I was reading this article about an "EmDrive" recently. The article suggests that we've just been looking at the problem the wrong way all along, which sounds either like genius or lunacy. What would it take for someone (a space organization like NASA or the ESA) to test the viability of such a device to the extent that there is no doubt it works?


NASA's already testing the EmDrive, at the NASA/JSC Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory.
To have no doubt that the device works, we'd need to see the test results replicated consistently by multiple laboratories. As of early 2016, 3 laboratories have done tests with inconsistent results (different levels of thrust/input power).
It'd also be nice to understand how the thing works. As the article linked in the question says, there are some interesting hypotheses which would revolutionize physics if they can be confirmed.

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    $\begingroup$ The EmDrive sound so much like a "get-evolved-quick" hoax. I have to say it seems very fishy. Awaiting reproducible results... $\endgroup$ Apr 23 '16 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ My first thought was that the Unruh effect would eventually be disproved. But I don't really know. The thing is, any amount of acceleration could take one close to c eventually. $\endgroup$ Apr 24 '16 at 1:57
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    $\begingroup$ "It'd also be nice to understand how the thing works." Methinks the more important first step would be to know /if/ the thing works. $\endgroup$ Apr 24 '16 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ From what I've read the measurements show very low thrust usually about the same size as the experimental error . Much of the Cold Fusion data was like that too - a weak signal and an explanation requiring new physics on one hand, but a potentially fantastic payoff if it were real. When it reaches a certain point, it's necessary for third parties to do independent measurements no matter how skeptical. But Testing ≠ Endorsement. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 25 '16 at 1:39
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    $\begingroup$ At that level of thrust, and that level of power, we might be facing thrust originating from non-inertialess sources; the drive might in fact act as a ion thruster emitting ions from its copper casing unidirectionally, creating a thrust. (interestingly, that's not an entirely hopeless situation; it would mean we've discovered a very efficient ion thruster!) $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Apr 25 '16 at 4:18

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