Timon Singh

Egyptian Teenager Creates Next-Generation Quantum Space Propulsion System

by , 06/08/12

Aisha Mustafa, space travel, warp speed, quantum propulsion, Casimir effect, satellites, space shuttles, dragon X, quantum physics, Casimir effect Aisha Mustafa,

An Egyptain teenager has patented a next-generation propulsion system that could send spacecraft to other solar systems—without using a single drop of fuel. While it is not quite warp-drive technology, young physicist Aisha Mustafa’s system is based on quantum physics and could see mankind boldly go where no man has gone before.

Aisha Mustafa, space travel, warp speed, quantum propulsion, Casimir effect, satellites, space shuttles, dragon X, quantum physics, Casimir effect Aisha Mustafa,

The 19-year-old is further proof that young minds produce fresh new ideas. Her propulsion system gets rid of traditional rocket boosters in favor of a more futuristic concept. For those of you who aren’t up to scratch on quantum physics, Mustafa’s idea works on the principle that space is not a vacuum. Instead, it is filled with a roiling sea of particles and anti-matter particles that are created and then destroy themselves in a blink of an eye.

Mustafa believes that this quantum effect can be harnessed via the dynamic Casimir effect. This utilizes a “moving mirror” cavity, where two reflective flat plates are held close together and then manipulated in order to interact with the quantum particles. By moving the plates (which are made of silicon), energy is created out of nothing and a net force is created which would be used to push, pull or propel a spacecraft.

In terms of energy usage, it is most like solar power in how the energy is used, and is much more efficient than the rocket fuel that is currently used to power spacecrafts. Current rockets, like the Dragon X, are tricky to control due to the energetic thrusters, and even NASA’s futuristic proposals such as ion drives still need power—even the USS Enterprise needed dilithium crystals. That is what makes young Mustafa’s system all the more amazing, it doesn’t need fuel and provides astronauts with much greater control of their spacecraft. It would also transform how satellites are controlled, allowing for simpler, cheaper and more reliable missions.

I would not be surprised to see more of Aisha Mustafa in the near future. Sohag University has already aided her with the patent application and she has already said she intends to keep developing the system before it is tested in outer space. Of course, as Egypt doesn’t exactly have a space agency, she may have to move abroad to see her dream become a reality.

Via Fast Company / HumanIPO

Lead image: © 20th Century Fox/Prometheus

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37 Comments

  1. Patrizia Materassi October 8, 2014 at 12:03 am

    This invention is soo cool! Wish you the best to get it funded. Patrizia

  2. rckoegel September 20, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    considering the need for starting fuel: the vacuum of space could be used to create reverse pressure on a chamber of gas that in turn moves the plates… like a syringe.

    if the power generated from the plates was then sufficient you could restore the position/condition of the plates/chamber, perhaps with electronic motors/hydraulics, and then again use the vacuum of space to move the plates. like a combustion engine.

    battery backup and solar could help as well, at times.

    just an idea though. this is all absolutely new to me.

  3. Sanae Abd September 20, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    more power to her!!!

  4. Martin Mitchell September 13, 2014 at 7:58 am

    “Doesn’t need fuel” – so what makes the plates move? Sounds great in theory and is very impressive for one so young, but this detail seems to have been overlooked.

  5. hugotobar September 13, 2014 at 1:32 am

    oh look, two years later and nothing more has been heard about this fantasy, sorry i mean invention. maybe the fact that so many people are easily impressed might indicate something about egypt’s negligible contribution to modern science?

  6. fedra September 12, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Amazing young girl ! Go on!

  7. screenworks December 31, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Dont you mean, “Egyptian Teenager Proposes Next-Generation Quantum Space Propulsion System”? A patent application is far from a working propulsion system.

  8. kynrazor August 21, 2013 at 1:56 am

    Where do you get the energy to move the plates in the first place if not fuel? Doesn’t add up.

  9. Shmilfke August 12, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    This idea is older than space travel itself. When something like this comes out of Egypt, it’s just a matter of “where did they plagiarize this from?”

    Egypt’s government and other Arab governments have been known to fund and support this type of plagiarism as a form of propaganda.

  10. annoyed April 19, 2013 at 1:53 am

    And finally,

    DARK ENERGY is not the same as ANTI PARTICLES.
    DARK ENERGY is not the same as DARK MATTER.
    DARK ENERGY pushes things apart, DARK MATTER pulls things together.

    DARK ENERGY has not been discovered. There are observations and models predicting and showing that there could be a thing called DARK ENERGY. But there are also viable models and theories dont need DARK ENERGY to work !

    Show me a reading on some equipment proving that it exist and you can say “we discovered dark energy”

  11. naranjo December 30, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    This kind of propulsion is real, but it has been already theorized long ago and some prototipes are being tested right now.
    The story of a young genious mind is always catchy, but this one is a plain lie.

  12. Greg Chernoff December 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    The potential for this goes beyond space travel. Imagine if we could place an orbital ring of energy collectors that feed back power to the planetary grid! You are going to be in the history books young lady, Keep up the amazing work!

  13. Arijit Sadhu December 27, 2012 at 10:48 am

    DOES ANYONE HERE REALLY FOLLOW SCIENCE ????
    THIS IDEA HAS BEEN AROUND FOR DECADES!!!! READ IT UP!!!!

  14. tapessam August 3, 2012 at 11:22 am

    quite amazing I see 99percent possibilities in this theory

  15. zoffix July 28, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    And what exactly will give energy to move those silicon plates?

    I thought perpetual motion machines were no longer patentable. Are we at a new stage where mass misappropriation of quantum mechanics allows people to prove God, telepathy, and now perpetual motion?

  16. Luckystars July 23, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    This is great and all, but seeing as we aren’t even able to detect the reactions that will be powering this, and the only thing that interacts with this dark energy is gravity, there’s no way to power something with it. Compressing two mirrors isn’t going to matter when what they’re trying to compress acts like the mirrors aren’t even there.

  17. spacenomad9 June 27, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Don’t export your novel idea to the U.S.; make investors invest in Egypt. There may be no space program in Egypt, yet. However, Aisha’s idea could potentially vindicate her country’s recent past and give it some major diplomatic leverage, not only on an international level, but on a a truly interstellar one.

    Novel idea, girl!

  18. Trevas June 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    That is anamazing invention how would you make somthing like this

  19. santasa santasa June 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Well, she is very good maybe even a genius, but not exactly teenager, more adolescent – 20yrs. old ;-)

  20. MikeG2 June 15, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    “By moving the plates (which are made of silicon), energy is created out of nothing” – I thought the article stated that space isn’t a vacuum? How can it be “out of nothing”?

    “Doesn’t need fuel” – Moving something requires energy. How can the plates be moved without expending any energy, ie., fuel? Hmm.

  21. Goober008 June 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    This is at least decades away from the crudest lab demonstration. The most advanced circuit masks today are about 45 nm, and MEMs features are a couple of generations behind that at about 1000 nm (she uses 20 nm in her example).

    They also don’t say how they plan to harvest energy from this thing. 0.08 atmospheres on plates that are 10^-12 sq.m. doesn’t generate a lot of torque. It will take billions of junctions to get enough energy to be able to measure with typical equipment. I can’t imagine how many it will take to generate the Megawatts or even Terawatts needed to accelerate space ships to high velocities.

    More importantly: Why all the hype about a spacecraft drive? If they can generate that kind of energy – we could say goodbye to coal, goodbye nuclear power, goodbye bird shredders, goodbye dino-powered vehicles!!

    I’m a sci-fi geek, so I absolutely would like to pursue the technology. I think it’s too early to get excited about it. Even with large research groups, I wouldn’t see it in my lifetime.

  22. Munchkindad69 June 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    this is a big step in Earths human development, but unfortunately we must not achieve this, because this planet must first resolve its political problems, we must achieve peace! You know, in case we encounter aliens with advanced technology who would gladly share it with us, but some religious folk would call them demons and try to blow them up…and then we get blown up by the rest of the aliens. So let’s try to achieve peace :)

  23. KenJun June 12, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    If they appreciate Tesla than the jerk patent-invention stealer incompetent air head Edison then we might have accelerated of 25 years in terms of technology and engineering today. If not of the Industrial revolution then we might still be living with an Incandescent light bulb.

  24. JunKen June 12, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Am its not really new actually its ancient discovery, but most likely the US Government will make it confidential or just ignore it i already have a couple of research and theories with basis and proven by facts but the modern world is content of their lives today. Here watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wJYce3I8OE some are in Tesla’s Patents

  25. arji June 7, 2012 at 10:57 am

    @ZankerKoad – I >think< the principle is something that has been researched for many years. Tesla even touched on it. Back then they called the energy, "the aether". Today we know it as vacuum energy or dark energy/dark matter. There are many scientists still working on this concept and some have great demonstration devices but nothing practical, just something to prove theory of operation. I believe dark (vacuum) energy is possibly the greatest discovery of mankind and we have come a long way its development. The problem was that most scientists "poo-pooed" the idea before even investigating it, which is pretty typical of static thinkers. I do believe we are on the verge of some incredible inventions as long as the government doesn't suppress the technology for military use. This is a common ploy of the military. No matter how beneficial a technology could be to mankind, the military will still withhold it so they can get the advantage over a "supposed" enemy. Anti-gravity is another tech that is becoming quite well developed with the concept of a rotating superconductive fluid within a torroidal container. This does work and there are other anti-grav techs being developed using something called the "electrogravitic" effect. Youtube has a bunch of videos of this stuff. That tech is currently being used by the Air Force's B2 bomber. They charge the leading edge of the wing with high voltage and it causes the wing to cut through the air with little resistance. This is an example of the military hoarding technology that would be beneficial to the rest of us. Just think how much fuel jet airliners could save by eliminating wind resistance on the wings.

  26. ZandarKoad June 6, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    I don’t understand… “By moving the plates (which are made of silicon), energy is created out of nothing and a net force is created which would be used to push, pull or propel a spacecraft.”

    Who gives a poop about spacecraft propulsion? I mean really? There is only about 9,999,999 things more important that could be accomplished with “energy … created out of nothing”.

  27. HPrice June 6, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Umm this is only amazing only when we see a demonstration that it actually works. I’ve seen a tonne of propulsion devices talked about over the years that have come to naught. I remember one Scottish guy who actually showed an anti-gravitational effect using two gyroscopes fitted together with a clever bracket system. And that went NOWHERE. So build a car that can use it or even a go-cart, and then I will be amazed. Until then its nothing but some possibly interesting ideas on a piece of paper.

    [sorry don't want to burst anyone's bubble but thats just how it is in the real world. I'm still waiting for room temperature superconductors. Remember them??!!]

  28. BearDrummer June 4, 2012 at 4:05 am

    Oh, this is amazing. Now I am going to have to find a way to contact this young lady and ask if I can use her idea as a propulsion system in a sci-fi novel my wife and I are writing!

  29. yanthot June 3, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Aicha,keep good work,future travel depend on you now,Inch allah !

  30. yasmine essmat June 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    proud to be an Egyptian as yourself Aisha :)

  31. sachchida June 1, 2012 at 5:34 am

    My best wishes with the young scientist, yet I fail comprehend as to how can a CONCEPT be patented? As I know, only working models can be patented. Can some one throw light on current patent laws ?
    Kindly write to me on sachchida11@rediffmail.com

  32. Dan Cooper May 31, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    I suspect Aisha just carefully reading a NASA news because their Eagleworks announced a project based on exactly this principle earlier this year: http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20110023492

  33. PaxAustralis May 31, 2012 at 10:31 am

    I don’t understand the physics but what I do know is that if Aisha can develop this into a fully functional form of space transport it will have a massive change on the world. Well done.

  34. J T Davenport May 31, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Aisha, please keep up the good work. I want to see more AND a practical demonstrator … IE: A scaled working model. — JT -

  35. Arji May 31, 2012 at 12:06 am

    I believe this is what they call dark energy or vacuum energy. The space between solid objects in our universe if full of tremendous energy. Some have called it Orgone energy. With dark energy,come dark matter of which is the how physicist are able to reconcile the total mass of the universe. Without it, the visible objects just don’t add up to the total estimated mass of the universe….and we all know that mass is just more slowly vibrating energy, dark energy in this case.

  36. chiefnwife12 May 30, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Amazing girl !

  37. arezk May 30, 2012 at 11:39 am

    It is really an amazing and will transform the Space traveling methodology
    Amazing discovery and All the best Aisha

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