Burns said his helical engine would work by accelerating ions confined in a loop. By changing their mass slightly, the engine would then move the ions back and forth along the direction of travel to produce thrust. New Scientist notes that the helical engine would need to be 650 feet long and 40 feet wide in order to work.
• What and Why
•Ions and Particle Accelerators
•Classical vs Relativistic Dynamics
•Helical Engine Architecture
•A Specific Design Example
•Conservation of Momentum
This mass changing isn’t prohibited by physics. Einstein’s theory of special relativity says that objects gain mass as they are driven towards the speed of light, an effect that must be accounted for in particle accelerators. In fact, a simplistic implementation of Burns’s concept would be to replace the ring with a circular particle accelerator, in which ions are swiftly accelerated to relativistic speed during one stroke, and decelerated during the other.
But Burns thinks it would make more sense to ditch the box and rod and employ the particle accelerator for the lateral as well as the circular movement – in which case, the accelerator would need to be shaped like a helix.
(12.7.2018) As early as the 1780s, French physicist Charles-Augustin de Coulomb noticed that charged particles were neutralizing the electric charge of some of his experiments. In 1912, Austrian scientist Victor Hess first demonstrated that these particles were arriving from space.
This leads to strong motivations to detect the BZ neutrino flux: first, it is required by standard model physics, and thus its absence could signal new physics beyond the standard model.
(27.9.2018) However, twice, during its first flight 2006 and its third flight in 2014, ANITA detected odd radio waves with unflipped polarizations coming up from the surface below instead of the horizon. That suggests the signals were produced by upward-zooming air showers triggered by particles that tunneled through Earth. At first blush, that’s not a problem for the standard model. Neutrinos barely interact with matter, so a couple of cosmic neutrinos might have barreled through the planet before smacking an atomic nucleus in the ice and setting off an upward air shower.