A radio frequency (RF) resonant cavity thruster, EmDrive, is a controversial proposed type of propellentless electromagnetic thruster with a microwave cavity, designed to produce thrust from an electromagnetic field inside the cavity.
Researchers José Croca and Paulo Castro from the Centre for Philosophy of Sciences of the University of Lisbon in Portugal suggest that not only could pilot wave theory explain the mysterious behavior of the EM drive, it could help to make it even more powerful.
Applying a pilot wave theory to NASA’s EM drive frustum [or cone] could explain its thrust without involving any external action applied to the system, as Newton’s third law would require.
Currently, the majority of physicists subscribe to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, which states that particles do not have defined locations until they are observed.
Pilot wave theory, on the other hand, suggests that particles do have precise positions at all times, but in order for this to be the case, the world must also be strange in other ways – which is why many physicists have dismissed the idea.
Pilot wave theory says that an object radiates a wave field, and it is then pulled or attracted to regions of that field that have higher intensity or energy density. In that way, the wave field is actually ‘piloting’ the object, hence the name.
Through modelling, the team showed that a sufficiently strong and asymmetrical electromagnetic field could act as a pilot wave. And that’s exactly what the EM drive generates.
Because the cone, or frustum, of the EM drive is asymmetrical, it would also generate an asymmetrical wave field. As a result, the walls of the EM drive would move towards the areas of higher intensity, creating thrust.
While that might sound pretty out there, this was also actually a possible solution put forward by the NASA Eagleworks researchers in their seminal paper last year where they first reported the thrust generated by their device:
“[The] supporting physics model used to derive a force based on operating conditions in the test article can be categorized as a nonlocal hidden-variable theory, or pilot-wave theory for short.”
If a pilot wave does explain the thrust behind the device, then it could also lead to a way to make the propulsion system even more powerful in future, and it’s as simple as tweaking the shape.
“We have seen that the effect could be enhanced using a different shape for the frustum,” said Castro. “In fact a trumpet exponential form is expected to increase the thrust.”
Journal of Applied Physical Science International – A Possible Explanation for the Em drive based on a Pilot-wave theory
Scientific literature refers to a strange observed phenomenon, “impossible” according to traditional physics, looking at the experimental feasibility of the so called “EM Drive”. The authors have called it an Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio-Frequency Cavity in Vacuum. Here we present a possible explanation for the observed thrust based on the conceptual framework of Eurhythmic Physics, a kind of pilot-wave theory aiming at bridging the gap between quantum and macroscopic systems. Applied to the present system, a generalized guidance condition could explain the claimed absence of reaction of the material of the drive on the enclosed fields.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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25 thoughts on “Pilot Wave theory suggests Trumpet shaped Emdrive would have more thrust”
Coming from a family with some Hidden-Variable Physics expertise, I understand that related hypotheses are generally eminently and elegantly testable. There should be no debate remaining with a well-constructed experiment.
Hamster on wheel generate more power than this engine. I say we should dedicate hamster power to get us to mars.
I’ve got to step away from following politics for a while. My mind misread the headline as “Pilot Wave theory suggests Trump shaped Emdrive would have more thrust”, and I couldn’t fathom why that would work.
Reading the article, I’m not sure why a trumpet-shaped drive would work either, but that’s more fundamental.
Kind of like a quantum air hockey table.
Look at the thing…it looks like something some guy made in his garage back in the 1890’s.
Brian, I understand that you might want to move away from the old comments regime, but on this forum, who’s responding to what matters — please make sure comments can be displayed in threaded order. Quotes alone aren’t sufficient as they can elide part of an argument.
Please… if the scientists wanted to prove / disprove this device they would just test it. And I’m not talking about testing a device that create 1 millinewton of force that can easily be attributed to experiment errors. Build one that generates a few newtons and if it works no one will have any more doubts.
But I guess perpetual doubt means perpetual funding so why end it.
The curved mouth of the trumpet is called its “Bell”.
Maybe every rocket needs a bell – even a propellantless one.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Build it and power a space craft with it and I am in.
I think it is arrogant of most physicists to think that they already know everything about reality and just blanketly deny that something else maybe possible. I don’t know if this thing works or not, though I do hope that it does, but I think it is good that there are some that are trying to think outside the box.
Any physicist who “think that they already know everything about reality” cease to be physicists and become politicians. In other words, you know nothing about what you arrogantly pontificate.
R u serious? Brian himself made front of this saying that the emdrive could power the battleship Yamamoto in space. Just so we’re clear, the device consists of a cone and a magnetron. Talking about pontification and arrogance? You wish something exciting would come along, just like I do everyday when I search for a new story in the news…. You hold out hope for a new discovery in this age of the mundane. We all do. I just don’t believe cones push forward when you dump microwaves into them. What you do get is heat deposition. Combi talking about center of mass and gravitation… How many megatons of mass are needed for appreciable gravitation? Answer: a $#@& load. Sometimes around here people think you need to disprove bad science. Nope, burden is on the BS-er.
Scaryjello, have you ever seen a radiometer that has black and white vanes that spin when you hold it in sunlight. That happens because light photons have momentum. Microwaves also have momentum and if you put a directional microwave antenna inside an enclosure so that the microwaves reinforce in one direction and cancel in the opposite direction, their momentum would also add in one direction and cancel in the opposite. If sunlight can move the vanes on a radiometer, why can’t microwaves move their enclosure.
an RF engineer
Using the same principle one could put a fan on a sailboat and sail across the Atlantic. You may know RF, but it seems high school physics eludes you.
Skeptic: If I remember correctly, radiometers go backwards from what you would think from photon momentum. Don’t they work from warmed air coming off of darker surfaces in a partial vacuum?
Anyway, the photon momentum value is rather small… .
Wow, talk about a closed mind.
Quantum theories guarantee that our physics is not what we think it is and here you are, denying that branch of science outright because “it offends your sensibilities” (or some paraphrase thereof)..
That’s amazingly ignorant and rides along with those that still believe the Earth is flat.
I think we need to differentiate between the EM drive which produces small levels of thrust but which has been verified by honest scientists (Eagleworks) versus the EM drive of the fever dream physics free adherents.
To me there is something to it. Shawyer’s explanation and his expectations of thrust scaling with increased Q factor are crazy and obviously nonstarters (violation of COE). But there is *something* there and it merits further explanation.
In the meantime if it turns out to be a test for Pilot wave theory then that’s pretty neat and would be Nobel prize worthy if it works.
So where i’m at: there is something significant that has been observed and the proposed theory (Shawyer’s) doesn’t work. Further experimentation and a better explanation are needed.
It’s one thing to build this to test Pilot Wave theory, its quite another to build it in order to scam the space industry. So far they can’t even rule out thermal expansion.
If smaller cones,for example a half open honeycomb structure were arranged inside would this increase the surface area and therefore thrust?
Sure, as long as you make a donation to their research. Good idea!
The only ones asking for donations are a couple of private DIY builders with kickstarter campaigns (rather small ones). Up to you if you choose to donate or not.
Far from Randal Mills or Andrea Rossi’s millionaire “exploratory funding” campaigns, that really are their main source of income.
The rest are either self funded or made by labs with their regular, unremarkable budgets.
Gee, Paul March from NASA EW had to assemble the frustum at home with store bought copper sheets, and Martin Tajmar from TU Dresden had trouble getting the required parts for their first replication (too expensive).
Actually called a “horn” to transmit or receive microwaves.
It might be an asymmetry in the neutrino balance. I would bet on that. Now go look again.
Could be dark matter piling up on the narrow end too.
But, in the off chance they are on to something mindblowing, then please, PLEASE let Dan Lantz go for a space ship ride.
I’m going with center of mass-energy isn’t coincident with center of mass. Device is its own gravity tractor.
New comment system still makes me sad.
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