Oct 19, 2016 I Brett Tingley

Patent For “Impossible” EM Drive Made Public

The EM Drive hasn’t even been fully tested in actual space conditions, yet the physics-defying engine is already making waves throughout the aerospace and science news worlds. When the news first broke that NASA engineers might have invented a kind of “warp drive,” some social media sites lost their minds. Since then, several other similar engines have been developed and the science behind the seemingly impossible electromagnetic engine has been thoroughly examined. More recently, it was announced that the methodology for the engine’s design passed peer review and that the engine would soon get its first real test in space.

The EM Drive has been making headlines since it was first announced.

Now, science buffs with wide-eyed dreams of colonizing other planets are beginning to get even more excited about the possibility of the EM drive with the latest news about the mind-boggling propulsion system. This week, it was announced that the UK Intellectual Property Office has made the patent for the EM drive engine available to the public.

The circuit block diagram for Roger Shawyer's original EM Drive design.

The author of the patent, UK inventor and original creator of the EM Drive Roger Shawyer, refers to the drive as a “superconducting microwave radiation thruster” and refutes claims that the engine defies the laws of physics. Instead, by taking advantage of interactions between electromagnetic waves and the resonant cavity of the engine, the EM drive is able to convert stored energy into kinetic energy which creates a type of propellant-less thrust:

This demonstrates EmDrive is compliant with the law of conservation of energy. The acceleration will be in the opposite direction to the direction of thrust, thus demonstrating that EmDrive also complies with Newton’s third law of motion, and thus with the law of conservation of energy.

A simplified explanation of how the EM drive creates thrust out of radiation. Not pictured: magic pixie dust nozzle.

UK inventor Roger Shawyer, original creator of the EM Drive, told the IB Times that the fact that the UK IP Office published his design shows that the patent for the device has been carefully examined and vetted by industry professionals:

This is a proper, professional way of establishing prior ownership done by professionals in the patent office, and in order to publish my patent application, they had to first carry out a thorough examination of the physics in order to establish that the invention does not contravene the laws of physics.

Surprisingly, the circuit block diagram is rather simple for such an extraordinary device. Shawyer believes this elegant simplicity will ensure the success and ubiquity of the EM drive in the near future:

This is pretty significant because it enables you to easily manufacture these things, and we want to produce thousands of them. The patent makes the construction of a viable superconducting thruster easier, and it will produce a lot of thrust.

The EM Drive has been speculated to be able to take humans to Mars in only ten weeks. Couple that with the grand Mars-colonizing visions of Elon Musk and other private aerospace firms, and you’ve got the makings for mankind’s promising future in the stars. Unless, of course, we manage to screw it up just like we have this lousy planet.

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Dibs on a window seat.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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