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I've seen reports that a 19 year old Egyptian student has invented a new space propulsion system.

For example, The Daily Mail:

  • Two mirrors used to generate power using weird quantum physics
  • Leapfrogs Nasa research into same subject
  • 19-year-old Egyptian hopes to test her invention on future space missions

Now, for science, I do not consider The Daily Mail to be a reputable source. Googling Aisha Mustafa Space Drive brings up many hits, but none from reputable sources: fastcompany.com, inhabitat.com, digitaljournal.com. I For such a major invention, there's suspiciously little coverage in reputable news sources.

Therefore, I don't believe it. But, is there a core of truth? Does this person even exist? Or is it all one big hoax?

  • 2
    "If The Daily Mail reports on science, it's probably false." I'm inclined to agree with that statement, but, so that you don't try and make additional claims people will want verified, it's probably best just to say that you don't consider it a reputable source. – Avi Aug 2 '13 at 23:29
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    Why the downvote? – gerrit Aug 2 '13 at 23:58
  • Here's another source that might be a bit more reputable than The Daily Mail. It looks like this is the original source which leads me to believe that there might be a language barrier involved with answering this question. – rjzii Aug 3 '13 at 0:16
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    Casimir effect is a static force, articles about the invention fail to explain how this force would be used as an engine. It's kind of like claiming that we have infinite source of energy on Earth, which is the force of gravity. – vartec Aug 5 '13 at 11:30
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    Correct photos of Aisha Mustafa can be seen at this article: onislam.net/english/health-and-science/science/… A careless journalist grabbing a photo of the wrong person doesn't mean the story is a hoax. I'm not saying the story is legit, mind you. But the photo mishap proves nothing. – user17090 Jan 12 '14 at 8:29
19

This claim appears to be false or exaggerated. I can't find any patents in the name of the alleged inventor.


The source article identified by Rob in comments above states:

Mustafa’s supervisor, Dr. Ahmed Fikry, who heads the physics department in Sohag University, has shown great interest in his student’s invention and helped her patent it in the ASRT

There is a record of "Staff Member" Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed Ali Fikry which gives his "Qualification Degree" as "BSC" - it does not explicitly state he is the head of the Physics department.


The article reports

Aisha Mustafa, who has entered the active research area of spacecraft propulsion by her newly invented device, told the governmental EGYNews agency that she patented her invention last February in the Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT).

From the ASRT website there is a link to the Egyptian Patent Office, I couldn't find anything relevant using their search form

Searching for Patent Title: "propulsion" and dates forom 1950 to today only returned one hit from 1987. So it may be that you need to search in Arabic.

The Egypt patent office also links to WIPO and using their search page, searching there for name "aisha" or name "mustafa" I didn't find any such patent.

  • 1
    Maybe she only applied for the patent, but it wasn't granted yet? – Sven Aug 4 '13 at 20:23
  • @Sven, It's possible. My gut instinct says there must be at least some kernel of truth to this story but I can't (yet?) find anything. – RedGrittyBrick Aug 4 '13 at 21:53
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    I seriously doubt there's any truth to this story, sounds more like a typical Muslim superiority thing. If it were real, there'd have been scientific publications about it before a patent claim is filed, especially as it's claimed to have been devised at a university. Also, the professor's name would have been on the invention instead of or alongside with that of the supposed student. – jwenting Aug 5 '13 at 5:02
  • @jwenting That assumes quite a lot about how Egyptian universities work - there might be very large cultural differences in play. (Not that I believe the claim either, but all of the reasons you gave to disbelieve are reasons to disbelievean american claim) – medivh Aug 5 '13 at 11:28
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    There's an 'Ahmed Fikry Abou Zeid' here, together will email address, if you want to try... – Benjol Aug 7 '13 at 11:51

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