Roger Shawyer has published (and applied for a patent on) an improved version of the EMDrive that contains a superconductor plate. This is claimed to be much more efficient than the original. Patent at https://www.ipo.gov.uk/p-find-publication-getPDF.pdf?PatentNo=GB2537119&DocType=A&JournalNumber=6647. There’s a good article on this at IBTimes that covers the basics and has a lot of onward links. Since I’m not going to fill space by quoting that article, best go look at it and come back later…. Whatever, Shawyer is claiming orders of magnitude more drive for the same power input, so I look forward to the peer-reviewed paper on the experiments due sometime in December.
The underlying question with the EMDrive is what it’s pushing against and thus whether it breaks Conservation of Momentum. At the moment I’m not certain whether it’s pushing against the EM fields (as in the v²/c² term in Faraday’s equations pointed to by Richard Banduric’s space drive idea) or whether it’s pushing on the rest of the Universe which seems a bit more likely but does lead us down some weird paths as to what reality is. For example, momentum may be quantised which means that at very low accelerations CoM is not exact.
I’ve also been trying to achieve an understanding of Mike McCullough’s theory, which so far seems to predict a lot of previously unexplained effects in cosmology, space flight and, yes, the EMDrive pretty well from first principles without needing fitting constants added in. I’ve pointed to his blog before, but it’s worth looking at the basic explanation and also exploring the other entries on his blog. Although the maths works out well and the predictions are borne out by measurements, it does require a certain flexibility of thought and at the moment I’m not sure what medium the Unruh waves are indeed vibrating in. In order to avoid problems with causality, and to fit in with quantum theory with its spooky action at a distance ideas, it makes sense to me that the Unruh waves must actually be oscillations in the mass-probability density and therefore have an infinite velocity. How else could you get an effect here/now from the edge of the Universe that is somewhere around 13.8 billion light-years away in time and distance? Still, the paradoxes here (as usual in such cases) tell us that we haven’t yet got the whole picture and that we’re missing something. In the meantime, if the predictions are correct then there’s enough right in the theory to be useful and we will need to work on the deeper understanding to get further.
As new research emerges, it seems the Universe is stranger than we’d imagined. Hopefully it won’t be stranger than we can imagine, as Haldane once said. There’s however always the possibility that we’ll find that theories that have always been good before don’t predict the outcome when we take the experiment to extremes that haven’t been tested before. For Shawyer’s new design, if it produces the orders of magnitude higher thrust predicted and thus becomes undeniably true rather than a bit iffy on the measurements, we could see a new leap in knowledge as well as a useful tool for space travel.