There's more space news this week, and it may prove eventually to be quite significant. The so-called EM drive, which just recently had a paper approved for publication, is now apparently also going to receive actual testing in outer space, according to this article shared by Mr. C.S. and there's much in this story that bothers me:
Here's the relevant history:
Invented by British scientist Roger Shawyer back in 1999, the EM Drive - short for electromagnetic propulsion drive - purportedly works like this.
It uses electromagnetic waves as 'fuel', creating thrust by bouncing microwave photons back and forth inside a cone-shaped closed metal cavity. This causes the 'pointy end' of the EM Drive to accelerate in the opposite direction that the drive is going.
"To put it simply, electricity converts into microwaves within the cavity that push against the inside of the device, causing the thruster to accelerate in the opposite direction," Mary-Ann Russon explains over at The International Business Times.
Since its invention, the EM drive has shown no signs of quitting, in test after test. Last year, trials by NASA scientists at the Eagleworks lab revealed "anomalous thrust signals", and an independent researcher in Germany conceded that the propulsion system, somehow, does indeed produce thrust.
Fast-forward to now, and there are rumours that the NASA Eagleworks paper we reported on in June has finally passed the peer-review process, and is expected to be published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Journal of Propulsion and Power.
Now the engine will be tested in space:
Guido Fetta is CEO of Cannae Inc, and the inventor of the Cannae Drive - a rocket engine that's based on Roger Shawyer's original EM Drive design. Last month, he announced that he would launch this thruster on a 6U CubeSat - a type of miniaturised satellite.
David Hambling reports for Popular Mechanics that roughly one-quarter of this shoebox-sized satellite will be taken up by the Cannae Drive, and they'll stay in orbit for at least six months: "The longer it stays in orbit, the more the satellite will show that it must be producing thrust without propellant."
That the engine would be tested at all in space is an indicator that there is now enough evidence in favor of the device to warrant such a final "proof-of-concept" experiment.
So, what, precisely, is bothering me about all of this?
Well, to put it bluntly, if the research of Dr. Paul LaViolette is to be believed, and I believe it very definitely should be at least seriously considered, then the EM drive is took about sixty years to break into the public eye. In his book - which I heartily recommend to readers of this site (in fact, I put it in my webstore) - Secrets of Antigravity Propulsion, Dr. LaViolette recounts secret technology and experiments undertaken in the 1950s with the microwave soliton effect, experiments which, according to his sources, were successful. Effectively, powerful microwaves were used as a propulsion technology.
Stop and ponder that one for a moment too. Powerful microwaves, concentrated against the ground, for example, could conceivably bake and even ionize dirt, causing water and nutrients not to be absorbed by the dirt so effected, and even leave a residual interference with local magnetic field patterns over such an area, leaving a patch of barren ground in which plants do not grow and in which water simply "beads", unable to be absorbed, a phenomenon reported in some "UFO landing" cases.
So what, really, is going on with the EM drive? I suspect, and suspect strongly, that this is a case of someone figuring out that such a technology could be used for propulsion, a technology that was already investigated - under much higher power conditions, according to LaViolette - in the 1950s. If so, then the current "experiments" might be viewed as a "controlled release" of information, which can be spun in any way that is convenient: "We found the effects are real, but too negligible to pursue as a practical propulsion technology," or "We found the effects are real, and have promise," and so on.
This will be one to watch, therefore, for it could prove an interesting development in its own right and, depending on what is reported, provide corroboration to Dr. LaViolette's arguments in his book.
See you on the flip side...