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.”
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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