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Harold G. White

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Harold White
NASA file photo of Harold "Sonny" White
Harold Sonny White

(1965-10-08) 8 October 1965 (age 58)
Alma materUniversity of South Alabama (B.S.)
Wichita State University (M.S.)
Rice University (PhD)
Scientific career
Thesis Analysis of Low Frequency Whistler Wave Occurrences in the Nightside Venus Ionsphere  (2007)

Harold G. "Sonny" White (born October 8, 1965) is a mechanical engineer, aerospace engineer, and applied physicist who is known for proposing new Alcubierre drive concepts and promoting advanced propulsion projects.


White obtained a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from University of South Alabama, an M.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Wichita State University in 1999,[1] and a Ph.D. degree in Physics from Rice University in 2008.[2][3]

Alcubierre "warp" drive[edit]

White attracted the attention of the press when he began presenting his ideas at space conventions and publishing proposals for Alcubierre drive concepts. In 2011, he released a paper titled Warp Field Mechanics 101 that outlined an updated concept of Miguel Alcubierre's faster-than-light propulsion concept, including methods to prove the feasibility of the project. Alcubierre's concept had been considered infeasible because it required far more power than any viable energy source could produce. White re-calculated the Alcubierre concept and proposed that if the warp bubble around a spacecraft were shaped like a torus, it would be much more energy efficient and make the concept feasible. White has stated that "warp travel" has not yet seen a "Chicago Pile-1" experiment, a reference to the very first nuclear reactor, the breakthrough demonstration that paved the way for nuclear power.[4][5][6]

To investigate the feasibility of a warp drive, White and his team have designed a warp field interferometer test bed to demonstrate warp field phenomena. The experiments are taking place at NASA's Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory ("Eagleworks") at the Johnson Space Center.[5] White and his team claim that this modified Michelson interferometer will detect distortion of spacetime, a warp field effect.[7]

In May 2021 White and his team announced that they might have found the right configuration required to test a "chip-scale" Alcubierre drive.[8][9][10]


In April 2015, the space enthusiast website NASASpaceFlight.com announced, based on a post on their site's forum by NASA Eagleworks engineer Paul March, that NASA had successfully tested their EM Drive in a hard vacuum – which would be the first time any organization has claimed such a successful test.[11] In November, 2016, Harold White, along with other colleagues at NASA's Eagleworks program published their findings on the proposed EM Drive.[12] The proposed principle of operation for this device was shown to be inconsistent with known laws of physics, including conservation of momentum and conservation of energy. No plausible theory of operation for such drives has been proposed.[13][14][15][16][17][18]

In March 2021, physicists at the Dresden University of Technology published three papers claiming that all results showing thrust were false positives, explained by outside forces.[19]

Other works[edit]

White and his team are also working on several other "breakthrough space technology" projects, including a new thruster concept, another concept White claims works by utilizing effects predicted by quantum mechanics. To support this research, White's team also is developing a "micro-balance" that is capable of measuring the extremely small forces predicted to be produced by this thruster. To calibrate this balance the team plans to repeat an unsuccessful 2006 Woodward effect experiment, this time using the new micro-balance.[20]


In 2006, White was awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal by the NASA administrator for his role in getting the Thermal Protection System robotic inspection tools built, delivered, and certified during the Space Shuttle's return to flight.[3] White has also received the Silver Snoopy Award from the NASA crew office for "his actions in the discovery and disposition of critical damage to the robotic arm prior to the Space Shuttle STS-121 mission."[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Personnel page Archived 2017-04-26 at the Wayback Machine - website of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Wichita State University
  2. ^ Graduate Study Recent Theses Archived 2013-09-21 at the Wayback Machine - website of the Physics and Astronomy Department of Rice University
  3. ^ a b c Icarus Interstellar. "Dr. Harold 'Sonny' White" Archived 2015-06-01 at the Wayback Machine, Project Icarus.
  4. ^ Oswald, Ed. "NASA working on faster-than-light space travel, says warp drives are 'plausible'", ExtremeTech.
  5. ^ a b White, Harold. "Warp Field Mechanics 101", NASA, Houston, TX.
  6. ^ A Discussion of Space-Time Metric Engineering – Digital Library for Physics and Astronomy of Harvard University
  7. ^ Dvorsky, George. "How NASA might build its very first warp drive", io9.
  8. ^ Williams, Matt (27 May 2022). "The Dream of Faster-than-Light (FTL) Travel: Dr. Harold "Sonny" White and Limitless Space". Universe Today. Retrieved 14 March 2023. … in the process of looking at how the vacuum responds to these shapes, he and his team noticed something completely unexpected: 'The custom Casimir cavities consist of two plates, and in between the two plates, we have pillars. When we were looking at how the models we have predicted how the quantum vacuum responds to those pillar-plate geometries – when we looked at a two-dimensional section cut of the vacuum energy distribution, it looked like a two-dimensional section cut of the energy density distribution needed for the Alcubierre Warp Metric.'
  9. ^ Ankers-Range, Adele (31 December 2021). "Scientists Take a Step Towards Building a Real-Life Warp Drive... By Accident". IGN. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  10. ^ White, Harold; Vera, Jerry; Han, Arum; Bruccoleri, Alexander R.; MacArthur, Jonathan (17 May 2021). "Worldline numerics applied to custom Casimir geometry generates unanticipated intersection with Alcubierre warp metric". European Physical Journal C. 81 (7): 677–686. doi:10.1140/epjc/s10052-021-09484-z. Retrieved 14 March 2023. The qualitative correlation would suggest that a chip-scale experiment might be explored to attempt to measure a tiny signature illustrative of the presence of the conjectured phenomenon
  11. ^ http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/04/evaluating-nasas-futuristic-em-drive/ Evaluating NASA’s Futuristic EM Drive
  12. ^ White, Harold; March, Paul; Lawrence, James; Vera, Jerry; Sylvester, Andre; Brady, David; Bailey, Paul (2017). "Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio-Frequency Cavity in Vacuum". Journal of Propulsion and Power. 33 (4): 830–841. doi:10.2514/1.B36120. hdl:2060/20170000277. S2CID 126303009.
  13. ^ "The Impossible Propulsion Drive Is Heading to Space". popularmechanics.com. 2 September 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  14. ^ Crew, Bec. "The 'Impossible' EM Drive Is About to Be Tested in Space". sciencealert.com. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  15. ^ "NASA Team Claims 'Impossible' Space Engine Works—Get the Facts". National Geographic. 21 November 2016. Archived from the original on November 22, 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  16. ^ Seeker (19 November 2016). "How The 'Impossible Drive' Could Break Newton's Third Law". Retrieved 9 October 2017 – via YouTube.
  17. ^ Ratner, Paul (2016-09-07). "EM Drive, the Impossible Rocket Engine, May Be Closer to Reality". bigthink.com.
  18. ^ Poitras, Colin (7 December 2016). "To Mars in 70 days: Expert discusses NASA's study of paradoxical EM propulsion drive". Phys.org. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  19. ^ Delbert, Caroline (31 March 2021). "Scientists Just Killed the EmDrive". popularmechanics.com. Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  20. ^ "Eagleworks Laboratories: Advanced Propulsion Physics Research" (PDF). NASA. 2 December 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2013.