New Scientist examines ‘relativity engine’ based on microwaves

The UK’s best popular science mag, New Scientist, has a terrific piece on Roger Shawyer, an engineer who “has developed an engine with no moving parts that he believes can replace rockets and make trains, planes and automobiles obsolete. ‘The end of wings and wheels’ is how he puts it. It’s a bold claim.” Hard to tell whether Shawyer has hit on something, or is trying to make fast with the laws of physics. But good fun either way. I for one am rooting for this and all other geniuses, whackjobs and aliens who can cut the price of transportation and reduce its damage to the environment.

You can read his theoretical paper here, and read the full New Scientist article (via Slashdot).

First, though, a select graph from the story: “The device that has sparked their interest is an engine that generates thrust purely from electromagnetic radiation – microwaves to be precise – by exploiting the strange properties of relativity. It has no moving parts, and releases no exhaust or noxious emissions. Potentially, it could pack the punch of a rocket in a box the size of a suitcase. It could one day replace the engines on almost any spacecraft. More advanced versions might allow cars to lift from the ground and hover. It could even lead to aircraft that will not need wings at all. I can’t help thinking that it sounds too good to be true.”

9 COMMENTS

  1. Well, I agree with you, until it’s confirmed I do not believe it possible. However, if the microwave force is in it’s own frame of reference, when it pushes against the inside of the machine, it will be as if the microwave is pusing from the outside of the machine. Therefore, it seems to me that conservation of momentum is not violated, since the force is in it’s own frame of reference.

  2. If you read past “a little suspicious” above, you will find a definitive argument why the thing can’t work.

    Conservation of momentum is summarized in Newton’s Third Law, which says that to make something go forward it is necessary to make something else go backward. A car’s wheel pushes back against the earth. A rocket throws hot gas back behind.

    Momentum is strictly conserved both in Newtonian physics and in relativity.

    A relativity thruster that is self-contained cannot work.

  3. The point is that there is an alternating force that has it’s own frame of reference (avoiding, supposedly, conservation of momentum). The forces are uneven so one side is greater, causing a stronger push to one direction.

  4. It’s all well and good saying you get a static thrust out of the Shawyer EmDrive, but I am willing to bet that it can impart no Impulse – because Time has been taken out of the equation. If it makes a static thrust, fine, but how long does it do it for – a zeroth of a second?

  5. Explain how that’s so. Last I checked, AC is not DC.

    The air flowing over a wing is DC, not AC. The air is not
    alternating back and forth over the wing.

    Sorry, but it looks like bunk.

  6. I think the telegraph is too good to be true, but that’s just me.

    Yup, it’s not a widow’s and orphan’s investment, but that hasn’t stopped me from thinking of possible improvements, at completeconfusion.com

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