The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Space Propulsion Idea  (Read 3292 times)

Offline Supercryptid

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 606
    • View Profile
    • http://www.angelfire.com/sc2/Trunko
Space Propulsion Idea
« on: 04/03/2005 21:39:18 »
I've thought of a possible new type of propulsion system that could be used by spacecraft. I'll explain how this works, according to my knowledge. Of course, I may have a fallacious understanding of some physics concepts, so I'm relying on you to correct me where I'm wrong.

First off, my proposed design eliminates the need for an onboard reaction mass because it 'creates' this from its own energy source. The energy source can be whatever you want it to be (chemical, nuclear, antimatter, whatever you see fit). Now, most of you realize that the vacuum is full of quantum vacuum fluctuations, which are composed of virtual particles:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_particle

According to this article (and others that I have seen), virtual particles can be made into real particles if energy is transferred to them. Using a powerful electromagnetic field, these virtual photons in the vacuum can be made into real particles. Let's say that this EM field surrounds the ship (or engine alone), and is so powerful that it forces large quantities of particle pairs to be created, so that there is somewhat of a fluid "cloud" of charged particles around the ship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetohydrodynamic_drive

The next step requires an analogy. There is a submarine propulsion design, called magnetohydrodynamic propulsion (or the caterpillar drive) that uses electromagnetic fields to propel the submarine through the water. This is because sea water contains positive and negative ions with which the EM fields can interact and push against. This gives these submarines the ability to move up to 15 km/h.

Back to the ship. Let's say that the ship has a 'caterpillar drive' similar to the submarine. The cloud of particles around the space craft is analogous to sea water, in that it is fluid and contains charged particles. Because of this, I would assume that the EM fields produced by the caterpillar drive could push against this particulate fluid, and thus pushing the ship forward. Because the primary EM field is constantly producing real particle-antiparticle pairs from the vacuum, there is always a source of particles for the caterpillar drive to push against. This requires only an onboard power source and no carried reaction mass.

I realize that these antiparticle pairs might spontaneously annihilate into neutral particles (like photons), so that might potentially hinder this propulsion concept. Any ideas on how to prevent that? The antimatter might also damage the ship, but let's say there's some protection against that.

So, does my concept work in theory? What kind of acceleration would I expect it to have? What amount of energy might I need to power it?


 

Offline gsmollin

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 749
    • View Profile
Re: Space Propulsion Idea
« Reply #1 on: 07/03/2005 02:40:35 »
Without getting into details, you would need E=mc^2 amount of energy. Note that energy has mass, so you are going to have a reaction mass. And since momentum (p=mv) is always conserved, you need a reaction mass to change your momentum. While it is possible to create particles from the vacuum, it does take at least E=mc^2 amount of energy to do it. That's a lot of energy. It may be more efficient to carry some fuel.
 

Offline chimera

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 475
    • View Profile
Re: Space Propulsion Idea
« Reply #2 on: 07/03/2005 03:09:00 »
Well, I think it's not without merit, anyway, although I agree with gsmollin on keeping Albert E. in mind in these matters.

A very interesting article on how these particles could maybe be turned into the weirdest 'anti-gravitic' vs. anti-static envelopes:

http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20020323/bob9.asp

Those micro black holes are also hypothesised to occur during ball lightning etc. so maybe high plasma physics might come up with a real cute solution to cheating inertia.

 

Offline TECHFACTOR

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 15
  • Too Boldly Go!!!
    • View Profile
Space Propulsion Idea
« Reply #3 on: 13/12/2008 21:37:32 »
TECHFACTOR:I also have pondered this particle locomotion. It seems too me that if you could create A wave pattern that could be shaped by your emitters and then infuse the particles into the wave pattern;giving the wave physicality that it could work as A propeller A fin,wing or many different appendages.the possibilities are endless!!! goodluck :TECHFACTOR:
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Space Propulsion Idea
« Reply #3 on: 13/12/2008 21:37:32 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums