In a world-changing breakthrough in physics, NASA engineer David Burns has recently conceptualized an engine which can theoretically accelerate to 99 percent of the speed of light - all without using propellant, as per international reports. The engine named 'Helical engine' reportedly works by exploiting the way mass can change at relativistic speeds, particularly close to the speed of light in a vacuum. Burns has published his findings in NASA Technical Reports. The paper is yet to be reviewed by experts.
Many experts have dubbed that the engine could 'violate the laws of physics'. While the concept is still in theory, Burns believes that the engine could have applications.
According to reports, Burns has explained the concept of his engine as a box with a weight inside, threaded on a line, with a spring at each end bouncing the weight back and forth. He has claimed that the effect of this would be to wiggle the entire box, with the weight seeming to stand still. He states that while the box would stay in the spot wiggling if the mass of the weight were to increase in only one direction, it would generate a greater push in that direction - hence a thrust.
Burns' model is a helical structure which theoretically makes ions move faster at one end of the loop, and slower at the other. "The engine accelerates ions confined in a loop to moderate relativistic speeds and then varies their velocity to make slight changes to their mass. The engine then moves ions back and forth along the direction of travel to produce thrust," states Burns in his paper. He added, "The engine has no moving parts other than ions traveling in a vacuum line, trapped inside electric and magnetic fields."
While his concept is theoretically possible, scientists say that practically designing such an engine is still not a reality. Burns has listed the inefficiencies of the engine and the large specifications of the design if such an engine is possible. But, in space, such an engine may be possible, states Burns. "The engine itself would be able to get to 99 percent the speed of light if you had enough time and power," he said.