Image: Cal State Fullerton
The MEGA drive, based on solid physics principles, utilizes an electric current and a stack of piezoelectric ceramic ( PZT) dielectric crystals in lieu of chemical propellants to change a body's momentum. Dr. Woodward, a maverick in the field of gravitational physics, and admirer of Ernst Mach, is trying to exploit the apparent relationship between gravity and inertia as per Mach's principle in order to derive useful work from his "gadget."
The desired effect, roughly described as a constant acceleration of a body due to internal energy fluctuations, is achieved when the crystals act as energy-storing capacitors that deform under a high AC voltage, causing a micro push-pull reaction on the test mass (crystals) that, in turn, cause the whole apparatus to accelerate:
Woodward realized that if Einstein was right and inertia really is gravity in disguise, it should be possible to detect these brief changes in an object’s mass as its energy fluctuates. If part of an object accelerated at the exact moment when it became a little heavier, it would pull the rest of the object along with it. In other words, it would create thrust without propellant.
Woodward called these temporary changes in mass “Mach effects,” and the engine that could use them a Mach-effect thruster. By combining hundreds or thousands of these drives, they could conceivably produce enough thrust to send a spaceship to the stars in less than a human lifetime.”
Thus far, Woodward's project to produce an electrically-powered, gravitational thruster is a go. The gadget is being tested by various laboratories with promising results, and the theoretical part of the project is being peer reviewed. In addition to that, NASA has already invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the research and development of the MEGA Drive. With any luck, we will soon have propellantless propulsion that will truly take us to the stars.
Read the detailed article below:
For decades, Jim Woodward dreamed of a propellantless engine to take humans to the stars. Now he thinks he’s got it. But is it revolutionary—or illusory?