Magnetic Drives – Open Thread

VASIMR Electric Drive

VASIMR Electric Drive

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The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) is an electro-magnetic thruster for spacecraft propulsion. It uses radio waves to ionize and heat a propellant and magnetic fields to accelerate the resulting plasma to generate thrust. It is one of several types of spacecraft electric propulsion systems.

The method of heating plasma used in VASIMR was originally developed as a result of research into nuclear fusion. VASIMR is intended to bridge the gap between high-thrust, low-specific impulse propulsion systems and low-thrust, high-specific impulse systems. VASIMR is capable of functioning in either mode. Costa Rican scientist and former astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz created the VASIMR concept and has been working on its development since 1977.

So if you can use microwaves to ionize and mag fields to accelerate, couldn’t you do it on a more ‘diffuse’ surface too? Or do something that treats the ship like the particle and the earth mag field like the “engine” and accelerate yourself relative to the earth?

@ Jason Calley; There are a number of blogs that discuss this field, none of which I can recommend, sorry. To create the needed device one must understand the causes of mass/inertia as well as gravity. I believe a “rich” magnetic field can confuse Mass/inertia and negate gravity.

More of these things are OT and bad manners. pg

There, now it’s “On Topic” and good manners… so, carry on ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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35 Responses to Magnetic Drives – Open Thread

  1. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. Ha! Thanks!

    Nice microwave propulsion — but do we have to keep throwing mass out the back end? Where is my bonafide “space drive”?

    Maybe here:

    These people claim to have built and tested a device that utilizes microwaves in a resonant cavity to produce thrust without a reaction mass. Their device is based (so they say) on some non-linear relativistic effects that become apparent when the waves are reflected internally at the cavity’s resonant frequency.

    Of course big claims require strong proof. I want to see one move!

  2. P.G. Sharrow says:

    @ Jason Calley; I read through the papers of your indicated link. Interesting concept, the “thruster” has no exhaust! If I understand it correctly the “thrust” is unequal bounce of EMF inside the wave chamber. About 10gm of “thrust” from 1/2 kw. Also interesting aside The Chinese stole the idea for their space program and Boeing is borrowing it.

    55 years ago, when I was younger, I studied Rocket science as I was interested in space travel. It was soon plain to me that chemical roman candle technology was too ineffective and dangerous. So I studied atomic power, even designed a fission reactor powered hydrogen reaction rocket engine. The hydrogen / reactor would give much better reaction impulse from the mass used. Gave that up, way too dangerous and still not even close to true space travel propulsion.
    ( 69 thru 72 the Army built and tested such an engine, they dropped the effort when it was decieded that it was too dangerous to use)
    I then gave up the effort and went on to other things.

    A chance reading of a book on UFOs reawoke the interest. It was plain to me that this was an EMF device as form follows function. Electricity is something that I have worked with and studied for nearly 60 years.
    To reverse engineer a device you must understand the physics and technology that it is based on as well as know the technology that you have to work with.

    An understanding of gravity leads to the understanding of inertia and then mass as they are all related. I had to go back to the building blocks of space and matter. 50 years ago this would have been impossiable. Now there has been enough discovery in science to be able to put the pieces together.

    Aether, dark energy / dark matter, is the foundation that everything is made of and it is electromagnetic. Atoms are made of this stuff and they are influenced by Electro-Motive Force. Mass/inertia is the characteristic of matter that resists change in motion. What causes mass/inertia? something has to cause this. My view is that aether resists this change in relative motion as emf fields are changed in strength by changes in relative motion. For an electrician this is the motor / generator effect of a dynamo.

    The nucleus occupies the center of the atom, is of a static positive charge, is magnetic and has most of the mass/inertia of the atom. The electron shell is the surface of matter in our world, is electrostatic negative and is also effected by magnetic fields. Under electrostatic, magnetic or gravity, the position of the nucleus can be warped from its’ centered position within the electron shell. Acceleration will cause the same effect. My position is that mass/inertia can be effected by EMF fields. Under the correct magnetic fields matter can be shielded from the effects of aetherial caused mass/inertia as well as gravity. This will require intense EMF fields at high frequency and in 3 dimensions.
    The device that would create truespace travel would be electromagnetic and not a reaction jet. Damn I’ve run out of gas. more later pg

  3. Jason Calley says:

    @ P.G. I either had my last post lost in the Infinite Bit Bucket or moved into the spam file. Pardon me if this is a double post.

    RE your ideas on propulsion, very interesting! I am reminded of the work by Dr. William Hooper.

    If you find youself with some more gas, please do continue with your thoughts!

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason Calley:

    Nothing of yours in the SPAM queue, so no idea…

    I’ve sometimes wondered if you could accellerate a particle to just about light speed in one direction, then bang it into a wall to stop, followed by a slow haul back to the other side and repeat…

    if there were not some way to be moving “more mass” in one direction than in the other….

    Unfortunately my “logic engine” keeps carping at me that the accellerate to light then halt ought to be energy symetrical as ought the ‘haul back slow” and won’t let me think about any potential MV imbalances until I get over that hump…

    But with differential M you ought to be able to get differential V out of symetrical energy…

    Then there is that whole “accellerate to light speed” followed by the sudden stop at the end to deal with ;-)

  5. Doug Jones says:

    I actually am a rocket engineer (not a rocket scientist, you can’t yourself a rocket scientist until you’ve blown one up), and I take all those reactionless drives with a grain of salt the size of a Buick. Testing such a drive is very very simple- suspend it on a thread in a vacuum chamber, with helmholtz coils to cancel out Earth’s magnetic field. If it can hang off plumb, then they actually have something, otherwise it’s simply bullshit. So far, every such claim has been bullshit.

    Mind, you, I’d LOVE for a reactionless drive to work. Rockets are a pain in the ass. I’ve designed two dozen of them, ten of those designs have been built and tested, I’ve flown on one of them six times, and they collectively gave me my gray hair. A simpler replacement would be marvelous, but handwaving ain’t gonna get you and me into space.

    Vasimir is a too-cute solution for a problem we don’t have, ie, moving thousand-ton spacecraft quickly about the inner solar system. The _smallest_ one they’ve run in a vacuum chamber drew 200 kW, and neither NASA not anyone else is going to have the budget in the next 30 years to build an ion rocket that large. If companies like mine (XCOR) and others succeed, the $/kg to low earth orbit will drop far enough that large missions can be sent out using plain old chemical propulsion, since mass to orbit will be far cheaper than the engineering effort needed to get Vasimir working. But on the bright side, the research got Franklin Chang-Diaz something like six rides to orbit on the taxpayer dime, so he’s a winner.

  6. Doug Jones says:

    On a more positive note, it *is* possible to accelerate in Earth orbit without expending reaction mass, an electrodynamic tether can do so by coupling to the Earth’s magnetic field. There’s no free lunch, though, the electrical power needed to run a current through the tether has to come from somewhere, and substantial solar arrays would be needed. I think this technology can be made operational much sooner that Vasimir, and can be useful at any planet with a good magnetic field.

    And Ed, your intuition is correct, the momentum of moving that charged particle about cancels out and the accelerator’s velocity doesn’t change. Newton’s laws still apply to relativistic masses, it’s just that kinetic energy of an object goes up faster than v^2 when v approaches c. TANSTAAFL.

    Moving it about, the momentum cancels perfectly, sorry for the tortured syntax there.

  7. @P.G.:
    Atoms are made of this stuff and they are influenced by Electro-Motive Force. Mass/inertia is the characteristic of matter that resists change in motion. What causes mass/inertia? something has to cause this. My view is that aether resists this change in relative motion as emf fields are changed in strength by changes in relative motion. For an electrician this is the motor / generator effect of a dynamo.
    There is no other thing but charges, sin wave and cosine waves moving, anything else is relative to the observer.
    You say, “this is the motor/generator effect…”
    When vector change direction different phenomena appear, see:
    When we turn our blenders on, the miracle happens!: Gravity of water falling was turned into electricity and then, in our kitchens, in gravity (force) again.
    Pythagoras with his theorem wanted us to know that EVERY triangle of charges (vectors) has ALWAYS one and permanent square angle (electricity/magnetism) and only the “legs” change.
    All the atomic theory and its “pebbles (little or big) universe”must be revisited.

  8. P.G. Sharrow says:

    @Jason Calley; Ok I read the Hooper paper, slow go, way to much verbage. I did build a gravity battery 5 years back, It works, always, but very small, micro amp at millivolts. Much of his theory on space and matter follow my own. Even Albert Einstien posed many of the same observations.

    @Doug Jones: 6 flights on a rocket of your own design! 8-)
    “Man like that deserves to be saved.”
    If my concept needs “helmholtz coils to cancel out Earth’s magnetic field” to prove it works, is no damn good!

    Now back to the point.
    Over the last 100 years, a number of experimenters in many fields have reported unexpected effects from parts of their devices, a few were expanded on before they were dropped due to other needs, death or war outcomes. In each case high energy magnetic field in a rotating magnetic field caused readily observed effects on mass/inertia or local gravity.
    I am building a device to create such a field system on purpose. I created a large tesla coil, 1,100 feet of 14 ga. copper, wound in a flat spiral 5 turns to the inch, that has been tested to 40,000 volts per turn. for a very high “Q” that should operate at about 18 khz and 80,000 volts and 4,200 peak amps in this configuration. This will create the base field. The center termination is a pin cushion inside a plasma jet under the coil. The outside of the coil will terminate to the metal skin of the disk. Inside on top of the main coil are 12 twitch coils around the outer edge of the main coil. This will be driven by a 15,000v, 600ma neon transformer for the first tests and can be driven at much higher energies later as I can afford the time and cost.
    All this to see if I can confuse the mass/inertia effects of Aether on the device. pg

  9. Jim says:

    E.M. – Have you seen this animated quake map? Small quake in Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, and Tennessee in the last week. Looks like a swarm in Cali and Alaska too, but since this is the first one of these I’ve seen, I don’t have anything to compare to.

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    Yeah, I’ve seen them I’d rather they covered 7 years than 7 days, and it would be nice if they ran a lot faster too…

    What I do is look at the charts every comple of days and ‘hold that thought’ to kind of make my own long cycle integration.

    Yes, IMHO, We’ve got “Alaska and California” issues “soon” (unfortunately, in earthquake time scales, soon can be next decade…)

    California has picked up “action” a lot in the last 6 months… All small stuff, but more of it, more widely spread, and increasing in size of individual quake over time.

    I’m really looking forward to the next 2 months to see if it ramps down as “Supermoon” fades…

  11. Jason Calley says:

    @ P.G. “In each case high energy magnetic field in a rotating magnetic field caused readily observed effects on mass/inertia or local gravity.”

    Hey P.G. Well, you for darned sure have some interesting ideas. And also, you have obviously given this a lot more thought than I have, so please bear with me and any stupid questions or observations.

    I think you may be on to something with the rotating magnetic fields – though I seem to find a lot of hints about rotating or moving electric charges as well. Of course that rotating magnetic field (RMF) is quite good at moving charges, so maybe that is what you are planning to do with it. I assume that the 12 twitch coils make the rotating field. There was an odd report of a “force field” being accidently created at a plastic plant in 1980. involving large moving electric charges (shades of William Hooper!). I am guessing that the interaction of the RMF you mention and the plasma jet is intended to swirl the charges around. I do not understand why the flat coil is being powered with AC though. I would have thought a constant magnetic field would be used there.

    There are a lot of reports (as you say) of odd electromagnetic effects. I wonder whether the old stories of the Indian vimanas with their heated mercury enclosed in iron boxes is a very crude description of an enclosed rotating plasma.

    Oh, P.G., if you find that I am asking anything that might compromise what you wish to talk about (you may be concerned about possible patent implications) please just tell me that you do not wish to go any into such areas. No problem.

    I am curious about the gravity battery though. Is that based on the charge that would appear on an accelerated atom, with the nucleus slightly off center?

  12. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Jason Calley; Thank you for the link. That was one that I have not heard. Polypro is very weird stuff, very high positive charge, attracts negative charges and dust/dirt. My tesla coil is built into a white polypro base with other things. Very high dielectric value but must be welded to be fabricated. I wonder how many other observations are out there? This points to the fact that my twitch coils may not work and I will have to go to plan “B” or is it “C”. Oh well, it would not be the first change that I have made. The device is made so it can change configurations. I WILL have to continue construction of a no metal building for testing area.

    Ask all the questions that you want, I doubt that a patent will restrict use once it is demonstrated. Might as well be public.

    As to the gravity battery, It has been shown that in a dry calm area there is about 300volts per meter of hight. Space is highly negative relative to positive earth, and electrons have mass/inertia and therefor effected by gravity. So one time, when I could not work outside, I created several different gravity batteries. They were always positive on top, negative on bottom. One more thing to think about. pg

  13. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    Why not bring back Project Orion? The nuclear ships. We would have been at Mars 20 years ago if this continued.

  14. Jason Calley says:

    @ Scarlet Pumpernickel “Why not bring back Project Orion?”

    I for one, would cheer it, but I think that some of the various nuclear test ban treaties prevent even the peaceful use of such a propulsion system. I seem to remember that a small prototype was actually flown out in the US desert using high explosives instead of nuclear devices.

    By the way, if you are a scifi fan, read “Footfall” by Niven and Pournelle. I do not want to give away the ending, but let us just say that your mention of Project Orion is responsible for my thinking of the book. :)

    Oh, one more thing. Google “Project Thunderwell.” I place this in the “too good to be true” department, but the story is that a weapons test in 1957 (before Sputnik) blew a steel plate “manhole cover” into space. I am not convinced…. but it is a good story!

  15. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    Yeah, the treaties banned it, but its the best propulsion system, Freeman Dyson talks about it a lot and so did Carl Sagan. Orion could easily get us going around the solar system with ease. Now the cold war is over it’s time to look at it again

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    @Scarlet Pumpernickel:

    Oh, but think of all the “radiation polution” we’d be putting in space ;-)

  17. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Nuclear reaction engine is still too dangerous and wasteful. An all electric drive is the only way to travel in deep space. Use the atomics to generate power and then use it to operate the ship. The amount of energy needed to confuse mass/inertia is quite large but is accumulative, the energy needed for propulsion is small. pg

  18. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Space is made up of, dark matter / dark energy, aether. After 100 years, science is once again to the point of accepting that there really is something out there that can’t be touched or directly detected but can be inferred from the actions of other things. Movements of galaxies demostrate that 96% of the cause of mass/inertia can not be detected. Therefore the need for “dark matter” and “dark energy” to explain these effects. Somehow gravity, magnetic effects and light energies travel forever in nothing? Most of physics is described in formulas that does not have call for aether therefor it does not exist! When the effects of ElectroMotive Force were first described, the existence of aether was accepted. Later, quantum science declared that aether did not exist and pointed to the failure to directly detect it as proof of its none existence. Later detections of aether have been drowned out with loud shouting, “Aether does not exist”.

    Something out there is supramagnetic, that is it is easily magnetically effected. Carries charge, negative, that pushes or inflates, causes the effects of “pressure” on everything. And behaves as if it had great mass or gravity that pulls on everything. Strange behaviour for something that does not exist. pg

  19. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Continued; The below URL is to post and comments on aether at “Tallblokes Talkshop” on the subject of aether.

    I would recommend reading the post and comments for greater understanding of this subject. pg

  20. Jason Calley says:

    If we are considering nuclear propulsion in space (not ground to orbit) the nuclear salt water reactor is worth a look.
    One of the more interesting things abouyt it is that most of the reaction takes place just after the water passes through the nozzle. Why? I think it works like this: In order for the U235 (or other fuel) to capture a neutron, their relative speeds have to fall within a narrow window. Too fast, no capture, too slow, no capture. As the fuel and water are being pumped through the nozzle, the converging vectors of fuel and neutrons exceed the window for efficient capture. Just immediately past the nozzle (but still within the bell of the exhaust), the individual vectors diverge, relative speeds slow and BANG! the water and U235 go critical.

    Anyway, that is my understanding of it.

    I would love to see P.G.’s drive mechanism work — either from the surface up, or in space — but what we need is a way to get cheaply off this rock. We can figure out space drives with today’s technology. It is the cheap Earth-to-orbit bit that is keeping us captive.

    Curse that gravity well!!

  21. Jason Calley says:

    @ P.G. I just started reading the info at Tallbloke’s site re aether and was immediately struck by an odd coincidence. It says that Dayton Miller not only meaured an aether drift, but determined its direction. The direction he gives is,as near as can tell, only a degree or two off from the location of the Tarantula Nebula, a giant nebula which marks the most energetic birthing place of new stars (and old supernovas) in the Local Group of galaxies. I bet the Electric Univere people are happy about that!

    By the way, the Tarantula Nebula is a BIG nebula. I do not have my books in hand, but I seem to recall that if it were at the same distance as M42, the Orion Nebula, that it would subtend 45 degrees of view across our sky. BIG nebula!

  22. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Yes that is a serious hole to jump out of. Once you get yourself and your stuff out of that hole you need to provide acceleration “gravity” from that hole to the mid point and then deceleration “gravity” to the next hole. Then what to do when you get there? Climb down into the next hole? Space is a very big place and you need to carry your own lunch, and everything else. pg

  23. @P.G. Sharrow
    Jason Calley; Thank you for the link

    Something of the like related in that link it happened to me, while pouring cadmium sulphide (cadmium middle yellow) powder, through a PE plastic sleeve: It generated a big static current.

  24. P.G. Sharrow says:

    @ Adolfo Giurfa; exactly, when you move things you get charge movement. When you move charges things move. And If you move high energy charges in 3 dimensions mass/inertia effects of aether on matter will be effected. pg

  25. @P.G……not only that: The smaller the particles size (wavelength=size=diameter) the greater the energy:
    E= hν (where h= sin y + cos y ) and ν = C/λ, as you know..

  26. P.G. Sharrow says:

    I look to electron, photon and neutrino to be dark matter with impressed emf signatures as these are interchangeable, turning from one to another during collisions. These also vanish from detection when they lose their relative motion. When dark matter is in chaos it has no organized field and can not be detected, it just has charge or energy. pg

  27. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:
  28. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

  29. P.G. Sharrow says:

    @Scarlet Pumpernickel, project Orion; what a waste of time and money. Both the project and the video. pg

  30. @P.G. Agree!….”Those were the days, my friend..”. The real question is 180° around: But that´s what you are doing.
    And…That what a chapter of the “Pebbles Universe” history. There are no pebbles and that´s the reality, but waves seen as frozen in time….

  31. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    Don’t think so, nuclear propulsion can produce so much more energy then other ones. Its the only way we could take large cargos quickly to outer parts of the solar system?

  32. E.M.Smith says:

    A silly question:

    There are some odd kilovolts of charge from the ionosphere to the ground. IIRC it’s something like a couple of hundred volts in a meter or two.

    Why can’t we just put the opposite charge on a ship and have it repelled by the ground / attracted by the sky?

    Too much leakage current? Not enough total lift? Tendency to flip over? (So thats what those liquid mercury gyros are for in UFOs! ;-)

    Once you are out in space:

    Why can’t you attract random atoms in the front into a scoop and then nuclear electric charged grid accelerate them out the back at near light speed? Your reaction mass is “free” and a load of nuclear electrostatic power ought to go a long ways from a few tons of Uranium…

    Basically a crude version of the Bussard Scoop, but without the fusion part…

  33. E.M.Smith…..and, if we forget our “pebbles universe” mind set…those pebbles´”nucleus” can be reached with the appropiate wavelength (size=dimension). But that, I guess, is classified.

  34. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Actually I started with those things. Basiclly scoop up space and linier accelerate it for drive. Drive it from inside out instead of outside in. None of those things really looked like they could work well. Too much energy needed. The real need was to control the cause of inertia/mass. Use energy to reduce the apparent mass/inertia and the problems of acceleration are reduced and the energy needed is lessened. and no reaction mass is needed.

    What was needed first was a thorough understanding of the physics involved. Matter, forces and energies. start with all the known facts, examine all the theories and then write a theory that put all the facts together as a workable whole. After all I have nearly 100 years of discoveries that were not available to the people that created the present working theories.

    Like you I am a sponge for information and I can “see” inside out, up side down, back to front, and if one idea does not work, throw it away and start over. No sense polishing a bad apple!

    Reports of the activities of UFOs are too extensive and long term to be all fake. So I examined all the reports I could, specially where associated effects were reported by creditable witnesses. Form follows function, effects have causes, all hints to be reverse engineered. My greatest interests are electrical so “A guy with a hammer picks on nails” 8-) pg

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