Power Sources For Quasiinterstellar And Stellar Propulsion

The physics at our disposal is still based on that developed up to the late 1920s (special relativity and quantum mechanics, besides Newton's Third Principle). Within its formulation, energy and mass are interchangeable. Einstein's E = mc2 holds the only key to potential "new" power sources. In this light, there is no longer a question of finding "new" power sources as much as of finding new energy technologies exploiting E = mc2.

In fact, even combustion heat release (about 1.3 x 107J/kg when burning hydrogen and oxygen), is predicted by Einstein's formula. In the rearrangement of electrons due to chemical reactions (orbitals and bonds, in chemistry parlance) what is called "combustion" energy is actually a very slight percent mass decrease a (mass "defect"), of order 1.5 x 10~10 [Harwit, 1973; Kammash, 1995, p. 6]. The sum of mc and of microscopic kinetic energy is of course constant, so a mass defect in any process means kinetic energy must increase. In combustion it is more practical to keep track of ("conserve") microscopic molecular kinetic energy, meaning macro-scale Gibbs' energy, enthalpy or internal energy, rather than accounting also for the exceedingly small mass defect of products with respect to the reactants. This is the reason that Einstein's expression is never used in chemistry, although perfectly valid:

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