There is a recent paper from the NASA / JSC “Eagle Works” that discusses “anomalous thrust” from various sorts of drives that (to be blunt) violate at least the conservation of linear momentum. These have gotten some breathless reports in the press (Nasa validates ‘impossible’ space drive
) and also the inevitable push back (How to fool the world with bad science)
I thought that the “bad science” take was pretty appropriate when all we had to go on was the conference abstract. Now, however, the full paper, Anomalous Thrust Production… (still not peer reviewed), is out, and it is much better. I still think it is wrong, but I do not think it is bad science, and it will, in my opinion, have to be refuted experimentally.
The “null thruster” in the abstract (which showed about the same effect as the test thruster) is something of a red herring. Reading the paper, they have a true “null load,” which shows no thrust, while the “null thruster” was a modification of a Cannae drive that was not supposed to produce thrust in the Cannae drive theory, and so this was more of a test of drive theory than the experimental setup. In any event, they tested several types of drives, and so weren’t dependent on the Cannae theory overall.
They did pretty much all of the things you would like to see as experimental checks, at least on a first read (such as reversing the direction and making sure the thrust reverses).
They seem to have done a thoughtful and careful job, including testing in vacuum and documenting what they were doing.
So, I still think they are likely wrong, but this ups the ante. In my opinion, you can’t just say “this is obviously wrong.” I bet there will be a bunch of attempts to replicate it in labs all over the place.
I find the theories here (and I have now read several in some depth) to be bad, either wrong, or handwavy, or both*. I would discount them entirely. In the unlikely event that this effect is real (and I mean, some non-standard physics effect), then the theory is likely to be something different than any of the proposals, The experiment’s the thing, and the game now has to be disproving the Eagleworks results. Only once a bunch of people have failed to do that (or one person has done it) is there much else to say.
* On pushing on virtual particles or quantum spacetime or whatever. These are 1 GHz photons, more or less. Such pushing would cause a _vacuum_ dispersion. Vacuum dispersion limits are set by timing of high energy photons from Gamma Ray Bursts across cosmic distances. These tests use ~ 100 MeV photons over ~10^10 light years, and so are many orders of magnitude tighter than the NASA Eagle Works results. This in my opinion rules out any photon – vacuum interaction as the cause of these anomalous thrusts.