NASA engineer spoke about the idea of ​​an engine that will “circumvent the laws of physics” and accelerate to 99% of the speed of light

Even if it works, the acceleration speed will be very slow.

NASA engineer David Burns (David Burns) spoke about a new concept of rocket engine, which will accelerate almost to the speed of light without fuel. He called it a “spiral engine” and claims that the device “can circumvent the laws of physics.” Burns told The New Scientist about this .

According to him, the engine will be able to independently accelerate to 99% of the speed of light in the presence of sufficient time and energy. According to a Burns document on the NASA website, the device uses a loophole in special relativity to circumvent the limitations of the laws of physics.

To do this, the engineer suggested using a particle accelerator, which will constantly accelerate ions to near-light speed, and then slow them down. According to his idea, in this case, the engine will create traction.

As noted at The New Scientist, the concept does not contradict the laws of physics. According to the special theory of relativity, the mass of particles increases as it approaches the speed of light.

However, even if the idea works in practice, its implementation will require a 200-meter-long and 12-meter-diameter construction. The engine also needs a powerful source of energy: to create one newton of thrust – a force equivalent to typing on the keyboard – 165 megawatts is required.

Because of this, he needs a frictionless medium or vacuum to work. The engine will also not be able to quickly accelerate to noticeable speeds – this will take years, if not decades.

This is not the first time that inventors have offered engines without fuel, but they have never been able to put their ideas into practice. In the 1970s, American inventor Robert Cook invented an engine that transformed centrifugal force into linear motion.

After that, British inventor Roger Scheuer said that he created an electromagnetic engine that creates traction due to microwaves. Both concepts failed to prove that they work, and in the scientific community this is considered impossible due to the law of conservation of momentum.

According to Martin Tajmar, an EM Drive test driver from Dresden University of Technology, the “spiral motor” will face the same problem as its predecessors.

All inertial acceleration systems, as far as I know, have never worked in an environment without friction. This machine [Burns], unlike others, uses a special theory of relativity, which complicates the situation, but unfortunately there is always the principle of “action-reaction”.

Martin Tajmar


Burns developed the concept in his spare time as a hobby and without NASA support. The researcher himself is not sure that the idea will work in practice, but believes that it deserves to be checked.

I know that I risk being in the same place as the EM drive and the cold fusion engine. But you must be ready to be dishonored. It is very difficult to invent something new and truly working.

David burns

NASA engineer

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