Mr. P.J. spotted this article and shared it with me this past week, and I have to express my deep gratitude, for this is one of those papers that makes you go "Hmmmm..." Indeed, as we shall see, there are many things in this paper that make you go "hmmm", and many of them probably weren't even intended to do so by its authors. Needless to say, I have to indulge my penchant for high octane end-of-the-twig-beyond-the-weight-of-evidence speculation.
First things first, though, so here's the paper:
SP2018_016 Page 1 The SpaceDrive Project – First Results on EMDrive and Mach-Effect Thrusters
What caught my attention here was not the usual attention on the so-called EM thruster, a device which claims to generate thrust by the interaction of microwaves in a conical waveguide, but rather, the focus on the Mach thruster, which derives its thrust from the acoustic cavitation of crystals! Here's the essence of the idea, from the paper itself:
The second concept to be studied in detail is the so-called Mach-Effect thruster which is being developed by J.F. Woodward since the 1990s and more recently by H. Fearn –. It is based on one interpretation of Mach’s principle (inertia here is due to mass out there), that inertial mass is due to the gravitational interaction with the whole universe . Woodward and others showed that linearized general relativity theory with time-varying solutions and Sciama’s analysis altogether leads to mass fluctuations that can be up to 11 orders of magnitude higher for typical devices than classically expected from E=m.c² .
In the Mach-Effect thruster, a stack of clamped piezo crystals is excited using a frequency in the tens of kHz range. According to Woodward, this energy oscillations leads to transient Machian-mass variations that can lead to time-averaged stationary thrusts if they are properly pushed and pulled with the correct frequency and phase. This is believed to happen thanks to the piezoelectric and electrostrictive material properties of piezo crystals. Although at much smaller amplitudes, electrostriction happens at twice the applied frequency and at a 90° phase shift, which is required for stationary thrust ,. A large brass reaction mass can amplify this effect. A schematic sketch of the thruster as well as an actual thruster and a corresponding ANSYS odel is shown in Fig. 11. We are working on analytical as well as finite element models to accurately predict the oscillation movements on the thruster (verified using laser vibrometry) in order to predict and enhance the thrust produced. (Emphasis added)
Of course, all sorts of science fiction, and science factoid, came flooding into my mind reading this. On the science fiction side, one could not help but think of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek series of science fiction television series, in all its various morphologies from the original series to Deep Space Nine, with their constant reference to "di-lithium crystals" being somehow a key or crucial component to warp drive engines, and hence to the ability to transit whole star systems in a few days' time. One was never told, of course, how exactly crystals operating in anti-matter/matter reactors worked, but nevermind, this was science fiction. Sit back, enjoy the show, and eat your popcorn. (Maybe "dilithium" simply referred to the matter and antimatter versions of the element? Oh, nevermind... back to the popcorn.)
What's much more intriguing is the idea that acoustic cavitation of piezo-electric crystals can produce mass variations that "can lead to time-averaged stationary thrusts if properly pushed and pulled with the correct frequency and phase." Indeed, one wonders if plasmas, with their own unique semi-lattice structures, could do the same (Dr. Ronald Richter, anyone?) The idea of direct relationships between crystals, mass, and gravity and the local lattice structure of a particular local space is, of course, roughly the idea I was getting at in the various pyramid books. One wonders if, indeed, thus pulsed Machian piezo-electric thrust effect could generate longitudinal waves in the medium. My guess is yes, but that's a long story. The bottom line here is the connection of piezoelectric effect, acoustic cavitation at the proper resonate frequencies, and the resulting pulsed inertial mass effect leading to thrust. One wonders, indeed, if this principle could be coupled the concept of warp drive, ala Miguel Alcubierre and Dr. Harold White, and "scaled up" to produce the requisite mass-energy conversions necessary for a practical warp drive, which, if that were the case, would be a pulsed phenomenon, and hence, capable of producing those shadowy longintudinal waves in the medium. (And that in turn, of course, would raise the dreaded weaponization potentialities).
It's that relationship that leads me to my really high octane speculation at the end of today's twig. To get there, let's look at a statement toward the end of this paper:
The SpaceDrive project aims at developing cutting-edge measurement equipment to thoroughly test the latest EMDrive and Mach-Effect thruster models, the two most promising revolutionary thruster concepts that are presently under investigation at various labs. Our thrust balances shall provide the necessary resolution and investigate electromagnetic and thermal artefacts to obtain reliable measurements in order to confirm or refute the claimed thrusts.
First measurement campaigns were carried out with both thruster models reaching thrust/thrust-to-power levels comparable to claimed values. However, we found that e.g. magnetic interaction from twisted-pair cables and amplifiers with the Earth’s magnetic field can be a significant error source for EMDrives. We continue to improve our measurement setup and thruster developments in order to finally assess if any of these concepts is viable and if it can be scaled up.
In addition, a number of complementary experiments are carried out to investigate e.g. Machian-mass variations with an alternative rotary setup. (Emphasis added)
In other words, when the experiments were performed on the EM and Mach-crystal thrusters, results commensurate with prior claims for the devices were indeed measured, but these engineers are concerned that some of these readings are effects of inadequate shielding from the power cables to the devices. A proper concern. But what intrigued me about their concluding remarks was not this, but rather, the remark about re-performing the experiments under conditions were the thruster assemblies are in rotation, a clear clue that they are aware of potential torsion effects that could render the thrusters more efficient.
This got me to thinking, and those thoughts are the subject of today's end-of-the-twig high octane speculation. What other way might there be to make the thrust of these crystal structures more efficient? Crystals grow in such a way that their lattice defects, I believe, are responses to the minute variations in the structure of local space-time. In this sense, they are records of those variations. For this reason, crystals grown in outer space, in zero or near zero gravity, are found to be "purer" in the sense that these lattice defects - screw defects, displacement defects, and so on - are not nearly so prevalent. So I have to wonder if such crystals as used in these Mach thrusters, if grown in such conditions, might generate either an amplifying, or damping, effect on the resulting thrust, or, to restate the speculation in a slightly different form, if crystals grown in a certain local region will enhance the thrust effect of such devices when they are used in that region. I suspect that we may eventually discover that these things are the case.
But if so, wouldn't that restrict their potential use outside the region in which they were grown? Yes, possibly.
But that's where modifiable crystals - liquid crystals, even plasmas - might come in.
In any case, that's today's high octane end of the twig speculation.
See you on the ...
... oh, by the way, did you notice another odd thing? Consider this:
We gratefully acknowledge the support for SpaceDrive by the German National Space Agency DLR (Deutsches Zentrum fuer Luft- und Raumfahrttechnik) by funding from the Federal
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) by approval from German Parliament (50RS1704). We would also like to acknowledge the support from J. Heisig, W. Stark, C. Holzapfel, J. Woodward and H. Fearn for their contributions to the ongoing experiments.
...Hmmm.... I've always wondered why modern Germany isn't very interested in rockets.
See you on the flip side...