Fullerton Jim Woodward, 80 and a professor at California State University (USA), is designing the MEGA drive space engine that could allow us to travel to neighboring star systems using small crystals that vibrate when there is an electric current.
His invention, which he called Mach Effect Gravitational Assistance (MEGA), promises, according to the inventor, to navigate through space using only electricity, reports Wired .
By accelerating slowly, but for a long time, a MEGA drive powered spacecraft would come close to the speed of light using a nuclear reactor.
The Mach principle got its name from Albert Einstein who postulated that inertia is related to distant gravitational effects. While the energy of any object changes, space-time also changes around it, according to the principle of mass-energy equivalence discovered by Einstein: E = mc².
Woodward’s idea, who has been working on the project for more than 30 years, is based on this principle: a propeller made with tiny discs that use the piezoelectric effect by changing its mass and energy states while they could gradually accelerate.
The scientist received funding from NASA in 2017 through the Advanced Innovative Concepts program that allowed the creation of a conceptual design of a spaceship named SSI Lambda. The spacecraft’s engine has 1,500 MEGA drive units next to a nuclear reactor.
Recently one of the scientist’s collaborators said he was shocked that Woodward’s latest prototype MEGA drive generated a huge increase in propulsion compared to previous ones.
The researchers already plan to send a prototype into space to test its efficiency.
Other aerospace scientists are skeptical that the engine will actually run. But there is still a chance, however small. And the payoff is high: traveling to other star systems.