EmDrive (Q Thruster) and Warp bubble research update 8-13–2016


NASA Eagleworks reports that further experiments in a vacuum  of the “Impossible Drive”  showed  significant thrust, increasing the likelihood that the EmDrive (electromagnetic Drive) or its closely related cousin the Cannae Drive or Quantum thruster (Q Drive or Thruster) may soon open the solar system to relatively easy and very fast access for both robotic and perhaps manned spacecraft. These recent experiments address objections of some skeptics who postulated that the previous experimental obsevations might be explained by external thermal effects. While it remains possible that an “artifact” of the testing procedure is an explanation for these results, Eagleworks believes that the level of the observed effect makes this very unlikely. (in July 2015 Martin Tajmar, a professor at the Space Institute at  the Desden University Institute of Technology who is widely known for finding experimental artifacts which explained erroneous findings of allegedly breakthrough technologies such as antigravity experiments performed by NASA, presented a scientific paper which confirms the finding of thrust from an EmDrive at similar levels reported by other researchers; however, he continues experiments searching for experimental artifacts which may offer mudane explanations for the observations. A Romainian researcher also has reported thrust in similar experiments.  There are also reports that experiments related to q thrusters are underway at dozens of research centers including at a number of major universities who prefer to remain unidentified until  their research has progressed and peer reveiwed scientific papers can be filed explaining the results of their research ).

Eagleworks maintains that their theory of how the drive works does not violate basic well established scientific principals such as the conservation of momentum but others, such as Elon Musk, remain skeptical as to whether the observed effect is real, suspecting a flaw in the testing procedures. While a healthy level of skepticism is justitfied until the effect is independently confirmed, it should also be realized that those who have made large investments of time, emotional commitment, and finances in more conventional space efforts have a vested interest in disregarding  and even ridiculing breakthrough technologies. More neutral observers should curtail their enthusiasm while encouraging further research.  Further tests are planned on the EmDrive and Q Thruster at higher power levels in the coming months. (Early reports suggested that It is also possible the military is currently testing some variation of this drive in its top secret X-37B space plane which was recently launched into low earth orbit. Leaks confirmed the testing of a potentially revolutionary space drive although the reported nature of those experiments have been contradictory with the current official story being that an advanced Hall effect electromagnetic Drive is being tested which may promise  significant if unspectacular improvements over existing Hall effect thrusters. It is somewhat odd that the military would be conducting parallel research on Hall effect thrusters when NASA has a similar and vigorous program in connection with its “Asteroid Redirect” program, however, with so many conspiracy theorists and other crackpots about it is difficult to determine whether or not the reports of military testing of the EmDrive can be taken seriously).

Roger Shawyer, the inventor of the EmDrive, claims that research and development is currently underway on a phase 2 version of the EmDrive utilizing superconductive materials and that this updated version promises to increase the thrust considerably. He suggests that the improvement in thrust is so significant that a revolution in air travel and the development of flying cars (and hoverboards perhaps?) become a distinct future possibility (Such extravagant claims should make anyone interested in these devices cautious to say the least).  He also claims that NASA is far behind his efforts to develope the EmDrive and to be working with certain undisclosed nations, presumably not the United States or in  Europe (China perhaps?). Recently, some level of cooperation with German researchers has been disclosed. It should be noted that although Eagleworks tested both the EmDrive and its cousin the Cannae Drive (Q Drive) invented by Guido Fetta, Harold White habitually refers to NASA experiments with Q thrusters (Quantum thrusters), which he apparently considers the generic term for the devices and more consistent with his theory of the operational mechanism which produces thrust, perhaps in part to distance NASA and himself from the scientifically implausible initial theories published by the inventor of the EmDrive.

Based on Chinese experiments, it appears that, if the basic observed effect is not an illusion,  a device may quickly be developed which would permit station keeping by the International Space Station (or spy satellites) without the expendisure of fuel (except for a small power source required to generate microwaves). Since the EM Drive  and the Q Thruster operate without fuel, possibly relying on quantum effects of zero point energy, the long term implications for human space flight may also be profound (or the effect may be found to be real but with limited applications), however, the experimental observations still await replication at independent labs with scientists at Harvard and Johns Hopkins having expressed an interest in this process but with a number of independent researchers already well advanced in attempts to confirm the effect ) as well as the publishing of widely accepted and peer reviewed explanations of the experimental results. Until this occurs only a restrained level of enthusiasm is justified.The next year should be very interesting as new experimental results are reported. (As noted above  the recent experiments by Professor Tajmar of Dresden University noted measurable thrust during their testing of an EmDrive in line with that seen by other researchers but, contrary to some media reports, stopped short of actually confirming the effect while indicating that additional experiments would follow in an attempt to reveal artifacts that may explain the measurable thrust. Criticisms of the Geman’s methodology and indeed of all tests performed to date,however, suggests that the only confirmation that will be  accepted by skeptics is an actual Q thruster spacecraft operating in space.)

Potentially even  more astonishing and far reaching is the research being conducted by NASA Eagleworks to see if a warp bubble may be created which ultimately might permit effective Faster than Light travel, perhaps before the end of this century. Harold White and his Eagleworks team have created an interferometer for the purpose of testing whether small, even microscopic warp bubbles are created in an electromagnetic field as a proof of concept experiment. Until recently the results of these experiments have been interesting but inconclusive.

Although these experiments initially were not  connected to the EmDrive or Q Drive research, the investigations are conducted in the same lab at the NASA Houston Spaceflight Center. The White-Jaday interferometer which is being used to detect a warp bubble essentially splits a light (laser) beam into two pathways  shining one though the experimental location to see if the two beams emerge with a wave shift, change in path length of the emitted photons  or at different effective “speeds.”  Repeated experiments in which beams were passed though an operating Q Drive resonate cavity reportedly demonstrated statistically significant differences suggesting the possible existence of a very small or microscopic warp bubble; i.e.  the photons which transversed the Q thruster resonate cavity appeared to do so at effective FTL speeds. Since the constraints of Relativity Theory and the resulting 11th Commandment (“Thou shall not exceed the speed of light”) prohibit superluminal velocities, this suggests the creation of a warp bubble shortening the distance the photons actually traveled. The actual observations were somewhat more complex than this suggests with trials indicating both the shortening and expansion of the distance traveled by the emitted photons. (the obervation that emitted photons seemed to travel at speeds less than the speed of light in a constant enviornment is as astonishing as the observation of apparent superluminal speeds.) The key fact is that photons seemed to travel at different effective speeds, a shocking observation assuming identical environments.which is postulated to be based on both the shortening and lengthening of the distance traveled by the emitted photons i.e. multiple warp bubbles. Announcement of the findings of apparent superluminal “speeds” have been downplayed by Eagleworks, presumably because of the expected skepticism, even ridicule, it would certainly engender in the scientific community..

If confirmed, this finding would be a remarkable confluence of the Eagleworks two main areas of research. Indeed,  White recently asserted that the physics models they are examining suggests that the design of a Q thruster (EmDrive) is the same as would be needed to create the negative energy required to produce a warp bubble and that if this model is correct as many as 10,000 of the simple devices might be used to create the warp bubble required for a “FTL” drive .

The next step is to repeat the experiment in a vacuum to ensure the observed effects are real and not caused by extraneous factors. If the results of testing in a vacuum prove to be positive, tests by an independent laboratory hopefully utilizing a different experimental methodology should quickly follow.

If the existence of a warp bubble is confirmed, this alone does not address reservations by many (most) scientists including Mexican theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre who developed warp theory after watching an episode of “Star Trek”.  Albcubierre believes that the energy required to create a usable “FTL” warp would equate to the mass of Jupiter rendering the idea impractical. Harold White, on the other hand, theorizes that through a redesign of the hypothetical spacecraft and fluxuating the energy level required to create and maintain the warp bubble, the energy requirement for a spacecraft capable of generating a warp capable of producing effective 10c “velocities” could be reduced to approximately equal to that of the mass of the Voyager space probe.  It should be noted, however, that many scientists reject the very concept of a warp bubble as relying solely on Relativity Theory rather than Quantum Mechanics with the further concern that an effective FTL drive raises casuality (i.e. time travel) issues with all the paradoxes that implies. White and others reject this as a necessary result of the theory.

Even should Dr. Alcubierre’s thesis that a workable “FTL” warp drive would require immense and impractical energy levels or objections based on causality concerns for “FTL” speeds prove correct, warp theory may still be a game changer for human interplanetary and “slow” (i.e. subluminal) interstellar voyages. The creation of a warp for subluminal “speeds”  should require energy levels orders magnitude lower than that required for superluminal flight and no causality issues would apply. Subluminal warp flight to Mars using a warp bubble at say the equivalent of .1c or more would seem possible at least in theory. This would suggest an Earth to Mars flight time of less than two hours.  In addition to immense effective speeds, such travel would have the advantage of almost instantaneous “acceleration” without any negative affects on the human occupants of the spacecraft since it would be space that is moving (or being shortened in the direction of travel), not the craft itself (much as a surfboard riding on a giant wave). Accordingly, we can imagine humans residing on Earth commuting for Martian jobs and returning home for a late supper.

However, if the theories of some physicists are correct, the release of energy upon arriving at the destination would be of considerable concern. It would be rather disconcerting to arrive in the orbit of Mars only to discover that the planet had been rendered into a cinder by side effects of the warp drive (This possibility raises weaponization concerns and the likelihood of suppression of warp technology by the military). We can hope that the reduced energy levels of a subluminal warp drive may substantially reduce this concern or that methods to avoid such an inconvenient outcome will be developed.

Utilizing a hypothetical warp drive for subluminal interstellar missions might result in an effective velocity of .9c or better without requiring the immense energies theorized by Dr. Albcubierre and without casuality issues. Since “acceleration” would occur essentially instantaneously, a one way voyage to the Alpha Centauri system would take less than five years, however without the time dialation effects of normal travel at near light speed since the spacecraft is not actually moving; only the space bubble that contains it has attained a substantial fraction of the speed of light (or more accurately, space has been shortened in the direction of travel). Accordingly, manned space craft would need to be huge in order to be self contained for such extensive periods. Only arificial intelligence crews would “man” smaller craft unless biological crews were able to utilize some form of hibernation or temperal stasis technology. Probably over the next few millenia if subluminal warp missions become practical all of these alternatives would be attempted.

The above commentary is, of course, highly speculative.  Many observers might assert with some justification that such speculation is premature and at least should await independent comfirmation of the reported effects of the Q Thruster and/or the existence of a warp bubble. Criticism of Dr. White for “grandstanding” by publishing fanciful depictions of a warp space craft are widespread in the scientific community and have had the unintended effect of deminishing Eagleworks’ scientific credibility (but seeing the drawing of the hypothetical craft certainly was exciting for the lay public and perhaps has motivated others to become interested in the research being explored by the  Eagleworks team). It should also be noted that the depiction of the hypothetical warp spacecraft was in response to and in furtherance of mathamatical analysis of methods to significantly reduce energy requirements.

We will await further research results with a fair measure of skepticism but the long term implications of this research are too profound to ignore altogether. It will be interesting to see, perhaps a decade or so from now, whether this all is determined to be no more than fantasy and the product of wishful thinking or whether we then will truly stand on the cusp of becoming an interplanetary and perhaps even interstellar species.

We are living in fascinating times.  Stay tuned.


Addendum 8-1-2016: It has been reported that in March of this year Paul March, an engineer at NASA Eagleworks,  revealed that a scientific paper on the EmDrive is under peer review and that verification experiments will be conducted at three independent labs including at John Hopkins Applied Physics  Laboratory. A significant delay can be expected since a well considered peer review will await the results at the independent labs.  It may be fairly assumed that no paper would have been submitted without positive experimental results but whether these results will or can be duplicated remains to be seen. Stay tuned!