When humans, animals and machines move all over the world, they always push against something, be it land, air or water. Until recently, physicists believed that it was a constant, obeying the law of conservation of momentum. Now, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have proved the opposite – when bodies exist in curved spaces, it turns out that they can do To proceed without actually pushing against anything.
conclusion . were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science On July 28, 2022. In the paper, a team of researchers led by Zeb Rocklin, assistant professor in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech, created a robot confined to a spherical surface with an unprecedented level of isolation from its environment, so that these curvature-induced effects would prevail.
“We let our shape-changing object study motion in the simplest curved space, a sphere, in an orderly curved space,” Rocklin said. “We learned that the supposed effect, which was so counter-intuitive that it was dismissed by some physicists, actually happened: As the robot changed its shape, it moved around the area in a way that was known to interact with the environment. could not be held responsible.”
make a winding path
The researchers set out to study how an object moved within a curved space. They allow a set of motors to drive, as do those moving on curved tracks, to confine the object on the sphere with minimal interaction or exchange of motion with the environment in curved space. He then connected the system to a rotating shaft as a whole so that the motors would always run on a sphere. The shaft was supported by air bearings and bushings to reduce friction, and the shaft’s alignment was adjusted with Earth’s gravity to reduce the residual force of gravity.
From there, as the robot moved forward, gravity and friction exerted a slight force on it. These forces hybridize with curvature effects to produce a peculiar dynamic with properties that can neither induce themselves. The research provides an important demonstration of how curved spaces can be obtained and how it challenges fundamentally designed physical laws and intuitions for flat space. Rocklin hopes that the developed experimental technique will allow other researchers to explore these curved spots.
Applications in Space and Beyond
While the effects are small, as robotics becomes increasingly precise, understanding this curvature-induced effect, such as the slight frequency shift induced by gravity, allows GPS systems to accurately convey their positions to orbiting satellites. important to allow. Ultimately, theories of how the curvature of space can be used for motion could allow spacecraft to navigate the highly curved space around a black hole.
“This research is also related to the ‘impossible engine’ study,” Rocklin said. “Its creator claimed that it could move without any propellant. That engine was virtually impossible, but because spacetime is very slightly curved, an instrument could actually move without any external force or without emitting a propellant. is – a novel discovery.”
material provided by Georgia Institute of Technology, Note: Content can be edited for style and length.