by Victor Tangermann, Futurism
80 year-old lung cancer survivor and California State University, Fullerton physics professor emeritus Jim Woodward has an out-of-this-world idea to allow spacecraft to travel to neighboring star systems: tiny crystals that vibrate tens of thousands of times per second when an electric current is applied.
His invention, dubbed the Mach-effect gravitational assist (MEGA) drive, makes the extraordinary promise of a propulsion system that relies on nothing but a source of electricity — no heavy combustion fuel necessary, as Wired reports in a fascinating new feature.
The idea is to accelerate slowly, but over a very long period of time. According to Woodward, a spacecraft with a MEGA drive could eventually reach velocities approaching the speed of light, with the help of an onboard nuclear reactor to supply decades worth of electric power.
The MEGA drive relies on Mach’s principle, named by Albert Einstein himself, which claims that inertia is related to distant gravitational effects. As an object’s energy changes, the very matter of space and time changes around it as well, a controversial an interpretation of Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalence principle E=mc².
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