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New NASA Tests Confirm Anomalous EmDrive Thrust

New NASA Tests Confirm Anomalous EmDrive Thrust

by Giulio PriscoNovember 6, 2015

Paul March, a senior staff scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, has posted an update on NASA’s work to test the controversial EmDrive propulsion, which uses electromagnetic microwave cavities to directly convert electrical energy to thrust without the need to expel any propellant.

First proposed by Satellite Propulsion Research, a research company based in the UK founded by aerospace engineer Roger Shawyer, the EM Drive concept was predictably scorned by much of the mainstream research community for allegedly violating the laws of physics, including the conservation of momentum.

However, NASA Eagleworks – an advanced propulsion research group led by Dr. Harold G. “Sonny” White at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) – investigated the EM Drive and presented encouraging test results in 2014 at the 50th Joint Propulsion Conference.

Breakthrough Space Propulsion Physics

NASAOther encouraging test results were presented in July by Martin Tajmar is a professor and chair for Space Systems at the Dresden University of Technology, interested in space propulsion systems and breakthrough propulsion physics.

On July 10, EmDrive inventor Roger Shawyer published a paper titled “Second generation EmDrive propulsion applied to SSTO launcher and interstellar probe” in the peer-reviewed journal Acta Astronautica (the paper will appear in Volume 116, November–December 2015, Pages 166–174 of the print edition of the journal), with a 5 minute audio/slide presentation with the same title, updated to include the latest test data from the University of Dresden in Germany. Shawyer emphasized that published test data of eight EmDrive thrusters from five independent sources in four countries confirm EmDrive theory and noted that:

Second generation EmDrive offers the best solution for low cost access to space, and for a near term interstellar mission.

In view of the breathtaking implications, it’s understandable that the EmDrive test results have generated heated debates in the scientific community. Some scientists viscerally criticize EmDrive research because it seems to go against the law of conservation of momentum, which is a cornerstone of physics. But other scientists have proposed theoretical explanations of the test results that conserve momentum.

For example, White thinks that the EmDrive’s thrust could be due to virtual particles in the quantum vacuum that behave like propellant ions in magneto-hydrodynamical propulsion systems, extracting “fuel” from the very fabric of space-time and eliminating the need to carry propellant. The EmDrive tests are “potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma,” noted NASA scientists in a research paper.

Current EmDrive research work in the lab is focused on spotting possible experimental errors. “I will tell you that we first built and installed a 2nd generation, closed face magnetic damper that reduced the stray magnetic fields in the vacuum chamber by at least an order of magnitude and any Lorentz force interactions it could produce,” writes March in the popular discussion forum. March describes other measures that have been taken to rule out experimental errors, and concludes:

And yet the anomalous thrust signals remain…

The NASA scientists can’t disclose more information and show the supporting data until a forthcoming peer-reviewed paper is published.

Images from NASA and Ryan Somma/Flickr.

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  • SirEvilJebus

    Make it so

  • William Morrish

    From reading Shawyer’s paper last time, it looked like any usable amount of thrust would require a multi-gigawatt powerplant. And that’s just to have a very small satellite putz about. It would be very neat if it works, but I don’t see it altering the face of space travel. It would take a long time to ramp up to usable speeds based on the numbers in his paper. I think rockets have a better thrust to weight ratio.

  • IgnoranceBeater

    Here we go again.

    It’s mind-boggling how the media overhypes and gets it wrong every god-damn time. I think they’re doing it on purpose. They don’t really give a rats’ ass about how correct it is, nor about adequate journalism, they just want attention-grabbing headlines.


    The tests just show they haven’t figured out what the cause of the anomaly is, which is what happens when you measure a force that’s barely detectable in the set-up one is trying to measure it.

    When we read the article…well, only a passing comment, really, we can read this: “However these new plus and minus thrust signatures are still contaminated by thermally induced TP center of gravity (cg) zero-thrust baseline shifts brought on by the expansion of the copper frustum and
    aluminum RF amp and its heat sink when heated by the RF, even though these copper and aluminum cg shifts are now fighting each other. (Sadly these TP cg baseline shifts are ~3X larger in-vacuum than in-air due to the better insulating qualities of the vacuum, so the in-vacuum thrust
    runs look very thermally contaminated whereas the in-air run look very impulsive.)”

    So they still didn’t even account for the termal-error possibility. And they still didn’t make a new EM-drive with a power-envelope that supersedes the old one with at least a factor of 4, which would make it FAR more easy to actually measure the force, and rule out it’s an artefact – and make it possible for other labs to check the results.

    Every time – and this is currently every few weeks – some ‘news’ of the EM drive comes up, a lot of the more gullible people and the scoop-searching media try to argument that ‘new proof’ has been delivered for the EM-drive actually working. This is not, and has not been the case. At all. It’s just doesn’t sink through. Even after all this time, there has been not a shred of actual evidence that the EM actually works *as advertised*. Or ‘works’ at all, in the sense that is meant here.

    Unless one wants to portray the EM drive as a machine where thermal or other influences or artefacts cause a minute force. Then it ‘works’. These are *still* vastly more probable than the EM-device working as it is claimed it works.

    The only news here is, that of the dozens of possible artefacts and errors, they reduced the possibility of it being due to – specifically – Lorentz force interactions. Well, great. Let’s go for the other 49 possible errors, then, each of which is more likely to be the culprit of the ‘force’ measured, then the EM actually working as advertised, by a vast margin.

    • Giulio Prisco

      Re “the tests just show they haven’t figured out what the cause of the anomaly is”

      which means that, based on current experimental evidence, the tests confirm the anomalous thrust and exclude some possible sources of experimental errors. Other teats will either find a source of errors or continue to confirm the anomalous thrust. That’s how science works.

      • IgnoranceBeater

        That the tests confirm they haven’t found the cause yet is apparent. That there is a connotation, let alone proof (or even indication) this is due to a reactionless (or virtusal-magic pushing) device, is what is the contention made here in the article, however, and it’s that which is absurd.

        It’s also the contention in the papers themselves, since they don’t claim they have found an unexpected force due to magnet, thermal, artefacts or measure-errors. You don’t *need* an explanation of virtual plasma for that, now do we?

        So let’s cut the crap with the “that’s how science work”. The claim which is explicitly or implicitly made here, about the source of the force, is the *least* likely one (to an extreme degree), instead of the most likely one. And all because it *sounds* good and cool, and one can fantasise about going to Mars in 4 weeks, and reaching the stars and all that. Just like cold fusion strikes the chords of fanfappers about cheap, eternal energy pouring into our houses. Or E-cats. Or perpetuum mobile devices.

        That, however, is not science, it’s wishful thinking disguised as science.

        The claim it’s due to the em-drive working as a reactionless device (or equivalent) has as much weight as claiming it’s due to dragon-magic.

    • PacificMaelstrom

      As somone who has actually looked into what is going on with emdrive, You clearly have no clue what you are talking about.

      • IgnoranceBeater

        “As somone who has actually looked into what is going on with emdrive”… you feel you know you what’s all about, and are entitled to say who is clueless and who not. An appeal to self-proclaimed authority, thus.

        Right, right. That sounds like a real compelling argument.

        • PacificMaelstrom

          On the contrary, it isnt an arguement at all. I am just telling you to do your homework and read and understand the sourse material so you don’t sound clueless. Seriously, Im not kidding, do your own investigation. It looks like you got your info from one of many “skeptical” articles, which have been (ignorantly) pushing the same glaring errors and misinformation.

          • IgnoranceBeater

            Well, if it isn’t an argument, then what use is it in a debate? It’s a mere opinion, in that case. In which case, you will agree I can give you a response in the same way (reciprocity).

            I am just telling you that *you* should actually try to use some logical thought and reason and if you want to discuss something, at least try to use rational arguments instead of just spouting your personal opinions. Seriously, I’m not kidding neither. All assertions you make, without any (logically valid) arguments, are as much worth as the next one, which is as good as nothing. A mere opinion can’t elevate itself above any other mere opinion.

            So, please, follow your own advise and do a FAR better job at doing your homework, then you did now, because you seem severely lacking in logical discerning what is being said or claimed. Maybe start with comprehensive reading, I might suggest.

            I came to my conclusion of my own, btw. (maybe you need to be handheld by ‘fanfapper’ articles?). I’ve read a lot of the sceptical and non-sceptical ones. I find the sceptical ones make (far) more logical sense. Period.

          • PacificMaelstrom

            I’ve read not just the (skeptical) articles but also the SOURCE MATERIAL. In order to make your “own conclusion”, you need to read the SOURCES, not merely choose between two popular viewpoints.

            There is no point in trying to “debate” you since you don’t know the subject you are trying to debate.

            For example, you said:

            “So they still didn’t even account for the thermal-error possibility”

            But you have no clue what that even means. It just seems like some sort of weakness to you, so you picked up on it and parroted it, but you clearly have no conceptual understanding of what is meant by “thermal-error”, because if you did, you would not be talking as if it were a deal breaker.

            Further, you say “there has been not a shred of actual evidence that the EM actually works *as advertised*. Or ‘works’ at all, in the sense that is meant here.”

            WHAT? Not a “shred” of evidence? That is ludicrous. There is far more than a “shred” of evidence. So far, at least 3 independent labs (China, Germany, and NASA) (and two commercial efforts) have confirmed the phenomenon. To say there is “no evidence” is… just idiotic. The possibility that something may ultimately be dis-proven IS NOT grounds for saying their is NO EVIDENCE for it. There is very clearly evidence. So far, the Em Drive has been ONLY and REPEATEDLY been CONFIRMED. Even in a VACUUM. And now (in this latest news) in a vacuum without ambient magnetic fields.

            And yet you and people like you keep saying there is no evidence at all. It seems like some form of pathological denial, but I want to believe the best in people so I assume you are merely ignorant.

            That is why I suggested you do your homework.

          • IgnoranceBeater

            “I’ve read not just the (skeptical) articles but also the SOURCE
            MATERIAL. In order to make your “own conclusion”, you need to read the
            SOURCES, not merely choose between two popular viewpoints.”

            I have done the same. Alainco provided me (and everyone else, and always, even to the point of being totally annoying) a truckload of links. I’ve said this again and again: don’t you people never read beyond your own posts and the reply on it?

            I’ll repeat it, once again: the VAST majority of those links to ‘sources’ where COMPLETELY worthless, in a scientific context. It were blogs, book excerpts, fora, etc. for believers to believers, who were continuously preaching to the choir and referencing eachother, like some mental incestiousity. More then 80% was completely worthless. Fact.

            Then there were papers. Most of those papers, I repeat, were not peer-reviewed. Most of them were nor replicated by independent third parties. Only a handful of them remain. Most of THOSE claimed to note “excess heat”, nothing more, nothing less. Note that ‘excess heat’ does not equal ‘fusion’. Furthermore, most of them – and some of those papers actually acknowledged this themselves – could not even reliably reproduce the effect themselves.

            Also, of the few remaining, it was a complete mess of mixed results that sometimes even contradicted eachother. Some claimed heat excess, but no neutrons, some claimed neutrons, but no heat excess. Some claimed gamma rays, some didn’t. Some claimed isotopes in the waste, others found nothing. And all possible variations in between. This makes NOT for a compelling case, I must say.

            Then , there are those, like the one about the lasers, that one can ask oneself if it’s even ‘cold’ fusion anymore. It’s not because the surrounding material remains cool, that the high energies involved don’t count anymore. In fact, some of the papers say themselves one could debate if it’s ‘cold’ and if it’s ‘fusion’ – they claim it still is nuclear, though. Which is still unproven, but at least isn’t as farfetched anymore.

            Then, some just do not provide any details on their research, or aren’t even really ‘papers’ in the strict sense. Alainco ALWAYS gives the link to COLD FUSION:REALITY or FICTION? by Larry Forsley. Note that this is a powerpoint representation, NOT a paper. It CLAIMS that many researchers have duplicated their research and proven cold fusion, but when I check – you guys never seem to do that – he DOES NOT give the exact titles of the papers, nor any direct references to it. He, for instance, says

            Pierre Carbonelle has replicated his findings, but nowhere to you see a link, nor a reference, nor even the name or title of that paper. And that is the same with all of the people he names that he claims have replicated it: nowhere is the ACTUAL paper to be seen, nor even to be researched, since he gives absolutely no info or reference to it!!

            For a scientific mind, this becomes immidiately apparent. You guys never seem to note that.

            But what it means is, that all his claims have, in fact, NOT been substantiated.

            Another very, very frequent link you guys use, is the one to SPAWAR. I’ve repeated this again and again: that set-up (as many others- was FLAWED. They claimed to have measured neutrons, but they DID NOT provide a control mechanism. This means, while they *assumed* the neutrons came from the experiment, there is NO WAY to know for sure what the source actually was. This makes the entire claim that the experiment was creating neutrons unreliable and unproven. Why don’t you guys see that? THAT is how science work; a claim must be substantiated by scientific evidence, which follow the scientific methodology. When it doesn’t, and you do only half work, you don’t have ‘half proof’, you have NO proof.

            Now, back to the em-drive. Let me explain it to you ONCE AGAIN, since you simply do not seem to comprehend:

            First of all, I know it’s annoying to your fanfapping spree, but the thermal error IS there. He even said so himself. Secondly, your rebuttal is really, really weak. I mean, really? Is that the best counterargument you can do? “You have no clue what it means?” How self-centered and arrogant can you be? did you give ANY logical and rationally argumented counterclaim to what I said? No. Enough said.

            And no, they did NOT provide ANY evidence, nor have they ‘proven’, nor did they make ‘a strong case’ for a reactionless drive (or equivalent). What they did, was measuring a tiny force on the brink of what they can measure, under complex conditions with variables they have not all accounted for. Nothing more, nothing less. Your insistence that they HAVE showed evidence of a EM-drive only shows you are incapable in comprehending the difference between what they’ve measured, and the claim they do about the cause of that measurement.

            I’ll try my analogy ONCE AGAIN. Try to keep up and follow the argumentation, this time. Say I claim that the tiny force they measured, is due to the dragon-magic of my magical dragon in my garage. I now claim: “Look, and THREE independent labs have measured and confirmed that force! YOU SEE! There IS evidence for my magical dragon!”

            Now, do you NOT understand the fallacy and logical error you are making here? Are you mentally impaired, that you are incapable of noting that NO proof has been delivered for my magical dragon AT ALL?

            Now, let me continue in the same way as you did, being as irrational and making the same logical error:

            “The possibility that something may ultimately be dis-proven IS NOT grounds for saying their is NO EVIDENCE for it. Therefore, the possibility that my theory of dragon-magic might be disproven, is NO GROUNDS for saying there is no evidence for it.”

            Don’t you realise how stupid this sort of reasoning is?

          • PacificMaelstrom

            No I don’t “see how stupid it is.” It isn’t stupid. And you saying it is doesn’t make it so. Yes 3 labs HAVE PROVIDED EVIDENCE. There is no if, and’s or buts.

            Magic dragon? You mean the FORCE WHICH HAS BEEN OBSERVED EVERY TIME? Pathetic.

            “Excess heat” “Fusion” “Cold fusion”???? WTF thats NOT EVEN THE RIGHT TOPIC. These are totally distinct things. No one says EmDrive is
            related to cold fusion, and by conflating the two, you are way off base. It also shows you don’t know much about what you are talking about… yet again. If you think the EmDrive is comparable to (the lack of evidence for) cold fusion, you clearly haven’t looked at the Emdrive info closely… that’s what I’ve been saying all along.

            “Fanfapping”… yeah real mature.

            “Thermal error” refers to thermal expansion of the test apparatus,
            there are various reasons why it is very unlikely that thermal effects are the
            source of the observed forces. Most obviously, the observed response is
            instantaneous, not consistent with a gradual warm up. There, I told you because you still didn’t know.

            The forces measured in the NASA experiment are not “on the
            brink of what [the apparatus] can measure”… that is another mischaracterization
            that is being pushed around. The observed effect is an order of magnitude above
            the instrument resolution in the NASA experiment. Other tests show the em-drive visibly moving.

            There definitely is a force. The question is why, and does it work in space.

          • IgnoranceBeater

            Of course it is. I just explained it to you. I used the EXACT same reasoning as you did. So it’s not ‘my saying it’, it’s *your* reasoning that doesn’t make sense.

            You have not made any logical rebuttal. Or maybe you didn’t understand, still.

            Let me say it again: there is a difference between the measurement, and the claim of the cause for that measurement. Since you do not agree with this, I give you my analogy with the magical dragon. Say I (or whomever) make the claim the tiny force is due to dragon-magic. Now I say (exactly as you do): “Look, THREE independent labs have measured that force! This is EVIDENCE for my magical dragon!” I’m using your words here, btw. It’s YOUR reasoning I’m using, to show you the absurdity of it.

            Now… is the contention that, because three labs measured a tiny force, *in any way* indicative that they’ve proven it’s due to dragon magic?


            Exactly the same goes for the EM-drive.

            I don’t know what you find so difficult to comprehend about it. It’s as clear day.

            Temper, temper. Of course cold fusion is not the same as the em-drive. But it’s the same kind of arguments and ‘evidence’. Note: the same KIND. I wasn’t saying it’s the same thing. I just thought I would tackle that one as well, since I’ve been discussing this too. Your insistence that that proves “I conflate the two” and hence the conclusion that “I know nothing about it” only underscores your lack of comprehensive reading. I clearly said, in the second half of my post: “and now, back to the EM-drive”. This *should* have made it clear to you, that I wasn’t confounding the two. But you didn’t note that …yet again.

            Or maybe you did, since next thing you say is: “If you think the EmDrive is comparable to (the lack of evidence for) cold fusion”. Indeed, I do think that. There is, indeed, the same lack of evidence, and the same kind of argumentation and reasonings going on in both cases. I could also make a third similar case, of the so called E-cats of Rossi. With the difference that is clearly a scam. Yet, fanfappers use the same arguments and reasonings, with the same level of ‘evidence’. If you understood, why do you now act as if I confounded both things. They show similar aspects, yes, and THAT is why I mention both of them.

            The reason, if you might not get it, why I say that there is the same level of evidence, is because for all three there is NO actual scientific evidence of the machine working as it is claimed it works.

            Yes, I know you disagree, but you have not provided any argument for it. The only thing you repeated, again and again, is that they measured a force *and therefore* they have provided evidence for the em-drive. You simply do not see the difference between measuring something, and claiming a certain cause is the source for it. I’ve tried – oh, how I tried – to make you see the error in your ways/reasoning, but you just do not *want* to see it, and instead of argumenting, you simply refuse to acknowledge even the most basic of logical reasonings.

            Fanfapping is not mature, but it describes it well enough. Certainly to people who claim “I have no clue” and “I should do my homework” and that I’m a “pathosceptic”, etc. Let’s be honest here. You can’t expect me to mince my words and be diplomatic, if you aren’t doing any effort neither. I’m a great proponent of free speech, but also of reciprocity, after all. Which means, I react to someone the way he/she is reacting to me. The more civil one is towards me, the more civil I am towards them. So basically, if you want to push the debate to something more amiable, try to withold arrogant remarks in your own posts. Yes, yes, I know you may think it’s not arrogant, but just ‘true’, but so do I with my remarks. I repeat: reciprocity.

            I know very well what a thermal error is. So you “didn’t have to tell me” (aka, what I just said; it’s arrogant in a *personal* manner, not disputing any arguments I gave. You’re basically making an ad hominem remark.) I do not agree with the argument, however. It first would have to be demonstrated how ‘instantaneous’ it really is. After all, do note the discrepancy between the results of White and Tajmar; one claims it’s immediate, the other claims the opposite. It’s common sense to rule out the thermal influences, I don’t see where you have any problems with that. Ofcourse, it is not ‘proven’ that it is a thermal cause, and I never claimed that. It’s *you* who make claims of ‘the source’ of what they measured is due to a reactionless drive. I make no such claims. I only note that they’ve measured a tiny force, and they haven’t been able to pinpoint the cause yet. I also note that it’s FAR more likely that a far less exotic source is responsible for it, than a reactionless device. And lastly, I claim it makes more sense to first look at the more likely causes than at the (far more) unlikely causes, and since a reactionless drive is EXTREMELY unlikely, claiming the measurement is due to a reactionless drive makes no logical sense whatsoever.

            And yes, it IS at the brink of what they can measure. It’s barely enough TO be able to tell there is something effectively there. One of THE obvious things to do, would be to make a far stronger one, so the force becomes an order of two bigger. In that case, a lot of experimental noise would be eliminated, and it would become far easier to pinpoint the cause of it. Why they don’t do that is beyond me… I know you’re going to deny what I said about it being ‘on the brink’, so let me give you an example: in his former research White claimed to have measure 50 micronewton one way, but only 16 micronewton in the other direction. That means 34 micronewton just ‘disappeared’; that’s two thirds of the supposedly measured force!! OBVIOUSLY, this is highly indicative of an artefact or measure-error, because if the engine worked as advertised, it would have shown 50 micronewton in BOTH directions. And that’s why it’s not a good idea working with such tiny forces. The slightest imbalance or error, and all or the majority of your ‘force’ dissipates into nothing.To rule out false positives (or also negatives, in fact) you need to crank up the force, so the disturbances by noise are far more minute than the actual force measured.

            Yes, there might be a force. But, as said numerous times by now, that does not equal evidence for a reactionless device.

          • PacificMaelstrom

            Youre using things I havent said to argue against something you dont even want to understand because you think you already know the anwser.

            Its funny how you think youre doing the world a service when youre really just being a condescending moron. Maybe if alternate universes exist, theres one where you arent an idiot.

            Im done.

          • IgnoranceBeater

            Not said? This is your direct quote: “So far, the Em Drive has been ONLY and REPEATEDLY been CONFIRMED.” You can find it back in your own post.

            The EM-drive, as described to work (aka, as a reactionless device or equivalent) has EXACTLY as much been confirmed as dragon-magic is.

            You content there has been ‘provided evidence’ because they measured a force they haven’t pinpointed the cause of yet. I – for arguments’ sake – claim it’s due to dragon-magic, and claim the same thing as you, but that dragon magic is the cause and has now been confirmed, since they measured that force.

            So, I rather think you saying “but your putting words in my mouth I never said” is rather a cop-out. You just realised your stance didn’t make any logical sense.

            “just being a condescending moron.”

            U-huh. I guess that is ‘mature’, then? 😉

            Imho, the one who doesn’t want to understand is you.

            You’re done, indeed. But if you feel like actually using arguments instead of ad honimem attacks, feel free to try again.

    • mainstream physics cannot explain EM-Drive (and many other unsolved problems). It’s going to take a LOT of study to catch up, re-write science/physics, and understand this stuff. That is why the status-quote mainstream resist so much, they’re afraid of the work. (and losing power/control)

      • IgnoranceBeater

        Actually, mainstream physics can perfectly give several possible explanations for the measured force, each of which is *far* more likely than a reactionless device made by a microwave-oven.

        That’s not the say any single thing, at this moment, has been proven to be the cause, but it does mean you don’t need the *least* likely explanation to be considered the most likely, as the less-sceptical inclined persons around here seems to think. That does not make any logical sense at all.

  • Jack Ryan

    Well we just have to shoot down an ufo, without too much damage, cause they seem to have figured out how this anomaly works as they use some kind of advanced EM drive, many seem to have separate domes beeing thrust provided from the dome beneath with the help of a rotationary effect created between the 2 domes and running on…solar power.