Sunday, January 26, 2020
Contact us    |    Advertise    |   Help    |   Cookie Policy    |   Privacy Policy    RSS icon Twitter icon Facebook icon
    Home  ·  News  ·  Forum  ·  Stories  ·  Image Gallery  ·  Columns  ·  Encyclopedia  ·  Videos
Find: in

'Helical engine' could reach relativistic speeds

Posted on Wednesday, 16 October, 2019 | Comment icon 13 comments

Could the helical engine be the future of spaceflight ? Image Credit: NASA
NASA engineer David Burns has developed a concept for a new drive capable of reaching distant solar systems.
Traversing the vast distances between stars is undoubtedly a major problem - even reaching our nearest neighbor with today's technology would take thousands of years.

But what if it was possible to travel such distances in a fraction of the time ?

Enter David Burns - a NASA engineer with a concept for a new type of propulsion system that can theoretically reach 99% of the speed of light without needing any sort of propellant.

Known as the 'helical engine', this exotic drive works by exploiting the change in mass that occurs at relativistic speeds as described in Einstein's special theory of relativity.
The idea has drawn comparisons to aerospace engineer Roger Shawyer's controversial EmDrive.

"The engine accelerates ions confined in a loop to moderate relativistic speeds, and then varies their velocity to make slight changes to their mass," Burns writes. "The engine then moves ions back and forth along the direction of travel to produce thrust."

"The engine has no moving parts other than ions traveling in a vacuum line, trapped inside electric and magnetic fields."

While the drive only exists on paper at the moment, the idea behind it is certainly interesting.

Whether it will actually work in practice however remains to be seen.

Source: Science Alert | Comments (13)

Tags: Helical Engine

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by bison on 15 October, 2019, 15:53
Leaving aside the fact that it's massively inefficient, if it could work, there is another problem, as there always has been with simple reactionless drives.  The speed, and so the mass, increases on one side of the loop, on the way from the slow end to the fast end of the device. It decreases on the other side, going back to the slow end. The two sides will balance, in terms of speed and mass. If this is a continuous process, the device won't even wobble back and forth, as some reactionless drives do. There will be no net movement through space.  
Comment icon #5 Posted by kewlscot on 16 October, 2019, 20:46
Be better to have a tea drive, stir your tea to go faster and slower to slow down. As bison says, every action has an equal opposite reaction. It'll never work :)
Comment icon #6 Posted by AllPossible on 16 October, 2019, 22:00
What happens when you can't divert from some asteroid. Light speed sounds awesome, even 10% of light speed is 67,000,000 mph. Space travel is alot more difficult then people think. It's dangerous & fascinating at the same time.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 17 October, 2019, 10:08
You are making a massively incorrect assumption here, namely that mass increases in a linear manner to velocity. It doesn't. According to relativity mass increases exponentially to velocity. Above about 0.6c, where relativistic effects become noticeable,  a small increase in velocity will lead to a large increase in mass. As Einstein's most famous equation says: E=mc2, hence there is much more energy provided by the particles in one direction than in the other... your balance does not exist. This is precisely why the article states that the principle doesn't follow Newtonian physics but does f... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by DieChecker on 18 October, 2019, 6:18
If this could be manufactured, it would make exploring the solar system humanly possible. And asteroid mining might be easier also.
Comment icon #9 Posted by mdbuilder on 18 October, 2019, 11:59
As far as I can tell, a magnetism based propulsion system is the only one that starts off with self-impelled motion.
Comment icon #10 Posted by paperdyer on 19 October, 2019, 4:23
You'd still have the "not ageing" issue relative to the Earth, correct? You'd age a little while the Eath ages more, right?
Comment icon #11 Posted by DieChecker on 19 October, 2019, 5:45
Relativity hasnt changed, so yeah, time would pass slower on a ship at relativistic speeds.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Jon the frog on 23 October, 2019, 22:27
Choosing to go in interstellar travel mean that you leave behind what you let behind...One way colonization and exploration until death or fruition.  
Comment icon #13 Posted by NotAlien7 on 2 November, 2019, 3:00
This is my theory, my idea NASA you better check my post right here on UNEXPLAINED is good enough.  Check my post here then contact me . I have several versions of this idea and I come up with it years ago.

Please Login or Register to post a comment.

  On the forums
Forum posts:
Forum topics:


Another 'Bigfoot' shows up on WSDOT webcam
Authorities in Washington have recorded footage of a figure trudging through the snow near Snoqualmie Pass.
Space Force logo looks like it's from Star Trek
President Donald Trump has revealed the official logo for the US Space Force - and it looks somewhat familiar...
Man behind exotic US Navy patents speaks out
The engineer responsible for various exotic 'UFO tech' patents has spoken to the media for the first time.
Astronauts create first ever food baked in space
In a first-of-its-kind experiment, the astronauts aboard the ISS have baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
Stories & Experiences
Dog and Jamaican statue
1-10-2020 | Canada
Life changing experience
12-19-2019 | Australia
Unexplained smoke or fog
12-19-2019 | West Texas, USA
He came in the night
12-19-2019 | CA
My reptilian encounter
11-24-2019 | Ireland and Australia
The day I found out I am immortal
11-24-2019 | Hialeah
Recent activity in my home
11-24-2019 | Kansas City, MO USA
The houndsman
10-26-2019 | Michigan, USA
Birthday balloon
10-26-2019 | Usa

         More stories | Send us your story
Featured Videos
Gallery icon 
Why do we believe in conspiracies ?
Posted 1-17-2020 | 5 comments
A look at how the human race has effectively evolved to accept conspiracy theories.
NASA 2020: Are you ready ?
Posted 1-1-2020 | 3 comments
A look at what's coming up in the world of spaceflight this year.
Is it possible to levitate a human ?
Posted 12-15-2019 | 2 comments
Science enthusiast Rick Edwards attempts to unlock the secret of levitation.
What is the biocentric universe theory ?
Posted 12-6-2019 | 38 comments
TheoryInk takes a look at the concepts behind the idea of a biocentric universe.
Interview with Sophia the robot
Posted 11-21-2019 | 18 comments
The popular robot recently made an appearance on 'This Morning' in the UK.
 View: More videos
Top   |  Home   |   Forum   |   News   |   Image Gallery   |  Columns   |   Encyclopedia   |   Videos   |   Polls
UM-X 10.712 (c) 2001-2020
Terms   |   Privacy Policy   |   Cookies   |   Advertise   |   Contact   |   Help/FAQ