POPULAR MECHANICS, October 2000 (page 40)
By Jim Wilson
Ever since electricity was tamed in the 19th century, the idea of manipulating gravity by altering an electromagnetic field has been the subject of intriguing experiments and occasional bursts of irrational exuberance. Physicists insist that because gravity is a basic force of nature, constructing an antigravity machine is theoretically impossible. But recently, and not without some reluctance, they have begun to consider another possibility. Several highly respected physicists say it might be possible to construct a force-field machine that acts on all matter in a way that is similar to gravity. Strictly speaking, it wouldn’t be an antigravity machine. But by exerting an attractive or repulsive force on all matter, it would be the functional equivalent of the impossible machine.
While an operational device is at least five years in the future, developers of what can be loosely termed a force-field machine say it has cleared major theoretical hurdles. To demonstrate their claim, they invited POPULAR MECHANICS to visit their Huntsville, Alabama laboratory to see the most important component of their proof-of-concept demonstrator. It is a 12-in.-dia. high-temperature superconducting disc (HTSD). When the force-field machine is complete, a bowling ball placed anywhere above this disc, which resembles a clutch plate, will stay exactly where you left it.
Everyone knows that gravity is the glue that keeps our feet on the ground and the planets on their orbits. It operates on every single molecule and atom in our bodies. Physicists define gravity as the attractive force between two masses. They also say it is the weakest and most pervasive of the four basic forces of nature. The others are the strong force and weak force that operate within the atomic nucleus and the electromagnetic force that explains everything from refrigerator magnets to light bulbs, telecommunications to chemistry.
Machines that use electromagnetism to defy gravity have a checkered history. In 1911, Edward S. Farrow, a New York engineer, staged public demonstrations of a weight-reducing device he called a condensing dynamo. In all likelihood it was no more than an electromagnet, a small version of the behemoths that lift wrecks into junkyard crushers. Earlier this year, BAE Systems, a major British aerospace company, announced that it had taken up the gravity quest with an initiative called Project Greenglow. The mainstream physics community immediately dropped a load of wet blankets on the defense contractor, claiming it was wasting money on a bad idea.
The Einstein Connection
Prospects for the Alabama HTSD are attracting serious attention because this particular disc was fabricated by Dr. Ning Li. In the 1980s, Li predicted that if a time-varying magnetic field were applied to superconductor ions trapped in a lattice structure, the ions would absorb enormous amounts of energy. Confined in the lattice, the ions would begin to rapidly spin, causing each to create a minuscule gravitational field.
To understand how an HTSD is critical to the construction of a force-field machine, it’s useful to know something about an unusual state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate. In our day-to-day lives we encounter three states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. In the laboratory it is possible to create another state of matter in which all the atoms are aligned in a way that makes them behave as if they were one single atom. This novel state of matter is named after Albert Einstein and Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose who predicted its existence decades ago.
In an HTSD, the tiny gravitational effect of each individual atom is multiplied by the billions of atoms in the disc. Using about one kilowatt of electricity, Li says, her device could potentially produce a force field that would effectively neutralize gravity above a 1-ft.-dia. region extending from the surface of the planet to outer space.
“The first thing to understand about Ning Li’s device is that it is neither an antigravity machine nor a gravitational shield,” says Jonathan Campbell, a scientist at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center who has worked with Li. “It does not modify gravity, rather it produces a gravity-like field that may be either attractive or repulsive.” Ning Li describes her device as a method of generating a never-before-seen force field that acts on matter in a way that is similar to gravity. Since it may be either attractive or repulsive she calls it “AC gravity.” “It adds to, or counteracts, or re-directs gravity,” explains Larry Smalley, the former chairman of the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) physics department. “Basically, you are adding a couple of vectors to zero it [gravity] out or enhance it.”
Although he didn’t call it AC gravity, Einstein’s theory of relativity predicts this effect. All objects produce gravitomagnetic energy, the amount of force proportional to its mass and acceleration.
Ning Li says that the main reason this energy has never been detected is that the Earth spins very slowly and the field’s strength decreases rapidly as you move away from the center of the planet. The first measurements are expected to be made by NASA’s Gravity Probe B experiment, which is planned for launch in 2002.
Beginning with the most basic law of physics, F=ma, Ning Li reasoned that it would be possible to perform the same experiment here on Earth, using ions locked in a lattice structure inside a superconductor. When an ion rotates around a magnetic field, the mass goes along for the ride. This, according to Einstein, should produce a gravito-magnetic field.
Unlike the planet, ions have a minuscule mass. But also unlike the Earth, they spin their little hearts out, rotating more than a quadrillion times a second, compared with the planet’s once-a-day rotation. Li calculates this movement will compensate for the small mass of the ions.
Li explains that as the ions spin they also create a gravito-electric field perpendicular to their spin axis. In nature, this field is unobserved because the ions are randomly arranged, thus causing their tiny gravito-electric fields to cancel out one another. In a Bose-Einstein condensate, where all ions behave as one, something very different occurs.
Ning Li says that if the ions in an HTSD are aligned by a magnetic field, the gravito-electric fields they create should also align. Build a large enough disc and the cumulative field should be measurable. Build a larger disc and the force field above it should be controllable. “It’s a gravity-like force you can point in any direction,” says Campbell. “It could be used in space to protect the international space station against impacts by small meteoroids and orbital debris.”
Concept to Machine
Although Li’s theory has passed through the scientific quality-control process called peer review and an HTSD has been constructed, important technical unknowns remain. This summer, Li left UAH. She and several colleagues are striking out on their own to commercialize devices based on her theory and a proprietary HTSD fabrication technique.
Li’s next step is to raise the several million dollars needed to build the induction motor that individually spins the ions in the HTSD. “It will take at least two years to simulate the machine on a computer,” says Smalley, who plans to join Li’s as-yet-unnamed company after he retires from UAH. “We want to avoid the situation that occurred in fusion where extremely expensive reactors were built, turned on, and didn’t work as intended because of unforeseen plasma instabilities.”
Ning Li says she has turned down several offers for financial backing. It is less about money than control. “Investors want control over the technology,” she says. ” This is too important. It should belong to all the American people.”
Discover Magazine, May 1999
New schemes to float free aren’t just science fiction. In her laboratory at the University of Alabama, Dr. Ning Li tinkers time and again with a device she believes will transform the world. Tanks of liquid nitrogen and a clumsy array of plumbing surround a chamber in which the temperature has been reduced to 390 degrees below zero. Inside, a disk of an exotic ceramic material that’s about the size of a phonograph record spins rapidly. Levitated by powerful magnets, the disk floats in midair. The contraption may not look like much, but Ning Li insists that the data she is gathering could rid mankind of the shackles that bind us to the planet. “It could change everything,” she says. “Current industry will vanish from the face of the Earth!” A practical antigravity device could allow rockets without propellant or power plants that run without fuel. Li hopes to pave the way by designing an antigravity car–and thinks she can do it in a decade.
Ever since an apple conked Sir Isaac Newton on the head, sober thinkers have tended to sneer at anyone who proposed to defeat gravity. Ning Li herself jokes, “I am not a normal scientist.” Nor is she a crackpot. NASA funds some of her research on the gravity-altering properties of superconducting materials–a phenomenon first reported nearly a decade ago by a Finnish researcher–and three years ago the agency set up an antigravity program of its own at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Research on gravity modification (the preferred term in scientific circles) has been gaining credibility, and physicists now speak increasingly of how little we know about what gravity can and cannot do. “The number of anomalies is growing,” says Michael Martin Nieto of Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Japanese researchers were the first to claim some success–however slight–at breaking gravity’s hold in the laboratory. A decade ago, Hideo Hayasaka and Sakae Takeuchi of Tohoku University noticed intriguing signs of lift off while studying the behavior of high-speed gyroscopes with metal flywheels spinning several thousand times per minute. When the gyros rotated clockwise, their weight seemed to drop by about one part in 100,000. Hayasaka and Takeuchi suspected an antigravity effect at work. Most of their peers soon chalked it up to experimental error, however.
Eugene Podkletnov, then a grad student at Tampere University in Finland, inadvertently became a poster child for the antigravity movement in the early 1990s while studying superconducting materials that lose all resistance to electricity when chilled with liquid nitrogen. Podkletnov was hoping to learn more about the behavior of these superconductors when he placed ceramic disks a few inches wide in a cold chamber, passed a magnetic field through them, and then spun them rapidly. What he observed completely took him aback. Objects placed above the disks seemed to lose as much as 2 percent of their weight.
Seeing a little antigravity is like being a little pregnant: either something is there or it isn’t. If the effect is real, people could presumably figure out how to magnify it and exploit it. So tales of Podkletnov’s discovery were soon circulating around the globe. But mainstream scientists remained skeptical. The laboratory conditions needed to create a spinning superconducting disk give rise to many misleading effects that could change the apparent weight of a test mass.
Nevertheless, Ning Li, who had published theoretical papers on antigravity in the late 1980s and early 1990s, promptly rose to the challenge. In collaboration with a NASA team, she constructed superconducting flywheels as much as a foot in diameter–a messy and technically demanding project–and tried to reproduce the results of Podkletnov’s experiments.
Ning Li and the NASA group have since undergone an amicable split. NASA is focusing on validating the basic experiments, while Ning Li is concentrating more on applications. She has stopped publishing papers and no longer speaks of her techniques or experimental results, saying she fears any delays will give foreign researchers the lead.
NASA’s separate and much more public Delta G Experiment (Delta G is a term used to indicate a change in the pull of gravity) is led by project scientist David Noever of the Marshall Space Flight Center. His goal is to eliminate every possible source of error and quantify the exact nature of the gravity modification phenomenon–if it exists. Podkletnov conferred with the NASA researchers last year to share his expertise. “We’re convinced it’s worth exploring,” says Noever, who says Podkletnov turns out to be “a very genuine scientist.” Rumors flashed across the Internet that NASA has already constructed a top-secret antigravity lab, but the truth turns out to be less spectacular. “We haven’t reached the point where there’s stuff floating around the room,” says Noever with a laugh. “This is very much a work in progress.”
Meanwhile, physicists are beginning to explore the chances that there may be more than one way to beat gravity. Nieto wonders whether antimatter, which has the opposite properties of ordinary matter, might fall upward.
Anti-matter and matter destroy each other when they meet, so nobody would want to drive an antimatter car. Still, any sign of antigravity would have great theoretical interest. To investigate, Nieto is participating in a project called ATHENA. Sometime early in the next century, physicists will use two powerful particle accelerators to create antiprotons and antielectrons, trap them, and bring them together to form antihydrogen atoms. The researchers will then cool the atoms of antihydrogen and watch to see whether they plummet under the force of gravity.
If the answer isn’t in the atoms, perhaps it lies in the depths of space. Prof. James Woodward of California State University at Fullerton has been studying the connection between gravity and inertia, the tendency of objects to resist changes in acceleration. (Imagine trying to push a car with the transmission in neutral. Although the car rolls freely, it takes a lot of effort to get it going.) According to Einstein, inertia is related to the gravitational field of the whole universe. Giving an object a sudden kick should cause minuscule, temporary fluctuations in its mass. Between his other studies, Woodward says, he “fiddles around” with twisting pendulums and electrical capacitors, searching for these momentary variations. He has found provocative indications that he can modify the mass of an object, although he is daunted by the many possible sources of error. “The likelihood for success is not large, but the practical payoffs are potentially staggering,” he says. For instance, he thinks it should be possible to “steal” a little extra push from the distant parts of the universe, and do it repeatedly. This process might form the basis of a fantastic new kind of propulsion. NASA is listening here too. Two years ago the agency established a Breakthrough Propulsion program to investigate mass modification and other speculative schemes for space travel.
The best-documented antigravity effect comes not from laboratory experiments but from studies of exploding stars, or supernovas, in distant galaxies. Two teams of astronomers are studying the brilliant flashes of light from supernovas to see how quickly the cumulative pull of the matter in the universe is slowing the Big Bang. Early results have produced an unexpected result: rather than slowing down, the universe appears to be speeding up. Many scientists take this finding as evidence of a “cosmological constant,” a latent energy hidden within the fabric of space that counteracts the tug of gravity. In their wilder speculations, scientists like Hal Puthoff of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Austin, Texas, speculate that the energy that gives rise to the cosmological constant is also responsible for the phenomenon of inertia, linking the universal antigravity back to potential gravity-fighting techniques here at home. Although the theory is only still only half-formed, “it’s a very fruitful area of study,” David Noever says. If the experiments hold up, theoretical explanations can come later. After all, Thomas Edison didn’t need a quantum model of radiation to make a lightbulb.
What Happened to Dr. Ning Li and Her Anti-Gravity Research?
“ I have collected all the measurement data for my equations. If we take a mass and rotate it very rapidly, we can generate gravity. We can increase gravity, we can weaken it, we can steer it in any direction. I have the theory. I will publish it. I have all the mathematical equations. I will explain it. I think my theory is mature. I will tell the whole scientific world: Antigravity is nothing to laugh about. I think the experiments of Dr. Podkletnov have shown the antigravity effect crystal clear. This is too important. It should belong to all the American people.” — Dr. Ning Li ( Antigravitation entdeckt )
I remember reading this article in Popular Mechanics when it came out in October 2000. Not long after, I ran into Dr. Campbell and asked him about the project. He seemed to be optimistic about its chances at success.
That was over a decade ago. Now, the head scientist, Dr. Ning Li has apparently disappeared a few years ago, and Larry Smalley, the former chairman of the University of Alabama at Huntsville physics department has died.
From the left: Douglas Torr, Ning Li, and Larry Smalley —
This project they were working on was nothing less than Earth shattering. This device, if the claims of the scientists are to be believed, could possibly have led to sci-fi types of things like force fields, tractor beams and artificial gravity.
What happened? Where did the research go? What happened to Ning Li?
Google search brings up tin foil hat type of conspiracies among other accusations that this is nothing but “Fringe Science” or “Pseudo Science”. Could be, but these are verifiable and respectable scientists. NASA did research. Ning Li did start a company called AC Gravity LLC, and obtained a grant from the US Department of Defence to pursue research.
I would like to know what happened. Did it turn out to be nothing? Did Ning Li run off with the grant money? Apparently she is from a wealthy and respectable family, so I don’t readily buy that theory.
Dr. Ning Li sent a private email to colleagues in May 2003, claiming to have experimentally verified a large scale antigravity effect of 11kW output, only to abruptly disappear from public view.
From: Eugene Podkletnov firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Wednesday, June 16, 2004 12:34 PM
To: Tim Ventura email@example.com
Subject: RE: Tracking Down Dr. Ning Li
>Every 2 months, I re-try the firstname.lastname@example.org email address that you
>gave me for Dr. Ning Li — I can tell from return-receipts that
>somebody is reading her email, but I never get a reply. I don’t have
>any additional information about her, such as a telephone number, so I
>am unable to try and get in touch with her any other way.
>I did a trace on a message and it appears that whomever is reading her
>emails is checking them via a web-interface off a proxy-server from
>West Point, GA.
>Over the last few days I have talked to magazine-writers, University
>Professors, and her research colleagues — I’m unable to get in touch
>with anyone who knows where she’s at. Marc Millis doesn’t have any
>information about her, but Jonathan Campbell recalls hearing a vague
>rumor that she was ill last year.
>What I do have is a detailed document stating that nearly $500,000 was
>allocated to her by the Department of Defense for researching
>AC gravity effects in superconductors. This funding should have
>become effective Sept 2002.
>I’d like to include information about her in a piece that I’m planning
>on the ‘Podkletnov Device’ and your research into SC gravitational
>shielding — the overall idea being that I haven’t covered this topic
>in-depth yet, and I really ought to try and put as detailed a
>description online as possible.
>Any thoughts on which direction I should take this?
>Also, I’d be interested in doing an interview with you for the website
>in the near future, if and when you have available time.
Dear Tim, All I can tell you is that Ning is all right,
she is working for the US Department of Defence and therefore is not permitted to discuss her work openly.
I do not know her working email address, she phoned me couple of times this year and we had some brief exchange of opinions on superconductors and their structure. I know that her parents, brother and husband all live in the US, they are doctors and rather rich. Ning still has an apartment in Huntsville but I do not know where her lab is situated now. Department of Defence is a serious organisation and I frankly have no idea how to get the address. Still, Ning Li was present at the conference on gravity waves organised by MITRE, they should have her address. The idea of gravity shielding seems to attract people from China, a theoretical article was published by Ning Wu, as discussed at Greenglow. Later, if you want this topic at your site, we can talk on the phone or exchange information by email when it is convenient. Best wishes, Eugene Podkletnov
Dr. Robert M. Wood was engaged in deciphering the physics of UFOs while managing a research project on antigravity for McDonnell Douglas from 1968-1970, codename BITBR:
A 1999 FBI memo established that Boyd Bushman was indeed employed at Lockheed Martin (LM). The man’s claims of holding Top Secret clearance while working as a Senior Specialist were also verified. Please note, however, LM expressed concerns to the FBI of what “may be an ongoing attempt to elicit LM proprietary or classified information” surrounding Bushman:
The above mentioned “wave theory” refers to the wave theory of mass.
Prof. Timir Datta was involved in the university-funded development of a “Gravity Generator” in 1996 and 1997, with then-fellow university researcher Dr. Douglas G. Torr. According to a leaked document from the Office of Technology Transfer at the University of South Carolina and confirmed to Wired Magazine reporter Charles Platt in 1998, the device would create a “force beam” in any desired direction and the university planned to patent and license this device. Neither information about this university research project nor any “Gravity Generator” device was ever made public. Despite the apparent less than successful outcome of the “Gravity Generator” development effort with Douglas Torr, Timir Datta became interested in the effects of electric fields on gravitation, expanding on Torr’s theoretical work on the subject.
Dr. Douglas G. Torr is presently employed by the US Department of Defence, working on classified projects as a consequence of his company PST Associates LLC status of a former US Department of Defense contractor.
Earlier, Dr. Torr had collaborated with Dr. Ning Li at the University of Alabama in Huntsville on the following research:
- “Gravitational Effects on the Magnetic Attenuation of Superconductors”, Physical Review B, V46, N9, p. 5489 (SEP 01 1992)
- “Effects of a Gravitomagnetic Field on Pure Superconductors”, Physical Review D, V43, N2, p. 457 (JAN 15 1993)
- “Gravitoelectric-Electric Coupling via Superconductivity”, Foundations of Physics Letters, V6, N4, p. 317 (AUG 01 1993)
Hat Schwerkraft Zukunft?
Die Zeit ist reif für das Ende der mühseligen Erdschwere. In geheimen US-Labors soll der Sieg über die Gravitation schon längst errungen sein.
Von Ulrich Schnabe,
Is Gravity The Future?
In secret US Labs, the victory over gravity has long been achieved.
The true heroes of mankind have always taken up the struggle against the oppressive power of gravity, as did Sisyphus, Leonardo da Vinci, or the tailor of Ulm.
Did not the history of homo sapiens begin when our ancestors, some 4.5 million years ago, first defied the power of gravity and raised themselves on two legs? Now that we have successfully mastered the upright course, the flying to the moon and the bungeejumping, it will be time for the next stage in human history: the final lifting of the earth’s gravity.
The fact that gravity is mainly a handicap is well-known: the eternal urge to the center of the earth makes it difficult to get up in the morning, brakes the road, air and space traffic and lends us over to that unhappy property called weight, which looks at the bathroom scales Depression. But the salvation is approaching: In various laboratories, the victory over the gravity is being worked – for example, at the American space agency Nasa, which is now a 600,000 dollar antigravation machine to test. It is only a matter of time before the researchers stand out.
The approaching turn of times, as so often, is felt above all by those who have access to the subtle world. “A taboo is at an end,” announces the journal Anthroposophy today, “the power is no longer what it was.” The world view of our civilization “has changed forever” in September 2001 – but not by the terrorist attacks in New York, but by the publication of The Hunt For Zero Point (Random House).
In his “The Hunt for Zero Point“ Nick Cook describes the discovery of “the greatest mystery since the invention of the atomic bomb”. The author, an aviation specialist in the leading military magazine Jane’s Defense Weekly, reveals that American researchers are not only working on revolutionary antigravation techniques, but have already deciphered the secret of the gravity. Only the sensational discovery, which fundamentally changed both transport and weapon technology, had been kept secret for years.
Cook, too, first learns of it through mysterious circumstances. One day he stumbles over a quotation from armor expert George S. Trimble, vice president of the “G project” at Martin Aircrafts. Trimble claimed as early as 1956 that the taming of gravity could be achieved “about the same time as was necessary to build the atomic bomb.” What was he playing with?
There would be, for example, those Nazi scholars who, in the service of the SS, explored the possibility of antigravity and time travel. What became of the head of these armament projects, SS Obergruppenführer Hans Kammler?
Many clues suggest that SS Obergruppenführer Hans Kammler escaped to the United States with his findings and made them available to the US military.
It is quite conceivable that in the late fifties, somewhere in the expanse of the American prairie, a secret research laboratory was set up, which, like the Manhattan project, aimed at mastering the power of the atomic bomb.
Had this effort been successful? Is the anti-gravity technology perhaps already in use? In his researches in the laboratories of the armaments industry, in the corridors of the Pentagon, and in the tunnels of former Nazi research centers, this suspicion is confirmed by Cook. Although he is unable to provide any firm proof, the journalist discovers something else in his research: the feeling of a great mystery, “a black heart”. Cook can properly “feel the fear that clings to it”.
And yet the shielding is not complete. Even the attentive observer of scientific literature could not escape the fact that our schoolbook knowledge stands before a revolution.
Astronomers have been observing for a number of years that the universe is expanding much faster than previously thought – a finding many people explain by the action of a kind of cosmic antigravity that drives the galaxies apart. The astronomers emphasize again and again that this force has no influence on earthly masses and only becomes effective at great cosmological distances. But who knows?
The so-called zero-point energy of the vacuum also stimulates wild speculation. According to quantum mechanics, nothingness is not empty, but full potential. Just wonder how big this zero point energy (ZPE) is. “Some say that there is enough energy in a shoe box to allow the whole world to explode,” says Cook’s book, “others think that you can not even boil an egg with the whole ZPE of the world.”
Do Podkletnov know more? In 1992, the Russian emigrant reported that he had discovered a method for shielding gravity at the Tampere Technical University in Finland. For this purpose, Podkletnov had a disk of a special superconducting material rotated over a strong magnetic field. At over 5000 revolutions per second, measurements with a super fine scale, lost samples suspended above the disc up to one percent of their weight!
Although the professional world is still skeptical about these results, the American physicist Ning Li soon waited for a theoretical explanation: the rotating superconductor had a “gravito-magnetic” effect, a phenomenon which Einstein had already predicted. Similar to a moving electric charge, a magnetic field is generated, according to the theory of relativity, rotating matter must also influence the gravitational field. Although the effect according to Einsteinstheorie should be so small that it would be detectable only in the universe. Ning Li could not convince Nasa to repeat Podkletnov’s groundbreaking experiments.
The fact that these attempts failed for many years and Ning Li does not want to comment on the whole subject any more, can only be explained by the power of the “black heart” that Nick Cook could guess in his research.
Yevgeny Podkletnov also felt his strength. The anti-gravity pioneer lost his job at the Tampere Technical University and has to pursue his research on his own. He recently revealed to a reporter of the New Scientist that he had now developed a “pulse generator”, which could throw down an upright book at a distance of one kilometer. Unfortunately, a visit to the facility is not possible because it is located in a security zone of the Moscow University. In addition, he is obliged to “silence” for “patent reasons”.
But the progress can not be stopped. This is also known by the Nasa researchers, who work in the “Breakthrough in Drive Technology” department. In the meantime, they have realized that Podkletnov’s experiment apparently only works when the rotating superconducting disk has a very specific chemical composition – and the Russian physicist has so far kept this mixture secret. But for a generous check, he has now betrayed his special recipe to an American company, who had an exact copy of his antigravation apparatus made for Nasa for 600,000 dollars. These days, the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is about to begin the experiments, and it is only a matter of months before the official confirmation of Podkletnov’s breakthrough discovery is made.
Only the scientific community still struggles against the impending paradigm shift. The physicist and book author Hans Christian von Baeyer, who teaches in the USA, considers the antigravitation to be as likely as “the possibility that your office is exploding today”. Even Lawrence M. Krauss, who analyzed the physics of Star Trek and is a science fiction expert, considers NASA’s work as an “nonsense”. As chairman of a corresponding NASA advisory board, he would at any rate do his utmost to “end this stupid project”.
Is there only the arrogance of the mainstream physics establishment behind such statements? Or are they merely distraction maneuvers to conceal the truth of that “dark mystery” that Nick Cook has tracked?
One alleged site of production of the Nazi UFOs is a series of tunnels buried under the Jonas Valley in Thuringia, central Germany. Here, under the command of SS General Hans Kammler, legions of slave labourers worked to bring the Fuhrer’s fantasies into existence.
The respected German science mag PM has reported how “advanced” the programme was as scientists toiled in secret factories to produce the “wonder weapon” to win the war. The magazine quotes eyewitnesses who saw a flying saucer marked with the German Iron Cross flying low over the Thames in 1944. “America also treated the existence of the weapons seriously,” it said.
The US believed Germany could use it to drop weapons on New York — a target the Fuhrer obsessed on as the war progressed. At the time the New York Times reported on a “mysterious flying disc” with photos of the device seen travelling at extremely high speeds over the city’s high-rise buildings.
“Apparently that machine was capable on its maiden flight of travelling
2,000km,” added the PM report. “The Germans had destroyed much of the
paperwork of their activities but there are numerous hints that it did
This is the latest revelation about odd UFO activity. Two weeks ago we told how 8,000 cows were snatched by mystery aircraft then dropped from the skies in the US. The Nazi UFO project was driven by engineers Rudolf Schriever and Otto Habermohl and was based in Prague between 1941 and 1943.
Initially a Luftwaffe project, it eventually fell under the control of armaments minister Albert Speer before being taken over once again in 1944 by Hans Kammler. Eyewitnesses captured by Allies after the war claimed to have seen the saucer fly on several occasions. Joseph Andreas Epp, an engineer who served as a consultant to the Schriever-Habermohl project, claimed 15 prototypes were built. He described how a central cockpit surrounded by rotating adjustable wing-vanes formed a circle. The vanes were held together by a band at the outer edge and were set in rotation by small rockets placed around the rim. Once rotational speed was sufficient and lift-off was achieved, horizontal jets or rockets were ignited.
A German official recorded that at the Prague-Gbell aerodrome in September 1943, he saw inside a hangar “a disk 5-6 metres in diameter. Its body is relatively large at the centre. “Underneath it has four tall, thin legs. Colour: aluminum. Height: almost as tall as a man. Thickness: some 30 to 40cm. Along with my friends, I saw the device emerge from the hangar. “It was then we heard the roar of the engines, we saw the external side of the disk begin to rotate and the vehicle began moving slowly and in a straight line toward the southern end of the field. “It then rose almost one metre into the air. After moving around some 300 metres at that altitude, it stopped again. Its landing was rather rough. Later, the ‘thing’ took off again, managing to reach the end of the aerodrome this time.”
So impressive was Nazi technology found at the end of the war, V-2 rocket scientists were hunted down by the US and Soviets and hired for their own missile and space programmes. More than 120 rocket scientists, including Wernher von Braun who became a central figure at NASA, went to the US.
German engineer Georg Klein claimed that two types of flying disks had been created by the Nazi scientists. Georg Klein, who went on to have a distinguished postwar career as an aeronautical engineer, said : “I don’t consider myself a crackpot, or eccentric, or fantasy prone person. This is what I saw with my own eyes — a Nazi UFO.”
British and American bomber crews also reported strange sightings over enemy territory. They reported seeing objects that were neither aircraft nor ack-ack fire and described them as “fiery” and “glowing red, white, or orange”. Were these the test flights of the disks meant to unleash terror on Allied cities? But if so where were they flying from? Jonas Valley is where the secret work is believed to have been carried out. Research in Third Reich archives points to a secret factory in the Jonas Valley complex. Now officially sealed off, authorities play a cat-and-mouse game with UFO hunters. Why else would the Americans take away everything they found and place the results under a 100-year secrecy order?
The Hunt for Zero Point
The photocopied pages had obviously come from some long-forgotten schlock popular science journal. I had stepped away from my desk only for a few moments and somehow in the interim the article had appeared. The headline ran: The G-Engines Are Coming.
I glanced around the office, wondering who had put it there and if this was someone’s idea of a joke. The copier had cut off the top of the first page and the title of the publication with it, but it was the drawing above the headline that was the giveaway. It depicted an aircraft, if you could call it that, hovering a few feet above a dry lake bed, a ladder extending from the fuselage and a crew member making his way down the steps dressed in a U.S.-style flight suit and flying helmet—standard garb for that era. The aircraft had no wings and no visible means of propulsion.
I gave the office another quick scan. The magazine’s operations were set on the first floor. The whole building was open-plan. To my left, the business editor was head-down over a proof-page checking copy. To her right was the naval editor, a guy who was good for a windup, but who was currently deep into a phone conversation and looked like he had been for hours.
I was reminded of a technology piece I’d penned a couple of years earlier about the search for scientific breakthroughs in U.S. aerospace and defense research. In a journal not noted for its exploration of the fringes of paranormality, nor for its humor, I’d inserted a tongue-in-cheek reference to gravity—or rather to antigravity, a subject beloved of science-fiction writers.
“For some U.S. aerospace engineers,” I’d said, “an antigravity propulsion system remains the ultimate quantum leap in aircraft design.” The implication was that antigravity was the aerospace equivalent of the holy grail: something longed for, dreamed about, but beyond reach—and likely always to remain so.
Somehow the reference had escaped the sub-editors and, as a result, amongst my peers, other aerospace and defense writers on the circuit, I’d taken some flak for it. For Jane’s, the publishing empire founded on one man’s obsession with the detailed specifications of ships and aircraft almost a century earlier, technology wasn’t something you joked about.
The magazine I wrote—and still write—for, Jane’s Defence Weekly, documented the day-to-day dealings of the multibillion-dollar defense business. JDW, as we called it, is but one of a portfolio of products detailing the ins and outs of the global aerospace and defense industry. If you want to know about the thrust-to-weight ratio of a Chinese combat aircraft engine or the pulse repetition frequency of a particular radar system, somewhere in the Jane’s portfolio of products there is a publication that has the answers. In short, Jane’s was, and always has been, about facts. Its motto is: Authoritative, Accurate, Impartial.
It was a huge commercial intelligence-gathering operation; and provided they had the money, anyone could buy into its vast knowledge base.
I cast a glance at the bank of sub-editors’ work-stations over in the far corner of the office, but nobody appeared remotely interested in what was happening at my desk. If the subs had nothing to do with it, and usually they were the first to know about a piece of piss-taking that was going down in the office, I figured whoever had put it there was from one of the dozens of other departments in the building and on a different floor. Perhaps my anonymous benefactor had felt embarrassed about passing it on to me?
I studied the piece again.
The strapline below the headline proclaimed: “By far the most potent source of energy is gravity. Using it as power, future aircraft will attain the speed of light.” It was written by one Michael Gladych and began: “Nuclear-powered aircraft are yet to be built, but there are research projects already under way that will make the super-planes obsolete before they are test-flown. For in the United States and Canada, research centers, scientists, designers and engineers are perfecting a way to control gravity—a force infinitely more powerful than the mighty atom. The result of their labors will be antigravity engines working without fuel—weightless airliners and space ships able to travel at 170,000 miles per second.”
On any other day, that would have been the moment I’d have consigned it for recycling. But something in the following paragraph caught my eye.
The gravity research, it said, had been supported by the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Company, Bell Aircraft, Lear “and several other American aircraft manufacturers who would not spend millions of dollars on science fiction.” It quoted Lawrence D. Bell, the founder of the plane-maker that was first to beat the sound barrier. “We’re already working on nuclear fuels and equipment to cancel out gravity.” George S. Trimble, head of Advanced Programs and “Vice President in charge of the G-Project at Martin Aircraft,” added that the conquest of gravity “could be done in about the time it took to build the first atom bomb.”
A little further on, it quoted “William P. Lear, the chairman of Lear Inc., makers of autopilots and other electronic controls.” It would be another decade before Bill Lear went on to design and build the first of the sleek business jets that still carry his name. But in 1956, according to Gladych, Lear had his mind on other things.
“All matter within the ship would be influenced by the ship’s gravitation only,” Lear apparently said of the wondrous G-craft. “This way, no matter how fast you accelerated or changed course, your body would not feel it any more than it now feels the tremendous speed and acceleration of the earth.” The G-ship, Gladych explained, could take off like a cannon shell, come to a stop with equal abruptness and the passengers wouldn’t even need seat belts. This ability to accelerate rapidly, the author continued, would make it ideal as a space vehicle capable of acceleration to a speed approaching that of light.
There were some oblique references to Einstein, some highly dubious “facts” about the nature of subatomic physics and some speculation about how various kinds of “antigravity engines” might work.
But the one thing I kept returning to were those quotes. Had Gladych made them up or had Lawrence Bell, George S. Trimble and William “Bill” Lear really said what he had quoted them as saying?
Outside, the rain beat against the double-glazed windows, drowning the sound of the traffic that crawled along the London to Brighton road and the unrelenting hum of the air conditioning that regulated the temperature inside.
The office was located in the last suburb of the Greater London metropolis; next stop the congested joys of the M25 ring road and the M23 to Gatwick Airport. The building was a vast redbrick two-story bunker amid between-the-wars gray brickwork and pebbledash. The rain acted like a muslin filter, washing out what little ambient color Coulsdon possessed. In the rain, it was easy to imagine that nothing much had changed here for decades.
As aviation editor of JDW, my beat was global and it was pretty much unstructured. If I needed to cover the latest air-to-surface weapons developments in the U.S.A., I could do it, with relatively few questions asked. My editor, an old pro, with a history as long as your arm in publishing, gave each of us, the so-called “specialists” (the aviation, naval and land systems editors), plenty of rope. His only proviso was that we filed our expenses within two of weeks of travel and that we gave him good, exclusive stories. If I wanted to cover an aerospace and defense exhibition in Moscow, Singapore or Dubai, the funds to do so were almost always there.
As for the job itself, it was a mixture of hard-edged reporting and basic provision of information. We reported on the defense industry, but we were part of it, too—the vast majority of the company’s revenue coming from the same people we wrote about. Kowtowing was a no-no, but so was kicking down doors. If you knew the rules and played by them you could access almost any part of the global defense-industrial complex. In the course of a decade, I’d visited secret Russian defense facilities and ultrasensitive U.S. government labs. If you liked technology, a bit of skulduggery and people, it was a career made in heaven. At least 60 percent of the time I was on the road. The bit I liked least was office downtime.
Again, I looked around for signs that I was being set up. Then, satisfied that I wasn’t, but feeling self-conscious nonetheless, I tucked the Gladych article into a drawer and got on with the business of the day. Another aerospace and defense company had fallen prey to post-Cold War economics. It was 24 hours before the paper closed for press and the news editor was yelling for copy.
Two days later, in a much quieter moment, I visited the Jane’s library. It was empty but for the librarian, a nice man way past retirement age who used to listen to the BBC’s radio lunchtime news while gazing out over the building’s bleak rear lot.
In the days before the Internet revolution, the library was an invaluable resource. Fred T. Jane published his first yearbook, Jane’s Fighting Ships, in 1898; and in 1909 the second, Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft, quickly built on the reputation of the former as a reference work par excellence for any and all information on aeronautical developments. Nigh on a century later, the library held just about every book and magazine ever put out by the company and a pile of other reference works besides.
I scanned the shelves till I found what I was looking for.
The Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft yearbook for 1956 carried no mention of antigravity experiments, nor did successive volumes, but that came as no great surprise. The yearbooks are the aerospace equivalent of Burke’s Peerage or the Guinness Book of Records: every word pored over, analyzed and double-checked for accuracy. They’d have given antigravity a very wide berth.
For a story like this, what I was looking for was a news publication.
I looked along the shelves again. Jane’s had gotten into the magazine publishing business relatively recently and the company’s copies of Flight International and Aviation Week ran back only a few years. But it did have bound volumes of Interavia Aerospace Review from before the Second World War. And it was on page 373 in the May 1956 edition of this well-respected publication, in amongst advertisements for Constellation airliners, chunky-looking bits of radar equipment and (curiously for an aviation journal) huge “portable” Olivetti typewriters, that I found a feature bylined: Mr. “Intel”, Washington, D.C., with the headline: “Towards Flight without Stress or Strain…or Weight” Beneath it ran the strapline: The following article is by an American journalist who has long taken a keen interest in questions of theoretical physics and has been recommended to the Editors as having close connections with scientific circles in the United States. The subject is one of immediate interest and Interavia Aerospace Review would welcome further comment from initiated sources. — Editors.
The article referred to something called “electro-gravitics” research, whose aim was to “seek the source of gravity and its control.” This research, “Intel” stated, had “reached a stage where profound implications for the entire human race are beginning to emerge.”
I read on, amused by the tone and wondering how on earth the article had come to be accepted in a mainstream aerospace journal.
“In the still short life of the turbojet airplane [by then, 1956, little more than a decade], man has had to increase power in the form of brute thrust some twenty times in order to achieve just twice the speed. The cost in money in reaching this point has been prodigious. The cost in highly specialized man-hours is even greater. By his present methods man actually fights in direct combat the forces that resist his efforts. In conquering gravity he would be putting one of his most competent adversaries to work for him. Antigravitics is the method of the picklock rather than the sledgehammer.”
Not only that, the article stated, but antigravity could be put to work in other fields beyond aerospace. “In road cars, trains and boats the headaches of transmission of power from the engine to wheels or propellers would simply cease to exist. Construction of bridges and big buildings would be greatly simplified by temporary induced weightlessness etc. Other facets of work now under way indicate the possi- bility of close controls over the growth of plant life; new therapeutic techniques, permanent fuelless heating units for homes and industrial establishments; new sources of industrial power; new manufacturing techniques; a whole field of new chemistry. The list is endless …and growing.”
It was also sheer fantasy.
Yet, for the second time in a week I had found an article—this time certainly in a publication with a solid reputation—that stated that U.S. aerospace companies were engaged in the study of this “science.” It cited the same firms mentioned by Gladych and some new ones as well: Sperry-Rand and General Electric among them. Within these institutions, we were supposed to believe, people were working on theories that could not only make materials weightless, but could actually give them “negative weight”—a repulsive force that would allow them to loft away “contra-gravitationally.” The article went further. It claimed that in experimentation conducted by a certain “Townsend T. Brown” weights of some materials had already been cut by as much as 30 percent by “energizing” them and that model “disc airfoils” utilizing this technology had been run in a wind tunnel under a charge of a hundred and fifty kilovolts “with results so impressive as to be highly classified.”
I gazed out over the slate rooftops. For Interavia to have written about antigravity, there had to have been something in it. The trouble was, it was history. My bread-and-butter beat was the aerospace industry of the 1990s, not this distant cozy world of the fifties with its heady whiff of jet-engine spirit and the developing Cold War.
I replaced the volume and returned to my desk. It should have been easy to let go, but it wasn’t. If people of the caliber quoted by Gladych and Interavia had started talking about antigravity anytime in the past ten years I would have reported it—however skeptical I might be on a personal level. Why had these people said the things they had with such conviction? One of them, George S. Trimble, had gone so far as to predict that a breakthrough would occur in around the same time it took to develop the atomic bomb—roughly five years. Yet, it had never happened. And even if the results of “Townsend T. Brown’s” experiments had been “so impressive as to be highly classified,” they had clearly come to naught; otherwise, by the 60s or 70s the industry would have been overtaken by fuel-less propulsion technology.
I rang a public relations contact at Lockheed Martin, the U.S. aerospace and defense giant, to see if I could get anything on the individuals Gladych had quoted. I knew that Lawrence Bell and Bill Lear were both dead. But what about George S. Trimble? If Trimble was alive—and it was a long shot, since he would have to be in his 80s—he would undoubtedly confirm what I felt I knew to be true; that he had been heavily misquoted or that antigravity had been the industry’s silly-season story of 1956.
A simple phone call would do the trick.
Daniella “Dani” Abelman was an old media contact within Lockheed Martin’s public affairs organization. Solid, reliable and likable, she’d grown up in the industry alongside me, only on the other side of the divide. Our relationship with the information managers of the aerospace and defense world was as double-edged as the PR/reporter interface in any other industry. Our job was to get the lowdown on the inside track and, more often than not, it was bad news that sold. But unlike our national newspaper counterparts, trade press hacks have to work within the industry, not outside it. This always added an extra twist to our quest for information. The industry comprised hundreds of thousands of people, but despite its size, it was surprisingly intimate and incestuous enough for everyone to know everyone else. If you pissed off a PR manager in one company, even if it was on the other side of the globe, you wouldn’t last long, because word would quickly get around and the flow of information would dry up.
But with Abelman, it was easy. I liked her. We got on. I told her I needed some background on an individual in one of Lockheed Martin’s “heritage” companies, a euphemism for a firm it had long since swallowed whole.
The Glenn L. Martin Company became the Martin Company in 1957. In 1961, it merged with the American-Marietta Company, becoming Martin-Marietta, a huge force in the Cold War U.S. defense electronics industry. In 1994, Martin-Marietta merged again, this time with Lockheed to form Lockheed Martin. The first of the global mega-merged defense behemoths, it built everything from stealth fighters and their guided weapons to space launchers and satellites.
Abelman was naturally suspicious when I told her I needed to trace an ex-company employee, but relaxed when I said that the person I was interested in had been doing his thing more than 40 years ago and was quite likely dead by now.
I was circumspect about the reasons for the approach, knowing full well if I told her the real story, she’d think I’d taken leave of my senses.
But I had a bona fide reason for calling her—and one that legitimately, if at a stretch, involved Trimble: I was preparing a piece on the emergence of the U.S. aerospace industry’s “special projects” facilities in the aftermath of the Cold War.
Most large aerospace and defense companies had a special projects unit; a clandestine adjunct to their main business lines where classified activities could take place. The shining example was the Lockheed Martin “Skunk Works,” a near-legendary aircraft-manufacturing facility on the edge of the California high desert.
For 50 years, the Skunk Works had sifted Lockheed for its most highly skilled engineers, putting them to work on top secret aircraft projects.
Using this approach it had delivered some of the biggest military breakthroughs of the 20th century, among them the world’s first Mach 3 spyplane and stealth, the art of making aircraft “invisible” to radar and other enemy sensor systems.
But now the Skunk Works was coming out of the shadows and, in the process, giving something back to its parent organization. Special projects units were renowned for bringing in complex, high-risk defense programs on time and to cost, a skill that had become highly sought after by the main body of the company in the austere budget environment of the 1990s.
Trimble, I suggested, might be able to provide me with historical context and “color” in an otherwise dry business story. “Advanced Programs,” the outfit he was supposed to have worked for, sounded a lot like Martin’s version of the Skunk Works.
Abelman said she’d see what she could do, but I wasn’t to expect any short-order miracles. She wasn’t the company historian, she said dryly, but she’d make a few inquiries and get back to me.
I was surprised when she phoned me a few hours later. Company records, to her surprise—and mine—said that Trimble was alive and enjoying retirement in Arizona. “Sounds hard as nails, but an amazing guy by all accounts,” she breezed. “He’s kinda mystified why you want to talk to him after all this time, but seems okay with it. Like you said, it’s historical, right?”
“Right,” I said.
I asked Abelman, while she was at it, for all the background she had on the man. History or not, I said, trying to keep it light, I liked to be thorough. She was professional enough to sound less than convinced by my newfound interest in the past, but promised she’d do her best. I thanked her, then hung up, feeling happy that I’d done something about it. A few weeks, a month at the outside, the mystery would be resolved and I could go back to my regular beat, case closed.
Outside, another bank of gray storm clouds was rolling in above rooftops that were still slick from the last passing shower.
I picked up my coat and headed for the train station, knowing that somewhere between the office and my flat in central London I was going to get soaked right through.
The initial information came a week later from a search through some old files that I’d buried in a collection of boxes in my basement: a company history of Martin Marietta I’d barely remembered I’d acquired. It told me that in 1955 Trimble had become involved in something called the Research Institute for Advanced Studies, RIAS, a Martin spin-off organization whose brief was to “observe the phenomena of nature…to discover fundamental laws…and to evolve new technical concepts for the improvement and welfare of mankind.”
Aside from the philanthropic tone, a couple of things struck me as fishy about the RIAS. First off, its name was as bland as the carefully chosen “Advanced Development Projects”—the official title of the Skunk Works. Second, was the nature and caliber of its recruits. These, according to the company history, were “world-class contributors in mathematics, physics, biology and materials science.”
Soon afterward, I received a package of requested information from Lockheed Martin in the mail. RIAS no longer existed, having been subsumed by other parts of the Lockheed Martin empire. But through an old RIAS history, a brochure published in 1980 to celebrate the organization’s “first 25 years,” I was able to glean a little more about Trimble and the outfit he’d inspired. It described him as “one of the most creative and imaginative people that ever worked for the Company.”
I read on.
From a nucleus of people that in 1955 met in a conference room at the Martin Company’s Middle River plant in Maryland, RIAS soon developed a need for its own space. In 1957, with a staff of about 25 people, it moved to Baltimore City. The initial research program, the brochure said, was focused on NASA and the agency’s stated goal of putting a man on the moon. But that wasn’t until 1961.
One obvious question was, what had RIAS been doing in the interim? Mainly math, by the look of it. Its principal academic was described as an expert in “topology and nonlinear differential equations.”
I hadn’t the least idea what that meant.
In 1957, the outfit moved again, this time to a large mansion on the edge of Baltimore, a place chosen for its “campus-like” atmosphere. Offices were quickly carved from bedrooms and workshops from garages.
It reminded me of accounts I’d read of the shirtsleeves atmosphere of the early days of the Manhattan Project when Oppenheimer and his team of atom scientists had crunched through the physics of the bomb.
And that was the very same analogy Trimble had used. The conquest of gravity, he’d said, would come in the time it took to build the bomb.
I called a few contacts on the science and engineering side of Lockheed Martin, asking them, in a roundabout kind of way, whether there was, or ever had been, any part of the corporation involved in gravity or “counter-gravitational” research. After some initial questions on their part as to why I should be interested, which I just about managed to palm off, the answer that came back was a uniform “no.” Well, almost. There was a guy, one contact told me, a scientist who worked in the combat aircraft division in Fort Worth who would talk eloquently about the mysteries of Nature and the universe to anyone who would listen. He’d also levitate paper clips on his desk. Great character, but a bit of a maverick.
“Paper clips?” I’d asked. “A maverick scientist levitating paper clips on his desk? At Lockheed Martin? Come on.”
My source laughed. If he hadn’t known better, he’d have said I was working up a story on antigravity.
I made my excuses and signed off. It was crazy, possibly dangerous stuff, but it continued to have me intrigued.
I called an old friend who’d gained a degree in applied mathematics. Tentatively, I asked whether topology and non-differential linear equations had any application to the study of gravity.
Of course, he replied. Topology—the study of shape in physics—and nonlinear equations were the standard methods for calculating gravitational attraction.
I sat back and pieced together what I had. It didn’t amount to much, but did it amount to something?
In 1957, George S. Trimble, one of the leading aerospace engineers in the U.S. at that time, a man, it could safely be said, with a background in highly advanced concepts and classified activity, had put together what looked like a special projects team; one with a curious task.
This, just a year after he started talking about the Golden Age of Antigravity that would sweep through the industry starting in the 1960s.
So, what went wrong?
In its current literature, the stuff pumped out in press releases all the time, the U.S. Air Force constantly talked up the “vision”: where it was going to be in 25 years, how it was going to wage and win future wars and how technology was key.
In 1956, it would have been as curious as I was about the notion of a fuel-less propulsion source, one that could deliver phenomenal performance gains over a jet; perhaps including the ability to accelerate rapidly, to pull hairpin turns without crushing the pilot and to achieve speeds that defied the imagination. In short, it would have given them something that resembled a UFO.
I rubbed my eyes. The dim pool of light that had illuminated the Lockheed-supplied material on Trimble and RIAS had brought on a nagging pain in the back of my head.
The evidence was suggesting that in the mid-50s there had been some kind of breakthrough in the antigravity field and for a small window in time people had talked about it freely and openly, believing they were witnessing the dawn of a new era, one that would benefit the whole of mankind.
Then, in 1957, everyone had stopped talking about it. Had the military woken up to what was happening, bringing the clamps down?
Those in the know, outfits like Trimble’s that had been at the forefront of the breakthrough, would probably have continued their research, assembling their development teams behind closed doors, ready for the day they could build real hardware.
But of course, it never happened.
It never happened because soon after Trimble, Bell and Lear made their statements, sanity prevailed. By 1960, it was like the whole episode never took place. Aerospace development continued along its structured, ordered pathway and antigravity became one of those taboo subjects that people like me never, ever talked about.
Satisified that everything was back in its place and as it should be, I went to bed.
Somewhere in my head I was still tracking the shrill, faraway sounds of the city when the phone rang. I could tell instantly it was Abelman. Separated by an ocean and five time zones, I heard the catch in her breathing.
” It’s Trimble,” she said. “The guy just got off the phone to me. Remember how he was fine to do the interview? Well, something’s happened. I don’t know who this old man is or what he once was, but he told me in no uncertain terms to get off his case. He doesn’t want to speak to me and he doesn’t want to speak to you, not now, not ever. I don’t mind telling you that he sounded scared and I don’t like to hear old men scared. It makes me scared. I don’t know what you were really working on when you came to me with this, Nick, but let me give you some advice. Stick to what you know about; stick to the damned present. It’s better that way for all of us.”
Towards Flight without Stress or Strain… or Weight
by Mr. “Intel”, Washington D.C.
The following article is by an American journalist who has long taken a keen interest in questions of theoretical physics and has been recommended to the Editors as having close connections with scientific circles in the United States. The subject is one of immediate interest and Interavia Aerospace Review would welcome further comment from initiated sources. — Editors.
Washington D.C., March 23, 1956
Electrogravitics research, seeking the source of gravity and its control, has reached a stage where profound implications for the entire human race begin to emerge. Perhaps the most startling and immediate implications of all involve aircraft, guided missiles — atmospheric and free space flight of all kinds.
If only one of several lines of research achieve their goal — and it now seems certain that this must occur — gravitational acceleration as a structural, aerodynamic and medical problem will simply cease to exist. So will the task of providing combustible fuels in massive volume in order to escape the earth’s gravitic pull — now probably the biggest headache facing today’s would-be “space men”.
And towards the long-term progress of mankind and man’s civilization, a whole new concept of electrophysics is being levered out into the light of human knowledge.
There are gravity research projects in every major country of the world. A few are over 30 years old. Most are much newer. Some are purely theoretical and seek the answer in Quantum, Relativity and Unified Field Theory mathematics — Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey; University of Indiana’s School of Advanced Mathematical Studies; Purdue University Research Foundation; Goettingen and Hamburg Universities in France, Italy, Japan and elsewhere. The list, in fact, runs into the hundreds.
Some projects are mostly empirical, studying gravitic isotopes, electrical phenomena and the statistics of mass. Others combine both approaches in the study of matter in its super-cooled, super-conductive state, of jet electron streams, peculiar magnetic effects or the electrical mechanics of the atom’s shell. Some of the companies involved in this phase include Lear Inc., Gluhareff Helicopter and Airplane Corp., The Glenn L. Martin Co., Sperry-Rand Corp., Bell Aircraft, Clarke Electronics Laboratories, the U.S. General Electric Company.
The concept of weightlessness in conventional materials which are normally heavy, like steel, aluminium, barium, etc., is difficult enough, but some theories, so far borne out empirically in the laboratory, postulate that not only can they be made weightless, but they can in fact be given a negative weight. That is: the force of gravity will be repulsive to them and they will — new sciences breed new words and meanings for old ones — loft away contra-gravitationally.
In this particular line of research, the weights of some materials have already been cut as much as 30% by “energizing” them. Security prevents disclosure of what precisely is meant by “energizing” or in which country this work is under way.
The American scientist Townsend T. Brown has been working on the problems of electrogravitics for more than thirty years. He is seen here demonstrating one of his laboratory instruments, a disc-shaped variant of the two-plate condenser.
A localized gravitic field used as a ponderamotive force has been created in the laboratory. Disc airfoils two feet in diameter and incorporating a variation of the simple two-plate electrical condenser charged with fifty kilovolts and a total continuous energy input of fifty watts have achieved a speed of seventeen feet per second in a circular air course twenty feet in diameter. More lately these discs have been increased in diameter to three feet and run in a fifty-foot diameter air course under a charge of a hundred and fifty kilovolts with results so impressive as to be highly classified. Variations of this work done under a vacuum have produced much greater efficiencies that can only described as startling. Work is now under way developing a flame-jet generator to supply power up to fifteen million volts.
Such a force raised exponentially to levels capable of pushing man-carrying vehicles through the air — or outer space — at ultrahigh speeds is now the object of concerted effort in several countries. Once achieved it will eliminate most of the structural difficulties now encountered in the construction of high-speed aircraft. Importantly the gravitic field that provides the basic propulsive force simultaneously reacts on all matter within that field’s influence. The force is not a physical one acting initially at a specific point in the vehicle that needs then to be translated to all the other parts. It is an electrogravitic field acting on all parts simultaneously.
Subject only to the so-far immutable laws of momentum, the vehicle would be able to change direction, accelerate to thousands of miles per hour, or stop. Changes in direction and speed of flight would be effected by merely altering the intensity, polarity and direction of the charge.
Man now uses the sledge-hammer approach to high-altitude high-speed flight. In the still-short life-span of the turbo-jet airplane he has had to increase power in the form of brute thrust some twenty times in order to achieve just a little more than twice the speed of the original jet plane. The cost in money in reaching this point has been prodigious. The cost in highly-specialized man-hours is even greater. By his present methods man actually fights in direct combat the forces that resist his efforts. in conquering gravity he would be putting one of his most competent adversaries to work for him. Anti-gravitics is the method of the picklock rather than the sledge-hammer.
The communications possibilities of electrogravitics, as the new science is called, confound the imagination. There are apparently in the ether an entirely new unsuspected family of electrical waves similar to electromagnetic radio waves in basic concept.
Electrogravitic waves have been created and transmitted through concentric layers of the most efficient kinds of electromagnetic and electrostatic shielding without any apparent loss of power in any way. There is evidence, but not yet proof, that these waves are not limited by the speed of light. Thus the new science seems to strike at the very foundations of Einsteinian Relativity Theory.
But rather than invalidating current basic concepts such as Relativity, the new knowledge of gravity will probably expand their scope, ramification and general usefulness. It is this expansion of knowledge into the unknown that more emphasizes how little we do know; how vast is the area still awaiting research and discovery.
The most successful line of the electrogravitics research so far reported is that carried on by Townsend. T. Brown, an American who has been researching gravity for over thirty years. He is now conducting research projects in the U.S. and on the Continent. He postulates that there is between electricity and gravity a relationship parallel and/or similar to that which exists between electricity and magnetism. And as the coil is the usable link in the case of electromagnetics, so is the condenser that link in the case of electrogravitics. Years of successful empirical work have lent a great deal of credence to this hypothesis.
The detailed implications of man’s conquest of gravity are innumerable. In road cars, trains and boats the headaches of transmission of power from the engine to wheels or propellers would simply cease to exist. Construction of bridges and big buildings would be greatly simplified by temporary induced weightlessness, etc. Other facets of work now under way indicate the possibilityof close controls over the growth of plant life; new therapeutic techniques, permanent fuel-less heating units for homes and industrial establishments; new manufacturing techniques; a whole new field of chemistry. The list is endless … and growing.
In the field of international affairs, other than electrogravitics’ military significance, what development of the science may do to raw material are more prone to induced weightlessness than others. These are becoming known as gravitic isotopes: Some are already quite hard to find, but others are common and, for the moment, cheap. Since these ultimately may be the vital lofting materials required in the creation of contra-gravitational fields, their value might become extremely high with equivalent rearrangement of the wealth of natural resources, balance of economic power and world geo-strategic concepts.
How soon all this comes about is directly proportional to the effort that is put into it. Surprisingly, those countries normally expected to be leaders in such an advanced field are so far only fooling around. Great Britain, with her Ministry of Supply and the National Physical Laboratory, apparently has never seriously considered that the attempt to overcome and control gravity was worth practical effort and is now scurrying around trying to find out what its all about. The U.S. Department of Defense has consistently considered gravity in the realm of basic theory and has so far only put token amounts of money into research on it. The French, apparently a little more open-minded about such things, have initiated a number of projects, but even these are still on pretty much of a small scale. The same is true throughout most of the world. Most of the work is of a private venture kind, and much is being done in the studies of university professors and in the traditional lofts and basements of badly undercapitalized scientists.
But the word’s afoot now. And both Government and private interest is growing and gathering momentum with logarithmic acceleration. The day may not be far off when man again confounds himself with his genius; then wonders why it took him so long to recognize the obvious.
Of course, there is always a possibility that the unexplained 3% of UFOs, “Unidentified Flying Objects”, as the U.S. Air Force calls “flying saucers”, are in fact vehicles so propelled, developed already and undergoing test flights – by whom…. U.S., Britain…. or Russia? However, if this is so, it’s the best kept secret since the Manhattan Project, for this reporter has spent over two years trying to chase down work on antigravity and has drawn from government scientists and military experts the world over only the blankest of stares.