The bells of joyful news have begun ringing-- after quite the hiatus, the EM drive has returned! Researchers from China’s space agency have released a video through state media in which they show what appears to be a fully functioning EM drive.
For those who are unfamiliar to the EM drive, here’s the crash course. An EM drive, also known as a radio frequency resonant cavity thruster, is theorized to be able to generate thrust without the need of a propellant. The thrust is of the electromagnetic world that is produced from bouncing microwaves back and forth inside a cavity.
Think of it like this -- a person is sitting inside of a box and they are faced with a task to make the box move. They do so by pushing out the walls and moving around inside of the box. Also, to top it all off, the total momentum generated by the drive increases as it moves.
If an EM drive is to enter our current world of reality, it would be revolutionary, to say the least. Faster space travel and cheaper spaceflight costs would be guaranteed.
China announcing such a great feat has raised some eyebrows. Before the release of the video, there were two breakthroughs in the world of the EM drive. The first was a peer-reviewed NASA paper claiming the very real possibility of the successful operatives of such a machine... at the very least hypothetically. The second was China claiming that the operatives of the EM drive one hundred percent possible.
However, after the release of the NASA peer-reviewed paper, it was deemed skeptical. However awesome the possibility of an EM drive in our current world, there is a downside... the EM drive goes against Newton’s third law of motion which is why many are skeptical towards the NASA peer-reviewed paper and of China releasing the video.
Newton’s third law of motion that states that to everything there is an equal and opposite reaction which, in our Universe, based off of that law, is impossible to generate without a propellant.
Brice Cassenti, advanced expert of propulsions of the University of Connecticut explained why an EM drive is to raise eyebrows: “Action and reaction is a direct result of the conservation of momentum, the violation of such a basic law as the conservation of momentum would invalidate much of the basis for all of physics as we know it.”
As lovely as it sounds, the likelihood of this EM drive being the one to revolutionize physics as a whole and create a whole new era of space travel is highly improbable. Also, some such as Yahoo news (as though they’re entirely credible...) wrongly describe the EM drive as a warp drive.
A warp drive is a faster-than-light spacecraft propulsion system that is oftenly used in Sci-Fi works such as Star Trek. Common sense deems the likelihood of a warp drive basically impossible. The reason being is that the speed of light is the “speed limit” of our Universe, as Neil Degrasse Tyson put it. Also, reference the theory of relativity to further confirm how improbable it is to travel faster than the speed of light. Sorry, folks.
Technology such as an EM drive, currently seems worlds away. As a result, unfortunately, our space traveling adventures are currently situated in the current, classic rocket propulsion technology. But, shed no tears-- new tech is being developed as your eyes scan the lines of this article.
For example, depending on how Earth and Mars align, one trip of SpaceX’s Interplanetary Transport System could be shortened to a mere 80 days. Elon Musk, CEO and founder of SpaceX, believes in and strives to shorten the trip down to 30 days.
Sources and References: Yahoo, RT and Futurism.