As any geek will attest to, Sci-Fi is an integral part of geekdom. But today, science fiction edged into science fact territory with the EM Drive.
NASA released a peer review paper outlining their tests with what is know as an EM drive. It is basically an engine that uses electromagnetic energy to create “thrust”.
There are a few things that make this especially ground breaking. First, by using electromagnetic energy you negate the need of propellant in the traditional sense. Even with the latest ion drive tech, we would still need tons of propellant to burn to get anywhere. And with more propellant, means more weight, which in turn means more propellant. You can sort of see the chicken and the egg emerging here. At some point we hit a wall.
Interstellar travel possible with EM Drive
With EM drives, we would free up the weight limitations for more important things like food (I have a feeling you’ll need lots of that for those long space trips). Also more cargo can be carried which will be useful for colonization.
Secondly, and possibly the most mind blowing thing about EM drives is, though scientist have sort of proven that it works and is possible, they have no idea how it works. The reason is that, in order for it to produce “thrust” it will essentially break Newton’s Third Law. A law that we have proven correct many times over.
For a light refresher on Newton’s Law of Motion
The basics of the law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That is how traditional “thrust” works. Shoot something out the back and let the opposite reaction propel you forward. For an EM drive, there is nothing to burn up or shoot out. This is what has the science community stumped. Many theories are being explored and posited but no definitives so far. Some have even proposed that there are forces at work which even break Einstein’s theory of relativity (another can of worms altogether).
Now that EM drives are in the spotlight, the race is on to prove its validity. And this is not just for major countries or organizations like NASA. The simplistic properties and concepts around EM drives even allow grassroots hobbists and amateur rocket scientists to get in the game.
With all this we are currently in a science grey area. An area traditionally, at best reserved for pseudo science. But, if EM drives hold up to the scrutiny, we many be that much closer to “boldly go where no one has gone before”. As a self professed geek, that has me extremely stoked. Are warp drives next?
By no means am I a scientist, so if i messed up on the science please bear with me. For those hardcore sci-fi geeks and anyone who just wants to find out more check out www.sciencealert.com