Articles & Reviews
Authored by RSF Research Staff
Revisiting the EmDrive: Quantum Vacuum Fluctuations Harnessed in a Propellant-less Engine Tested by NASA.
By: William Brown
In a previous article we described how understanding the mechanism by which gravity, mass, and charge are produced by the structure and dynamics of quantum vacuum fluctuations should, in principle, allow us to influence the dynamics of the discrete structure of spacetime such that gravitational control and novel propulsion can be achieved (the proton radius prediction and gravitational control).
When a density gradient is present in the Planck fluctuations of the quantum vacuum, a curvature of spacetime occurs and energy flows from one region to another. As described by General Relativity, gravity is an induced effect of the geometry, or curvature of spacetime which, as demonstrated by Nassim Haramein, is composed of co-moving Planck particles that make up the granular structure of spacetime itself at the quantum scale. Think of the gradient that is created when you pull the plug in your bath, making the surface of the water appear to curve which is in fact the result of the co-moving density gradient of the water particles. A rubber ducky in the vicinity of that curvature appears to be attracted towards the hole (or the drain). So a device that changes how spacetime curves should enable control of gravity. This is the idea behind the magnetohydrodynamic plasma device invented by Haramein, a device inspired by the energy producing mechanisms of naturally occurring systems such as stars and galaxies. The device is designed to create a spinning gradient in the quantum energy fluctuations of the vacuum from which energy can be extracted and propulsion via engineering of the gravitational field can be achieved.
In July of 2014, an exciting development of another example of tapping the energy potential of the quantum vacuum was announced by a team of researchers at NASA’s Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory. Led by Harold “Sonny” White, an engineer and director of Eagleworks at the Johnson Space Center, the team reported measurements of non-conventional thrust produced by a device that uses the effects of microwaves passing through a uniquely structured waveguide (NASA validates impossible space drive).
The research group stunned the scientific community by reporting conventionally inexplicable thrust production from a propellant-less engine – the so-called impossible space drive. The inventor of the drive and founder of Satellite Propulsion Research LTD (SPR), British aerospace engineer Roger Shawyer, describes the effect as being produced by the net difference in the transfer of momentum from microwaves to the walls of a resonance cavity as they bounce along the interior of the conically shaped waveguide. Shawyer calls the device an EmDrive (for electromagnetically-driven, microwave propulsion system). However, the device was quickly dubbed the “impossible drive” as it was believed from its inception to violate the laws of motion, since no propellant is ejected to produce the action necessary for the reaction or thrust generated, resulting in some 10 years of struggle by Shawyer in order to succeed in getting any serious laboratories to test the validity of the results independently, until laboratories in China 3 years ago, and finally now at NASA. In the initial reporting done by NASA’s Eagleworks laboratory this telling statement is found:
“This paper describes the test campaigns designed to investigate and demonstrate viability of using classical magnetoplasmadynamics to obtain a propulsive momentum transfer via the quantum vacuum virtual plasma. This paper will not address the physics of the quantum vacuum plasma thruster (QVPT)…”
Shawyer’s EmDrive was initially tested in 2012 by a team of researchers at the Northwestern Polytechnic Institute in China, where they confirmed thrust production from the microwave propulsion device. Still, many skeptics dismissed the results (as is often the case with something that challenges a prevailing paradigm). Then an inventor in the United States named Guido Fetta developed a similar device called the Cannae Drive. Although built with a different design, the Cannae drive operates very similarly to the EmDrive, with thrust produced by the momentum transfer of microwaves in a slotted resonance chamber. In both systems, electrical energy is supplied to produce microwaves that travel within the waveguide chamber of the drives, producing thrust without any reaction mass (classically defined fuel).
With verification of results by three independent labs, the team led by Sonny White at NASA’s Eagleworks lab decided to run their own tests of the novel propulsion devices. And they’re results: positive, for both the Cannae drive and the EmDrive design. For both drives, although employing different designs, small amounts of thrust were produced (micronewtons). Importantly, the tests performed at NASA were done inside of vacuum chambers, such that atmospheric effects (like thermal conduction by the air) could not be attributed to producing any anomalous momentum.
While micronewtons may not sound like much, the power-to-thrust ratio is 10 times better than conventional magnetoplasmadynamic drives, known as ion thrusters – a critical difference in terms of feasibility for space travel. And the fact that the engines represent an entirely new class of propulsion system, based on a deeper understanding of physics, opens the possibility for practical and clean transportation as no chemical fuel is required.
Understanding the Quantum Vacuum
In Quantum Gravity and the Holographic Mass (QGHM), it is demonstrated how gravity and mass, two fundamental properties of matter, result from the quantum harmonic fluctuations of the vacuum. Although Haramein found the holographic ratio relationship of quantum vacuum fluctuations (QVF) to predict the charge radius of the proton with more precision than has ever been achieved before, many still question whether QVFs are real, and if so how do we know they exist? Part of the problem is that QVFs although being extremely large energetically are in most cases not directly observable. Yet, the ubiquitous presence of QVFs can be confirmed through their multitudinous effects, and even more so by their utilization in technological applications.
Although the vacuum is responsible for engendering nearly all of the attributes and characteristics of matter and energy, its pervasive influence is most clearly demonstrated in two significant effects: what is known as the Lamb shift and the Casimir effect. The Lamb shift is an attribute of hydrogen, wherein the electron cloud is observed to have a slightly higher energetic orbital level than what would be presumed based on theoretical calculations alone. This slightly shifted orbital level was measured in 1947 by Robert Retherford and Willis Lamb (from which the effect’s appellation is derived).
The reason why the electron has a slightly higher orbital level is due to its constant interaction with the quantum vacuum, which imparts energy to the electron. Initially, theoretical calculations (the Dirac equation) did not anticipate this slightly higher energy level because the constitutive interaction of the electron with the vacuum was not considered or factored in, yet the energetic interactivity of the vacuum cannot be ignored in this case.
The quantum vacuum has a non-zero energy component (its energy expectation value) because even in a complete vacuum with no matter or radiation present, and at nearly absolute zero temperature, there will still be energetic excitations of the electromagnetic field. Which is to say that there will be wavelengths of almost every conceivable size filling every point of space, what Einstein referred to as the zero-point field.
In the Casimir effect, two neutrally charged metallic plates are placed extremely close together in a vacuum (a chamber devoid of atmospheric molecules). Because some of the electromagnetic wavelengths of the quantum vacuum will not fit in between the extremely small space in between the metallic plates, they will cancel out. This results in a slightly lower energy in between the plates, almost like a low pressure region, and the greater energy around the area from the more numerous electromagnetic modes will push the plates together.
This is a highly important effect as it not only verifies the pervasive presence of the electromagnetic oscillations of the vacuum, but is a direct demonstration of extracting energy from it – because a force is produced from the quantum vacuum simply by canceling some of the vacuum fluctuations (electromagnetic modes) in a defined region of space. Note that this is a type of gravitational effect (the plates gravitate together), and hence has been suggested to be a mechanism by which gravitational control can be achieved.
In more recent research, this phenomenon has been extended to the dynamical Casimir effect, in which microwave photons are emitted directly from the vacuum. The electromagnetic waves of the vacuum are described equally precisely as photons. Each photon has a partner that acts as an anti-particle, forming particle anti-particle pairs that cause the photons to stay bound to the vacuum state. However, if a mirror is moved at relativistic speeds (speeds close to that of light) it will match the speed of some of the photons, causing them to disperse and resulting in a disruption of the normal creation-to-annihilation cycle of the particle anti-particle pairs.
As such, some photons will be emitted from the vacuum as they are separated from their ‘mirror partner’. However, it is extremely difficult to get an actual mirror to move at anything close to the speed of light, so instead a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) is oscillated at billions of times a second (gigahertz, GHz) with an electrical current in such a way that it is able to mimic an electromagnetic mirror moving at close to the speed of light.
If all of the above empirical demonstrations were not enough to establish the importance of the quantum vacuum beyond simply a virtual field of trivial consequence (and if you talk to some skeptics, they aren’t), many physicists and researchers - including the team at the Resonance Project Foundation - are already beginning to develop engines and energy generators based on utilization and engineering of the quantum vacuum.
Although by conventional thinking such a propulsion device should be impossible, the fact that it does appear to work is attributed to the polarizable structure of the vacuum -- the quantum vacuum fluctuations. The same energetic oscillating bits utilized by Haramein to derive the gravitational force at both the quantum and cosmological scales, as well to describe the properties of the proton and the source of the nuclear binding force. In other words, such a device would not work if space did not have the Planck-scale structure described in QGHM.
Note that the concept of the polarizable vacuum is nothing new as Haramein, Rauscher and others have been explaining and applying the concept of the polarizable structure of the vacuum for many years to solve previously intractable problems in physics as well as to expand our understanding of black holes, stellar dynamics, and quantum processes with considerations of spacetime torque and Coriolis forces (see previous publications, exempli gratia collective coherent oscillation of plasma modes in surrounding media of black holes and vacuum structure).
On April 5, 2015, NASA Eagleworks reported a new computational simulation that models the EmDrive’s thrust as a three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic flow of electron-positron pairs of the quantum vacuum – the polarizable structure of the vacuum.
In effect, the NASA team believes that the engine produces thrust via a momentum transfer with polarizable structure of the quantum vacuum. The central idea is that space is not empty, it is filled with energetic oscillations and as well, means that there is no truly isolated system, and hence no violation of the conservation of momentum if an equal force is being transferred to the quantum vacuum opposite to the forward thrust of the engine.
In other words, the conservation of momentum stipulates that if nothing is being ejected out of the engine, there is no transfer of momentum, so the momentum stays the same and no thrust will be generated. As such, propulsion devices such as the microwave-based EmDrive are called ‘impossible drives’ because they are said to violate the laws of the conservation of momentum. Yet, if the drives are “pushing” against the quantum vacuum, or alternatively structuring the quantum vacuum to create a localized warp or gravitational dipole, then it should be able to produce momentum, as it does.
Indeed, in further experimentation NASA’s Eagleworks research group tested the potential warping of space in a device similar to the EmDrive by using interferometer measurements. The interferometer uses the interference of two laser beams to measure extremely small perturbations of space. Wherein a laser beam is split in two and one beam is guided outside the influence of the device while another is passed through it, when the beams are recombined, the waves undergo constructive or destructive interference, depending on their relative phases. Any potential warping of space by the test device will cause one of the laser beams to diffract slightly and produce a tell-tale signal.
Although slight interference was observed, indicating a micro-warping of spacetime around the test device, the apparatus must be tested next in a vacuum chamber to rule out atmospheric influences (although calculations show that the level of interference cannot be attributed to atmospheric influences of the test beam). While the more conservatively oriented spectrum of the scientific community are still writing vigorously to discredit the results, many commentators and optimistic skeptics alike have been much more enthusiastic. The NASA report additionally detailed specs for manned missions to Mars and Saturn that drastically reduce the in-transit travel times versus conventional chemical propulsion schemes.
The drives can convert sunlight or nuclear power into electricity to generate microwaves for thrust. This means that massive payloads of propellant do not have to be carried. How powerful are the space drives? The team reports an expected thrust-to-power ratio of 0.4 newtons per kilowatt (N/kW), about 7 to 10 times more powerful than current state of the art Hall thrusters (a type of ion thruster that uses an electric field to eject xenon propellant).
With the ability to produce sufficient thrust to overcome the force of the Sun’s gravitational attraction (0.6 milli-g’s at 1 AU), and without having to carry massive amounts of propellant, nearly direct flight paths can be taken to the planets, instead of having to rely on “slingshot effect” and “intercept” trajectories.
While caution should always be exercised before we get ahead of ourselves - there is certainly more work to be done – it is exciting to contemplate manned missions to our nearest neighboring planets. So congratulations humanity: with this potential breakthrough in microwave, propellant-free propulsion vacuum technology you may be able to take the small step into your local planetary neighborhood. And with more advanced propulsion schemes, gravitational and inertial control devices such as Haramein’s magnetohydrodynamic plasma resonator, Alcubierre warp-drives, and the like, you may be able to begin exploring other nearby stellar systems, where countless unimaginable new worlds and discoveries await.
For the less adventurous, or should I say more pragmatically minded of us, it is also important to keep in mind that, as a species, it is crucial to have the capability to travel into space. The surface of our planet is not a very safe place – one average-sized asteroid or solar flare, or even a close fly-by of a comet, to name just a few, could seriously jeopardize our survivability.
And the clock is ticking; these events are not a question of if, but when. Now don’t go and start building a bomb shelter just yet… it’s okay, relax – but keep in mind that these technologies, and certainly promoting the mavericks and pioneers attempting to build them, is a critical beneficial endeavor to us all. Especially considering the life-changing effects of energy independence, which could come from technologies such as these that harness the energy of the quantum vacuum. This would mean no longer relying on limited natural resources such as oil, and the ecological disharmony and economic game that comes along with it.
Therefore, these technologies have the potential to mark a very significant moment in human evolution, where our society moves from a model of scarcity, limited resources, and territorial disputes, to one based on abundance of energy and the capability to be space-bound with almost unlimited accessibility to resources. Although this may be thought of as something in the far future, it is now evident from the latest developments that these transformational technologies are eminent.
More to explore:
Full Interview: Roger Shawyer, Creator of EmDrive -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hTdSg47h3k
The EmDrive NASA forum (for in depth discussion and analysis) -- http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36313.0
Cannae Drive - http://cannae.com/
Theory of electromagnetic reactionless drive - Abraham-Minkowski controversy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham%E2%80%93Minkowski_controversy
Advanced Propulsion Physics Research Group - http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20110023492.pdf
Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd. - http://emdrive.com/principle.html
Theory of Microwave Propulsion for Spacecraft - http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/av/shawyertheory.pdf
Northwestern Polytechnical University report on microwave radiation thruster - http://www.emdrive.com/NWPU2010translation.pdf