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Monday, October 17, 2011

Big Engineering 45 - Mach Effect Accelerationless Drive


   I originally said I expected to limit the Big Engineering series to not including interstellar travel because we didn't know how to do it.

   However
The Woodward effect is a hypothesis proposed by James F. Woodward ,[he calls it the Mach effect] a physicist at California State University, Fullerton, that energy-storing ions experience transient mass fluctuations when accelerated. While some have expressed doubt about this hypothesis, no respected theoreticians have yet disproved it....
If the Woodward effect were real, and if an engine could be designed to exploit it, the basic concept would be that the engine would pull ions when their mass was lower, and push them when it was higher. The result would be steady acceleration
So the theory is consistent with current theory. But does it work? Well
In 2004, John G. Cramer, Curran W. Fey, and Damon V. Cassisi of the University of Washington reported that they had conducted tests of Woodward's hypothesis, but that results were inconclusive.

On January 20, 2006 Paul March and Andrew Palfreyman reported experimental results at an American Institute of Physics conference. Test results exceeded Woodward's predictions by one to two orders of magnitude.

In 2006, researchers at the Austrian Research Centers reported results of a study of the effect using a very sensitive thrust balance. Results did not seem to be in full agreement with the findings claimed by Woodward and collaborators. However, given the importance of the subject the researchers recommended further tests.

     Inconclusive is not exactly conclusive but we are talking about experiments at the edge of the technological envelope that makes the cold fusion stuff look simple. Those look like 3 experiments which have found something where conventionally they should have found nothing. If I asked myself to bet on whether the effect is real (and I am) then I would bet fairly heavily that it is.
 
     In which case once we have something in orbit (ie zero-G) we have acceleration requiring no fuel so long as power can be produced. With fusion, which we do not have but clearly is possiblel sometime, that gives us a space drive.
Build a true Mach-Lorentz Thruster — assuming such a thing is possible — and if the technology scales the way Woodward believes it must, the outer Solar System is reachable in less than a month. In fact, the travel times are limited largely by the accelerations a human crew could endure. Clearly, the implications for interstellar missions are interesting indeed. But we’re a long way from building such devices.
  That presumably means a 1G acceleration or slightly above.Personally I am not that concerned about it for travel within the solar system. We could build atomic powered ion rockets in orbit today if we had the prbital industry - that is simply engineering.  If such rockets managed only 0.01 Gs they would make the outer system reachable in under 10 months (distance goes up with the square root of the acceleration) which is more than good enough  to settle the Solar System. My concern is not about how it will be done but finding a baseline, using current technology or stuff reasonably assumable from it. Perhaps this drive will be developed so quickly that it will be used to settle the Solar System but we can do it with what we have now.

    However 1 G acceleration gets you close to the speed of light. which would mean a trip to Alpha Centauri in about 6 years. Somewhat less for the voyagers because of relativistic effects but not much so.

  That is twice as long as Magellen's circumnavigation of the world 1519-22 but far shorter than Marco Polo's travel to China 1259-95 (and neither had communication with home and other conveniences). I think we can take Odyssesus' 10 years from Troy to Thebes as exageration (we could fly it in an hour now). From the 1940s to 1973 people took the £10 assisted passge to live in Australia not expecting ever to return. So if a slower than light spaceship like this is possible then it would be enough to settle nearby star systems. And if the theory is right, which the experimental results suggest relatively lightly, then it is possible. And continuous expansion from their equally feasible.

  And if it is possible it should be done and probably will be 2 or 3 decades after we have cheap and reliable enough travel to orbit to kickstart space industrialisation/settlement [2012/13].

   (The reader may consider what is possible with both an accelerationless drive and cold sleep but I will leave that until the latter shows serious progress.) 

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Comments:
Hi Neil - I think you are being a lttle economic with other aspects. To accelerate a mass constantly for a long time requires that your power goes up exponentially. Acceleration is mathematically rate of change of velocity, and as the kinetic energy of the mass is proportional to the square of the velocity, as you get faster you need ever more energy to go that little bit more. Sandy Henderson
 
Sandy, that is not correct. At the Newtonian level, using the second law, F = ma, for a hypothetical engine as described by Neil, capable of constant thrust (force), m fixed, then the acceleration (a) will be constant too, as you can see.

Any real life spacecraft will also be affected by planetary, solar and galaxy gravitational forces which will be components of the net force on the craft (ex atmosphere and assumed to be less than the engine thrust).

Rationally as work is done by the engine over time the KE of the craft would increase, that is the purpose of the engine.
 
If ML Thruster are possible the problem to move stuff from earth to orbit and return will be solved.
Just have an acceleration of 1.1 g and the spaceship can take off from land and move to orbit at a very low cost.

By the way, Woodward last experiment show a lesser but reversible effect (this would rule out measurement errors). Woodward (hoping his health last long enough to complete his work) told the last experiment helped him to understand better how to manage the technology and he think he will be able to increase the effect many orders of magnitude in the next iteration.
 
Hi Budgie - I'm not about to abandon the conservation of energy or momentum laws just yet. Acceleration is about velocity, not speed, and the difference is crucial because velocity has defined direction. Thus a satelittte is in a state of cosdtant acceleration, but is not going any faster ( at least in a circular orbit )Assuming a drive will build up velocity without requiring commensurate energy input would be a recipe for a perpetual motion machine ( something for nothing )Woodwards effect,if true still requires an inputof energy to effect the mass changes, and if the mass changes are to produce a "drive" by variation of gravity, the forces will be tiny. Remember it takes a huge amount of mass ( the earth ) to produce 1 G of gravity force. - hope to hear from you Sandy Henderson
 
Sandy - your comments are muddled and unfortunately typical of an ill informed amateur science enthusiast who does not really understand the mechanics. Sorry but there it is.

Sandy said: "Acceleration is about velocity, not speed".

That is a nonsensical statement. Acceleration is not "about" anything. It takes place when either speed or direction or both are changed by applying force. As in the example of a satellite in earth orbit.

Sandy said: "a satelittte is in a state of cosdtant acceleration, but is not going any faster". So?

A satellite in an earth orbit has acceleration due to the external impressed force of the earth's gravity. Otherwise it would continue in a straight line path (neglecting other main gravity forces such as the sun, other planets and the galaxy) - again Newton's law.

However no energy is expended by the satellite to maintain such an orbit. Adding thrust in excess of earth g at the altitude of the earth orbit (which requires an expenditure of energy) would see the "satellite" exit the orbit in the direction of the net forces.

Sandy said: "build up velocity without requiring commensurate energy input would be a recipe for a perpetual motion machine". So?

I said: "as work is done by the engine over time the KE of the craft would increase". Therefore I am not proposing a "perpetual motion machine".
 
Hi Budgie - I'm sorry you seem to see me as "amateur" and therefor ill informed. I suppose that my BSc was a waste of time. Perhaps my wording "about" could have been better, but the fact remains that the mathematical description of acceleration is rate of change of velocity. It is not trivial or wooly to distinguish this from speed. I'm glad you recognise that the engine will have to do work, so I hope you also recognise that as work is the product of force times distance, as the vehicle gains speed, to maintain thrust,however it is produced, the power ( work per unit time )must also increase, as I thought I had originally explained.Perhaps you think the space craft moves it's inertial frame of reference with it and all accelerations are the same as from rest?. Quite apart from the relativistic effects, the amount of energy that would need to be supplied to a practical space craft to go at even 10% of light speed is huge, and most of it would need to be supplied at the top end of the speed range ( if thrust was to remain constant).
The buzzard ram jet sought to solve these problems by intercepting interstellar hydrogen along the way and fusing it to helium to give both reaction mass and power, but nobody could figure where to put the passenger compartment free of huge magnetic forces needed to funnel in the hydrogen ions into the reactor.regards Sandy Henderson
 
Sandy said: "as the vehicle gains speed, to maintain thrust,however it is produced, the power ( work per unit time )must also increase"

No, the power is constant. Energy expended increases (ie work done). At the Newtonian level constant thrust which requires constant power produces constant acceleration (assuming that the thrust is sufficient to overcome external forces, as I have previously noted).

So again, at the Newtonian level, an acceleration of 1.1g is as applicable at 5000 mph as it is at 20 mph. Therefore as I originally stated "using the second law, F = ma, for a hypothetical engine as described by Neil, capable of constant thrust (force), m fixed, then the acceleration (a) will be constant too, as you can see." Or at least I hoped you would see.
 
My understanding of Newtonian physics is as Budgies - that, excluding relativistic effects, the amount or effort required to go from zero to a5,600 mile pers second (1o% of light speed would be the same as required to go from 10% to 20%. I was assuming that the relativistic effects would not be major until having achieved most of the speed of light (I may have underestimated here), which is why I took travel time as greater than the light year equivalent, but not that much.

Painlord I would be very happy to see it achieving that sort of acceleration. Certainly the difference berween zero and tiny acceleration is the heretofore unbridgable gap in theoretical ophysics while the difference between 0,1 G and 100 G is engineering. Accelerations above 1 do give easy access to the entire system and accelerations around 100 would make movuing asteroids around feasible, both of which would be wonderful improvements on what nuclear pulse can do but I wish to be conservative in my technical assumptions and see what wonders we can create even then.
 
My understanding of Newtonian physics is as Budgies - that, excluding relativistic effects, the amount or effort required to go from zero to a5,600 mile pers second (1o% of light speed would be the same as required to go from 10% to 20%. I was assuming that the relativistic effects would not be major until having achieved most of the speed of light (I may have underestimated here), which is why I took travel time as greater than the light year equivalent, but not that much.

Painlord I would be very happy to see it achieving that sort of acceleration. Certainly the difference berween zero and tiny acceleration is the heretofore unbridgable gap in theoretical ophysics while the difference between 0,1 G and 100 G is engineering. Accelerations above 1 do give easy access to the entire system and accelerations around 100 would make movuing asteroids around feasible, both of which would be wonderful improvements on what nuclear pulse can do but I wish to be conservative in my technical assumptions and see what wonders we can create even then.
 
@Anonymous
The Newton Laws work as you say only if the inertia is constant.
Mach principle state that Inertia is due to the combined effect of the (mostly far away) mass of all bodies in the Universe.
The Woodward Effect is a way to "shield" for a short time a mass from this effect. The net effect is to pull and push against all the masses of the Universe, so the momentum is conserved and transfered to/from the rest of the mass of the universe.

An engine using the Mach Principle could theoretically produce usable energy, but would not be a perpetual motion machine because it would take the energy from the rest of the universe and would be the equivalent of a windmill.

The best part of the Woodward effect is, in principle, the possibility to create absurdly benign wormholes (traversable and not dangerous).

I think this research would be a primary target for some type of X-Prize.
 
Hi folks - here's my problem - suppose you are accelerating at i metre per second per second. If you do the sums for kinetic energy, the added kinetic energy from 99 metres per second to 100 metres per second is less than that from 100 metres per second to 101 metres per second. Where is the increasing power coming from? You might say that the diminishing sun's gravity would mean that less thrust was needed to maintain the constant acceleration,but that gravity field diminishes by the square of the distance, but the power increments increase linearly.If the Woodward effect is transferring momentum to and from the rest of the universe,how fast is this effect?. If there are no large masses near by, is it assumed that the traction( for want of a better word )is against dark matter?. Neil - you dont need to go to fractions of light speed to realise that the difference in kinetic energy ( for example ) between 60mph and 70 mph is greater than that between 50mph and 60mph regards Sandy
 
Painlord U haven't seen wormholes mentioned as an automatic complement to the Woodward effect but would certainly be interested in links since that would give us DTL travel which would certainly be neat.

If we are concerned about conserving the inertia of the universe I would assume that all the inertia taken by getting from Earth up to relativiostic speeds would be returned by slowing at Centauri.

Sandy stopping distance is certainly greater, because if it takes 1 second to reduce that much you will have travelled further at 70mph than at 60. Bewron 2 is F=MAwhich means the amount of force needed is proportional to the increase in velocity all the way up (intil relativity steps in and replaces Newton).
 
Making Stargates: the Science of Absurdly Benign Wormholes

It is not inertia we are concerned, but conservation of momentum. Critics talk about Perpetual Motion Machine and likes, but this criticism was answered many times from the '90 when the first papers of Woodward were published. The maths is fine.
Now the point is experimenting, experimenting and more experimenting. To show big and bigger effects and make clear they are real and not artifacts of something else, errors or fraud.
Both March and Woodward work an their dimes so I would discount fraud. They also are adamant that they will not take seriously by the mainstream science and technology until they show up with a self-levitation (possibly self contained) device.

After they or someone else develop the first useful applications we will be in better position to see what happen and how it happen.
How the interaction with the mostly far mass of the universe happen and what happen when a M-L drive in working is not exactly understood. It could be a cooling of the universe or it could be a slowing of the pace of the time (we would have an hard time to detect this). We will not know exactly until we have more powerful effects.
 
I would agree that the trump card in any scientific debate is repeatable experimental evidence where all affecting variables are accounted for. I look forward to progress in this because all is not as it at first sight appears ( hence the invoking of mysterious dark matter and energy - to account for things like the shape of galaxies )A century ago entities like neutrinos were not even known to exist. Sandy
 
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go to stars not only will possible but it´s necessary: in "some" million years the Sun exhaust its Hidrogen reserves...
 
...interstellar travel (thousands G of constant acceleration)... The Matter (gravitation, dimensions and inertia)... The electromagnetic radiation...quanta (pieces) of energy in discrete amounts (minimum and independents), photons, which move in waves... why energy quanta (photons) are attracted by the gravitational fields of "stellar lenses" curving its trajectory and move on?... go ahead because they have inertia...and are attracted because the Energy also has Gravitation, but does not manifest because it no emits Graviton, or emit in imperceptible degree, because it has to be condensed enough like in matter for that, but it is sensible to Gravitation from Matter emits... Energy and Gravitation "associated"...and...the Gravitational Force is another manifestation, unknown yet, from the Energy...(no "curvature" of that called "space-time" relativistic)...beyond any exorbitant density/temperature of the Energy...Gravity (→attraction←)...becomes Antigravity (←repulsion→)...Big-Bang!!...its particle exchange, the theoretical Graviton yet...maybe "quanta of gravitational energy"... The Energy (e=mc²) is sensitive to Gravitation but hardly emits Graviton... The Matter, which is condensed Energy (m=e/c²), emits now Gravitons proportionally to its density... The Matter with normal density, naturally, emits few gravitons (weak intensity of gravitational force). But...if someday could transform some of matter, not in Energy by annihilation with antimatter but entirely in Gravitational Force with an exponential emission of Gravitons...would have a way to amplify the Gravitational Force a certain amount of mass...gravitational transformers...for spacecrafts to thousands G of constant acceleration...
 
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Computer support playback well, so we can convert iTunes iTunes Download as well as run the outcome coincides the surface area.
 
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