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.
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.”