NASA engineer claims to have created engine that violates the laws of physics

NASA engineer claims to have created engine that violates the laws of physics

An engine that takes us to the stars, at practically the speed of light and without the need for fuel is possible. Those are the controversial statements of David Burns, an engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

The idea of ​​such a motor challenges the laws of physics as we know them; It would involve the possibility of generating thrust without having to convert energy, simply taking advantage of your own physics.

It is an attractive concept, and it is not surprising that many have tried to make it happen. One of the great obstacles to space exploration is the need to carry fuel for the engines that generate thrust; Without the fuel, it would be possible to create smaller ships that traveled longer distances.

The engine that can reach almost the speed of light

Burns believes that he has found the key to making such a motor a reality, but at the same time he is humble; He claims that he has only made it public because he believes it is worth a try, but that if it is shown that his design is not possible, he will be the first to admit it.

We would be before a “helical motor”, which takes advantage of how the speeds close to that of light affect the mass. The basic concept is very simple, as explained in New Scientist.

Let’s put a box on a frictionless surface. Inside the box, there is a bar with a ring that can move freely. If we use a spring to move the ring, it will slide down the bar, while the box moves in the opposite direction. It is the law of action and reaction, first described by Isaac Newton; if one body acts on another, it reacts on that body with another force of the same value and direction, but in the opposite direction.

Until ah, everything normal. The box would not advance because, upon returning to the other end of the bar, the ring would hit the box again and move it in the opposite direction with the same force as before. The result would be a box that will constantly move back and forth.

But what if the mass of the ring were not always the same? Specifically, what if the mass of the ring were greater at one end of the box than at the other? If that were possible, the force at one end would be greater, so the box would advance only in one direction; the force in the opposite direction will be smaller and will not affect the initially applied force.

Now repeat that process over and over, and each cycle increase the speed of the box; in theory, up to speeds close to the speed of light.

The question, of course, is how to change the mass of the inner ring twice in each cycle. This is where Einstein’s theory of relativity comes in, which says that objects gain mass as they get closer to the speed of light.

Now, instead of a ring, let’s imagine something that could come close to that speed, like a circular particle accelerator. If ions accelerate to speeds near light at one end, and slow down at the other end, we would have more mass at one end than at the other. Furthermore, we can simply remove the box and the bar, and make a particle accelerator in the form of a propeller to achieve the same effect.

A project that is only theoretical, for now

If the explanation has given you a headache, you are not the only one. But the key is that, at least in theory, that will allow creating an engine that will constantly accelerate to speeds close to the speed of light.

It would not be easy, eye. A helical motor about 200 meters long and 12 meters in diameter would only generate enough thrust to press a key on a keyboard. But with enough time, and in a low-friction environment like outer space, Burns claims it would have potential.

Despite being a NASA engineer, this is a personal project and therefore not supported by NASA, nor does it mean that the agency will make it happen. In addition, Burns himself acknowledges that there are still many details to be completed, such as engine efficiency or how to capture lost energy in the form of heat and radiation.

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