# Electrostatic Pulse Engine

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by Joeblow93132, Jan 5, 2002.

1. ### MRC_HansSkepticRegistered Senior Member

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835
I see you are. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a moving electric field. When you apply charge to your plate, an electromagnetic wave will leave the plate. After it has passed, there will be a field. When you discharge the plate, a new electromagnetic wave will be emitted, terminating the field.

The front of a field, so to speak, when it spreads out, is an electromagnetic wave. Likewise the "rear" of a field. Once the field is established, any attractive or repulsive forces will exist between the physical carriers of the field, in your case, the plates.

But I'm not saying its not possible to make an electromagnetic propulsion device. A lot of serious reserch is going on in that direction. You must realize, though, that even if you made a device that worked, it would not be any kind of miracle machine; the energy required to take a vehicle to, say, Mars would still be enrmous. The advantage of en EM propulsion device in deep space exploration is that you dont have to bring a physical fuel, and that you can recharge from solar panels. But there are no free rides, you still need lots of energy.

3. ### ProsoothusRegistered Senior Member

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Hans,

If I had two like-charged metal spheres there would be an electric field between them. If I took an uncharged sphere and then charged it for 1 second, there would be an electric field for that one second. After 1 second, the field would have travelled 300,000 km because the electric field travels at the speed of c.

Now if I only charged the field for 1/1000 of a second, I would have an electric field for that amount of time. This time, it would have only travelled 300 km.

You seem to be suggesting that since I'm turning the plate on and off, that an electric field ceases to exist all together. This is not the case. The electric field is still there, it just isn't steady anymore, it's pulsing.

Exactly. As you pointed out, an electric field will be sandwiched between the two electromagnetic waves. If you choose to ignore the electromagnetic pulses, and only focus on the electric field in between, you will find that it is possible to make propulsion device using only these electric fields.

Maybe, or maybe not. If I'm correct, and if this device was perfectly synchronized, it would produce a force that is equal to the repulsive force of the two charged plates if they weren't pulsing, but had steady electric fields. If this turns out to be the case, this force would not be small.

You also have to take into consideration that this device would be able to accelerate to very high speeds. The sole problem would be leaving the Earth's gravitational field. After that, it would be a breeze.

Perhaps it would be better, in the short run, if a traditional rocket would launch the device into orbit so that it's energy requirements would be far less for its trip to Mars, and back.

Tom aka Joeblow93132

5. ### overdozehumanRegistered Senior Member

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310
Ack Tom,

I see you're still at it. Ok, let me be yet another sap trying to convince you that your idea doesn't work.

Electric fields don't interact. Matter interacts. Which means if an electric field is pulling or pushing on a plate, it is actually interacting with the electrons/protons of that plate, not with any field that this plate in turn emanates around itself.

Charging a plate positive does indeed set up a positive electric field around it, but what it really does is remove electrons from it, making it have more protons than electrons. Now if you brought a positive electric field around to this plate, it would repulse instead of attracting because the (incoming) electric field will have fewer electrons in the plate to counteract its push on the protons.

As you set up an electric field next to a neutral object (like plate A), it will push/pull on the electrons and create a dipole, after which it will attract plate A due to that induced dipole. If the field is emitted by plate B, then that means A is attracted in the direction of B. But because A has a dipole set up, this new electric field will eventually reach B and attract B to A, and so the attractive force will keep oscillating between A and B, each time being reduced by square of distance between them (plus heat dissipation due to electrical resistance in the plates.)

Anyway, any electric field must actually "touch" the plate in order to push it. No "mid-air" stuff.

Additionally, I understand you want your "engine" to operate with very high voltages. At the same time, you want it to operate at very high frequencies. These two goals are incompatible in practice; capacitance/inductance effects in the plates will prevent you from quickly oscillating large amounts of charge back and forth, not to mention the enormous heat such huge currents at such large voltages would generate (due to resistance). Note that your plates can't be superconductive, because superconductivity breaks down under sharp magnetic flux changes.

Let me also tell you that if your device works, it will be generating energy out of nothing. IOW, you create kinetic energy without radiating the same amount of energy back. On the other hand, if you indeed are radiating energy then all you have is a fancy flashlight.

Last edited: Aug 2, 2002

7. ### ProsoothusRegistered Senior Member

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1,973
Overdoze,

I wanted to respond to something in your post, but you deleted it.

You were explaining in the deleted part the step-by-step details of how the device works. You concluded that the pulse from plate B would exert on plate A, even though plate A is uncharged as the pulse hits it. This is not true. There would be no force on plate A because plate A wouldn't have an electric field that could interact with the pulse.

This, in effect, would mean that propulsion would be created since there would be a force on plate B, but not on plate A.

You've got a point. But if it is possible to make an electrostatic pulse engine, I'm sure a way can be found that reduce these unwanted effects while still producing a relevant output.

Tom

8. ### overdozehumanRegistered Senior Member

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310
Sorry for all this editing, Tom.

I realized some of what I wrote didn't make much sense... Plus I added a little more; see above.

9. ### ProsoothusRegistered Senior Member

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Overdoze,

Actually, you were not only making sense, you were also proving my point.

No, that's not true. It takes energy to charge and discharge the plates. This is the energy that would be converted to kinetic energy.

Tom

10. ### overdozehumanRegistered Senior Member

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310
Not really. This energy will manifest itself as heat, i.e. photons emanating from the "engine" in all random directions. The average momentum of all those photons is 0, so you're still gaining momentum without giving up any. Which means momentum isn't being conserved, which is the same thing as energy not being conserved.

11. ### ProsoothusRegistered Senior Member

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Overdoze,

I don't know what you are getting at.

This is how I see it:

Energy needed to charge and discharge plates =

Heat produced by engine + motion created by engine.

Example: Electric Motor

1) Electricity moving through wires creates magnetic fields.
2) Magnetic fields create force that pushes permanent magnets.
3) Force causes rotor to spin.

If the electrostatic pulse engine breaks the laws of conservation of energy, so does the typical electric motor.

Tom

12. ### overdozehumanRegistered Senior Member

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310
Conservation of momentum, quite simply. Heat has almost no bearing on momentum; motion has plenty. You're creating an accelerating force on the "engine". Newton's first law means there must be an opposite force accelerating something else. What is being accelerated in the opposite direction to balance out the "engine"s acceleration?

This has to do with conservation of angular momentum. Even though you spend energy making the rotor spin, the act of spinning this rotor impels the surrounding housing (or the planet it's rigidly attached to) spin in the opposite direction. Overall, angular momentum is conserved.

In the case of your engine, momentum is not conserved.

So basically what I'm trying to say is that your interpretation of what would happen to the plates can't be correct. Though, after thinking on this topic I can't pinpoint where exactly you're wrong. Point is that ultimately the forces on two plates must be equal and opposite on average.

13. ### ProsoothusRegistered Senior Member

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1,973
Overdoze,

I see your point. I'd then have to say that, in my device, momentum would be transferred from the "virtual" photons of the electric field to the rest of the "engine".

Since I'm unaware of the actual composition and the source of the forces of electric fields, I can't get any more specific on how the momentum would be conserved.

I broke the process of the device into small steps in order to find out if I went wrong anywhere. I couldn't find anything wrong.

The only thing that does bother me is not knowing what the exact "momentum" of the virtual photons of the electric field will be in this type of device. The momentum might be large, like the force generated in electrostatic interactions, or they might be small, like a photon hitting a solar sail. If it is large, the device will work. However, if the momentum of the virtual photons is small, it will likely balance out to give a electrostatic vibrator.

Tom

14. ### overdozehumanRegistered Senior Member

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310
Yup, I feel the problem lies somewhere at the interface between fields and matter. Neither you nor I understand the whole virtual photon thing in great detail.

I suppose we'll just have to wait for the big guns (James R.? Crisp? Anyone?) to educate us.

15. ### ProsoothusRegistered Senior Member

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Overdoze,

I don't think they know, either.

Tom

16. ### MRC_HansSkepticRegistered Senior Member

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835
Hey, what a lot of posts, cant a fellow take a week-end off, hehehe?

May I go back to the electrical/electromagnetic fields for a second?

An electric field is static. It doesnt move, it doesnt change, it doesnt spread, it just sits there. So what happens when you change the charge on a plate? The change in the field propagates in the form of an electromagnetic wave.

Imagine a long basin of water (e.g. a drinking-through for horses). Imagine you pour a bucket of water into one end, now the water level in one end is higher than in the other end, and a wave will roll the lenght of the through, distributing the water. There will be a lot of rippling around, but after that subsides, you now have a new water level all over the through.

Another problem in your machine: No plate is an island. If your plate was sitting somewhere all alone in intergalactic space, i theory it would not take any force to charge it, but in reality it interacts with its surroundings, especially with plate #2. They form a capacitor, and when you drive a charge into plate #1 (using, as you propose, a high voltage), you will drive a charge out of plate #2. Trying, as you would like, to counter that charge at the moment it starts to influence plate #2 is equal to discharging the capacitor you just charged, and you can only do that by passing a current to plate #1.

But all this would be easy to prove experimentally. You dont need a very high voltage to expect a measurable effect (if it worked, hehehe); simply build a small-scale model and place it on a balance.

Hans

17. ### ProsoothusRegistered Senior Member

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1,973
Hans,

Let's say that you are floating in outerspace and that 300,000 km away from you is a metal sphere. If you decide to charge the sphere, the electric field of the sphere won't reach you until 1 second later because electric fields, even static electric fields, travel at 300,000 km/s. An electromagnetic pulse may hit you after 1 second, but the electric field will be right behind it.

Do you think the electric field would reach you instantaneously, or that it will never reach you at all??

I agree. That's exactly how it's supposed to work. Currents have to be passed to plate 1 and plate 2 to charge and discharge them. But, as I pointed out before, the timing is critical. If plate 1 is not switched off by the time the electric field reaches plate 2, there wouldn't be any propulsion.

The problem isn't the voltage, it's the frequency of the device. The closer the plates, the higher the frequency would have to be to create a measurable effect. For example, if the distance between the plates is 1 meter, the pulses would have to be as short as 1/900,000,000 second to create the desired force. (If the pulses lasted for 1/300,000,000 of a second or longer, there would be no propulsion force). As Overdoze pointed out, frequencies in this range are hard to produce, and they produce undesireable effects. If the distance between the plates were ten times shorter (example: 10 cm), the frequency would have to be ten times larger. Due to this fact, it may be impossible to make a small version of this device.

Tom

18. ### AntimodeRegistered Member

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5
I will readily admit I have no true knowledge of the subject at hand, but as an independent observer I might be able to at least present a theory.

It has been said in this thread that electromagnetic fields are static and do not move. But yet, they do not suddenly appear at all possible distances from the source through the universe when a source is activated, and then disappear again the same moment the source is removed. That seems improbable.

An explanation exists in the same thread, where somebody said that there is an electromagnetic pulse traveling with lightspeed which 'sets' the field, and when said field ends, a second pulse clears it, like ripples on water raising the water depth in a bucket filled from one end.

Prosoothus recognizes that if both plates are charged at once, they propel each other equally, making one plate pull the system in one way and the other pull it back again. To combat this, he or she wishes to activate a plate just long enough to send that electromagnetic field changer pulse, and then catch the field with the second plate when the first plate is already off, thus making the second plate not affect the first since it is off, but still be affected by the pulse sent earlier, back in the days when the first plate was on. Is this a correct understanding?

If so, my first thought is a related experiment. If both plates are on at the same time, thus pushing against each other with the meeting field, wouldn't by the same reasoning just turning one plate off result in movement just to one side as well? Because when for example plate A is turned off, the field from the other plate will pass right through it immediately, while plate A would still keep its field against plate B for some time, since the field can only be reset with the speed of light. Since this obviously isn't the case, that would seem to indicate that the same reasoning cannot be applied to the electromagnetic pulse engine.

/ Best regards, thinker but not yet scientist Antimode

19. ### postoakRegistered Senior Member

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281
I make the same disclaimer as Antimode and don't have a degree in physics, but since you seem to be enjoying defending your design against all comers -- let me ask you -- are there any relativistic problems here? How are you going to coordinate the creation of the two fields at a distance?

20. ### ProsoothusRegistered Senior Member

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1,973
Antimode,

Welcome to sciforums!

Yes.

I'm not sure I understand what you are asking. If you are asking if one plate is pulsing while the other plate is static, would it create propulsion. The answer is no. If plate B was charged when plate A was switched on, the static electric field of plate B would already be present by plate A as plate A generates its pulse. The pulse from plate A would push against the static electric field of plate B, causing plate A to be pushed. However, the force would also be transfered to plate B through the static electric field, thereby neutralizing the force on plate A. The result would be no propulsion. This is why both plates would definately need to be pulsing.

Tom

21. ### ProsoothusRegistered Senior Member

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1,973
postoak,

That wouldn't be difficult at all. First, the frequency, and the duration of the pulses, would be calculated using the distance between the two plates. Then two seperate oscillating circuits, set to that frequency, would be applied to the two plates. Finally, the frequency of one of the oscillating circuits would be shifted until the maximum force is generated.

Tom

22. ### MRC_HansSkepticRegistered Senior Member

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835
Mmmm. Speed is not such a big problem. One meter roughly equals 300MHz, thats probably slower than the computer you are sitting at right now. Mind you, electromagnetics is a very well established science, very little new to discover there. I'll try and explain again:

A field, which can be either electrical or magnetic (they can coexist, but are independent) is static and exist ONLY between two poles. There is no such thing as one plate with an electric field around it, the field can only exist between two plates. An electric field (or magnetic field) does not appear instantaneously, it is being built up when the poles (plates) are charged. Charging requires energy. During charging, the change of energy level propagates as an electromagnetic wave, obeying the laws applicable to electromagnetic waves. Once the charge cycle ends, the field is static, the energy used for charging is stored in the field. In this situation attractive forces exist between the poles. The system (two plates = a capacitor) can be discharged, ideally recovering the energy used to create it. The change will again propagate between the plates in the form of an electromagnetic wave.

Extensive and detailed research has been done in electromagnetics, and we use it very day (Radio, TV, cell phones, many kinds of appliances). If there was an easy way to use it for propulsion, you would see them pass overhead right now.

Hans

23. ### ProsoothusRegistered Senior Member

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1,973
Hans,

300MHZ at 5 volts is no problem. However 300MHZ at a few hundred thousand volts is a very big problem. As you indicated, the greater the charge on the plates, the longer it takes to charge them.

So are you saying that an electron does not have an electric field?? Only when a proton approaches an electron is an electric field generated, right??

What about a magnet? Does a magnet have a magnetic field when there is no other magnets around??

How about a star?? Does a star only have a gravitational field if there are planets orbiting it??

We have a riddle hear in the US: If a tree falls in a forest, and there is no one around, does it make a sound???

I believe that an electric field is an extension of an electron and it exists whether there is another particle around, or not.

I don't think that anyone has ever attempted to pulse two plates at these very high frequencies, while at the same time, phase shifting the pulse on one of the plates. However, I have heard of people who used pulsing wires to achieve propulsion (the second pulse is created by the electric induction of the first pulse), although I'm not sure if their experiments were valid or phony.

Tom