NASA, and plenty of private individuals, want to put mankind on Mars. Now a team at the University of Washington, with funding from the space agency, is about to start building a fusion engine that could get humans there in just 30 days and make other forms of space travel obsolete.
“To power a rocket, the team has devised a system in which a powerful magnetic field causes large metal rings to implode around this plasma, compressing it to a fusion state. The converging rings merge to form a shell that ignites the fusion, but only for a few microseconds. Even though the compression time is very short, enough energy is released from the fusion reactions to quickly heat and ionize the shell. This super-heated, ionized metal is ejected out of the rocket nozzle at a high velocity. This process is repeated every minute or so, propelling the spacecraft.
S & F!
I'd love to see the world advancing away from chemically propelled engines and closer to a ZPE development! This has been a long time coming and if developed properly will drive (no pun intended) the transportation market and world's energy systems into a new age!
The reason tech like harnessing Zero Point Energy will never come to fruition is because of the potential for great destruction said technology could and would unleash upon our world. And human nature pretty much ensures we would use it to destroy ourselves.
Sad but true.
reply to post by andy06shake
We have been able to travel through space at speeds near half of light since the 1970's. It actually involved making a space craft, whose propulsion was based on detonating nuclear bombs.
To the best of my knowledge this is much more safe. You see the "pellets" being sent into the magnetic field produce an energy equivalent to one gallon of rocket fuel.
Further, this is not about ZPE, this is about gaining energy from matter.
But the finding also raises a physical problem: there's nothing to stop arbitrarily small waves from fitting between two mirrors, and there is an infinite number of these wavelengths. The mathematical solution is to temporarily do the calculation for a finite number of waves for two different separations of the mirrors, find the associated difference in vacuum energies and then argue that the difference remains finite as one allows the number of wavelengths to go to infinity.
Although this trick works, and gives answers in in agreement with experiment, the problem of an infinite vacuum energy is a serious one. Einstein's theory of gravitation implies that this energy must produce an infinite gravitational curvature of spacetime--something we most definitely do not observe. The resolution of this problem is still an open research question.