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Boeing Joins In Anti-Gravity Search

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the believe-what-you-will dept.

Science 606

SimcoFrappe writes: "BBC News reports that Boeing is trying to extend the research of Russian scientist Dr. Yevgeny Podkletnov to develop a device to shield against gravity. The military branch of the British BAe Systems announced a similar program in 2000. One step closer to cheap space travel or just more sci-fi jive?"

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Anti-gravity (1, Funny)

Android robot head (575836) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970735)

is quite a weighty problem.

WHERE IS TROLLAXOR??????? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970819)

I just heard in the news today, Trollaxor, the famous pedophile nymphomaniac, is missing. Authorities say he was last spotted entering the gay bar, "CompUSA" in San Francisco. If you have any information, www.fbi.gov.

Re:WHERE IS TROLLAXOR??????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970913)

More on this story here [www.yams.cx]

Austin Powers Goldmember sucked nuts (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970858)

It's the same fucking movie as the last one, only not funny.

frosty (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970737)

p155

It's about time. (5, Funny)

Rhombus (104176) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970739)

Where are all the flying cars???

I was promised flying cars.

Lift and Smootch! (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970754)

Lame first post, you putz.

Post #1 of 2 for the day.

Re:It's about time. (2, Insightful)

alienmole (15522) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970802)

Where are all the flying cars???

I was promised flying cars.

Haven't been paying attention, have you?

The Moller Flying Car [moller.com] .

Re:It's about time. (1)

Marc2k (221814) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970824)

...but i want a flying DeLorean!

Re:It's about time. (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970859)

Yeah, especially those which hot redhead supermodel chicks crashes into.

man this site sucks ass (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970743)

eat it fags. way to censor and sue like other sites. Long live txr!

Re:man this site sucks ass (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970776)

long live goatse [goatse.cx] .

I'll take the latter. (4, Troll)

casio282 (468834) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970747)

A variant on this story comes up every year or so [slashdot.org] , but there is never any evidence substantiating Dr. Podkletnov's claims...

First NASA, now Boeing. Rubbish, I'm inclined to believe.

Re:I'll take the latter. (5, Funny)

junkgrep (266550) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970761)

What are you talking about? Boeing already produces an entire line of gravity defying products...

earlier on Slashdot (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970820)

A variant on this story comes up every year or so [slashdot.org]

There is also this Slashdot story [slashdot.org] .

this is true (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970854)

I just finished remote viewing the lab and auditing its books, this is for real. I'll be doing an interview with Art Bell tonight! I'll also confirm the reality of global warming.

Ok its top secret, so they must have had success (1)

HanzoSan (251665) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970916)



How often do you hear of something being made top secret when its a failure?

Also because its top secret, dont expect to be able to be able to use this for a good 20 years or more, while the military creates aircrafts.

Actually, anti gravity has already been found by a few diffrent guys, and its been proven in a lab, the problem is, its very difficult to control, it works in the lab but making it work on an actual aircraft is a totally diffrent story.

Boeing is investing in this technology because it worked in a lab, Im sure they have other anti gravity technology, and prototypes, but its kinda strange for them to announce what they are doing, usually for top secret skunkworks or phantomworks projects, they arent allowed to even tell you what it is.

Since when do we need shielding against gravity? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970748)

It's a conspiracy against "overweight" people. If we're shielded from gravity, we'll all simply be known as fat.

Re:Since when do we need shielding against gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970768)

No... since "weight" has to do with the force of gravity, instead of being "heavy" you will simply be "massive".

Re:Since when do we need shielding against gravity (2, Funny)

OblongPlatypus (233746) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970783)

You're not fat, you're big boned.

Re:Since when do we need shielding against gravity (1)

domselvon (588072) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970904)

"Hey, waddaya know? I am big boned!" Undead pirate from The Curse of Monkey Island.

how about overmass? (1)

2g3-598hX (586789) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970911)

Anyhow, I bet heaps of fa^H^Hoverweight people would love to be shielded from gravity...

It's just going to be a problem for everyone else with 200 pound balls of flesh floating around..

Sorry that wasn't PC, I'll make a skinny person joke sometime soon to even up my (real) karma...

Shield against gravity? (1)

The Evil Beaver (175641) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970749)

How the hell does one do that? From what I understand you can't block gravity like you can block the wind, you need to actively repel against gravity.

Silly silly silly...

Re:Shield against gravity? (1)

vrmlknight (309019) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970790)

Not if you block a graviton particle. If the particle is blocked that causes gravity you effectly blocked it

Re:Shield against gravity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970818)

thats thinkin outside of the box!

Re:Shield against gravity? (1)

The Evil Beaver (175641) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970833)

Now gravity is caused by particles? I thought it was the deformation of space by large masses that caused it (or something along those lines).

Re:Shield against gravity? (1)

Isle (95215) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970845)

Everything else have turned out to be caused by particles, so it is assumed gravity is as well. But gravitons have never been observed, because they have been impossible to capture. With the ability to block them, it might finally be possible to "observe" them.

Hey, wait! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970863)

We could just reverse the polarity on the deflector sheild, and then modify a photon torpedy to emit a burst of t-phase radiation! That should do it!

Re:Shield against gravity? (1)

The Evil Beaver (175641) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970869)

Crazy damn science. I guess this blows my FTL travel theory away, not that this is going to stop me from using it in my stories.

Worth it (5, Interesting)

drunkmonk (241978) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970752)

So Boeing spends a few million, finds the guys research is bunk and discards the project? No problem, they're a multi-billion dollar company.

But... if on the off chance that it really works and could be used in commercial projects and could bring billions (trillions?) in sales and licensing royalties...

Seems like a worthwhile risk to me.

Re:Worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970806)

Yeah, the comment by the poster says space travel, but an anti-gravity shield would be more appropriate for travel on earth as well. Get up to a certain height, cancel gravity, and then you move at about anywhere from 600-1000 mph. Of course, you could only go west to east, but it'd still be pretty cheap travel most likely.

Re:Worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970832)

I'd advise them to give me $500,000 to test my plan to make the plane disappear and reappear instantly at its destination.

It involves matches and charcoal lighter fluid.

I know its a long shot, but its so cheap and the rewards so vast if I'm right, can they really afford NOT to take the chance?

Re:Worth it: Pascal's Gamble (3, Insightful)

debrain (29228) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970871)

They call it "Pascal's Gamble" in one of the articles. It is a breakthrough technology; revolutionary. Revolutions require faith and gambles.

has a million and one practical uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970753)

for example, it could be used to make high-rise buildings higher and larger than ever before. And build shielding a la Star Trek.

Imagine the value of a patent on this.

Looks simple (5, Funny)

Captain Pedantic (531610) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970755)

The scientist says he found that objects above a superconducting ceramic disc rotating over powerful electromagnets lost weight.


The reduction in gravity was small, about 2%, but the implications - for example, in terms of cutting the energy needed for a plane to fly - were immense.
All Boeing have to do is strap a superconducting ceramic disc rotating over powerful electromagnets upside down into one of their planes!

Re:Looks simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970760)

What an age we live in!

Toss in a cold fusion engine and they'll really have something there.

Re:Looks simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970766)

Insightful? Yeah, why not go the whole hog and strap some buttered toast on there too - aka feline perpetual engine.

Re:Looks simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970772)

All Boeing have to do is strap a superconducting ceramic disc rotating over powerful electromagnets upside down into one of their planes!
You haven't seen the new Airbus have you?

Re:Looks simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970799)

Thid is interesting for rocket launch. Even 2 percent amounts to MUCH fuel.

Re:Looks simple (4, Funny)

sql*kitten (1359) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970800)

All Boeing have to do is strap a superconducting ceramic disc rotating over powerful electromagnets upside down into one of their planes!

Powered, no doubt, by a slice of buttered toast strapped to the back of a cat!

But wait, how will cat-based purr-petual motion machine work if there's no gravity to pull the cat towards the floor? It's going to take all of Boeing's engineering talent to work that one out :-)

Re:Looks simple (1)

dr_beno (547671) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970874)

how will cat-based purr-petual motion machine work if there's no gravity to pull the cat towards the floor?

according to Einstein, this can be done using radio waves:

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

source [thereisnocat.com]

Re:Looks simple (4, Funny)

Bandman (86149) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970909)

what you would have to do is put simple floor linoleum above and below the cat, thereby creating the desired effect.

In the words of Garth Algar, "It's almost /too/ easy."

Re:Looks simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970844)

All Boeing have to do is strap a superconducting ceramic disc rotating over powerful electromagnets upside down into one of their planes!

Isn't that going to make the plane always fly in circles?

Try "jive" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970756)

The amount of "antigravity" in this research is never more than would be accounted for by miscalibration of instruments.

It's a little out of date, but do read Martin Gardner's "Fads and Fallacies" for a marvelous chapter on antigravity silliness.

Re:Try "jive" (2)

AgTiger (458268) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970810)

And for the current knowledge space, Gardner's "Fads and Fallacies" may well show how silly we've been to date with respect to anti-gravity research.

Generally speaking, though, research into whether something might yet be possible is not a bad thing if the potential positive payoffs are large to huge.

At one point we believed we couldn't fly.

At one point we believed we couldn't set foot on the moon.

Even further back than that, look at how many tries it took to get just the right combination of metals in the right proportions for a working element in a light bulb.

Admittedly, a lot of this research will end up at dead ends - such is the nature of research, but it is still valuable, since it lets us know what options don't work and thus eliminates unknowns. We learn.

Yes, there will also be a percentage of research that is poorly planned, poorly executed, or is simply snake oil designed to rake in budged dollars. The solution is to ensure processes are in place to critically analyze and audit the scientific process itself, any experiments, and results. This is a good idea anyway to ensure that all methods and procedures are within the parameters of the law where the research is being carried out.

Re:Try "jive" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970888)

Of course, scientists for years have been trying to recreate this other "scientist's" work with no luck. The key to any scientific discovery is independent replication.

small (2)

pouwelse (118316) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970759)

The reduction in gravity was small, about 2%

Please keep this number in mind. This is not a guy that tries to make SF happen. Zero-G would have a huge impact on the future of humanity.

Does -2% G too?

Johan.

Re:small (1)

jimm (5532) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970770)

Sure, it does. Think of all those cereal boxes that are "sold by weight, not by volume."

Re:small (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970777)

Yeah and I've got a way to counterfeit pennies too.

Must be true, if I was lying I'd come up with something better like $50 bills.

Re:small (3, Funny)

squaretorus (459130) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970862)

Hello World

As soon as you create a machine that allows you to put those two little words on the screen you can do all sorts of things - hey! You could display a whole encyclopedia!!!

As soon as you prove you can do something AT ALL you know its worth figuring out how to do more of it.

Creating a Zero G device is like making love to a beautiful woman. When your young you pull your first woman. Yeah - she might be a dog, but hey! she was willing to sleep with YOU! So you try again with some chick who's a bit nicer looking, or has bigger boobs, or washes a bit more often. Some of you will stay with her - glad not to be alone. But some of you with vision will keep climbing that mountain until you finally get to nail a pretty one! THEN my boy, THEN you'll be floating on air!

That first shag proves it is at least POSSIBLE. Same with the 2%.

( I dont think the observations hold up - but if they HAVE achieved a 2% effect then WOWOWOWOW!!! )

Crap! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970762)

This is just a repackaging of the fourth of July hocus.

Very promising research (0)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970763)

I have to say I'm very excited by this line of inquiry into anti-gravity. We all like to imagine flying cars and holodecks, but the real promise of anti-gravity is energy production. We're all familiar, I think, with things like waterfalls and other falling heavy objects used to create energy. Well, with anti-gravity you can send the object back up and do it again and again and again for a substantial cost savings.

Anti-gravity would be a revolution in energy production and I think Bush is wise in directing money towards fruitful projects such as these instead of historical failures like photovoltaics or wind energy.

Re:Very promising research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970801)

Sure a good thing Bush is putting all that money he stole from us to good use.

Somewhere in the first paragraph you managed to hit the nail on the head as to why its impossible too.

Something about a perpetual motion waterfall sits ill at ease with my knowledge of theoretical mechanics.

Inadvertently inverse-trolling there bub (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970803)

There are already hydroelectric schemes where the water is pumped back up to a higher level holding reservouir. They simply throw the hybrid turbine/pumps into "pump" at night, when electricity consumption is lower, and they can use the excess energy from conventional power stations. Then in the day, when consumption is higher, they let the water go back whence it came, generating the electricity on the way. A battery, in other words.

So actually, if there was some way that they could lower the weight of the water as they pump it back up, they may well stand to benefit.

Snik snik.

Re:Very promising research (0)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970887)

In order to keep the preservation of energy (i.e. not allow what you are saying) the 'shield' will have to require more energy to run than the potential energy you can gain

Re:Very promising research (1)

mahmud (254877) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970902)

What the hell does Bush have to do with this?

Last time I checked Boeing, BaE and NASA did not have him among their executives...
Also, the leader of the free world is too busy hunting for witches and destroying civil liberties to care for things like them there anti-gravity machines.

And I won't even try to start an argument about words "Bush" and "wise" not going too well together...

Russian Research Article (2, Informative)

sputnik73 (579595) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970769)

Check out http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/cond-mat/9701074/ [lanl.gov] . It's a PDF doc on what the Russians have researched. This is the abstract; "A high-temperature YBa_2Cu_3O_{7-x} bulk ceramic superconductor with composite structure has revealed weak shielding properties against gravitational force while in a levitating state at temperatures below 70 K. A toroidal disk was prepared using conventional ceramic technology in combination with melt-texture growth. Two solenoids were placed around the disk in order to initiate the current inside it and to rotate the disk about its central axis. Samples placed over the rotating disk initially demonstrated a weight loss of 0.3-0.5%. When the rotation speed was slowly reduced by changing the current in the solenoids, the shielding effect became considerably higher and reached 1.9-2.1% at maximum."

But I must be off now. I've got a YBa_2Cu_3O_{7-x} widget factory to get off the ground. :B

Its not THAT Unbelievable (5, Interesting)

hooded1 (89250) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970773)

I'm sure alot of you will first respond by saying thats impossible. But you're wrong. There are no laws of physics that say its is impossible to block gravity. At this point we no so litle about gravity that it is difficult to make any conclusions about it.
Some elementary electromagnetism courses will teach you about faraday cages, which block electromagnetic radiation. Pretty much everyone has experienced this. Ever walk into a concrete building and lose cell phone reception? This is because the concrete is reinforced with steel bars which form a kind of metalic cage around you, this is a faraday cage.
Now like electromagnetism, gravity is one of the four fundamental forces. If we can create a shield to block one of them why not block gravity?

Re:Its not THAT Unbelievable (4, Insightful)

AtomicBomb (173897) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970873)

However, if his approach is correct, other guys should have already validated his claim. The experiment is so simple, only superconducting ceramic + strong magnet... Two percent in weight change is quite detecatable. Any university's physics dept can do that. If his experiment *still* works, it is his responisble for him to demostrate that to the commnunity. If it was due to experimental error, he should post a correction to say physics review letter. He has done neither; just after money.... As someone who is sort of belong to the science community, I suggest we should start questioning this guy's integrity.

People used to say that "extraordinary claim needs extraordinary proof". But, if you want to siphon money from the military-industry complex "extraordinary dubious claim makes you money".

Or maybe it *is* that unbelievable (5, Informative)

alienmole (15522) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970924)

Now like electromagnetism, gravity is one of the four fundamental forces. If we can create a shield to block one of them why not block gravity?

Hmm, although I agree it's difficult to say that shielding against gravity is impossible, the above is not exactly sound logic. You need to look at the origin of the forces in question to see why.

The general relativistic model of gravity as the effect of warped spacetime would seem to indicate that blocking gravity could be a fundamentally different problem than blocking electromagnetic radiation.

Electromagnetic radiation travels through spacetime, i.e. it follows the curvature of spacetime. Blocking it is simply a matter of constructing the right kind of interfering device, such as a faraday cage, to prevent electromagnetic photons/wave packets from penetrating.

OTOH, according to GR, gravity as we perceive it is essentially a secondary effect due to the curvature of spacetime. To "block" it, you would have to be able to uncurve spacetime in the vicinity you wish to block. This is a little different from blocking photons. The only thing we've ever discovered that's capable of warping spacetime is "mass". So sure, we can counter the effects of gravity, there's no mystery about it: simply use a mass as large as the mass of the object whose gravitational effects you want to counter.

Unfortunately, in the case of gravity, this doesn't really work the way we want. Let's say I create a black hole with a similar mass to that of the Earth (I have a fairly well-equipped basement). In the vicinity of the black hole, I would feel a force towards the hole (please no goatse jokes) of approximately 1G (adjust masses to achieve appropriate effect outside the Schwarzchild radius, etc.) So if I hang the black hole from my ceiling, I could create a micro-gravity environment in my basement, with the force upward cancelling the force downward.

Astute readers have by now noticed a slight problem with this scenario. Despite my well-equipped basement, I don't happen to possess a means for suspending an Earth-mass object a few feet above another Earth-mass object (i.e. the Earth itself). There's not going to be a heck of a lot I can do about the fact that my black hole is going to shoot down towards the earth under a combined force of 2G and a momentum that would require numbers with "E" in them to describe. (I had better not be standing beneath it, if I want to avoid rather nasty tidal effects as the black hole travels through my body - that killed a guy on Mars once.)

Because of the nature of gravity, "shielding" against its effects may not even be meaningful. Even if it is possible, it's highly doubtful that we will stumble across the solution by random experimentation with e.g. spinning disks. Spinning disks might confuse researchers, but they don't confuse the universe.

Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970780)

This is just a repackaging of the April 1st hocus.

Done that? (1)

photonic (584757) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970781)

So Boeing is trying to use some funky superconductive effect to make their planes defy gravity? So what they need is a sort of supermagnetic rail and have their planes fly very low over it...

Oh wait, didn't these guys [transrapid.de] do that already?

Working prototype lost. (4, Funny)

Bocaj (84920) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970782)

Thay actually had Dr. Yevgeny Podkletnov's working prototype. Unfortunaty it sheilded against 100% of gravity and was lost when they turned it on outside and it was slung from the earth at about 25,000 mph.

Re:Working prototype lost. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970843)

LOL
although blocking 100% gravity would make the object just float in the air

Re:Working prototype lost. (1)

Bocaj (84920) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970867)

Ah but you forget centrifugal force, grasshopper.

Derision for Podkletnov (4, Interesting)

shoppa (464619) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970785)

See these articles by Bob Park at the American Physical Society website [aps.org] :

My favorite quote from one of the above:

It should be pointed out that it would also lead to a violation of the first law of thermodynamics. A 19th century patent for a perpetual motion machine consisted of a heavy drive wheel on a horizontal axis. If a gravity shield is inserted under one side of the wheel, it becomes unbalanced and rotates -- continuously.

*not* a violation of the thermodynamics first law (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970808)

Surely the anti-gravity field would require energy to operate, and therefore this perpetual motion machine actually still consumes energy?

Just a thought,

Michel

Wait... (2)

DaveWood (101146) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970823)

Re: the 19th century patent + gravity shield, I don't think that constitutes a perpetual-motion machine, since now the machine includes the AG field generator. Energy required by the generator will be greater than the energy produced by the wheel, so...

Re:Wait... (2)

colmore (56499) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970836)

What you'd need to figgure out is the maximum amount of energy you could generate with a given mass over a given differential in gravitation. That would be the minimum amount of energy required to deflect that much gravity from that much mass.

Or, maybe thermodynamics are wrong. But I wouldn't bet on it.

Re:Derision for Podkletnov (5, Insightful)

sql*kitten (1359) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970830)

It should be pointed out that it would also lead to a violation of the first law of thermodynamics. A 19th century patent for a perpetual motion machine consisted of a heavy drive wheel on a horizontal axis. If a gravity shield is inserted under one side of the wheel, it becomes unbalanced and rotates -- continuously.

Surely if the energy required to maintain the "gravity shield" exceeds the energy output by the wheel, the laws of thermodynamics hold? That quote only applies if there is a gravity-proof material that doesn't require any power to function, must as a waterproof material doesn't require a power source to remain impermeable to water. The Pokdletnov device does require a power source.

Re:Derision for Podkletnov (2)

debrain (29228) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970885)

Precisely. Indeed, this fallacy points out presumptions of certain failure by members of the scientific community. So much so that it is clear that they are conveniently oblivious of the same laws which they espouse as prevention of the new theory.

I am sure that someone has written a good quote on this type of ignorance to preserve the status quo. :)

Just what science didn't need... (5, Insightful)

CaptainAlbert (162776) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970787)

The real problem with "research" like this is that it brings out the very worst in the peer review system which usually serves scientists so well. As soon as a journal dares to publish something so dubious, there is a huge backlash by the establishment, to the extent that real, innovative research can be stifled.

The best-known example of this phenomenon was the cold-fusion debacle of the late '80s. A group of researchers claimed (essentially) to have initiated nuclear fusion in a beaker using heavy water and palladium electrodes. No-one else was able to reproduce the experimental results. The result, however, was not just to discredit the report's authors, but to cause a scepticism so immense that no electro-chemist could publish a paper which mentioned a similar experiment. I can see the same happening to unsuspecting scientists working on superconductors now.

I would link to an interesting editorial in this month's NewScientist [newscientist.com] , which describes the phenomenon in considerable detail, but it would appear that they only put it in the print version. Shame, that.

Some similar? (0)

JustKidding (591117) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970792)

Here [slashdot.org] is a link to a related story on slashdot from last month. An electromagnetic field working on a superconductor would cause the electron to move faster, which would create a greater gravitational force on the superconductor.

It is not quite clear to me why that would happen, perhaps someone with more insight into elementry physics could (try to) explain this?

It's pretty simple (1, Troll)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970880)

A faster moving electron gains mass (due to general relativity). Greater mass == greater gravitational force. With a lot of electrons moving, the mass increase is pretty substantial.

This is pretty sweet because that means there is an electrical way to modulate mass. So you set up a wheel--on one side there's no EM field and so the magnets on the wheel have low mass. On the other side is a strong EM field so the magnets have high mass. The forces on the opposite sides of the wheel are out of balance, so it turns. Ta-da, high-efficiency power generation with practically no cost!

Mutual suspicion (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970796)

It does make sense for them to spend a few millions just to make sure that the experiment does not work, just in case the experiment actually worked and somebody was covering up.

After all, coming up with an application of this research first would yield a rather .. substantial divident.

- Michel

Artificial gravity? (4, Insightful)

edgrale (216858) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970797)

What about artificial (sp?) gravity? Anti Gravity is usefull to get stuff into orbit and to help disabled people not to mention commercial use in general.

But what about artificial gravity? Once we get into space zero-gravity is a problem. Do you just rotate it to the left instead of right or vice-versa?

Re:Artificial gravity? (0)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970901)

To 'generate' gravity, you just need a rock.
It will have to be a very heavy rock to notice it tho.. ;)

And if you can't get anti-grav for real... (1)

tuxedo-steve (33545) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970805)

... I suppose you can always fake it [exploratorium.edu] .

The Gravity Stone (4, Interesting)

kisrael (134664) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970815)

My alma mater has a monument to this forthcoming breakthrough, placed by Roger W Babson (of Babson College). It's called the Gravity Stone [kisrael.com] and it's "to remind students of the blessings forthcoming when a semi-insulator is discovered in order to harness gravity as a free power and reduce airplane accidents" Kinda kooky stuff, check the link.

History Repeats, Don't Sell Nukes (3, Interesting)

gerf (532474) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970821)

erconductors today are like electricity was in the 1800s. Back then, we understood little about how magnatism and electricity worked. It had a mystique about it that led to gypsies and sayonces (sp?) trying to contact the dead. Commonly, they used this new 'electricity' to contact lost relatives, loved onces, ect. Of course, they were debunked.

Superconductivity is today's mystery phenomenon. We see things float in air, we see electricity move sans resistance, and other principal physics phenomena simply discarded. It's something new, and not as well known. With this mystique, people can claim to have done wonderous things, and have at least a portion of the general population go along with it. Or invest in it.

Also, have you seen the Russian economy? How the brilliant scientists are treated? There's no money for them, they live in near poverty. I don't blame a Russian scientist if he tries to make money this way, legitimate or not. Personally, i find it much preferrable than him selling old USSR equipment (uranium, nukes, hot material, ect) to the highest bidder, in order to feed his family. If you don't think so, that's your problem.

It works. It fucking works! (0, Troll)

popo (107611) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970825)


I've got a Craftsman Rotary PowerSander strapped to my ass and I'm floating above my personal magnet collection!

Woohoo!

Who wants my frequent flyer miles?

Anti-gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3970826)

Will finally be developed by some horny scientist that will try to lift up skirts of women as they walk by...

till he realizes the women are lifted up as well

Results not reproduced so far (4, Informative)

mccalli (323026) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970827)

I heard this on the BBC's Today [bbc.co.uk] programme this morning. They had a professor from my old university, Lancaster [lancaster.ac.uk] , on explaining his disbelief.

He pointed to the fact that an Irish university (sorry - don't remember which) had spent quite some time reproducing the experiment, and that this re-running of the experiment had failed to verify a single claim.

I'd love this to be true. Sadly however, at this moment I'd have to put myself in the non-believer camp.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Results not reproduced so far (3, Insightful)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970882)

He pointed to the fact that an Irish university (sorry - don't remember which) had spent quite some time reproducing the experiment, and that this re-running of the experiment had failed to verify a single claim.

However, it may be that they did something wrong- perhaps some detail was performed incorrectly, or something. It does happen sometimes. As a similar, but not exact example, I once heard about a chemistry experiment that was reproducible, but only when you used unreactive plastic antibumping granules in the mix. The granules should not have interacted at all with experiment. It turns out that the way that the granules moved stirred up the mixture in a particular way, triggering the reaction. If that detail hadn't been realised by the original experimenter; then the experiment would have been nigh on impossible to replicate.

Still, many things bother me here- the effect that is claimed is small, only 2%; it turns out that weight reductions are often difficult to measure (a lot of machines produce vibrations that make most balances read either high or low- and you can get air currents, thermal effects, magnetic forces, electrostatic forces- all of which are nothing to do with gravity, all of which make weight readings high or low.) And the fact that so many labs cannot reproduce this- that is not a good thing.

Remember Josephson junctions? (3, Funny)

ebcdic (39948) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970831)

It's often said that IBM poured money into Josephson's work even though they didn't have any expectation of it succeeding because it would force their competitors to spend money on it - which they couldn't afford as well as IBM. Maybe Boeing are trying the same thing.

Or maybe BAe are trying it, and have succeeded with Boeing...

The way things are going... (5, Funny)

flacco (324089) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970837)

I wouldn't be surprised if the block-and-tackle industry buys the patents and kills the technology.

Anti-gravity? (0)

sonicattack (554038) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970849)

I am no physicist, but is creating an upward force to lift objects (which I suppose is what they are trying to accomplish) really anti-gravity?

Wouldn't an object within a true field (or what you would call it) of lessened gravity be less attracted to the Earth (and the Sun, etc..) to a much larger extent than would be controllable / desirable?

I think of Asimov's story "The Billiard Ball", where a scientist uses a billiard ball shot through a field of "anti-gravity" as a murder weapon. Since the Earth, and the Solar System itself keeps on moving at their usual speed when the ball enters the field (and stops being affected by gravity - whatever that means) the result is that the ball moves relative to the surface of the Earth at an enormous speed.

Re:Anti-gravity? (1)

Rhombus (104176) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970912)

Actually, the reason that the billiard ball in the aforementioned story moved so quickly was because the scientist's machine produced a field in which the mass of the billiard ball was reduced to zero, so it behaved like a typical massless particle and moved at the speed of light. As soon as it exited the field, it regained its mass, but somehow retained enough kinetic energy to punch a hole through the victim's chest (not to mention the window behind the victim, and any other thing unfortunate enough to get in its way).

Excellently written story, if the science was a bit sloppy. I especially like how in the epilogue, one of the characters explains to another why this crime could never be brought to trial, due to the extremely technical nature of the incident....a bit like the computer crime legal difficulties we've been experiencing lately.

Forget magnets how about.. (1)

ZaneMcAuley (266747) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970857)

... High tension electricity.. Hasnt this been done and there are videos on the internet showing this. They had models wired up to a transformer that fed a high tension feed to the model and it was levitating.

Anybody got the URL for those vids?

Re:Forget magnets how about.. (1)

rootmonkey (457887) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970889)

Levitaion is very different than weight loss. You can float objects with magnets, but that does not mean that the object expierences weight loss. Also note that weight loss is different than mass loss. Weight = mass x gravity. Since the mass didn't change in the supposed experiment that would leave gravity to be modded, which is what is being claimed.

Corporate support (1)

Isle (95215) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970860)

I like when large companies intervene on our behalf. A friend of mine and me have been trying to defy gravity for a long time using a combination of strong marihuana and yoga.

a 2% reduction (2, Funny)

Hieronymus Howard (215725) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970868)

Wouldn't an easier way to get a 2% reduction in weight be to remove it from the passengers. Set a weight limit for plane passengers and weight everyone at check-in. Anyone over the limit gets immediate liposuction.

Never have to sit next to a fat person on a plane again.

HH
--

There's something funny about this... (1)

The J Kid (266953) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970875)

Who is really behind this investment?
Quote from article:
The project is being run by the top-secret Phantom Works in Seattle
Ok, let's clear a few terms:

Phantom - A unseen spirit

Work - Doing stuf

So what conclusions can we make with this info?

(1)
Phantoms are mostly only annoying and some people think that is what they are here for (eg. their work)
So then Phantom Works is for those anoying projects that some bigshot manager at Boeing came up with this *dumb* project....

OR

(2)
Boeing might just be a pawn in an intelligence agency (think MIIIB here) who naturally have been tracking this project for a long time and realise it's potencial!
And because they don't want to let other agencies in on this, they search for a way too invest money into it and what better than a aeroplane maker?

PS.
(Of course if this get's modded down this means that the intelligence agency is watching /. and that nr.2 is true.
But if it get's modded up it's because the intelligent /. readers (no this isn't an oxymoron) realise the truth that 2 is true! ;)

A good thing (2, Insightful)

reelbk (213809) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970876)

Any research conducted in order to obtain a better understanding of gravity is a good thing IMO. This is an extremely large company with plenty of essets. If this project fails, it's nothing much off their backs. They may not find anything that gives them 0G, but some important discoveries may be made in the process.

a simpler way (3, Funny)

shd99004 (317968) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970890)

Since we all know that

1. Cats always land on their feet, and
2. A buttered slice of bread will undoubtedly land on the carpet butter side down,

we could strap said buttered slice of bread onto the cats back, then drop the whole thing to the floor.

Application? (1)

martyb (196687) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970895)

I have no expectations that a means of blocking gravity have [or will] be found. But, if it should come to pass, I have only one question:

Won't it take all the fun out of skydiving? =)
(For the humor-impaired, that was supposed to be a joke.)

Isn't gravity a property of mass? (2)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970910)

I always thought that two objects with mass always have gravitational attraction. I also thought that two objects can never get far enough appart to have their gravatational attraction go to zero.

F = G * m1 * m2 / d^2

This equation shows that the gravitational attraction can never go to zero.

That said, does anyone have any idea how this guy got two objects with mass to not have any gravitational attraction? It seems impossible.

-ted

Antigravity exists already (0, Redundant)

UPi (137083) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970926)

It's simple. You take a cat, and a slice of bread with butter, and strap it on the cat's back. Then drop it.

Cat's always fall on their feet.

According to Murphy, the bread always falls on the buttered side. Since this object will be able to do neither, it simply won't fall (as falling would break at least one universal law).

I've already figured it out (1)

derekb (262726) | more than 12 years ago | (#3970928)


I find a good bottle of tequila makes me lighter...

You need a good sized toilet though so that the law of conservation of mass stays valid.
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