What is the EMdrive and how does it break the laws of physics?
The Emdrive, also known as the RF resonant cavity thruster, is a fuel-free thruster that can theoretically revolutionize space travel and requires no fuel to run. It can be used in rockets and space crafts. It was proposed by an English aerospace engineer Roger Shawyer in 2001 and was deemed impossible by the scientific community because it breaks Newton’s third law, which states “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
But if it was devised in 2001, why is it relevant now? Recently, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is an agency of the US Department of Defense, is taking strides towards making it a reality. In 2016 NASA tested the EMdrive in space and it might be what physicists claim it to be… impossible for us but not a dead end for other methods of transportation in space. Or is it?
The EMdrive sounds very complicated and typically AP physics students have the skills to work with it but essentially it is relatively simple when broken down into more basic steps. Photons are bouncing in the metal cone cavity of the EMdrive which causes the pointy side of the cone to generate thrust because there is more focused energy on the pointy end and thrust is generated. Photons, or electromagnetic waves or radiation, are produced when charged particles accelerate, such as the act of “wiggling” an electron back and forth. This defies Newton’s third law because the photons which are in the cone produce no energy and generate so much for what they are worth. So how can the EMdrive generate thrust when not much thrust is put in? That is why it is believed by some to be an impossible feat.
On the contrary, when Nasa tested the EMdrive in 2016, they did not account for some factors, and when the Emdirve moved, it was concluded that other factors made it move which turned out to be correct. So NASA tested it again recently and this time they accounted for other factors; they have recently leaked papers where there is proof that the EMdrive actually does work. EMDrive generates a force of 1.2 millinewtons per kilowatt in a vacuum which is a lot for something that soo less force is put in. The thrust to power ratio is 1.2-0.1 and is an amazing process because one is getting more force than he or she puts in. NASA plans on tweaking it and making it more powerful so the machine can support rockets; it is a fuelless engine and has the potential to revolutionize space travel if NASA and its brightest minds can completely figure it out.