Trust in Thrust: Another ‘Perpetual Motion Machine’ Concept

Written by Dr Klaus L E Kaiser

Modern science has produced some miraculous advances in several fields. None of the ideas proposed or “invented” have ever seen any device that actually could produce energy out of nothing.

Of course, that idea, commonly referred to as a “Perpetual Motion machine” (PMM) and also known as a “Perpetuum mobile,” cannot exist.  The idea has been around for a thousand years or longer by now but all attempts to build one have failed.

Believe me, “Nothing comes from nothing!”

Still, new “inventions” and claims of such PMMs are among the most common proposals asking for “funding” from well-heeled backers. Most think-tanks, government outfits, patent offices, or science magazines don’t fall for them. However, some still do.

Such inventions and claims generally come with novel concepts and words, all sounding very impressive.

One of the latest PMM ideas

One of the latest PMM ideas is the “Spacecraft ‘Helical Engine’ that defies laws of physics.” It comes from Dr. David M. Burns, reportedly a NASA engineer at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, and is widely reported, e.g. in the Intl. Business Times (https://www.ibtimes.sg/nasa-engineer-invents-spacecraft-helical-engine-that-defies-laws-physics-could-revolutionize-33033).  The original article appeared on Oct.11, 2019, in the “New Scientist” magazine.

To my surprise though, I could not find Burns’ name mentioned in either the NASA or the Marshall Center’s staff lists. Nevertheless, an abstract of the report is available at the NASA Technical Report server, accessible at https://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20190029657. It reads:

A new concept for in-space propulsion is proposed in which propellant is not ejected from the engine, but instead is captured to create a nearly infinite specific impulse. The engine accelerates ions confined in a loop to moderate relativistic speeds, and then varies their velocity to make slight changes to their mass. The engine then moves ions back and forth along the direction of travel to produce thrust. This in-space engine could be used for long-term satellite station-keeping without refueling. It could also propel spacecraft across interstellar distances, reaching close to the speed of light. The engine has no moving parts other than ions traveling in a vacuum line, trapped inside electric and magnetic fields.

The full report is available (for $25.00) at https://arc.aiaa.org/doi/10.2514/6.2019-4395.

The explanation of this claimed wonder is the “relativistic mass-altering effects known to occur at near-light speed.” Read all about it at: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2218685-nasa-engineers-helical-engine-may-violate-the-laws-of-physics/ .

The article also states that “Space experts believe that materializing this technology could revolutionize space travel in the future, and it will help humans to carry out interplanetary colonization with ease.” That idea relies on its claim that “the operation of this helical engine is very simple; a ring inside a box is sprung in one direction, the box recoiling in the other” and “… spacecraft that has the capability of flying across space without using any fuel.”

Wouldn’t that be nice! Perhaps a free (energy) trip to the Moon, or to another planet in your vacation plans? Better make a reservation soon, the available seats could be taken shortly …

Not so Fast

It’s just another high-falutin’ exercise in the same PMM tenet. Of course, as always, this time, the invention/idea is really different, guaranteed to work (once perfected). It’s just in need of a few more dollars or so to get it going…

Of course, the alchemists that claimed to be able to turn lead or another metal into solid gold also needed more funds to “perfect” their methods. The “perfection” of those inventions has been ongoing for centuries already. Surely, success is just around the corner now. Perhaps the New Scientist will report on it soon. Their roster of “Who’s who at New Scientist” is lengthy and filled with the names of numerous luminaries in various fields, particularly in “Publishing and commercial.”

In short:

I doubt that the inventor will be accompanying you on any interplanetary voyage.

Actually, your “helical” engine trip may be missing a letter “L” in the center of the word.


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Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser is author of CONVENIENT MYTHS, the green revolution – perceptions, politics, and facts Convenient Myths
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Comments (10)

  • Avatar

    Bogdan Majkic

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    What makes you think that is not possible to make perpetual machine. There are also other ways and it does not need to be perpetual in a sense that you understand. You see you understanding as writer and mine as a inventor are not the same. Prove me wrong after I show you few things about some special technologies. The reason we never made PMM.s is due to lack of knowledge and understanding of many different fields of science. Also why are inventors of those machines targeted and often killed if you are all so sure that it is impossible to make this PMM;s work. What is it, they kill them for just in case, is that’s why. Thanks!

    • Avatar

      Squidly

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      No, “The reason we never made PMM” because it is not possible in this universe !!

      Holy crap … I can’t believe I still have to point out the obvious here. wow!

    • Avatar

      Vance Lunn

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      I think that it violates the Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy.

    • Avatar

      peter daley

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      This is not the first, there have been others which have been suppressed. I wish you luck with this one. There have been machines gaining a 90% from 10% input using magnetism.

  • Avatar

    Charles Higley

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    The definition of a machine is a device that does work. By definition it has to expend energy. I can easily make a desk ornament that will rotate forever, a magnetically levitated spinning top enclosed in a hard vacuum. However, the top can never be asked to do work for you or it will lose energy and stop.

    A perpetual motion device, sure, but not a machine.

  • Avatar

    Andy Rowlands

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    Interesting idea to create such a fuel-less spacecraft, though I rather suspect it may well be beyond our techincal and engineering capability for some time yet.

    • Avatar

      Tom O

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      Recognize that this “engine” requires a mass accelerator in order to achieve these relativistic affects at near light speed.. That is a helluva lot of energy being constantly expended to use the mass shifting effects to gain velocity in any given direction. Not only that, but the size and weight of the accelerator would surely render the suggested use for maintaining satellite orbits a bit impossible.

  • Avatar

    Robert Beatty

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    Why is the moon orbiting the earth, and the moon and earth orbiting the sun not an example of a PPM?

  • Avatar

    Nikola Milovic

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    The whole universe is so organized that all movements of all particles and celestial bodies are perpetuum mobile. It is an eternal movement by the laws that govern matter. The basic motions of the body as solids are due to the influence of gravity, and the motions in the subatomic region are the consequences of electromagnetism. Let’s take our solar system as an example of movement – perpetuum mobile. The sum of the potential and kinetic energy of a system (any) is a constant value and an exchange of energy takes place between them, depending on the shape of the path and its magnitudes with respect to the center of mass of the system.

    • Avatar

      Robert Beatty

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      Nikola,
      Yes, but the devil is in the detail. I think we are looking at a continuum that might consist of energy to gravity, then gravity to mass, followed by mass to energy. Details at https://bosmin.com//PSL/GRAVIMASS.pdf How does that fit?

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