Antigravity and NASA
(February 1999)

Antigravity, we all know, is just a science fiction dream. Now it appears that NASA thinks there may be something in the idea after all, and they are about to spend US$600,000 on trying to duplicate the controversial experiments of a Russian scientist who claims to have invented a device that blocks the force of gravity.

E. E. Podkletnov, a materials scientist at the Moscow chemical Scientific Research centre, reported several years ago that a spinning, superconducting disc lost some of its weight. Since then, he has indicated, in an unpublished paper on the weak gravitation shielding properties of a superconductor, that the disc can lose as much as 2 per cent of its weight.

While this is still a long way from the antigravity that supposedly powers UFOs, any device that shields a rocket from the Earth's gravity is of great interest to NASA. Think of the payload advantages if you only needed a gentle push to get a rocket up through the atmosphere and into space.

It is unlikely that they will get something for nothing. The logic of standard science, of course, says that you need to put as much energy into the raising of the rocket as you can get back from dropping the rocket back to Earth. of course, rockets are inefficient, and it may well prove to be a great deal more efficient to rely on Podkletnov's method, using a smaller amount of energy to set up the superconducting disc, and then to set it spinning.

NASA first tried a ''small disc, four to five inches in diameter,'' but found no gravitational effect that could be distinguished from background noise in the nanogee range. Now they say they will be trying a twelve-inch (30 cm) disc, to see if they have any better luck that way. The researchers will be trying to set it up to put radio-frequency signals into the disc. The RF signals used by Podkletnov varied from 100 to 1000 megahertz, and they believe that if they are to test his claims properly, they will need to replicate his methods. Many physicists think that the logic is all wrong, ''because gravity comes from mass, not from quantum effects,'' but science never progressed by people saying ''this cannot work, so we will not try it.'' Rather, it works by people trying out the consequences of strange and bizarre effects.

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