Earlier this month, most physicists d thought inventor Roger Sawyer and his EmDrive engine was a joke, until they discovered it works. Scientists gave the Emdrive the name “The Impossible Engine” because the quantum vacuum plasma thruster went against classical mechanics. The engine was supposed to create thrust by bouncing microwaves around in a closed container.
It’s understandable why this shouldn’t work; the process describes what happens in a microwave oven, not a Space Age Engine. The whole idea sounds like strapping a microwave behind a car, turning it on, opening the door, and expecting the vehicle to move. It’s different from the combustion based thruster engines that from the space launch countdowns on our time.
Science Fiction No More
In a twist befitting a science fiction movie, though, two separate laboratories gave the design a shot and it actually works. A team claimed back in 2009 that they were able to make an engine of similar design produce 720 millinewtons. One study doesn’t get much attention from scientists, but when a team at NASA replicated the experiment, they managed to do the same thing. They only managed thirty to fifty micronewtons, but that’s a lot considering they were supposed to get nothing.
This is exciting news for scientists everywhere, because if they’re wrong and the engine works, it could mean rewriting all the books on mechanical and electrical engineering, and even physics. But, the odds of creating an engine based on this design powerful enough to propel a rocket into space are still remote.
Far From the Market
Rockets are much too heavy, and the Earth’s gravity is too strong. There is of course the possibility of the technology to be used in something much smaller, like cars. Soon, the selection of car parts in Perth would be entirely different.
Incorporating this technology into cars would be a big boost to the eco-car industry, as the machine uses electricity to generate the microwaves. Nevertheless, it would take a complete overhaul of existing systems to make it work.