DailyDirt: Moving Forward... With Cool Propulsion

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

There are a lot of different ways to get from point A to point B these days. But a bunch of the coolest concepts were conceived decades ago and are only recently beginning to be developed into practical forms of transportation. Ion thrusters are being used more and more in spacecrafts now. Biofuels are actually available for somewhat ordinary cars on the road. However, there are still a few pretty exotic means of thrust that haven't quite come into common use. Here are some quick examples.
  • Trinitramid is a molecule that might boost rocket fuel performance. But... "It remains to be seen how stable the molecule is in a solid form." [url]
  • An optical analog of aerodynamic lift produces a force on a "wing" placed in a uniform stream of light. This lightfoil isn't going to move people anytime soon, but it could be useful for designing solar sails on satellites someday. [url]
  • The US Navy has successfully launched a plane using a railgun. Jumping from a steam-powered catapult to a railgun sounds like a pretty huge advance.... [url]

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jan 2011 @ 5:56pm

      What about the supposed levitation that mercury allegedly creates in a gyroscope?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jan 2011 @ 8:12pm

      the age of sail

      The idea of solar sailing has been around for years. A large solar sail (acres and acres of shiny film) provides a small, steady thrust without the need to carry fuel. It's no good for getting off the ground, but it's terrific for interplanetary travel (and yes, it can be used to travel toward the sun, e.g. to Venus). Actual experiments began only last year.

      The article in question is behind a paywall, but the abstract suggests that this method is less efficient than a simple reflective surface, but easier to arrange. So it would be useful for moving or driving micro- or nano-scale objects (especially in big groups), but not very important for solar sailing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      spiderwebby (profile), 18 Jan 2011 @ 1:09am

      linear motor != rail gun

      sorry guys, they're not firing their planes off the deck at Mach 5 quite yet

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Hephaestus (profile), 18 Jan 2011 @ 7:16am

      You forgot a cool one ....

      This guy seems to have come up with a reactionless drive. A Blueprint for a Quantum Propulsion Machine

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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