdf

    • Marc Millis September 21, 2019, 9:20

      Thank you! I had no idea that the Barbour & Pfister book was available freely online.

    • Alexander McLin September 23, 2019, 15:11

      To clarify, the link you posted appears to only show John Norton’s own contribution to the book, not the actual book in its entirety.

  • Michael Spencer September 21, 2019, 11:01

    How could one analogize our understanding of physics, cosmology- and, well, how everything works?

    Thinking about that future in which comprehension is much, much deeper: could our current thinking be compared to some other time in human history? Are we, comparatively speaking, earth-centric?

    Many will see this question for what it is: frivolous, at least to an extent, and because the answer is unknowable. But like many SF writers, I prefer to imagine a future well-grounded in reality of physics, one in which interstellar travel, for instance, isn’t silly. And, it’s fun!

  • Roger September 21, 2019, 11:37

    “Imagine, instead, if there was some way for a spacecraft to interact with its surrounding spacetime to move in any direction and be limited only by the amount of available energy. That ambition is the essence of a spacedrive.”

    Energy can be converted to mass and shot out the back. There you go, I’ve given an example of a spacedrive.
    There must be galactic magnetic fields that can be used to thrust off.
    Forces can be small as long as you’ve got enough time.
    Wouldn’t a household Torch be considered a spacedrive? Light is emitted in one direction producing a small force in the other direction.
    Obviously a little thrust is not enough, you need a decent amount to move a large mass to be useful.
    “Whenever a current carrying conductor comes under a magnetic field, there will be a force acting on the conductor. The direction of this force can be found using Fleming’s Left Hand Rule”
    Question I have does this Left Hand Rule also apply in the same way to anti-matter? If the force for anti-matter is other handed, then there could be a way create force in an arbitrary direction. My ramblings only.

    • Ron S. September 21, 2019, 15:20

      “Wouldn’t a household Torch be considered a spacedrive?”

      No. The fuel in onboard.

      “does this Left Hand Rule also apply in the same way to anti-matter?”

      Yes, if you keep in mind mirror particles have opposite electrical charge and behave accordingly. For example, a positron has positive charge.

      • Bruce D. Mayfield September 23, 2019, 14:33

        I think Roger may have been using “household Torch” as in the device Americans would call a handheld flashlight. But even so, I think the answer to his question is still no, even though such would indeed produce a minuscule amount of thrust. The tiny momentum carried by massless photons is a well understood topic in physics.

        • Ron S. September 23, 2019, 18:41

          I am neither American nor British yet I understood the word he used. As I said the fuel is onboard: chemical energy in a battery driving an electric current through the bulb. According to Marc’s criteria that is not a space drive; it’s a kind of rocket.

          • Bruce D. Mayfield September 24, 2019, 13:24

            We agree.

    • Mike Serfas September 22, 2019, 13:54

      This formulation seems too limiting. Reaching out and grabbing spacetime is a very particular and peculiar act. I’m thinking anything that can change its momentum while losing less total mass+energy than a photon drive ought to qualify, even if it is not reactionless and does not push against spacetime. For example, what if you could fire off massless solitons through the vacuum that carry a change in momentum, so that the total momentum is conserved as illustrated when they interact with a distant solid object? (true, not just any object could interact, if this is not a perpetual motion machine) What if there were some frequency, modality, dimension, whatever where the refractive index was less than 1, so that you could shoot photons through that space faster than light, and hence (presumably) carrying more momentum? There must be a vast number of possible ideas like this, nearly all balderdash.

      • Bryan Kelly September 23, 2019, 16:34

        Or reach out and grab what’s in spacetime, light energy, including the CMB itself, pump it through and throw it out the back.

        Pretty soon even the US Navy will have to take notice.

  • Michael September 22, 2019, 14:30

    I wonder if it relies on the Casimir effect where some of the radiation can escape confinement between the cap plates in one direction due to small electrical charge distributions. I suppose we could create a Casimir drive where we leave a very small slot on one cap plate so radiation within the cap cavity can escape in one direction providing propulsion.

  • wdk September 22, 2019, 14:52

    In Review section of the weekend Wall Street Journal of Sept. 14-15, there were two book reviews with some bearing on the present discussion, starting on the same page.

    The first was a biography of Fritz Zwicky who came away with keen insights into astrophysics, once he had Palomar Observatory at his disposal.

    The second, less obviously connected, was titled, “The Ins and Outs of Odds”, Do Dice Play God? by Ian Stewart. Mr. Stewart is a mathematician who focuses on probability, if you will pardon conjuring up an oxymoronic image, say of an electron cloud. Most of his book is directed at interpretation of experimental results and a large measure of this is related to medical research or practice and liability in the courts. But toward the end of the book he appears to address some of our concerns. To quote reviewer Adndrew Crumey below toward ..the end:
    ===
    …Mr. Steward is most at home when dealing intellectual abstractions , and his book culminates in some of the challenging – the paradoxes of quantum physics. This where probability theory – and its arcane generalization, measure theory, come into their own. A particle such as an electron or photon is described by a wave function encoding the probability that it occupies a given location. Mr. Stewart asks, “Is the wave function real?” Perhaps, he suggests, wave functions are a useful fiction, like the statistically average man: “No electron actually has one, but they all behave as if they did.” Still, it only makes sense to speak of the average man because there are real people behind him. Wave functions would simialrly need some underlying stuff – “hidden variable” that Einstein favored, but Niels Bohr rejected. Mr. Stewart describes recent experiments that indirectly support the hidden variable idea. Tiny oil droplets moving on a vibrating fluid surface can be made to mimic the wave particle duality of electrons or photons.
    [ And I should add that Sonny White et al., reflect on the phenomenon in their AIAA Journal of Propulsion paper describing their propellantless drive research several years ago. – wkd] It suggest [Crumey] writes that quantum particles might be riding on hidden “pilot waves” – though we would then have to ask what they are made of.

    Mr. Steward also describes Schrodinger’s Moon, a paradow larger than the infamous cat, arising out of attempts to incorporate garvit in quantum theory. Oddly, though given the overall theme of the book, he omits mention of quantum Bayesianism – which interprets quantum probabilities as degrees of belief. Mr. Stewart considers Thomas Bayes :one of the great unappreciated heroes of mathematics”, and while it is nice to see “the good Reverend” being duly celebrated, it would also have been appropriate to acknowledge his latest role at the frontier of physics.
    ===
    With the review ending on that note, I recall that many exoplanets, detected by doppler or transit at the limits of sensitivity, including the ghost worlds popping up around Alpha and Proxima Centauri, have been projected there based on Bayesian probabilistic data massage. So, in this regard, the objectives of many of our anticipated voyages are based on levels of belief already, if not quantum, but astrophysical.

    Interactions between observer and observed, we are more familiar with
    (?) in quantum physics examples. I doubt that they would be of the same nature when doing data reduction in search of exoplanets.
    In other words, the quantum “belief” influences the state of of the particle in a way that exoplanet observational belief cannot. But there
    is a similarity in the sense that observed exoplanets could be statistical
    bridges extended too far, just as propellantless driver results in the
    lab are drawn out of low signal to noise levels. In this case we hope
    though that we can spot some “hidden variables” as well as motor forces.

    It looks more likely to me right now that hidden variable discovery might resolve issues separating GR and quantum physics. And it might be an irony that the pursuit for of a propellant-less drive might be remembered for that among its results. But serendipity too is unpredictable in whom it favors. It is probably easier to find funding for basic research ( e.g., particle colliders) than the quest for exotic space propulsion.

    Who knows which face of the coin will turn up on this one.
    It still might be as difficult as outwitting one’s mirror reflection, but
    what if the physics community inquiry were couched in terms of
    investigating the nature of inertia? Are there significantly divided schools of GR theorists on this subject? What does the pie chart look of opinions look like? Could an experiment settle anything? Can looking back with telescopes resolve anything about inertia on which Mach theory would have to rely? Principles other than Mach’s could be examined similarly.

  • Charley September 22, 2019, 17:46

    “Similarly, the momentum conservation of traveling through a wormhole cannot be described. ”
    why not ??

  • Geoffrey Hillend September 22, 2019, 18:59

    I don’t think the law of inertia can be changed do to General and special relativity. Our entire universe is made mostly mass and energy with positive energy density which confines the rules of inertia. This does not mean that negative energy density is impossible. Also I don’t think there can be a space drive without a reaction mass unless it uses negative energy. Consequently, I don’t think there is any new physics to be found with Woodward’s Mach Effect Thruster which uses only the attractive and repulsive forces of electromagnetism. I agree that if the center of mass can’t be explained by the testing, then there needs to be more precise and rigorous tests rather than trying to change the physical laws which is not going to happen. Any new physics will be supported by our known physical laws. Anything that is not understood is a magician’s trick we can imagine there is something new until it is explained. The concept is flawed because the energy is too low to affect a center of mass between two capacitors if we consider SR and GR. Even if we could measure it, that would not change the laws of inertia. I am not saying there is not any new physics with the Mach Effect Thruster, but only it seems a little to easy to make one and anything that is too good to be true is often not true.

    We already know the idea of the physics which can make a space warp and drive without a reaction mass. We need know how to make gravitons and anti gravitons and study the coupling of the four forces. It is hard to make something if we don’t know how to efficiently do it. More breakthroughs might inspire more interest.

  • Michael C. Fidler September 23, 2019, 0:03

    You need a good bottle of wine and sit down and relax to study this…

    An approach to the understanding of inertia from the physics
    of the experimental method.

    R C Jennison and A J Drinkwater
    The Electronics Laboratories, The University, Canterbury, Kent CT‘2 7NT, UK
    Received 3 August 1976, in final form 13 October 1976

    Abstract. “Current theories of the origin of inertia are reviewed. An alternative treatment is given. This recognizes the physical extent of even the smallest masses and the interaction effects of physical measurement. It is shown that there are very good physical reasons for
    identifying the origin of inertia with the local system and that this simultaneously accounts for quantization and the units of length and time. Two experiments are described which illustrate some of the properties under discussion.”

    https://sci-hub.tw/10.1088/0305-4470/10/2/005

    THE PRINCIPLE OF PHOTON-INERTIA
    BY
    Robert L. Kemp
    Compton, California 90220
    October 25 1994
     1994 ROBERT LOUIS KEMP All Rights Reserved
    ABSTRACT
    “The principle of photon inertia is a fundamental new way of describing the particle/wave duality of leptons (e.g. electrons, positrons, moun, tau, etc.) and electromagnetic waves. Photon inertia describes the inertial effects of an electromagnetic wave in terms of electromagnetic change. The principle of photon inertia uses the concepts employed in Newtonian Mechanics, the Brown Photon Theory, and concepts in modern physics, to explain the particle-wave duality as a single consistent theory. A new hypothesis that states that photons bent into stable resonating orbits are indeed leptons. Photon-photon interference causes the paths of photons to bend. Introduced as a new concept is the conservation of photon inertia, which is used to explain the natural paths of photon propagation. The principle of photon inertia describes a new equivalence in nature between mass and frequency; and a generalized electromagnetic wave, wavelength is also denoted.”

    https://www.academia.edu/35963408/THE_PRINCIPLE_OF_PHOTON-INERTIA?

    Contribution to inertial mass by reaction of the vacuum
    to accelerated motion.

    Alfonso Rueda
    Department of Electrical Engineering, ECS Building
    California State University, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, California 90840
    Bernhard Haisch
    Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, Dept. H1-12, Bldg. 252, Lockheed Martin 3251 Hanover Street, Palo Alto, California 94304
    and Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik, D-85740 Garching, Germany

    “We present an approach to understanding the origin of inertia involving the electromagnetic component of the quantum vacuum and propose this as a step toward an alternative to Mach’s principle. Preliminary analysis of the momentum flux of the classical electromagnetic zero-point radiation impinging on accelerated objects as viewed by an inertial observer suggests that the resistance to acceleration attributed to inertia may be at least in part a force of opposition originating in the vacuum. This analysis avoids the ad hoc modeling of particle-field interaction dynamics used previously by Haisch, Rueda and Puthoff (Phys. Rev. A 49, 678, 1994) to derive a similar result. This present approach is not dependent upon what happens at the particle point, but on how an external observer assesses the kinematical characteristics of the zero- point radiation impinging on the accelerated object. A relativistic form of the equation of motion results from the present analysis. Its manifestly covariant form yields a simple result that may be interpreted as a contribution to inertial mass. We note that our approach is related by the principle of equivalence to
    Sakharov’s conjecture (Sov. Phys. Dokl. 12, 1040, 1968) of a connection between Einstein action and the vacuum. The argument presented may thus be construed as a descendant of Sakharov’s conjecture by which
    we attempt to attribute a mass-giving property to the electromagnetic component — and possibly other components — of the vacuum. In this view the physical momentum of an object is related to the radiative
    momentum flux of the vacuum instantaneously contained in the characteristic proper volume of the object. The interaction process between the accelerated object and the vacuum (akin to absorption or scattering of electromagnetic radiation) appears to generate a physical resistance (reaction force) to acceleration suggestive of what has been historically known as inertia.”

    https://arxiv.org/abs/physics/9802030

    Long live the resistance! ;-}

  • wdk September 23, 2019, 1:39

    GH,
    Mach’s notion of inertia is that it is separate from spatial curvature by presense of mass or energy. The eixtence of all the mass in the universe is presumed to be the glue that retards the motion of mass. Theorists, no doubt, can give a better answer than that, but assuming that is true, then the mass distribution should have changed over time in an expanding universe. Were there a property of the ancient univers e that caan
    be observed by looking deep into space that would indicate inertia being differrent in the early universe than it is today, then we would be making headway on the issue of whether Mach Effect Thrusters can be built based on cosmology rather than Mach’s intuitions about cosmic structure. Taking my own challenge into account, if inertia were different in the past than it is today due to a “less expanded” universe, than than it seems as though some bounds would be more tight than they are today. And then bright objects used as candles might be distorted in some way the deeper you go into space. Other possible effects if for real: Line shift in spectra?

    “Similarly”, say for vacuum density effects. Was an older, more dense universe blessed (?) with more vacumm energy?That could be an effect, but how would we observe it?

  • Alex Tolley September 23, 2019, 13:41

    I have no idea how to judge these exotic “new physics” phenomena, especially when they are pitched as “revolutionary space drives”. Most [all?] seem to operate in the noise level and subject to confirmation bias. [I once had a friend think he had developed a reactionless drive, yet it clearly did not work. Worse, the friend refused to take some suggestions on modifying the experiment design to test the device more carefully.] Papers written describing new theories may be just as much noise, and I consider any that do not offer ways to falsify the theory as a waste of time. There are so many “new physics” and grand unification theories, but we should remember that they are mostly false and lead nowhere.

    I’m reminded of the supposed FTL neutrino’s found at CERN before it was discovered it was a technical error, so even well-established scientists can get fooled, and certainly get ahead of themselves. I don’t know how this got started, but the Fleischmann and Pons “cold fusion” debacle seems to be a milestone.

    Any space drive that makes interstellar travel much easier, such as FTL, or requiring far less energy, just reduces the explanations for the Fermi Question.

    While we should always keep an open mind and not stick to dogma, we should always bear in mind the meme: “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”.

    • Ron S. September 23, 2019, 15:30

      A rule I consider useful: consider the space between error bars to be a wall between you and greater knowledge and not a door to the promised land.

  • Gary Wilson September 23, 2019, 15:18

    I agree with Alex and can only add another few hundred years of study and experimentation should bring us closer to determining whether space drives are possible and might be useful :). Not much of an answer but I think we will have fusion power long before we have a usable space drive. If we can eventually produce wormholes (that will require a huge amount of energy and leaves open the question of anchoring the ends) we might be able to travel through them. Here’s to huge advances in physics in the coming decades. Thank you for the wonderful article Dr. Millis.

  • Rob Flores September 23, 2019, 16:06

    These tests need to done with cubesats. At the
    low thrusts the M-E device claims, the danger of contamination
    or inadequate equipment characterization affecting the output data
    is too high.

    Also the black box effect is troubling, if they cannot
    find a master Steering Wheel for the whole works, then how can you
    improve the design for higher thrust?

  • Geoffrey Hillend September 23, 2019, 16:15

    I can’t see how any new or exotic physics can be the result of two capacitors and piezoelectric crystals which can’t make much of a space warp. Capacitors hold an electric charge and piezoelectric crystals make an static electric spark when smacked with a hammer. Here extraordinary claims do require extraordinary proof and there is no extraordinary proof with an simple, ordinary design that can easily be invalided with physical principles. There are no astronomical principles or phenomenon which prove that the laws of inertia vary or change from special and general relativity.

  • Paul Titze September 23, 2019, 23:21

    This all reminds me of the Pioneer Anomaly. Remember this? Countless papers on modified gravity were published to explain the anomalous acceleration, new physics proposed etc. No new physics was required in the end. Hopefully the culprit in the black box will present itself.

  • Charley September 24, 2019, 1:02

    The Possibility of FTL Space Travel by using the Quantum Tunneling Effect through the Light Barrier
    https://www.tsijournals.com/articles/the-possibility-of-ftl-space-travel-by-using-the-quantum-tunneling-effect-through-the-light-barrier.pdf

  • Michael C. Fidler September 26, 2019, 9:34

    What if Planet 9 is a Primordial Black Hole?

    Jakub Scholtz, James Unwin
    (Submitted on 24 Sep 2019)
    “We highlight that the anomalous orbits of Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) and an excess in microlensing events in the 5-year OGLE dataset can be simultaneously explained by a new population of astrophysical bodies with mass several times that of Earth (M⊕). We take these objects to be primordial black holes (PBHs) and point out the orbits of TNOs would be altered if one of these PBHs was captured by the Solar System, inline with the Planet 9 hypothesis. Capture of a free floating planet is a leading explanation for the origin of Planet 9 and we show that the probability of capturing a PBH instead is comparable. The observational constraints on a PBH in the outer Solar System significantly differ from the case of a new ninth planet. This scenario could be confirmed through annihilation signals from the dark matter microhalo around the PBH.”

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1909.11090

    Are Black Hole Starships Possible
    Louis Crane, Shawn Westmoreland
    (Submitted on 12 Aug 2009)
    “We investigate whether it is physically possible to build starships or power sources using the Hawking radiation of an artificial black hole as a power source. The proposal seems to be at the edge of possibility, but quantum gravity effects could change the picture.”

    https://arxiv.org/abs/0908.1803v1

    This would make one hell of an interstellar drive as long as the Event Horizon (1997) doesn’t drive you MAD!

    Disclousure: So this is were those crazy alien spaceships are coming from!!! ()

    Supplementary Material:
    A. SIZE OF THE PBH

    (Image in figure 1 is about the size of a grapefruit.)

    In Figure 1 we provide an exact scale image of a 5M ⊕
    PBH. The associated DM halo however extends to the
    stripping radius r t,? ∼ 8AU, this would imply a DM
    halo which extends roughly the distance from Earth to
    Saturn (both in real life and relative to the image).

    FIG. 1. Exact scale (1:1) illustration of a 5M ⊕ PBH.

    Note that a 10M ⊕ PBH is roughly the size of a ten pin bowling ball.

  • Jeff Wright September 27, 2019, 13:28
  • ljk September 27, 2019, 13:29
  • James M Essig September 29, 2019, 0:01

    There are so many unscientific and sensationalist articles reporting on alleged exotic events. As a physicist, it is easy for me to spot this nonsense.

    The Woodward Drive and Q-Drive are some of the dubious apparatus. These devices are not operating according to the theories that led to their development and most likely false positives are being reported by the inventors.

    For example, thrust is measured when there should be no thrust. Thrust is measured often going in the wrong direction. No thrust is observed when there should be thrust.

    Thermal expansion effects, interaction with Earth’s magnetic field, and other effects may very well be leading to false positives.

    Additionally, the electron clouds around the atomic composition of the thruster cavities may be experiencing elongation or contraction or other effects which masquerade by causing the length of the cavities to change.

    Another false positive mechanism may simply be transiently unbalanced quasi-particles such as phonons. The list of quasi-particles that may interact with electrodynamic fields includes the following: bipolarons, quasiparticle chargons, configurons, dropletons, electron quasiparticle, electron holes, excitons, fractons, holons, levitons, magnons, majorana fermions, orbitrons, phasons, phonitons, phonons, plasmarons, plasmons, polarons, polaritons, rotons, solitons, spinons, trions, wrinklons. An exact duplicate of such quasi-particles is possible in antimatter hosting material.

    First order confounding effects might also result in second order oscillations.

    Other undiscovered quasi-particles may also be confounding the measured results.

    If is even possible that the cosmic microwave background radiation is producing oscillations that effect and interact with the harmonic modes of the cavity resonators. I can think of a lot more mechanisms that could lead to false positives.

    Indeed, false positives were the reason why superluminal neutrino results were claimed in the LHC experiments. Every one was so sure that faster than light neutrinos were observed. The errors were systemic but got everyone off on a wild goose chase and ready to over turn Special Relativity.

    I am completely skeptical of far out and fringe research and claims.

    Far out claims need to be tempered by real science.

    I believe interstellar travel is possible and have devoted my life to help ,make it possible sooner rather than later.

    To much focus on sensationalist science or conspiracy theories has a demoralizing effect on new students of physics. It is no wonder why the armed forces of the United States have for so long discouraged talking about UFO’s and the like among their personnel. The Philadelphia Experiment, reversed engineered ET spacecraft at Area-51, and the nonsense about time travel experiments on Long Island are just some of the shear nonsense that folks who lack knowledge of physics can get trapped into believing.

    • Robert September 30, 2019, 13:02

      “As a physicist, it is easy for me to spot this nonsense.”

      Sometimes there is often a quick leap to judgement which hurts science in the long run. Just because something doesn’t immediately fit into our accepted paradigm doesn’t make it wrong and shockingly, doesn’t even make it more likely to be wrong. To my mind, Occam’s razor is one of the most abused principles because it is strongly biased by our current understandings which can be incomplete. Research into EMDrive or Mach Effects are not by definition research into nonsense even if the effects are eventually disproven.

      “I am completely skeptical of far out and fringe research and claims.”

      Most scientists are too but one can be too skeptical and limit progress by shying away from all new ideas that sound far fetched too quickly. Who gets to decide an idea is too far fetched and should be called fringe anyway?

      “Indeed, false positives were the reason why superluminal neutrino results were claimed in the LHC experiments. Every one was so sure that faster than light neutrinos were observed. The errors were systemic but got everyone off on a wild goose chase and ready to over turn Special Relativity.”

      Every statement reported in the media I saw by scientists involved or not was skeptical that SR would be overturned and just wanted to get to the bottom of the measurements.

      “To much focus on sensationalist science or conspiracy theories has a demoralizing effect on new students of physics. ”

      Students who get easily demoralized by popular media speculations don’t belong in physics. And who gets to decide what is “too much”?

  • wdk September 30, 2019, 10:43

    James M. Essig,
    Above you gave quite a litany of particles or phenomena that might provide false positives on a Woodward or Q drive. Practically none of them am I familiar with, as I suspect many other readers on this forum aren’t as well. Do you suppose that there are any of these phenomena that
    we should be better acquainted with – or that they could provide any positive contribution ot
    the search for advanced propulsion systems?

    Best regards,

  • Alex Tolley October 5, 2019, 10:33

    Woodward presented some results at the NIAC 2019 meeting. The overall impression I got from this was that the drive works and that his experimental setup was better than Tajmar’s.

    In response to David Brin’s point about scaling up to get a much stronger signal (if it is there), Woodward said they were doing that with the team.

    We’ll see.

  • Alex Tolley October 5, 2019, 10:36
  • Michael C. Fidler October 5, 2019, 10:43

    This quantum physics breakthrough could be the origin story for time travel.

    https://thenextweb.com/science/2019/10/03/this-quantum-physics-breakthrough-could-be-the-origin-story-for-time-travel/

    Bell’s theorem for temporal order.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-11579-x

    The Biggest Quantum Breakthrough Yet—Literally.

    https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/math/a29339863/quantum-superposition-molecules/

    Finding the ‘magic angle’ to create a new superconductor.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191002160413.htm

    The fast dance of electron spins.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-10-fast-electron.html

    Travelling towards a quantum internet at light speed.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-07-quantum-internet.html

    Non-abelian Aharonov–Bohm experiment done at long last.

    https://physicsworld.com/a/non-abelian-aharonov-bohm-experiment-done-at-long-last/

    Some very interesting developments on the quantum level that could lead to real interstellar travel. But one question I have on time travel is if someone goes to the future and sees or brings back info on the planets around Alpha Centauri would that not be a violation of information traveling faster then the speed of light!

  • Harry R Ray October 11, 2019, 9:44

    Paul Gilster: You may be so busy right now that you may be unaware that this just popped up on “New Scientist”. NASA engineer David Burns has proposed a relativistic(though NOT FTL)space drive that requires NO propellant! Unlike the EM drive, this one uses relativistic principles that are way too complicated to elaborate on here. He calls it the “helical drive”. In case you may want to include this in your book(or make it the feature of a future post, when you have time, log on to https://www.newscientist.com/article/2218685-nasa-engineers-helical-engine

    • Paul Gilster October 11, 2019, 10:24

      Thanks for the tip, Harry. Will check it out.

  • Michael Fidler October 11, 2019, 11:45

    Sounds like it may work, but needs improvements to make it viable.
    https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20190029657.pdf

    I noticed that if you take R.C. Jennison Relativistic Phased Locked Cavity that forms a fermion, (i.e. electron), it is the dual opposing helical engine of photons that creates the mass in the final equatorial superluminal ring current. Now that I have totally flabbergasted everyone lets put it in laymen terms – take two helical seashells and put them together to form a idealized Phased Locked Cavity – https://www.goldennumber.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/nautilus-shell-with-golden-ratio-spiral-overlay-2.gif

    This may be a way to create a transform EmDrive that creates and magnifies its inertia.

    “The only problem with thinking out of the box is that you may end up 6 feet under in an oblong box!”

    • Harry R Ray October 11, 2019, 16:26

      Thanks Michael. This is definitely NOT my area of expertise, but it seems to me that the illustrated “thought experiment” is describing something similar to what is described in Figure 1 of this post, which is somewhat confusing, because we are comparing apples to oranges here. Good luck digging through this one, Paul.

      • Michael Fidler October 12, 2019, 6:15

        To simplify to the easiest way to look at what is happening, lets make the metal hammer in the box out of Beryllium (Be) the lightest usable metal. When the hammer hits the left side of the box it’s effect is not much more then that of a feather, but to give an idea of the difference when going back to the right side the hammer turns into Lead (Pb). So this is where the confusion is, but the idea that matter when accelerated to near the speed of light in a particle accelerator become almost infinitely heavy is well known. This has nothing to do with the speed of the hammer but the effect of turning the hammer weight from that of Be to Pb. All this is because of turning on the circular particle accelerator when moving to the right and turning it off when moving to the left, the actual movement of the box is to the right when the hammer hits it each time.

    • Harry R Ray October 12, 2019, 9:36

      Or more likely, being hauled off in a straitjacket by men in white suits,

  • Michael Fidler October 11, 2019, 22:27

    Take a look at the video below, what is occurring is when the disk is on the right half of the box is that the ions are accelerated to relativistic speeds around the disc and that increases their mass. When it hits the right end of the box their mass is twice what it would be when it hits the left side of the box because there, the ions where not being accelerated and its normal mass is only one. In doubling the mass it is accelerating the box to the right, the disc is just a self contained particle accelerate and the relativistic particles are not being used to increase its speed but only the mass of the disc.
    Now, what could be a proof of concept is to make a sub micron particle accelerator from some of the now defunct integrated circuit machines on silicon disk that would be small and take less power.

    https://videos-a.jwpsrv.com/content/conversions/h8awUNft/videos/MVshpHy1-32217947.mp4.m3u8?hdnts=exp=1570856547~acl=*/MVshpHy1-32217947.mp4.m3u8~hmac=5845be228da931d97d9ff286a90d37a9fffb44b5cf69a9edce9132fe7595248c

  • Charley October 13, 2019, 18:11

    I looked at the paper on the “helical drive”. Best that I could see was that this seems to take advantage of the fact that at different axle radii you created some type of momentum that amounted to a net force. It seemed like it has something to do with the fact that there exists a difference in the nature of accelerations (and therefore forces) in one direction specifically of space as in contrast to an orthogonal direction to the initial direction considered. Here’s Einstein’s paper “on the electrodynamics of moving bodies”. Pay close attention to PP. 21 and 22 of the paper where he discusses forces and accelerations in two different systems which are in uniform motion with respect to each other.
    https://www.fourmilab.ch/etexts/einstein/specrel/specrel.pdf

    • Michael Fidler October 14, 2019, 2:05

      Relativistic, transverse, and longitudinal mass, this is a little over my head but would this effect the relativistic mass differently if the circular (helical) particle accelerator was transverse or longitudinal to direction of movement?

      Interesting article:

      Interpretation of relativistic, transverse, and longitudinal mass using the Lorentz transformation of reference time: Explanation of time dilation via spherical light clock.
      Masanori Sato

      https://arxiv.org/pdf/0707.2426

      Two other ideas or thoughts on Relativistic particles, a particle rocket with Hydrogen as fuel accelerates the fuel to 99.999 speed of light with the resulting mass equivalent to Curium (Cm) (Atomic mass of 247) would the Specific impulse go up accordingly?

      Instead of taking a huge particle accelerator into space why not catch the particles from a magnetic reconnection from a solar flare or from the geomagnetic tail of the Earth! http://www.davidpratt.info/images/magneto.gif
      Hold them with a superconductive coil and dump them – on the off side???
      Could this impulse drive be turbo charged if the back and forth motion was increased to ten billion times a second???

      A turbo charged “Helical Impulse Drive”. ;-{

      • Michael Fidler October 14, 2019, 11:34

        Well, was able to download the more in-depth: Helical Engine, from AIAA 2019-4395 Session: Unique Propulsion Systems. This adds the details that are needed to see the full potential of the device.
        Hope this link works right!

        https://mega.nz/#!BTRlhYoL!1iTn9Vk3ut9v1V_R8mlpXoBzqiZp1G2C3THcW8Lygc4

        As for particles from a magnetic reconnection from a solar flare; Helium is only going 600 km/s so may help in a the supply Dept. but not much for acceleration. But there may be a way around the problem; “It is also possible the engine could harvest helium from its surrounding environment or the power generation source. Alpha particles can be produced during radioactive decay.”

        So what about Alpha particles from cosmic rays? They would have the speed/energy, but enough of them (density) and a reliable way to harvest them? Strong magnetic field from superconductor for capture and on interstellar flights a higher amount of cosmic rays once outside the Sun’s heliosphere.
        https://www.centauri-dreams.org/2019/10/11/voyager-pressure-at-the-edge-of-the-system/

      • Charley October 14, 2019, 15:57

        At this point I have to confess that my head is swimming. It’s difficult enough having to re-familiarize myself with some aspects of his original paper (Einstein) and with regards to your own particular question:
        “Two other ideas or thoughts on Relativistic particles, a particle rocket with Hydrogen as fuel accelerates the fuel to 99.999 speed of light with the resulting mass equivalent to Curium (Cm) (Atomic mass of 247) would the Specific impulse go up accordingly?”

        I would answer (cautiously) that the answer to your question is the fact that increasing the mass of the propellant stream WOULD NOT increase the specific impulse. The reasoning is that even though the mass of the propellant stream rises due to the Lorentz factor that occurs as a result of acceleration of the rocket in general, you got to remember that the mass of the payload to be accelerating is also having its own Lorentz factor increasing mass. Thus you don’t get any particular benefit behind the fact that the specific impulse would seem to get better with a more massive propellant stream out the rear of the ship.

        In thinking about this a little further concerning the “helical drive” I also got to thinking about the fact that this is not a gently accelerated stream of particles, but relatively a high acceleration rate and that this would be more related to a problem in general relativity than in special relativity. Add on to the fact that this is a intense acceleration of the particles involved to obtain (or extract if you will) a force to propel the body in question and you have to take into account that there is due to the high acceleration in extreme amount of cyclotron radiation in the form of electromagnetic emission which saps the energy to a very large degree that could be used to accelerate the spaceship. I can’t say that you could get off the system a great deal of thrust due to the enormous loss of energy due to the cyclotron radiation affect. How does anyone else out there, view this phenomenon in terms of their analysis of the physics?

        • Michael Fidler October 15, 2019, 22:07

          “The ions inside the engine may accumulate an offsetting momentum. For example, the ions may develop spin
          during each trip around the engine. This spin could eventually lower or even halt engine thrust. Ion spin is dependent
          on the specific beam guide implementation design and is not currently modelled in RMTM. This is an area where a
          more detailed model or testing would be very useful. It may be possible to mitigate ion spin by using a pair of counter-
          rotating Helical Engines that share a single beam guide. This technique could prevent ion spin from accumulating
          during subsequent round trips through the engine. A pair of counter-rotating Helical Engines could also be used to
          manage torque.”

          “Another possibility for momentum conservation is beam guide emissions. The beam guide requires strong magnetic fields to bend the ion’s direction of travel and high electric fields to alter the ion’s velocity. Ions traveling in the beam guide produce x-ray emissions during each circuit. These fields and emissions may radiate energy to the surrounding area that would balance the accelerating engine.”

          https://www.nextbigfuture.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Screen-Shot-2019-10-11-at-2.49.42-PM-1024×547.jpg

  • Michael Fidler October 15, 2019, 21:50

    Here is a Special relativity (mass-energy) Calculator:

    https://keisan.casio.com/exec/system/1224060366

    The mass of the rocket will not double until it reaches 87% the speed of light. So if launching from earth orbit the Hydrogen exhaust from the rocket engine will be at 99.999% the speed of light and will be 247 times it stationary mass. The rocket itself will only weight its stationary mass and only double it’s weight when reaching 87% the speed of light. But will weight an almost infinite mass as it gets closer to the speed of light. This is a question as to the Helical Engine ability to reach 99.999% the speed of light.

    As for my concept, a Bussard cosmic ray ram helical drive does seem to be a viable option:
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f7/Bussard_Interstellar_Ramjet_Engine.jpg/2560px-Bussard_Interstellar_Ramjet_Engine.jpg

    The RAM instead of ramjet because the purpose of the large field capture is for high energy cosmic rays!
    “Among the GCRs, the relative abundances of the different nuclei and electrons vary with energy. Above about 1 GeV per nucleon (gigaelectron volts, or one billion electron volts, per nucleon), the proportions are about 85 percent protons (nuclei of hydrogen atoms), with approximately 13 percent consisting of alpha particles (helium nuclei). (An energy of 1 GeV corresponds to speeds greater than about 87 percent of the speed of light.) The remaining 2 percent are electrons and nuclei of heavier atoms. At energies of several hundred MeV per nucleon (megaelectron volts, or one million electron volts, per nucleon), the corresponding figures are about 90, 9, and 1 percent.”
    https://www.britannica.com/science/cosmic-ray

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8b/Cosmic_ray_flux_versus_particle_energy.svg/720px-Cosmic_ray_flux_versus_particle_energy.svg.png

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_ray

    “A space-based neutrally charged particle beam missile interceptor was designed and flight-tested by the Los
    Alamos National Laboratory in 1989 but was not fielded due to a shift in national strategy.”
    Is this still in orbit??? 30 years of improvement plus NEW black programs technology.

    They are not talking about a Microwave tin can, this is going to be large no matter how you do it, but should be easily improved upon. But there’s more, you can slow it down when approaching Proxima Centauri!

    https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20190029294.pdf

    • Harry R Ray October 16, 2019, 9:33

      Michael: I know that Paul is too busy to do this, but perhaps you or another Centauri Dreams reader can contact Marc Mills and make him aware of these last few comments on this post(I am sure that by now he is aware of the helical drive CONCEPT)and ask him to post a comment here revealing his thoughts on how to TEST this thing!

      • Paul Gilster October 16, 2019, 15:37

        The first thing this concept needs is simple exposure to peer review and commentary from the physics and propulsion community. We’re still at back-of-the-envelope stage here. A paper needs to get into the journals, if it passes muster, and go through rigorous scrutiny to see whether there is anything here worth pursuing.

      • Michael Fidler October 16, 2019, 16:36

        Paul is right in saying that peer review and then the physics and propulsion community need to get involved. Particle accelerators have been around since J.J. Thomson’s discovery of the electron in 1897 and led to probably the greatest invention to mankind’s development the “TV”. The big problem I’m seeing in the communities first comments has been mostly negative with a “It can not be” attitude, but then getting a PhD does not mean their IQ has reason to be above 100! The concept is based on well known physics principles but has the bad point of looking like a 5 dimensional screw driver. The fact that it has been seriously considered reaching 99.999% the speed of light makes for real headaches for the powers that be.

  • Charley October 16, 2019, 15:52

    Mach Effect Propellantless drive gets NIAC phase 2 and progress towards great interstellar propulsion
    https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2018/04/mach-effect-propellantless-drive-gets-niac-phase-2-and-progress-to-great-interstellar-propulsion.html

Leave a Comment