Author Topic: EM Drive X-Prize Planning  (Read 67437 times)

Offline Mulletron

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Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #60 on: 05/16/2015 08:28 am »
The X-Prize loses its power if they start announcing X-Prizes for discovering unicorns, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa.  I know in your world view unicorns aren't equivalent to the EM Drive actually working, but you have to understand that to the majority of well-educated people in technical fields the EM Drive working is pretty much equivalent to finding a living unicorn.

So by trying help the EM Drive you lessen the X-Prize's effectiveness for all those other X-Prizes for things like flying to the moon that are not inconsistent with known physics.

To my knowledge, no lab has presented evidence of discovering unicorns, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa.

Quote
but you have to understand that to the majority of well-educated people in technical fields the EM Drive working is pretty much equivalent to finding a living unicorn

All I have to say is that if we're ever going to understand how folks are reporting a thrust signature from these copper cans, we're going to have to upgrade our toolbox to the latest tools available. Most people are simply unaware that concepts such as "Casimir momentum" even exist. This stuff isn't magic, it's just new.
« Last Edit: 05/16/2015 08:29 am by Mulletron »
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #61 on: 05/16/2015 09:22 am »
The X-Prize loses its power if they start announcing X-Prizes for discovering unicorns, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa.  I know in your world view unicorns aren't equivalent to the EM Drive actually working, but you have to understand that to the majority of well-educated people in technical fields the EM Drive working is pretty much equivalent to finding a living unicorn.

So by trying help the EM Drive you lessen the X-Prize's effectiveness for all those other X-Prizes for things like flying to the moon that are not inconsistent with known physics.

To my knowledge, no lab has presented evidence of discovering unicorns, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa.

Quote
but you have to understand that to the majority of well-educated people in technical fields the EM Drive working is pretty much equivalent to finding a living unicorn

All I have to say is that if we're ever going to understand how folks are reporting a thrust signature from these copper cans, we're going to have to upgrade our toolbox to the latest tools available. Most people are simply unaware that concepts such as "Casimir momentum" even exist. This stuff isn't magic, it's just new.

You're completely and utterly missing my point.

It doesn't matter whether it's real or not.  My point is that, for better or worse, the vast majority of the science and engineering establishment believes it's nonsense.  You have to take that into consideration when deciding whether or not to create an EM Drive X-Prize, because that's enough to seriously harm everything else the X-Prize foundation is doing.

Whether the EM Drive really works or not is off topic for this thread.

Offline Star One

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EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #62 on: 05/16/2015 01:37 pm »
The X-Prize loses its power if they start announcing X-Prizes for discovering unicorns, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa.  I know in your world view unicorns aren't equivalent to the EM Drive actually working, but you have to understand that to the majority of well-educated people in technical fields the EM Drive working is pretty much equivalent to finding a living unicorn.

So by trying help the EM Drive you lessen the X-Prize's effectiveness for all those other X-Prizes for things like flying to the moon that are not inconsistent with known physics.

To my knowledge, no lab has presented evidence of discovering unicorns, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa.

Quote
but you have to understand that to the majority of well-educated people in technical fields the EM Drive working is pretty much equivalent to finding a living unicorn

All I have to say is that if we're ever going to understand how folks are reporting a thrust signature from these copper cans, we're going to have to upgrade our toolbox to the latest tools available. Most people are simply unaware that concepts such as "Casimir momentum" even exist. This stuff isn't magic, it's just new.

You're completely and utterly missing my point.

It doesn't matter whether it's real or not.  My point is that, for better or worse, the vast majority of the science and engineering establishment believes it's nonsense.  You have to take that into consideration when deciding whether or not to create an EM Drive X-Prize, because that's enough to seriously harm everything else the X-Prize foundation is doing.

Whether the EM Drive really works or not is off topic for this thread.

There is a danger here of it looking like you're trying to speak for the whole of the scientific establishment on this topic. That aside as far as I can see your concerns regarding the X-Prize have been answered up thread so I'm not sure there is any worth in you recycling this again.
« Last Edit: 05/16/2015 02:41 pm by Star One »

Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #63 on: 05/17/2015 12:56 am »
I disagree.  Whether EM Drive really works - or, rather, whether EM Drive has a non-trivial probability of really working - is precisely the point.  The X prize exists to deliver "radical breakthroughs".  By definition, this requires that it tilt at windmills that the vast majority of experts believe are impossible nonsense.  Otherwise, they wouldn't be breakthroughs.

This is the beauty of the prize format.

1. We believe that the upside is significant and that there are objectively measurable, clear ways of demonstrating that upside.

2. We therefore are willing to offer to pay a substantial prize to anyone who is able to hit those targets.  But *not* to fund the effort to get there.

3. If other people agree that this is possible and desirable and are willing to undertake the (often substantial) effort to try and hit the target, then we are collectively joined in an audacious effort.   

4. If the target is hit, the world wins and we are delighted to pay the prize.

5. If the target is not hit, then we don't pay the prize - the deep risk is entirely taken by the good folks at step 3 who were willing to take the personal and material risk of venturing the competition.

The fundamental premise of the X prize is that people are allowed to believe that they can accomplish impossible things - and that if they themselves are willing to put their time, energy and resources against it; on occasion impossible things do result. 

In any event, this discussion is moot: I'm talking directly with the folks at the X prize foundation.  I presume that they are better positioned than either of us to opine on whether something like this is right for an X prize.  Making that judgement is not our job.  Our job is to formulate a challenge criterion that, if it were accomplished, would be worth the prize.

For myself, it seems an obviously worthwhile risk.  Something the vast majority of the engineering and scientific establishment considers it nonsense - while at the same time there is meaningful concrete evidence that *something* is afoot - is just the sort of thing to examine when you are looking for breakthroughs.


You're completely and utterly missing my point.

It doesn't matter whether it's real or not.  My point is that, for better or worse, the vast majority of the science and engineering establishment believes it's nonsense.  You have to take that into consideration when deciding whether or not to create an EM Drive X-Prize, because that's enough to seriously harm everything else the X-Prize foundation is doing.

Whether the EM Drive really works or not is off topic for this thread.
« Last Edit: 05/17/2015 01:31 am by jordan.greenhall »

Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #64 on: 05/17/2015 12:59 am »
Ok, this side conversation made me smile.  I love perspective.

How about this: if it turns out that someone working on this prize happens to fail the challenge because they end up demonstrating the existence of Tachyons, then we will give them a Nobel prize instead. 

If the EM Drive emits tachyons then it does not meet this definition.
If the EM Drive would emit tachyons (a hypothetical, fictional, particle that has never been found in nature) then the EM Drive could be used for communication with the past, which would involve a time paradox.

(Tachyons are fictional particles that can travel faster than the speed of light.  Sending signals faster than light, leads to to violations of causality. For example, somebody from the future could send Shawyer, using tachyons, a message with the design for an EM Drive for Shawyer to get the X-Prize  :) )

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tachyonic_antitelephone

We will deal with that problem when we see it.

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #65 on: 05/17/2015 01:27 am »
I think a nobel prize would be a given. Only a tiny minority seems to still claim this fits within existing physics, and even if so they would deserve it for proving so many opposing opinions wrong.

I wouldn't worry too much if something like the photonic thruster slipped through and won. The nature of the x-prize is about something that works, not how it works. So long as the winner produces some revolution relevant to the desired usage, great. You can always start another prize.

I mean, boo hoo if instead of violating known laws they produce a cold fusion rocket or find a way to push on dark matter or latch a tractor beam on a distant galaxy receding at the speed of light. What would be really depressing if someone actually makes sense of the physics of this claim, but can no longer claim the prize because it now has a conventional explanation, despite being no less useful.

I guess you guys might think this is too far off topic, but for example I would like to see a prize for most delta-v into a cubesat. This probably does not exactly suit an x-prize because there will always be a winner, and always room for a better winner next year. It is more like a race. The key is very simple rules that do not eliminate great ideas for silly reasons. (The race itself might have to be spread over a multi year period to give high ISP drives a chance to pull ahead. You could also have different prizes for the same race at different marks, eg the 1 year mark, the 5 year mark and so on)
« Last Edit: 05/17/2015 01:50 am by KelvinZero »

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #66 on: 05/17/2015 03:44 am »
By definition, this requires that it tilt at windmills that the vast majority of experts believe are impossible nonsense.  Otherwise, they wouldn't be breakthroughs.

That's nonsense.  No prize the X-Prize foundation has ever offered has been for anything any expert thought was impossible nonsense.  They've always been for things that are hard but that do not violate the known laws of physics.

In other words, they've always been about engineering challenges, not basic science challenges.

It's just silly to say it can't be a breakthrough if it's just an engineering challenge.

Offline Star One

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Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #67 on: 05/17/2015 11:17 am »

By definition, this requires that it tilt at windmills that the vast majority of experts believe are impossible nonsense.  Otherwise, they wouldn't be breakthroughs.

That's nonsense.  No prize the X-Prize foundation has ever offered has been for anything any expert thought was impossible nonsense.  They've always been for things that are hard but that do not violate the known laws of physics.

In other words, they've always been about engineering challenges, not basic science challenges.

It's just silly to say it can't be a breakthrough if it's just an engineering challenge.

Quite a lot of assumptions made there for a subject that's still out for debate.

Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #68 on: 05/17/2015 07:26 pm »
Hmm, this particular thread of conversation seems to be a distraction.


By definition, this requires that it tilt at windmills that the vast majority of experts believe are impossible nonsense.  Otherwise, they wouldn't be breakthroughs.

That's nonsense.  No prize the X-Prize foundation has ever offered has been for anything any expert thought was impossible nonsense.  They've always been for things that are hard but that do not violate the known laws of physics.

In other words, they've always been about engineering challenges, not basic science challenges.

It's just silly to say it can't be a breakthrough if it's just an engineering challenge.

Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #69 on: 05/17/2015 07:40 pm »
Hmm, you seem to have an implicit moral bias ("shady" "bookie").  In any event, this is a good point.  There is leverage available in the X Prize format.  For some $Y amount of money raised to "back" the prize, you can secure a prize of MY where M is related to the expected probability of the prize being claimed.  This could be used either to reduce the required magnitude of Y or to increase the end size of MY. 

Notably, the most important leverage exists where there is an information gradient between those who are seeking the prize and those who are "insuring" it.  To the point - when the time comes to get some entity to insure the prize, they will go out to "the experts" to evaluate the probability of the prize being claimed.  Presumably in the current context the experts will report back with a probability close to zero (i.e., this is all complete nonsense) which would result in a very high M value. 

If we believe that the probability is some number relatively larger than zero (say 2%) then - presuming that we actually have better information than "the experts" - this difference represents a major "information arbitrage" and an excellent way of making science more efficient and rational. 

Everyone please keep in mind how an X-prize is funded.

The prize sponsors will take out an insurance policy from a shady insurance company in the Cayman Islands or some place.  The policy is basically a bet placed with bookies.  If the prize is claimed before the policy expires, then the insurance company has to pay out to the policy holder.  If the prize is not claimed, then the insurance company takes the money that was used to purchase the policy.  In that way, the prize sponsors only have to raise a little money to come up with a prize worth millions.

The harder the prize is to claim, the cheaper the policy costs.  Ergo, the more impossible the task, the easier it is to create the prize.  It's nice to think that someone will claim the prize, but the real value comes from creating the effort and publicity.

Offline txdrive

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Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #70 on: 05/17/2015 08:25 pm »
So, no prize if the effect actually doesn't even exist?

Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #71 on: 05/17/2015 09:11 pm »
No prize if the challenge criteria are not hit.  If we do a good job designing the challenge criteria, then, by definition if the effect doesn't even exist, the challenge criteria will not be hit and there will be no prize awarded.

In essence, the prize at this level is all about potently demonstrating that the effect exists.  And no more than that.

I should note that we are in a very interesting position in that it is possible that non-public efforts exist that have demonstrated substantially more than is currently publicly available.  Shawyer strongly hints at that here: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/emdrive-warp-drive-are-two-different-things-nasas-still-working-emdrive-1501268

So it might turn out that what we consider to be a major innovation (demonstrating the effect) is, in fact, not interesting at all . . . which would itself be rather interesting.

So, no prize if the effect actually doesn't even exist?

Offline Rodal

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Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #72 on: 05/17/2015 09:48 pm »
I agree with your prior posts, particularly about leverage.  Essentially this X-Prize would be priced like a "way out of the money" call option.

One can make more money, more consistently by selling options than by buying options  ;) (but of course one has to hedge against the risk of selling options).

Shawyer has Intellectual Property riding on this: patents.  Patents have decaying value with time due to their finite life.  If Shawyer's company would have achieved EM Drive self-levitation or any other major landmark like propulsion of a satellite, it would be to his best interest to proceed to commercialize his efforts as soon as possible, instead of keeping it under "wraps".  In essence his patents are options that he purchased (with his "sweat equity") some time ago, and whose value is exponentially decaying with time, becoming zero at patent expiration.  If one owns calls that have become valuable, the best course of action is to sell them to pocket the profits instead of letting time go by ticking towards expiration.

The clock is ticking on Shawyer's patents as their value exponentially decays with time.

Take for example a Biotech company: it is to their benefit to publicize the effectiveness of new drugs working on Phase II, or Phase III as soon as possible (within what's allowed by law of course).  The last thing a small Biotech company would do would be to keep a drug "under wraps" as the main value of the drug takes place during the lifetime of the patent, since after the patent expires the value of the drug decreases dramatically due to competition from generics.  So, in my view Shawyer's pronouncements (no demonstrated progress of his EM Drive during the past few years) are actually depressing to me.  (Depressing compared to the success shown by many small tech and Biotech companies in different fields, in similar timeframes.)

No prize if the challenge criteria are not hit.  If we do a good job designing the challenge criteria, then, by definition if the effect doesn't even exist, the challenge criteria will not be hit and there will be no prize awarded.

In essence, the prize at this level is all about potently demonstrating that the effect exists.  And no more than that.

I should note that we are in a very interesting position in that it is possible that non-public efforts exist that have demonstrated substantially more than is currently publicly available.  Shawyer strongly hints at that here: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/emdrive-warp-drive-are-two-different-things-nasas-still-working-emdrive-1501268

So it might turn out that what we consider to be a major innovation (demonstrating the effect) is, in fact, not interesting at all . . . which would itself be rather interesting.

So, no prize if the effect actually doesn't even exist?
« Last Edit: 05/19/2015 12:21 am by Rodal »

Offline txdrive

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Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #73 on: 05/18/2015 12:54 am »
No prize if the challenge criteria are not hit.  If we do a good job designing the challenge criteria, then, by definition if the effect doesn't even exist, the challenge criteria will not be hit and there will be no prize awarded.

In essence, the prize at this level is all about potently demonstrating that the effect exists.  And no more than that.
It's not exactly science if there's no falsifications...
« Last Edit: 05/18/2015 02:36 am by txdrive »

Online sghill

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Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #74 on: 05/18/2015 01:01 am »
No prize if the challenge criteria are not hit.  If we do a good job designing the challenge criteria, then, by definition if the effect doesn't even exist, the challenge criteria will not be hit and there will be no prize awarded.

In essence, the prize at this level is all about potently demonstrating that the effect exists.  And no more than that.
You are not interested in science if there's no falsifications.

True, but you might be interested in engineering...

Hmm, you seem to have an implicit moral bias ("shady" "bookie").  In any event, this is a good point.  There is leverage available in the X Prize format.  For some $Y amount of money raised to "back" the prize, you can secure a prize of MY where M is related to the expected probability of the prize being claimed.  This could be used either to reduce the required magnitude of Y or to increase the end size of MY. 

Notably, the most important leverage exists where there is an information gradient between those who are seeking the prize and those who are "insuring" it.  To the point - when the time comes to get some entity to insure the prize, they will go out to "the experts" to evaluate the probability of the prize being claimed.  Presumably in the current context the experts will report back with a probability close to zero (i.e., this is all complete nonsense) which would result in a very high M value. 

If we believe that the probability is some number relatively larger than zero (say 2%) then - presuming that we actually have better information than "the experts" - this difference represents a major "information arbitrage" and an excellent way of making science more efficient and rational. 

No bias on my part.  You used "shady" not me.  I was being illustrative of how the process works and the fact that the kinds of insurance companies that issue these sorts of policies are not Met Life.

That being said, your post brings up another related point I left out of my previous post.  To those people who think that the pursuit of a working EMDrive is akin to paying someone to search for unicorns, simply don't contribute to getting the policy for the prize money and let the fools spend theirs.  The insurance company is definitely siding with you in pricing and issuing the prize purse policy.

For the people who think that the effect is real, and that making a working EMDrive is an engineering problem to be solved, you'll be the people who have to pay for the insurance policy.  If you are wrong, you're out some of your money.  If you're right, someone else gets rich, and the world changes.  With crowd-sourcing, the amount of money you loose individually could indeed be very small.
« Last Edit: 05/18/2015 02:23 am by sghill »
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Offline txdrive

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Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #75 on: 05/18/2015 02:36 am »
We have enough problem with non-impartial experimenters as it is...

I think a good engineering challenge - which goes in with the spirit of science, rather than against it - would be to build a set up which

Accommodates devices that fit in a box of [size] and weight up to [weight] (1 cubic foot and 25 pounds is good enough?)

Can reliably measure forces down to 1uN while supplying 1kW (for sufficient time to measure the force), 0.1 uN while supplying 100W, and so on down to 10W , as tested with a heater placed against all sides of the box (must give less than those specs).

Is not fooled by a desk fan, a gyroscope, a gyrocompass, a servo moving weights around, a vibration source (list of frequencies and amplitudes), an electromagnet up to [some reasonable figure you can shield with a reasonable amount of mu-metal] (inside the box). Preferably with magnetometers around to prevent any remote influences from the pockets or the lab on the floor below/above etc.

With regards to [advanced drive], the rig passes if:
The force measured with [advanced drive] is below 1/c = 3.33 uN/kW (the most likely condition)
The force measured with [advanced drive] matches where the thrust is supposed to go, down to 5% accuracy as [advanced drive] is rotated in 10 degrees increments. (the unlikely condition where the prize is redundant because you'll be getting a Nobel anyway)

edit: or if the drive fitting the size and weight specifications can't be obtained for testing.

I think you could exceed those specs with a few hundred dollars worth of parts from your local hardware and lumber store (plus mu-metal). You could use a battery for power and a double-walled box with ice and water in-between to prevent the heater from getting through. Vibration may be more of a challenge.

It's a good, reasonably difficult challenge involving proven physics and known technologies. It encourages the truth, not just the answer you want to see.
« Last Edit: 05/18/2015 02:54 am by txdrive »

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #76 on: 05/18/2015 07:14 am »
Somewhere in one of the EM Drive threads it was pointed out that the equipment being tested needs to be in a vacuum for 2 days to allow the outgassing to finish. The batteries in the equipment will soon be discharged. So to repeat the test the batteries need recharging. The test chamber will need a way to connect wires etc. without breaking the vacuum - possibly by some sort of manipulators operated from outside.

Offline txdrive

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Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #77 on: 05/18/2015 11:39 am »
Somewhere in one of the EM Drive threads it was pointed out that the equipment being tested needs to be in a vacuum for 2 days to allow the outgassing to finish. The batteries in the equipment will soon be discharged. So to repeat the test the batteries need recharging. The test chamber will need a way to connect wires etc. without breaking the vacuum - possibly by some sort of manipulators operated from outside.
It doesn't need to be in a vacuum. It merely needs to be prevented from expelling air, which can be accomplished by simply enclosing it in a box. The one remaining issue is to keep it from heating sides of the box too much over the duration of the test. Forces 500 times smaller than what EW can't seem to consistently replicate in both orientations were measured to ~2% accuracy hundreds years ago, in air.
« Last Edit: 05/18/2015 11:45 am by txdrive »

Offline Prober

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Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #78 on: 05/18/2015 02:37 pm »
BIG problem is with BIG money on the table, everybody will go DARK and nothing will be shared. I've seen 1st hand what greed does to the best of people. Best of luck.

My EM Drive research, plans, drawings, schematics, BOM, test rig, photos, videos, result data, etc will be public. Don't care about the money. Only way to fly this.

an open source EM drive can work, and bring many to work on it.

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Offline Paul451

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Re: EM Drive X-Prize Planning
« Reply #79 on: 05/18/2015 02:50 pm »
Specifically, I don't see where lawyers come into the discussion.

Any prize/contest has to be robust enough to stand up to a legal challenge from a disgruntled contestant or funder. The X-Prize Foundation runs the details of its challenges past its lawyers.

1) The effect has clearly not yet been proven real.  Specifically, the current level of "proof" is inadequate to have kicked off a "race" within the industry (at least so far as we know).  The vast majority of relevant outside observers (e.g., physicists) continue to dismiss it as not real.

And this is what I see as the problem.

In order to be practical, in order to be able to define the terms in full in advance, you have to set the standard of proof higher than that required to attract commercial development. Ie, by the time the device is developed to the point where it can meet the requirements of a prize-challenge (such as a cube-sat demonstration), it will have long been developed enough to demonstrate to skeptical aerospace companies. That's what I think is the Catch-22.

There's almost no development risk once the effect is proven to be real. It will revolutionise deep space travel even at sub-Newton thrusts. At more-than-one-Newton, it will revolutionise many types Earth transport. At greater than 1g, it will replace every other form of transport in existence. All of them. The only risk is getting to that very first level of proving the effect is real. After that, the "prize" already exists, multi-billion dollar markets. If your prize was going to stimulate teams, those teams would already be suitably stimulated by a much, much larger prize that already exists.

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