Idea Cool and Insane

by wjw on December 9, 2009

Friend of the blog Michael Ruppen pointed me at this article, modestly titled “Blueprint for a Quantum Propulsion Machine.”

In recent years, a new way of thinking about the quantum vacuum has emerged which has vastly more potential. And today, one physicist describes how it could be used to create propulsion . . .

The new approach focuses on the momentum associated with these electromagnetic fields rather than the force they exert. The question is whether it is possible to modify this momentum because, if you can, you should receive an equal and opposite kick. That’s what rocket scientists call propulsion.

Today, Alex Feigel at the Soreq Nuclear Research Center, a government lab in Yavne Israel, suggests an entirely new way to modify the momentum of the quantum vacuum and how this can be exploited to generate propulsion . . .

. . . As Feigel puts it: “mechanical action of quantum vacuum on magneto-electric objects may be observable and have a significant value.”

The beauty of Feigel’s idea is that it can be easily tested. He suggests building an addressable array of magnetoelectric nanoparticles, perhaps made of a material such as FeGaO3 which has a magnetoelectric constant of 10^-4 in a weak magnetic field.

These nanoparticles simply have to be rotated in the required way to generate a force. Feigel calls it a magnetoelectric quantum wheel.

Of course, nobody is getting a free lunch here. “Although the proposed engine will consume energy for manipulation of the particles, the propulsion will occur without any loss of mass,” says Feigel. He even suggests, with masterful understatement, that this might have practical implications.

This may be the coolest thing since the Dean Drive!

Lance Larka December 10, 2009 at 12:29 am

understatement indeed.

In my job I build lab equipment that mainly involves moving widget A to point B involving lots of moving parts that Archimedes would have no problem understanding how it works.

If I could exchange all my lead screws, belt motors, and valves with this? …damn….

Ralf the Dog December 10, 2009 at 6:29 pm

A lot of people seem to be putting their own spin on this…

Bad joke. Sorry.

Ralf the Dog December 10, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Jumping back in to ask, what does this do to the conservation of angular momentum?

I know that angular momentum is not conserved on the relativistic scale, I thought it was conserved on the quantum.

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