Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

NASA ambitions

  1. Apr 29, 2005 #1
    Hey there everyone,

    Out of curiosity have many of you noted the NASA innovation project has a suitor for its courting of a better way to explore space.
    The basic concept is that a relatively stationary object can propel the moving spacecraft further faster, and more explicity the proposal is that a magnetic force from a plasma beam will do the trick.

    Ok so here's why I am posting it on this forum, I applied for uni three years ago with the full intention of inventing this thing above myself. Now its pretty much on the table before I got there and I wonder what I should do now to be still ahead of the game when I get there.

    My majors are Maths (differential calculus) and Chemistry, (I know why that is but don't ask me to tell you because I am sly and I won't tell you) and I am not going to change it to astrophysics, but what I do want to know is, if anyone here has been keeping up with this development, what do you see are the obstacles this ambitious project will be facing and where do you think we should be looking for the answers.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 29, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    The concept of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) propulsion has been around since, at the very least, the 70's. It hasn't produced anything significant yet, has it? I'm not sure why you think you are "inventing" something new here.

    Furthermore, why would you want to "change" to astrophysics? Astrophysicists don't do MHD propulsions. People majoring in plasma physics, nuclear engineering, and even electrical engineering (waveguides, EM fields, etc) are the ones involved in studying such things.

  4. Apr 29, 2005 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Since you like Chem and Math, why dont you major in Chemical Engineering and go for graduate research in Material Science - thats where the innovations are and need to be - better, cheaper, lighter and stronger materials.
  5. Apr 29, 2005 #4
    I happen to be a math and chemistry major as well. How much extra work on catching up on undergraduate courses would I have to do in order to become a chemical engineer?

    I was thinking about applying to grad school for Chem E, that or for Physical chemistry/chemical physics specializing in kinetics and quantum chemistry.
  6. Apr 29, 2005 #5
    :rofl: Not the MHD. :rofl: A 'something else' but the concept of using MHD for space travel is in the same box.
    Never mind all that anyhoo. What do you think would be the problems of using this magnetic propulsion in this application?

    Well there you see either you've missed the point altogether or you actually understood what I was saying more than you realise. Astrophysics isn't the right direction, even though the ambition is to explore outer space.

    Cronxeh, I was majoring in Chem Engineering with Supercomputing/Modelling but I have changed back to the old fashioned way of doing things, it makes more sense to me. I have plans to matriculate into Material science, already, so I agree with you there, but I have limited interest in the direction of those fields right now. Then again, things change as you learn more about them, and that's really what I hope we might do here discussing this model of space travel. It's my career interest, I am just a girl with a dream, but I suppose we can go back to lamenting that women can't see a place for them in Science these days.
  7. Apr 30, 2005 #6
    It is also one of my dreams to push the world of inter-stellar travel that little bit closer. Although I'm not currently studying any sciences, it's an idea for one of the directions I wan't to be going.

    The use of negative energy seems highly likely in the thought of inter-stellar travel, but I think the ion drive could do more than they think. You know that satelite which has been accelarating for two years? Can't they use the ion drive to power another motor/engiene instead of powering the satelite it's self?

    (Not a lagitimate idea just an example)Say you had a cylinder powered to rotate on it's axis by the ion drive, after two years that cylinder will be spinning extremely fast. Could an energy be created by those conditions, instead of the ion drive moving the satelite it's self?
  8. Apr 30, 2005 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    MHD is the PHYSICS that's involved in such a study. It isn't a TECHNIQUE. If you study plasma physics, it is PART of such a study, regardless on whether you are studying to do fusion, the study new acceleration scheme, or do to propulsion!

    And the problem? Have you considered how DIFFICULT it is to create, maintain, and control ANY plasma so that it does what you want it to do?

    Now don't use that tone with me. If you have read my journal entries and my other postings on here, I have done A LOT to promote the participation of women in science! I just spend a whole day a month ago with high school girls here at Argonne during their "Science Careers Looking for Women" day! So I can do WITHOUT that kind of statement. Your gender is irrelevant on here.

  9. Apr 30, 2005 #8
    Well you have assumed that's what I intended to do, again with the assumptions, can we just get along?

    Yes I had started reading you journals Zz, and that is exactly why I took the tone. With much less intesity than you have assumed, however, it was just a lighthearted jab y'know.

    But you're right about one thing, my gender has not a thing to do with your elitist replies, so I reckon I'll stop asking you for them, how about that?
  10. Apr 30, 2005 #9
    To be horribly honest with you, Mark, I haven't got an answer to that.
    What I can say is that this concept doesn't generate kinetic force it harnesses/harmonises with an existing one. If you get it the right way round things (hypothetically should) just work because they are rather than because they are forced.
    I know you won't mind me getting all fuzzy philosophical about it, like you with Black holes, I with perpetual motion. Ahh so they say it can't be done, but you get your confirmation in time and thats the truth.

    Only problem with that is energy is not created, its moved from one state to another. However I have less interest in collecting energy than I do in finding out new equations for understanding it's forms. For what it's worth, though, it takes many hands to build a city and each does their own part, so it's good to see others with dreams of the stars.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook