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posted by takyon on Friday May 01 2015, @06:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the newtons-per-kilowatt dept.

An article at NasaSpaceFlight.com is claiming that the superficially reactionless EmDrive has again been tested at NASA Eagleworks, this time in hard vacuum, and the anomalous thrust is still being detected:

A group at NASA's Johnson Space Center has successfully tested an electromagnetic (EM) propulsion drive in a vacuum – a major breakthrough for a multi-year international effort comprising several competing research teams. Thrust measurements of the EM Drive defy classical physics' expectations that such a closed (microwave) cavity should be unusable for space propulsion because of the law of conservation of momentum.

With the popular explanations of thermal convection or atmospheric ionization being ruled out by operation in vacuum, and thrust thousands of times greater than expected from a photon rocket, is it time to start taking the EM Drive seriously as a fundamentally new form of propulsion, and possibly a door to new physics?

Roger Shawyer, the inventor of the EmDrive, claims that the device's efficiency will scale even further with greater levels of power, potentially enabling fast interstellar travel powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator or nuclear fission.

Previously: NASA Validates "Impossible" Space Drive's Thrust

 
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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Friday May 01 2015, @07:41PM

    by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Friday May 01 2015, @07:41PM (#177577) Journal

    That would be weird...

      " so we've got this new propulsion system. We've built it, tested it, scaled it up, tested it again, and now it's flying an expedition to mars."
    " cool, how does it work?"
    "nobody knows..."

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by maxwell demon on Friday May 01 2015, @08:14PM

    by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 01 2015, @08:14PM (#177596) Journal

    Not that weird. Has happened all the time.

    "You put the meat on the fire, and then it gets much easier to eat."
    "How does it work?"
    "Nobody knows."

    "We put that substance from a calf's stomach into the milk, then it gets hard and remains edible for a long time."
    "How does it work?"
    "Nobody knows."

    "We put that stuff into a cask and let it stay there a while, and then it tastes different and doesn't get bad as quickly, but if you drink too much of it, you'll lose your mind."
    "How does it work?"
    "Nobody knows."

    "If we infect people with the harmless cowpox, they won't get the dangerous smallpox."
    "How does it work?"
    "Nobody knows."

    "This substance produced by that mold kills bacteria, we use it to heal people."
    "How does it work?"
    "Nobody knows."

    --
    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Saturday May 02 2015, @12:09AM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Saturday May 02 2015, @12:09AM (#177687)

      Here's another one, which still applies today:

      "You jump into the air, and then you fall back to the ground. Or, you drop something from a height above the ground, and it falls to the ground. We call it 'gravity'."
      "How does it work?"
      "Nobody knows."

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday May 02 2015, @03:00AM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 02 2015, @03:00AM (#177743) Journal

      Maybe this is propelling "Daaarrrrrk Maaaatter".
      "But what is this Dark Matter of which you speak?"
      "Nobody Knows".

      Seriously, given everything else that has been pinned on dark matter, I'm surprised some hasn't made such claims already.
      The only question remaining, is were these experiments detected by the aliens? Will the now be forced to come and wipe us out before this gets out of hand?
         

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 02 2015, @05:02AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 02 2015, @05:02AM (#177773)

        Seriously, given everything else that has been pinned on dark matter, I'm surprised some hasn't made such claims already.

        Someone has. When this was going around last time I thought of that, and with a little searching found someone else who had thought of it earlier.

        This vacuum test makes it a little more likely, but it's still a very long shot.

    • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Saturday May 02 2015, @05:52AM

      by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 02 2015, @05:52AM (#177779)

      The difference is, we now know how lots of stuff works and this is different to all of that. So it's like putting wood on the caveman's fire and the fire goes out - it is in contravention to everything he knows.

      Except now, all you have is someone "telling" you that it is wood... then you have to be very careful and make sure you check very thoroughly both the claim that it is wood, and the claim that the fire goes out.

      Especially when people come up with this sort of crap every other day and try to sell it for $$$.

      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Saturday May 02 2015, @06:24AM

        by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 02 2015, @06:24AM (#177785) Journal

        Except that the post I replied to was already in the hypothetical situation that we are using it for going to Mars. Which certainly implies that in that hypothetical scenario the drive works, because if it didn't work, it certainly would be noticeable when trying to use it to get to Mars.

        I agree that at the present point in time it is reasonable to be sceptical. There's a good chance that it is indeed snake oil. However should the drive ever be regularly used in space ships, it will be a safe assumption that it works, or else someone would have noticed by then.

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Tuesday May 05 2015, @08:59AM

      by Rivenaleem (3400) on Tuesday May 05 2015, @08:59AM (#179011)

      "Magnets!"
      "How does it work?"
      "Nobody Knows."

  • (Score: 2) by Hartree on Friday May 01 2015, @08:15PM

    by Hartree (195) on Friday May 01 2015, @08:15PM (#177598)

    " so we've got this new navigation system. We've built it, tested it, tested it again, and now it's helping sail an expedition beyond the end of the Mediterranean past Gibraltar."
    " cool, how does it work?"
    "nobody knows... We call it a lodestone, though."

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday May 01 2015, @08:20PM

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday May 01 2015, @08:20PM (#177599) Homepage

      This fucking thing had better sound cool.

      I'm not flying with it if it makes a stupid noise, like how things sound in Star Wars Episode I. What good is a menacing star-destroyer with ion cannons and tail fins on the ass-end if it sounds like, "Boo-boo-boo-boo-boo-hee-hee-hee-heee!"

      • (Score: 2) by Mr Big in the Pants on Friday May 01 2015, @10:57PM

        by Mr Big in the Pants (4956) on Friday May 01 2015, @10:57PM (#177661)

        Are you fucking serious?!

        I get a chance to fly in this thing I will take it even if it sounds like a fairy shitting itself politely...

        • (Score: 2) by BK on Saturday May 02 2015, @02:09AM

          by BK (4868) on Saturday May 02 2015, @02:09AM (#177728)

          But what if it sounds like Jar Jar...?

          --
          ...but you HAVE heard of me.
          • (Score: 2) by Mr Big in the Pants on Saturday May 02 2015, @06:34AM

            by Mr Big in the Pants (4956) on Saturday May 02 2015, @06:34AM (#177787)

            I believe that would defy the moral laws of physics.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 02 2015, @11:04AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 02 2015, @11:04AM (#177833)

            "Powering up the Jar-Jar drive"
            mmmmmmMMMMMMMMMEEEEESA-MEESA-MEESA-MEESA-MEESA-MEESA