NASA engineers devised a 'helical engine' that can produce 99% of the speed of light


By Stevebidmead

NASA engineer David Burns used the special relativity to devise a “ helical engine ” that could theoretically accelerate to 99% of the speed of light.

NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)-Helical Engine
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20190029657

NASA engineer's 'helical engine' may violate the laws of physics | New Scientist
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2218685-nasa-engineers-helical-engine-may-violate-the-laws-of-physics/

Near-infinite specific thrust from drive that ignores physics | Ars Technica
https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/10/corkscrewing-bouncy-ion-drive-would-provide-thrust-in-different-universe/

NASA Engineer Claims 'Helical Engine' Concept Could Reach 99% The Speed of Light
https://www.sciencealert.com/no-this-new-space-engine-isn-t-going-to-break-physics

The mechanism of the helical engine itself is simple, and NewScientist uses movies to show the mechanism clearly.

Suppose you have an object that can move back and forth in a box on the floor. In addition, friction is not considered in this space. In the following figure, the left side is 'rear' and the right side is 'front'.


Suppose this object is moved forward using a spring attached to the box. Then, the box moves backward by the “ law of action / reaction (the third law of motion) ”.


When an object collides with the front of the box ...


Due to the collision, the box moves forward and the object moves backward.


The object that moved backwards now collides behind the box. This causes the box that was moving forward to start moving backward while the object moves forward. When there is no energy loss due to friction etc., the size of the collision between the object and the front part of the box and the collision between the object and the rear part of the box are the same, so the box only moves periodically back and forth, There is no such thing as 'going to one or the other.'


However, if the mass of the object increases when it collides with the front part and decreases when it collides with the rear part, the magnitude of the collision in the front part exceeds the magnitude of the collision in the rear part, resulting in the box moving forward. The



The helical engine devised adopts the conclusion of the special relativity theory that 'the object gets mass when it approaches the speed of light'. Ions are used as the “moving object back and forth” in the previous figure, and a strong magnetic field is applied to accelerate the ions colliding in front of the engine to increase mass, while decelerating the ions when colliding behind the engine. It is a mechanism to get thrust by reducing the mass. According to Mr. Burns, if the helical engine is driven for a long time, it can be realized at a speed of 99% of the speed of light.

However, the helical engine is just a concept and has various problems. According to trial calculations, to obtain 1 N thrust, 165 MW of power and a huge engine with a length of 200 m and a diameter of 12 m are required. Furthermore, a “space without friction” is also required.

Chris Lee, a physics professor at Fonttis University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, said, “When you accelerate an ion by an electric field, the electric field has a force pushed back by the ion, so this engine doesn't run.” It is. Mr. Burns frankly acknowledged the problems for realization, and “inventing an idea that could be put into practical use is really difficult. Is worth it. '

in Science, Posted by log1k_iy