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LHC Test Could Lead to Hyperdrive Space Propulsion (Well, In Theory)

• Popular Science

Add one more thing to the list of mysteries, theories, and unsubstantiated ideas that will be confirmed/denied/debunked if CERN ever gets the Large Hadron Collider up and running: hyperdrive spacecraft propulsion.

In 1924, German mathematician David Hilbert published a paper noting a pretty amazing side effect to Einstein's relativity: a relativistic particle moving faster than about half the speed of light should be repelled by a stationary mass (or at least it would appear to be repelled, to an inertial observer watching from afar).

This extraordinary force was more or less forgotten over the decades, but Franklin Felber, a U.S.-based physicist, has resurrected it and flipped the idea around, theorizing that the relativistic particle should also repel the stationary mass. That repellant force is no mere nudge either; Felber predicts the particle could launch the stationary mass to an even greater speed than that of the particle. Moreover, he thinks as long as we're launching stationary masses to more than half the speed of light, they may as well be spacecraft.


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