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EM Drive, the Impossible Rocket Engine, May Be Closer to Reality
The engine that could revolutionize space travel is pursued by scientists around the world.
As technological advancements continue at breakneck speed, recent developments raise hopes in the creation of the hypothetical “Em Drive”. This electromagnetic propulsion drive or “Em Drive” would give us the capability to explore space in a revolutionary way, without needing fuel. It would theoretically allow for trips to Mars in about two months, while going to the moon would only take a few hours. Oh, it might also solve climate change, the energy crisis, and transform the aerospace industry as we know it.
The EM Drive was first proposed as a possibility in 1999 by the British scientist Roger Shawyer. Since then the idea has also captured the imagination of scientists worldwide, with independent teams in countries like UK, China, Germany, Finland and the United States trying to make the Star-Trek-like technology a reality. Nine studies on the “Em Drive” have been published since 2012.
While the prospects of such a drive being developed boggle the mind, most physicists do not believe it’s feasible. One thing that is going against the possibility of the EM Drive is that it seems to contradict Newton’s third law of motion, one of the foundational laws of classical mechanics. This law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. But the EM Drive, going forward in one direction, would have no propellant. If nothing is generating thrust and pushing the rocket, how will it go forward?
The way the drive is supposed to work is by converting electricity into microwave photons, which are then fired into a closed cone-shaped cavity. The photons would push against the large end of the cone, making the small end accelerate in the opposite direction. Space vehicles powered by Em Drives would be much lighter without having to carry loads of fuel, able to achieve extremely high speeds.
How close are we to testing anything like the EM Drive?
A recent announcement from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics that it peer-reviewed a soon-to-be-published paper on the drive from NASA’s research group Eagleworks has generated much cautious excitement. The fact that this paper, titled “Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio Frequency Cavity in Vacuum”, passed a peer review potentially suggests that this technology is becoming real.
The EM Drive generated another dose of enthusiasm courtesy of the American inventor Guido Fetta. He announced that he’ll put the Cannae Drive, a proprietary rocket engine he created based on Shawyer’s original designs, on a mini-satellite (6U CubeSat). The satellite could be launched into space as early as six months from now. Shawyer himself is skeptical the Cannae Drive would generate much thrust.
To learn more, check out this Em Drive presentation by Roger Shawyer:
Cover photo: EM Drive. Credit: Roger Shawyer, Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd.
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A scientist in Sweden makes a controversial presentation at a future of food conference.
- A behavioral scientist from Sweden thinks cannibalism of corpses will become necessary due to effects of climate change.
- He made the controversial presentation to Swedish TV during a "Future of Food" conference in Stockholm.
- The scientist acknowledges the many taboos this idea would have to overcome.
Depiction of cannibalism in the Medieval ages.
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President Vladimir Putin announces approval of Russia's coronavirus vaccine but scientists warn it may be unsafe.
A new coronavirus vaccine on display at the Nikolai Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia.
Credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/ Russian Direct Investment Fund via AP
Medical workers draw blood from volunteers participating in a trial of a coronavirus vaccine at the Budenko Main Military Hospital outside Moscow, Russia.
Credit: Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP
A report from the New York Times raises questions over how the teletherapy startup Talkspace handles user data.
- In the report, several former employees said that "individual users' anonymized conversations were routinely reviewed and mined for insights."
- Talkspace denied using user data for marketing purposes, though it acknowledged that it looks at client transcripts to improve its services.
- It's still unclear whether teletherapy is as effective as traditional therapy.
Talkspace.com<p>Former employees also questioned the legitimacy of certain interventions by the company into client-therapist interactions. For example, after one therapist sent a client a link to an online anxiety worksheet, a company representative instructed her to try to keep clients inside the app.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I was like, 'How do you know I did that?'" Karissa Brennan, a therapist who worked with Talkspace from 2015 to 2017, told the Times. "They said it was private, but it wasn't."</p><p>Other former employees said the company would pay special attention to its "enterprise partner" clients, who worked at companies like Google. One therapist said Talkspace contacted her for taking too long to respond to Google clients.</p><p>Talkspace responded to the Times with a Medium <a href="https://medium.com/@founders_22883/talkspace-founders-respond-to-a-new-york-times-article-78d6f5c45c59" target="_blank">post</a>, which claimed the Times report contained false and "uninformed assertions."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Talkspace is a HIPAA/HITECH and SOC2 approved platform, audited annually by external vendors, and has deployed additional technologies to keep its data safe, exceeding all existing regulatory requirements," the post states.</p>