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Protons and electrons. Propulsion.

  1. Jul 3, 2013 #1
    I've had this strange theory for a long time.

    If a free floating proton has a tiny amount of mass, wouldn't excelating it to near C increase its mass or energy nearly infinitely?

    If this is so, if we run a wire and fire electrons down its length lets say 100 times per second.
    Then fire protons through a field to reverse their magnetic charge, then wouldn't they adhere to the electron and effectively piggyback up to near C? Couldn't this produce a large amount of thrust?
    And nearing the end of the wire there would be another field to reverse the protons charge so it would "let go" of the electron and fly away?

    I've wondered for a long time if this could work out to be a sort of "solid state" propulsion.

    Electricity In, thrust out, no moving parts.

    What say you?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 3, 2013 #2


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    huh, where did that energy come from?
  4. Jul 3, 2013 #3
    The energy would have come from piggie backing on an electron that is excelerating down a wire.

    Ie: the proton is floating near the wire with an attracting charge and as the electron begins its journey down the wire, just as it starts off, the proton sticks to the electron and is drivin up to speed.
    Is this possible? Even if the mass of the proton slows the electron to 1/2 C or 1/4 C would that still be enough to generate substantial amounts of thrust?

    Say this happens 100 times per second and say there are 1,000 of these wires all firing electrons at the same time with the near area flooded with free floating protons with attracting charges to the electron as they pass by. Wouldnt they be excelerated to ludicrous speeds approaching plaid ? Lol
  5. Jul 3, 2013 #4


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    I am assuming you mean accelerating when you say "excelerating." Any type of acceleration means a net change in energy so that energy has to come from some where. And infinite amount of energy is something we don't have.
  6. Jul 3, 2013 #5
    Oh yes sorry for my typo.
    Ok so then what exactly would happen if a proton could piggy back on an electron?
    Would the attracting forces of dissimilar charges not be enough to hold the proton to the electron?
    Would the electron just pull away, leaving the proton behind? If I fire an electron down a wire it will speed up to near C wouldn't it? If you could get a tiny particle to "stick" to the electron would it be accelerated somewhat? And wouldn't that produce some sort of thrust?
  7. Jul 3, 2013 #6


    Staff: Mentor

    This forum is for accepted science, not personal theories.

    Energy, yes. Mass, no.

    the speed of electrons in a wire is on the order of mm per hour. They are very slow.

    There is no such thing as magnetic charge.




    That violates the conservation of charge.
  8. Jul 3, 2013 #7


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    when you fire an electron into a wire, it will merge into the sea of electrons in the conduction band. It won't move much but the energy you supplied it with will be passed on. It won't accelerate because there is no mechanism accelerating it.
  9. Jul 4, 2013 #8


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    You'd probably want to fire the electrons through a vacuum instead. As has been said, in a wire, electrons must drift slowly, because of all the other stuff getting in their way. Also, I really don't know what you mean by the magnetic charge of a proton... In the first place, why make the protons piggyback on electrons? I'd guess it would be simpler to just accelerate the protons, and forget about the electrons. p.s. I think the propulsion you are talking about would come under the rough category of ion propulsion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_thruster
  10. Jul 5, 2013 #9
    Wow thanks you guys are very helpful.

    I guess I need to clear a few small things up...

    1st I didn't know about the electrons in a wire moving slowly. I always thought they moved close to C down the length of the wire... So I learned something !!!! YEAH!

    2ndly What I meant by a protons charge was sort of like If a proton has a negative charge or a positive charge maybe we could reverse said charge temporarily to get the proton to be attracted to the electron. But maybe this isn't possible? I always thought protons had either a positive or negative charge, but maybe not?

    3rd Since I thought the electron moved at near C that is why I wanted to have the proton piggy back on it to hitch a ride up to speed, but now that I know electrons don't move quickly through wire I guess that doesn't work, but that's why I said it.

    I was thinking if we had electrons going down a wire we could temporarily speed up a proton by getting it to adhere to the electron for just a nano second or so. And I guess the accelerated proton would create a small about of thrust?

    I wonder, from what you said. If we fire electrons through a vacuum could we get them to travel to near C?
    I always thought electrical pulses moved at near C and I thought that electrons where those pulses. But I guess they are not? A Pulse of electricity is not the same as an Electron pulse? Say in a computer on a motherboard or some other type of electronic component?

  11. Jul 5, 2013 #10


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    1. Protons have a positive charge only. Electrons have a negative charge only. These particles do not change the polarity of their charges.

    2. You don't have to change the charge of a proton to get it to attract an electron. For subatomic particles, positive charge attracts negative charge, and vice versa.

    3. Teh proton is approximately 1800 times as massive as an electron, so if any piggy-backing is going to be done, the electron is going to piggy-back on the proton.

    4. Electrons moving through a vacuum is different from electrons moving in a conductor or moving through another medium, like air or water. Electrons cannot move at c when traveling through a medium.
  12. Jul 5, 2013 #11


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    Actually, since electrons have mass, they can't move at c under ANY conditions.
  13. Jul 6, 2013 #12
    oh wow I didn't know electrons had mass. Well I learned another thing today, yeah!!! hahaha
    and a proton is 1,800 times larger then an electron? WOW! Another little bit of info.

    Ok so the electron and proton are already charged in a way to attract each other but that charge can not be changed? Darn! I thought maybe there was a way.

    Well Let me tell you guys something, I am a Huge fan of space exploration and we are never going to get anywhere with rockets or even that pseudo proton drive they have that creates a piece of notebook papers worth of thrust. to be totally honest we're not even going to get to Alpha Centauri at the speed of light.
    We need to go much much faster then light. Maybe some sort of a compression drive that can compress space
    around a craft to multiply its velocity. I don't know but I really want to see some progress made in this field.
    We're still using the same crap rockets from 60 years ago. That's a total joke! I really want someone to come up with something that will at least open up our own solar system to us. Mars in 2 days not 2 months.
    Jupiter in 5 days not 9 months. We need to start exploring more, I just wish I or someone could come up with something revolutionary. Arg!!!

    Ok well thanks you guys. Have a nice weekend.
  14. Jul 6, 2013 #13


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    Pipe dream most likely.
  15. Jul 6, 2013 #14


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    One of the things you should learn from your interactions here so far in this thread is that, before one tries to make some sort of a proposal, a theory, etc., it is always a good idea to double check if one's understanding of the fundamentals are correct or valid in the first place. You'll notice that many responders here had to make several steps backwards to explain to you why certain things that you thought was true, aren't! This is the reason why we strongly encourage people who are not well-versed in physics to resist making wild speculations, but rather, try to learn the basic understanding and principles first.

    That is the most important aspect of this forum that you learn from.

    Please note also that it takes almost no effort for you to check for yourself that protons, electrons, etc. all have masses.

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