No not Mass Effect as in the hit video game. The Mach Effect was first described by Austrian physicist Ernst Mach in 1883. The Mach Effect, says that objects have inertia because of the gravitational effects of the other objects in the universe and by pushing on an object here, far away objects are affected. Basically, mass experiences inertia when being accelerated. Don’t worry, I don’t fully understand that either but the application of it is much simpler.
Enter James F. Woodward professor emeritus of California State University, Fullerton, who using the theory of the Mach Effect created the Woodward Effect.
In essence he has created a drive that uses no fuel but still creates thrust. His experiment is based on the observation that when a capacitor has a charge it changes mass. To create thrust, the drive he built oscillates a stack of capacitors in a back and forth motion, and by charging the capacitors on one end it changes mass. When charged the drive then pushes off this heavier side and creates a small but measurable pulsed thrust.
In theory if these were large enough and enough of them were working at the same time it could create a functional drive.
So what next?
NASA has seen this technology and is now developing it into a functional drive system! It will be some time before we see starships but we’re one step closer to beam up.
Trivia: Kirk never actually said, “Beam me up Scotty.”