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Tech Talk

Enigmatic EM Drive to Face Real-World Testing

Cannae Inc. plans to send an EM drive to space for testing. Image courtesy of NASA.

The controversy over the enigmatic Electromagnetic (EM) Drive may soon come to an end. The EM Drive is a theoretical engine for space travel that uses electromagnetic radiation to provide thrust instead of traditional fuel propellant. Attempts to prove that such a drive is possible have surged in the last year, with NASA and universities around the world testing implementations of the theoretical drive. Many independent scientists have claimed to have built a working EM Drive, but outside testing has reported inconclusive and error-ridden results.

If it works, the EM Drive could revolutionize space travel. A trip to the closest star system to ours, the Alpha Centauri system, may take 100 years rather than over 100,000.

News sources and scientists have declared the drive to be impossible because it violates the fundamental law of physics that “each action has an equal and opposite reaction.” The EM Drive does not expel any type of propellant in the direction opposite to motion, but the verdict is still out on how exactly the EM Drive works.

NASA’s experimental laboratory, Eagleworks, investigated the mechanisms behind the drive over the past year, and insiders like Paul March have unofficially said that NASA has found the drives to mysteriously work to some degree. A peer-reviewed paper from NASA about the drive is said to be in the works, but it is unlikely to provide a definitive conclusion.

A private company, Cannae Inc., released plans at the beginning of September to send their prototype EM Drive on a satellite into space over a six month period. Their efforts may lead to empirical evidence to add to the debate surrounding the EM Drive. No matter what conclusion NASA and private corporations reach, there will be no final answer to the question of the EM Drive for the foreseeable future.

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