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.”
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.