Now a team of physicists have put forward an alternative explanation – it turns out the EM drive could actually work without breaking any scientific laws, if we factor in a weird and often overlooked idea in quantum physics – pilot wave theory.
So either our understanding of physics isn’t right, or we’re missing a big piece of the puzzle when it comes to the EM drive.
Researchers José Croca and Paulo Castro from the Centre for Philosophy of Sciences of the University of Lisbon in Portugal suggest that not only could pilot wave theory explain the mysterious behaviour of the EM drive, it could help to make it even more powerful.
“We have found that applying a pilot wave theory to NASA’s EM drive frustum [or cone], we could explain its thrust without involving any external action applied to the system, as Newton’s third law would require,” Castro told ScienceAlert via email.
Because the cone, or frustum, of the EM drive is asymmetrical, it would also generate an asymmetrical wave field. They’ve only shown that it’s possible, from a modelling point of view, for a pilot wave to guide the EM drive.
There are also groups looking to test the EM drive in space – or according to some rumours, already doing so – which would really show once and for all whether it works.