Reactionless Drives

Chaos Manor View, Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Took a long – for me and the walker – walk this morning, discovering after we were well out of the house that I had two-pound ankle weights from doing exercises.  I can tell you if you want to induce fatigue in the legs, walk with ankle weights. It works – at least if you are as old as I am.

Spent the rest of the  day at the dentist getting a broken off abscessed tooth out. I should feel better now if I survive. Clots are dangerous.

It’s dinner (poached eggs) time. I may have more later. Meanwhile:


: Reactionless drives

Hello Jerry,

A bit more on reactionless drives:

First of all, the EmDrive, real or not, has nothing to do with the ‘Dean Drive’, which was a mechanical device. 

The guy who started this whole flap is a British aerospace engineer named Roger Shawyer.

He was a payload engineer who apparently specialized in stationkeeping and (supposedly) noticed that the spacecraft were moving around more than could be explained by ‘the usual suspects’. 

He came up with the idea and asked his bosses for a research budget to investigate it and was turned down firmly:  “Your idea is impossible; get back to work.”.

He quit his job, started his own company, got funding from the British government, and built and tested a thruster based on his idea.  It supposedly produced thrust.  His mathematical theory as to how it works is apparently bogus; I can’t do his math OR the math that reportedly proves his to be wrong.  I don’t care about the math; does it produce thrust or not?  He says it does.  So (at least for now) does NASA.  And the Chinese

Here is a link to his web site: .  He presented a paper at IAC2014 in Toronto that your son addressed re cubsats.  His IAC paper:

is linked on his site along with test data from several iterations of his thruster.

This is a 14 minute YouTube presentation by Shawyer explaining the history of his idea and how it works.  It includes several pictures of various EmDrive designs and a demo of a thruster (supposedly) causing a test rig weighing around 100kg to rotate on an air bearing:

This is Part 2 (15 min) of the above lecture:

and Part 3 (23 min) of the lecture:

This is a link to the NASA Eagleworks test report.

Contrary to the comment on your blog today they in fact DID do a null test, substituting a 50 ohm load for the thruster.  The load produced no thrust. 

The Chinese team at Northwestern Polytechnical University, College of Astronautics built a frustum thruster similar to Shawyer’s, tested it, and produced this report in 2011:

about which Richard Skinner made the following comment:

“Having a third-hand popular science account gives me really nothing – except to note that a measurement in thousandths of grams is not particularly a good “proof.” (I treat Chinese releases of “science” for popular consumption in just about the same way as I used to treat Soviet releases of such – i.e., with a thirty pound block of pasture salt.)”

Without taking sides re the reality of the EmDrive effect, I think that Mr. Skinner may be a bit cavalier in characterizing a paper, with experimental data, by six researchers, including at least on PhD,  from the Northwestern Polytechnical University, College of Astronautics as a ‘Chinese release of science for popular consumption’.  I suspect that he never read the paper.   Also, if he is actually interested in the papers, rather than third hand popular science accounts, you could pass him some of the links here, which include Shawyer’s work, NASA’s report, and the Chinese report.

As far as I know, the Chinese have not published anything on the technology since.  There are several possible explanations including:  “Oops!  We screwed up; lets just keep our mouths shut and hope no one notices what suckers we were and hope it goes away.” and “Holy Crap!  Do the idiots who published that report realize how important this is and what an advantage it will give us if we just keep our mouths shut and hope everybody blows it off as test error or something?”  I have no idea which, if either applies, but apparently the outfit which built and tested the device is a bit like China’s version of JPL.  They may be wrong (I suspect that even JPL may have been wrong a time or two in the past.), but the report was NOT a ‘Chinese release of science for popular consumption’.

There is a hot forum going on (since last September) over on one of the NASA blogs with a bunch of folks, including several highly qualified PhD’s, busting their humps trying to figure out if or how it works.  The first thread ran a couple hundred pages (the usual is less than 10 for a given topic), before things got so rancorous that the moderator pulled the thread.  This is the original thread:

which was cut back to 183 pages after the moderator threw out the last 50 pages or so because it was degenerating into a food fight.

The moderator started a new thread:

which is now up to 76 pages and counting. 

A related subject is a cosmological theory, Modified inertia by a Hubble scale Casmir effect (MiHsC) by a British (or Scottish, not sure) PhD Physics professor, Mike McCulloch, who claims that his theory requires neither dark matter or dark energy to explain such various observations as the rotation rates of galaxies which, to preserve GR, requires that 90+ % of the universe consist of unobservable dark matter and dark energy, the Pioneer Anomalies (which JPL explained by an EXTREMELY complicated analysis of the thermal radiation from the spacecraft), the observed motion of Proxima Centauri, which is double the speed predicted by Newton/GR and which dark matter/dark energy cannot explain…….and also predicts thrust from frustum shaped cavities the same order of magnitude as that observed by Shawyer, the Chinese, and by NASA’s Eagleworks in Houston.

Dr. McCulloch’s blog is here:

and includes at least three posts addressing EmDrive theory.

At any rate, there are (at least) three different entities who have built and tested EmDrive frustums, all of whom detected thrust far above (orders of magnitude) anything that could be produced by the same power in a microwave beam.

The experimenters have been accused of everything from incompetence to outright fraud, but to date, except for ex cathedra proclamations by a variety of self-proclaimed experts who took no part in the experiments that the measured results are impossible, no one has actually driven a stake through the heart of ANY of the experiments by Shawyer, the Chinese, or NASA’s Eagleworks.

As for me, I am not a ‘true believer’, but I am very definitely a ‘true hoper’.

Bob Ludwick

Dark matter is straining belief in the Standard Theory. First we assume that we don’t live in a unique part of the universe; then it turns out we must live somewhere unusual, and more and more hypotheses about dark matter, which we can’t see, and dark energy which we can’t detect are generated. They pile up.

The late Petr Beckmann’s book, Einstein Plus Two and the popularization by Beckmann’s friend Tom Bethell Is Einstein Necessary? claim that every crucial experiment supporting Relativity can be explained in a much more simple way by Newton if you assume a finite propagation speed – probably c – for gravity. It is not that Einstein’s Relativity, Special and General, are wrong: but they are very much more complicated, taking pages of tensor calculus with Einstein, while two or three equations comprehensible to anyone who knows Maxwell’s Equations.

This doesn’t mean that Beckmann was right or wrong; but it does give a reason for asking if he is necessary. Beckmann’s theory assumes an aether, as did Newton. Beckmann’s aether is the system gravitational field which is entailed by Earth as it moves in its orbit. For more read bethel, or Beckmann. Bethel manages without equations. Beckmann assumes standard university calculus, but not more.

Relativist friends tell me there are phenomena better explained by Relativity; Beckmann’s champions say there are not. Those who question Einstein point to spectroscopic binaries, which you would think could not exist were Special Relativity true. I haven’t the expertise to have an opinion. Obviously the consensus opinion held by a vast number of physicists is Einstein. Not so obviously, most of those physicists have never looked at the question since graduate school, nor have needed to, or wanted to. There are only a few hundred to a few thousand people with the math training to participate in the argument. I am certainly not one of them. I do admit the spectroscopic binary phenomenon seems crucial, and the Relativist argument seems lame, but that is my layman’s view.

A data point like reactionless drive – action without equal reaction —  is not an argument; facts are stubborn things. If a real reactionless drive exists, Newton must be modified; it is difficult to see how Relativity will survive.


Greg Benford is convinced that the NASA data are incorrect. He and most Western physicists think an attempt to duplicate the Chinese results should be tried but he does not believe it will work.

I continue to root for the data. Facts are real, and theories are expendable, The NASA data seem much more serious than I first believed.

One thing is certain: the existence of a working reactionless drive – mechanical or quantum – will change the world.







Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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