Not Science Fiction! NASA Tests New No-Fuel 10x Faster Propulsion Engine -- May Be Game Changer For Spaceflight


"Interesting, Captain." A faustian original collage, Beltane, 2015.
"No, we don't have warp drive yet."  Were NASA inclined to comment, I am sure that phrase would prove, if not my having 'channeled' the agency, then surely my having been in tune with the priorities of their PR agenda. 
     
The technology I am about to tell you about is of course not related to warp drive.  In any way. Absolutely unconnected.  Despite the Trek imagery attendant upon the recent spate of posts on the subject, if NASA were commenting, one imagines they would assure you the newly developing tech is completely, totally, entirely, utterly unrelated – 

Um.  Except for the startling discovery, implying faster than light travel – but more on that below....
NASA scientists have reported that they've successfully tested an engine called the electromagnetic propulsion drive, or the EM Drive, in a vacuum that replicates space. ...But before we get too excited (who are we kidding, we're already freaking out), it's important to note that these results haven't been replicated or verified by peer review, so there's a chance there's been some kind of error. But so far, despite a thorough attempt to poke holes in the results, the engine seems to hold up.
 from "NASA has trialled[sic] an engine that would take us to Mars in 10 weeks, And may have inadvertently created a warp drive in the process" by Fiona Macdonald, ScienceAlert
NASA's new spacecraft propulsion engine makes space travel not only endurable, but tantalizingly within reach.  Eagleworks Laboratories, which carries out Advanced Propulsion Physics Research for NASA, has now carried out the third successful test of an EM Drive in hard vacuum. 


"While the fast Mars transits that Q-Thruster technology [EM drive] could enable would be revolutionary, the independence from the limitations of departure and arrival windows may ultimately be more so," researchers report.

To illustrate:

Earth to Mars travel is estimated to take two years, with the wait for a launch window for the return trip an excruciating 26 months (see "How long would a trip to Mars take?," NASA).  




But with the new engine?


Sitting down?
  Ten weeks, with a return window in as little as ninety days.

(!)

I kid you so not.

How about Alpha Centauri? "At a maximum speed of about 17,600 mph (about 28,300 kph), it [now] would take the space shuttle, for example, about 165,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri" (Space.com).

So twentieth century.

If this engine holds up?




"... a trip to Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to our Solar System, would take just  92 years." 

(!!)(Above emphasis mine.)

But, wait, that's not all...

First, a little background information.  Perhaps you may already know it, perhaps not, but the speed of light has been proven to be capable of being exceeded, at least theoretically.

I am not speaking of phenomenological tricks such as Cherenkov radiation (compared here to a visual sonic boom), or sequencing workarounds ("...an external controller drives the particles and can synchronize them to make a pulse pass through the wire at whatever speed you want." From Faster-than-light electric currents could explain pulsars, Thunderbolts.)

Einstein held that faster than the speed of light (FTL) travel should be impossible — among other problems, the mass of an object increases with velocity, rendering it too heavy to move – but this was squarely challenged, at least in theory, a few years ago.  

The erroneous limitation under which we had all labored (Remember those stickers that said "186,000 mps: It's not just a good idea, it's the LAW"? ) was ascribed to mathematical misinterpretation (? How much else?).  The loophole was there all along: 
Interestingly, neither the original Einstein equations, nor the new, extended theory can describe massive objects moving at the speed of light itself. Here, both sets of equations break down into mathematical singularities, where physical properties can't be defined.
Scientists have extended Einstein's equations for faster-than-light travel. 
Here a three-dimensional (right) graph shows the relationship between three different velocities: 
v, u and U, where v is the velocity of a second observer measured by a first observer, 
u is the velocity of a moving particle measured by the second observer, 
and U is the relative velocity of the particle to the first observer.
"Special Relativity" Credit: Hill, Cox/Proceedings of the Royal Society A
Space.com (Image; Article)
"The actual business of going through the speed of light is not defined," Hill told LiveScience. "The theory we've come up with is simply for velocities greater than the speed of light."
In effect, the singularity divides the universe into two: a world where everything moves slower than the speed of light, and a world where everything moves faster. The laws of physics in these two realms could turn out to be quite different.   
In some ways, the hidden world beyond the speed of light looks to be a strange one indeed. Hill and Cox's equations suggest, for example, that as a spaceship traveling at super-light speeds accelerated faster and faster, it would lose more and more mass, until at infinite velocity, its mass became zero.
   
from "Hidden in Einstein’s Math: Faster-than-Light Travel?"
by Clara Moskowitz, LiveScience, October 08, 2012 : 
Read more  
Although travel at the speed of light may be forever impossible, it seems NASA may have inadvertently stumbled upon a means of producing speeds faster than light, a side-effect of the development of the EM-Propulsion Drive.  


To be exact, some laser light shone inside the resonance chamber were clocked at 100.069229% lightspeed.

This may turn out to be an artifact, an illusion  created by the instruments themselves lacking proper shielding while they are recording.  The compelling evidence of this is explained lucidly by one dizekat on this Reddit thread (but if you have time, read the whole thread, its good). Be that as it may, however, NASA still quietly changed their official stance on the possibility of warp drive.


My own command line attempt at retrieving the page.
NASA may have declined to issue an official statement, but I noticed that the page on Warp drive, 'So Can We Do It' was gone. I was redirected from the address of their resounding "NO!" to the new warp drive page.
This is what the old page looked like, courtesy of the Internet Archive.


And the page to which I was redirected is enough to make even my imagination overactive for a good long while.

















  


Meanwhile, amateur and professional physicists have put heads together online to analyze the results of the experiment.

The applications for such an engine are, of course, not limited to enabling our colonization of space ("Earth first! We'll destroy the other planets later!") or the tantalizing possibility of faster-than-light travel.

The lack of need to haul fuel around lightens the payload ton an extent that makes satellites more feasible.

This in turn makes harvesting solar energy and beaming it back to earth a real possibility, according to Roger Shawyer, the British scientist who invented the EM Drive in the early twentyfirst century (!)(his original work is here). 
What?  Upon learning that, Gentle Readers of this blog may guess to what happy conclusion this faustian noggin leapt :
Yet another way in which nuclear energy is clearly proven obsolete, another death knell for the fiction of the Emperor's nuclear clothes,  another scenario in which the justifications for that particular insanity are whittled back to their most fundamental, evil purpose: the production of warheads for which all this 'peaceful atom' has ever been but excuse, justification, obfuscation, or distraction.


  
     Be seeing you.