A physicist has found yet another reason why NASA’s headline-grabbing “warp drive” propulsion system should be impossible and probably won’t work: As currently constructed, the so-called EmDrive would be an “absurd” perpetual motion machine capable of solving the Earth’s energy woes.
By Jason Koebler|MOTHERBOARD
Already, the space propulsion system violates one of Newton’s laws of physics, which is why the seeming success of one of its initial experiments was so exciting. Now, another physicist says that such a propulsion system would also defy established laws of thermodynamics, suggesting that the drive is little more than a pipe dream.
The EmDrive is being worked on by a group of scientists at NASA Eagleworks’s advanced propulsion laboratory, led by a scientist named Harold White. It purports to work by using solar energy to create microwaves, which are then bounced around in a closed chamber to create thrust, without the use of any propellant whatsoever. By that logic, it’d then be possible for the drive to propel itself forever, as long as it has power.
Understandably, the group’s earliest experiments got tons of buzz, simply because they couldn’t explain why it appeared to work in violation of the conservation of momentum—that you can get an action (thrust) without a reaction (actually pushing against something, or using propellant). The team later suggested that the drive might work because of some unexplained quantum weirdness.