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First Steps Toward Artificial Gravity

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the stay-grounded dept.

470

CompaniaHill writes "Have scientists been able to artificially generate a gravitational field? Researchers at the European Space Agency believe so. "Small acceleration sensors placed at different locations close to the spinning superconductor, which has to be accelerated for the effect to be noticeable, recorded an acceleration field outside the superconductor that appears to be produced by gravitomagnetism. This experiment is the gravitational analogue of Faraday's electromagnetic induction experiment in 1831." The effect is very small, so don't expect to see it used in spacecraft any time soon. But the effect is still many times larger than the predictions of Einstein's theories. "If confirmed, this would be a major breakthrough," says [Austrian researcher Martin] Tajmar. "It opens up a new means of investigating general relativity and it consequences in the quantum world.""

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Awesome (-1)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988180)

Awesome. Now bad sci-fi movies can finally explain away why there is no gravity on their "space planes". Armageddon, anyone?

Re:Awesome (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988270)

Oh, that's easy.

It's called science fiction for a reason.

Re:Awesome (2, Informative)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988292)

Oh, that's easy.
It's called science fiction for a reason.


Exactly. It is called science fiction for a reason.

Re:Awesome (1)

daranz (914716) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988297)

I want them to explain why the smallest weapon fire causes the ships to shake like crazy, but inertial dampeners have no problems with faster-than-light jumps.

While this technology is still in development, make sure it can withstand Romulan disruptor fire!

Re:Awesome (5, Informative)

bev_tech_rob (313485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988336)

You haven't been keeping up on your Trek manuals, have you? The Inertial Dampening System predicts the adjustments it has to make when the command to jump to warp is issued. With weapons impacts, those are not predicted. The system can only REACT, therefore you get the shaking and jolting...

Re:Awesome (2, Interesting)

Shads (4567) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988424)

Oh come on, you can see it form up (beam weapon) any computer worth its salt could predict where it's going to fire and the torpedos have a trajectory it could predict the impact point precisely.

Re:Awesome (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14988531)

The tachyon reverse polarity quantum flux adds a degree of unpredictability to the energy output, dumbass. Though the heizenburg compensator is at full pelt, you aren't going to get the compensatory power fluctuation to work perfectly.

Any energineer worth his brains would recognize that nanites would provide this kind of appropriate, precise energy output readout, but of course, deployment of such self-aware entities increases chances of a artificial intelligence takeover, which would suck.

Re:Awesome (0, Redundant)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988348)

The faster than light jump is planned and executed by the ship's computers, so it can let the dampeners know what's going to be happening. The effects of a jump are presumably also predictable.

Weapons fire, on the other hand, isn't so predictable.

That's how I'd explain it, at least.

Re:Awesome (3, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988455)

Weapons fire, on the other hand, isn't so predictable.

Have you watched any Hollywood movies lately?

Re:Awesome (1)

drewsome (944659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988446)

the jump to warp isn't a speed thing, it's a dimensional thing. Hence the term "warp". It's warping space.

And it's why big turns at impulse speed create actual intertia.

Re:Awesome (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988360)

Awesome. Now bad sci-fi movies can finally explain away why there is no gravity on their "space planes".

Now to just reverse the polarity and we've got anti-gravity, which I see as far more useful.

Alan Ralsky's house bombed with rotten oranges, pictures at 11

Re:Awesome (1)

pcaylor (648195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988524)

Why reverse polarity?
 
Just generate a counterbalancing gravitational force that opposes the natural gravitational force. Instant anti-gravity!
 
It may not be able to do everything you want (like lift something into space) but it would sure make doing low-G or zero-G work a whole lot cheaper.

Small steps or large leaps (-1)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988183)

If these first steps are small steps, they'll certainly mean a large leap ahead in the field of artifical gravity.

Re:Small steps or large leaps (3, Funny)

spaztik (917859) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988211)

Its one small step for man, one slightly more difficult giant leap for mankind.

Re:Small steps or large leaps (3, Funny)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988369)

They won't be able to leap as far with it turned on though...

Forgot spaceships (3, Informative)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988198)

How about creating foam metals in a low gravity field?

Re:Forgot spaceships (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988215)

oops meant to say "Forget Spaceships".... I'd be interested in materials science that could be possible in low gravity fields.

Re:Forgot spaceships (2, Interesting)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988284)

Actually, this is an extremely good point- we might not be able to create a graviational field big enough for people to use, but what if it became possible to create materials that are currently only produceable in orbit? Could we make superhard/strong/elastic/conducting materials in a field like this? An interesting application. I wanna see this on 'How it's made' on Discovery Channel 3D HD in 2015 at the latest (^^).

Re:Forgot spaceships (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988436)

Maybe I'm just a little dense, but what does this have to do with making things that are producible in orbit?

Re:Forgot spaceships (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14988461)

If you can create a gravitiational field, is it possible to reverse it and create an area of no gravity, emulating orbit.

Re:Forgot spaceships (2, Interesting)

JazzCrazed (862074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988521)

Or put the field generator above the object(s) to be manufactured, such that it counteracts Earth's gravity for anything between itself and the ground.

Re:Forgot spaceships (0)

nickptar (885669) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988507)

Things that are producible in orbit are producible in orbit because they're in free fall.

If you can create gravity, it should be easy to create antigravity - i.e., free fall.

Re:Forgot spaceships (1)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988511)

Certain materials are only reproducable in orbit due to zero gravity- if we can work out how to locally cancel out gravity, even if it's only in a small space, then those conditions are reproduced back here on earth for less money than sending a craft into orbit or into a Zero G parabolic loop in the atmosphere.

The method would produce zero gravity by producing a gravitational field above the spot where Zero G is required, thereby cancelling out the earth's gravity. Difficult, but if the effects described in the article can be harnessed and multiplied and the process gives you an amazing material, then it might be worth it. Or not.

Re:Forgot spaceships (5, Funny)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988308)

I'm not positive, but I think this can be accomplished readily today using a cat, a large rubber band and some buttered toast.

Re:Forgot spaceships (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14988332)

I'm not positive, but I think this can be accomplished readily today using a cat, a large rubber band and some buttered toast.

Hah bloody hah.....

Re:Forgot spaceships (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988558)

How about replacing the wheels of your skateboard with a few of these things. It would be 1985 all over again!

not a gravitational field (4, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988219)

but a "gravitomagnetic one", which is a field that moving objects with "gravitational charge" (i.e., anything that produces gravitational force) make. it acts to repel or attract other gravitational charges. Still a huge discovery if true, could lead to inventions like (non-electromagnetic) "artificial gravity" or "force fields" or "levitation fields"

Great in the long run (1)

UltimaOmegaOblivion (946937) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988276)

From what I have studied, if they pull this off, we could have people safely living on the moon, and astronauts may not lose bone density with prolonged life in space. And to the post that had something about "force fields," the Federation may be upon us soon...

Re:not a gravitational field (1)

Sqwubbsy (723014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988325)

"levitation fields"

This was the first thing I thought of...if you can 'attract' something, then some variant of polarization should cause a 'repelling'.
If true, we might get Land Speeders after all.

Re:not a gravitational field (2, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988529)

yes! Someone send them an email *right now* demanding that they REVERSE THE POLARITY!

Did they detect an increase in mass? (3, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988236)

Because it seems to me that the only way they could be certain it was gravitational influence and not some other phenomenon is if they also saw an apparent increase in the mass of the system.

Re:Did they detect an increase in mass? (0)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988304)

"Because it seems to me that the only way they could be certain it was gravitational influence and not some other phenomenon is if they also saw an apparent increase in the mass of the system."

You're kidding, right? Mass is independent of gravity. That's second-grade knowledge.

Do you mean weight? If so, you're talking about measuring weight of affected objects within the system, not the weight of the entire system.

And depending on how you're measuring, anything that exerts a force upon what you're measuring can affect its weight.

Re:Did they detect an increase in mass? (4, Insightful)

SpottedKuh (855161) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988398)

You're kidding, right? Mass is independent of gravity. That's second-grade knowledge.

I believe you misunderstood the parent of your post. If I understand that post correctly, he's referring to Newton's gravitational law. It states that the gravitational force between Object A and Object B is directly proportional to the product of the two masses.

So, in other words, your parent was asking: If we assume that the distance between two objects remains constant, as does the gravitational constant of the universe, shouldn't there be an increase in the mass of one of the objects to account for the gravitational force increasing?

Or, put more simply: Did the spinning superconductor experience an increase in mass (somehow?), or was it the universal gravitational constant that was (somehow?) affected by the spinning superconductor?

Re:Did they detect an increase in mass? (2, Insightful)

nickptar (885669) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988483)

Neither. Apparently, you've been asleep since the beginning of the 20th century: Newton is WRONG. Gravity is the bending of space, and it just happens that the main thing that bends space is mass - but not the only thing.

(But this device, apparently, isn't entirely consistent with General Relativity either. Nor does it generate gravity - it apparently creates a force that relates to gravity in the same way magnetism relates to electricity. I can't understand that.)

Re:Did they detect an increase in mass? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988563)

Well, since Einstein's General Relativiy, we are already past the Newtonian approximation of gravity. Compare with the electromagnetic case: You can't explain the magnetic force in terms of the electric force by just assuming the charges are changed. Newtonian gravitation is for gravity what Coulomb attraction is for the electromagnetic force: It's just an approximation for sufficiently slow moving sources (well, in the case of gravitation, there's an additional limitation that the fields may not be too strong either for the Newtonian theory to work).

Re:Did they detect an increase in mass? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988565)

I think the OP read this in TFA:
By allowing force-carrying gravitational particles, known as the gravitons, to become heavier, they found that the unexpectedly large gravitomagnetic force could be modelled.

But gravitons (which theoretically still have lots of problems, see wikipedia for a brief analysis -- apparently they have problems with models that particles like photons don't) are ridiculously small. So small, that gravitational waves are impossible to measure. Small enough in relation to the size of the system that measuring any change in mass of them would be impossible.

Finally, logically, even if the mass of the system were measured, it wouldn't show that the gravitons gained mass. Anything in the system could have gained mass. The only way to approximate proof that it is a gravitational field that was created is to eliminate all other known possibilities while showing it to act in a manner consistent with natural gravitational fields.

Re:Did they detect an increase in mass? (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988473)

I might be off here, but what I think the original poster was talking about was the effect of Special Relativity. As the superconductor spins close to relativistic speeds, its mass would increase, possibly increasing to the point it has its own gravitational field, however small. I'm not sure on the size or speed of rotation of the superconductor, but I don't think it's moving near the speed of light (I think around .95c is where you start actually noticing an increase in mass), so that dismisses the increase in mass through S.R.

But then again, perhaps the poster was talking about something else.

Re:Did they detect an increase in mass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14988319)

Mass is unaffected by gravity, so there wouldn't be a change. Weight, however, is the force acting on a mass due to gravity. Weight might increase, or decrease depending on which direction this field is pulling.

Re:Did they detect an increase in mass? (1)

nickptar (885669) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988441)

The whole point of artificial gravity is that you get a gravitational effect without more mass. However, I'm not sure how they would ensure it isn't the "weak magnetic field" that the superconductor generates.

More spinning superconductors (4, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988241)

Maybe there is something to all of those internet kooks afterall? This is hardly the first time I've seen talk of creating (or nullifying) gravity by spinning superconductors around, sometimes with electromagnetic charge and sometimes without.

The problem usually comes when someone wants to see the experiment replicated. For some reason the effect always seems to go away when other people are looking. Or worse, other people notice things like "you've got a lot of evaporating liquid nitrogen flying past your mass sensor, isn't that going to affect the readings?

Still, effective anti-grav in my lifetime would be quite a breakthough.

Re:More spinning superconductors (2, Insightful)

homebrewmike (709361) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988307)

The difference between a kook and a scientist is the testing and documentation. It's easy to conjour up some "radical new idea that will shock scientists", it's something completely different to actually PROVE it.

Re:More spinning superconductors (2, Insightful)

Nevynxxx (932175) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988351)

"We ran more than 250 experiments, improved the facility over 3 years and discussed the validity of the results for 8 months before making this announcement. Now we are confident about the measurement," says Tajmar, who performed the experiments and hopes that other physicists will conduct their own versions of the experiment in order to verify the findings and rule out a facility induced effect. I vote not enough testing :)

Re:More spinning superconductors (1)

marco.antonio.costa (937534) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988397)

Sure would be funny to see a 100-ton antigrav spacecraft go from ground to orbit with flimsy ion engine thrust. AND cool. =)

Re:More spinning superconductors (0)

powerlord (28156) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988591)

Sure would be funny to see a 100-ton antigrav spacecraft go from ground to orbit with flimsy ion engine thrust. AND cool. =)


Well ... I hear its already been shown to work if you use Twin Ion Engines. :D

Not again! (2, Informative)

Tempest451 (791438) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988249)

Artificial gravity has been dangled in front of our noses for years, by alien nuts, pseudo-scientist, and garage engineers. Like cold fusion and zero-point energy, it's always much-adu-about-nothing. Ya know what, just park a starship in orbit before you tell us about another "break-through" in artificial gravity.

Re:Not again! (3, Interesting)

FhnuZoag (875558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988279)

Yeah. I'm finding this very hard to believe. But it's the European Space Agency...

If true, this would be pretty much the biggest breakthrough since Einstein.

i don't know about you guys, (4, Funny)

to_kallon (778547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988251)

"It opens up a new means of investigating general relativity and it consequences in the quantum world."

but i'm running scared [imdb.com]

Re:i don't know about you guys, (0, Offtopic)

Down_in_the_Park (721993) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988364)

hell, if you look at mankinds history, this things must have happened some thousands years ago...Nero, Caligula, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and others were probably trained on that ship

Re:i don't know about you guys, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14988463)

what? did u get into the crack again?

Re:i don't know about you guys, (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988569)

Enh. It seems much more likely that there is something dark and evil in human nature, alongside something bright and good. Sometimes we get a monster, sometimes we get a saint. Either way, we always get an unadulterated human being. No need to postulate space aliens. Occam's razor, etc.

All i want is my hovercart (1)

Testicon (959757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988257)

I just want a hovercart for when i get old...just like McFly's Dad owned...

A different approach towards artificial gravity (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14988262)

I've been doing research on this too, but from a different angle. Instead of using spinning superconductors, I've found that by collecting a large amount of mass together in one place, I can create a gravitational field. My current experiment has collected 7.2×10^15 kg of material in one place and there is definitely an effect.

I am working on a larger test with 5.9736×10^24 kg of mass that seems to give gravitational field strengths that are roughly the same as we are used to.

Re:A different approach towards artificial gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14988400)

I've found that by collecting a large amount of mass together in one place, I can create a gravitational field.

Try not to be a wanker....

oh uh (0, Offtopic)

skynare (777361) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988263)

hoa, i knew i will witness time manchine.

Yevgeny Podkletnov (5, Informative)

volts (515080) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988275)

This sounds like the work of Yevgeny Podkletnov [bbc.co.uk] He claimed to have countered the effects of gravity in an experiment at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland in 1992 using a spinning super conducting ceramic ring.

Re:Yevgeny Podkletnov (5, Interesting)

quanminoan (812306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988425)

Podkletnov spun a levitated superconducting YBCO disk at high RPMs. As the story goes he walked into the room smoking a pipe and saw the smoke from the pipe rising in a column above the superconductor. Measurements showed a slight decrease in gravitational attraction above the superconductor. Of course, the science involved wasn't exactly careful (who would smoke a pipe next to equipment like that?), and he was dismissed as a crank.

If you've read The Hunt for Zero Point by Nick Cook, Cook actually talks with Podkletnov about his "discovery". He then admits it wasn't a random experiment, but based off some Russian papers around WWII with some Nazi connections or something.

So really it's pseudoscience, and i'm sure the scientists mentioned in the article were both aware of Podkletnov's work and at the same time careful not to associate themselves with him. Just because it's pseudoscience doesn't mean nothing will come of it - it just means it's really unlikely. If you're interested in this sort of thing I recommend reading Cook's book, he worked for a military journal before deciding to explore the world of pseudoscience (the book almost has a mystery thriller aspect to it).

Podkletnov's Device: http://www.mufor.org/antigrav.html [mufor.org]

Re:Yevgeny Podkletnov (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14988556)

If youre realy curious about this you should look up the research by scientist ning li, she's won a noble prize and such, shes currently carrying on Yevgeny Podkletnov's work and is currently employed by nasa

Hired by Boeing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14988512)

...and still working there. Here's the article from 2002 [bbc.co.uk]
.

Still, it is good news that his published experiment, or one similar to it, can be reproduced!

gravity? (1)

psyklopz (412711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988295)

As my grandfather always used to say:

"Gravity? We've got plenty of that already! Now, make me some anti-gravity, and I'll say you've got something!"

Re:gravity? (1)

Freexe (717562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988384)

Put gravity above you and you've got your anti-gravity right there

Not quite. (1, Informative)

sparkhead (589134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988302)

The claims are disputed and have not been verified by similar experiments.

The paper was released March 9, if it were as important as it would seem at first glance it would have made a huge impact in the physics community. It hasn't.

Nasa paper on alternate propulsion [nasa.gov]

Similar experiment that disputes results of this one [esa.int] .

Not saying it's not a find of some kind, but you might want to hold off on purchasing that hoverboard.

What is gravity? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988314)

Can anyone explain what exactly gravity is, how mass creates it and how an object exerts a force on other objects through gravity? Ive always been under the impression that while we know gravity *exists* and that there is a direct strength linkage to the mass of an object, we dont actually know much about it at all unlike magnetism etc. Am I under a false impression?

Re:What is gravity? (2, Informative)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988381)

Short answer: go read about general (not special) relativity.

Slightly longer answer: gravity is essentially the warping of space-time by the mass of an object. You can think of it as being like putting a heavy object on to a trampoline - the surface is pulled down under it. If you put a ball on it near the object, it'll roll down the sheet towards it.

Gravity is a bit like that, but in three dimensions.

Re:What is gravity? (1)

oni (41625) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988382)

If we return to the oft-used balloon analogy, imagine that the universe is two dimensional and laid out on the surface of a large balloon. The balloon (space time) is expanding. Anything that has mass is like a piece of tape stuck to the balloon. The tape resists the expansion of the balloon, creating the two-dimensional equivalent of the other oft-used analogy, a depression made by a bowling ball on a trampoline.

That depression, that resistance to the expansion of space time, is what we perceive as gravity. Mass "causes" gravity by resisting the expansion of space time.

Re:What is gravity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14988435)

Short answer: no. You aren't under a false impression, except when you state that we know a lot about magnetism. Although we can describe the action of magnetism in some great detail and make accurate calculations regarding it, we really don't *know* where it comes from or how it works. Gravity is even more obscure as it is so much weaker than magnetism and therefore so much more difficult to observe experimentally. There are plenty of Nobel prizes waiting to be awarded to whoever is able to produce exact, detailed, and specific information on the underlying fundamentals of each.

Re:What is gravity? (1)

offput (961196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988503)

If my C in physics 1180 taught me anything it's that gravity (according to einsteins theories and formulae) is a bending of space-time caused by the mass of on object. When things are sufficiently heavy (ok all things bend space-time just not by a lot) the dent in space-time can draw other things to it. Putting a bowling ball on a suspended taut tablecloth and rolling a smaller ball on the tablecloth seems to be the analogy most people go with.

Re:What is gravity? (1)

nickptar (885669) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988527)

It seems to me that the problem with that analogy is that the smaller ball only goes into the dent because of the Earth's gravity...

Re:What is gravity? (1)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988571)

It seems to me that the problem with that analogy is that the smaller ball only goes into the dent because of the Earth's gravity...

And that is where orbital velocity comes in. Remember that there is little friction in space.

Hmm..... (3, Insightful)

hawkmoon77 (957541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988326)

It seems to me if you can take some manner of electricity, and produce some manner of a magnetic feild, and generate some amount of gravity... then doesn't it seem that there should follow a mathmatical equation that, sort of, unifies these observations in a grand and quantifiable way?

Re:Hmm..... (1)

vtechpilot (468543) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988453)

While its obvious the parent is being sarcastic, the theory is the Grand Unification Theory [wikipedia.org] which stipulates that all those cool forces out there are like electricity, magnetism, nuclear decay, gravity, and loads of other cool stuff are related. The point is that the experiment is interesting because it suggests a way to relate gravity to other forces, which if I remember from an episode of Nova I saw on PBS +10 years ago, is something that is very hard to do.

Path to Warp Drive (3, Interesting)

Tempest451 (791438) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988330)

"IF" this is a real first step to artificial gravity (big if), then this is the natural progression to warp drive. Artificial Gravity - Gravity Shielding - Anti Gravity - Continuum Distortion - Warp Drive. My own scale.

Re:Path to Warp Drive (1)

Burb (620144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988423)

Don't forget, we can power our "Mr. Warp" drives with cold fusion reactors.

Re:Path to Warp Drive (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988457)

"IF" this is a real first step to artificial gravity (big if), then this is the natural progression to warp drive. Artificial Gravity - Gravity Shielding - Anti Gravity - Continuum Distortion - Warp Drive.

Quite right. But don't go down to the local Boeing factory with your copy of the Star Trek Technical Manual just yet. Run the numbers first. How large a (simulated) mass or antimass must you assemble to construct the Alcubierre warp field? How much energy does that equate to?

Can't remember the exact amount, but I think it was on the order of a couple of solar masses.

However, there's also the Tipler time machine to be considered. That's just sane enough that you can imagine some extremely advanced civilisation trying to build one. Gravity manipulation would really help a lot with that job...

Number Games (2, Funny)

jotate (944643) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988340)

[...] the measured field is a surprising one hundred million trillion times larger than Einstein's General Relativity predicts.

It's been a while since I took a math class but I believe one hundred million trillion is roughly equal to a gajillion.

Who cares? (2, Funny)

jaysones (138378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988342)

"It opens up a new means of investigating general relativity and it consequences in the quantum world."

Who cares about that, where's my flying car?!

What? (2, Insightful)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988357)

Why is this called Artificial Gravity? They seem to have found a way to stimulate the generation of a gravitational field. But its still gravity. A radio transmitter stimulates the creation of an electric field (and the associated magnetic field) but we don't call that artificial electricity.

Nevertheless, this is a very interesting discovery. Anyone have any other links?

Re:What? (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988449)

but we don't call that artificial electricity.

Obviously that's because if they let on that it was artificial, elitist snobs would demand the real thing.

Like that time I got slapped for giving that lady artifical respiration..

Re:What? (1)

nickptar (885669) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988554)

Because its generated nature is unusual. This is the first gravity ever to not have been produced by a mass. Perhaps if electricity were more obviously common in nature, we would call human-generated electricity "artificial".

You insensitive clod! (1)

wtansill (576643) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988385)

I'm overweight! I need an antigravity field!

I'm not that bright... (2, Interesting)

BewireNomali (618969) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988386)

... but the caption is a bit sensationalistic.

From the article, if I understand correctly, they are committing to the possible observation of a gravitomagnetic field as the explanation for discrepancies between expected and actual mass values. According to the article, all masses produce gravitomagnetic fields, so this artificial induction of one is no different from what anyone does when one moves mass around, right? It's just in this instance, the amount was so great as to be measurable in experiment.

This is amazing, right? Isn't it that so much of gravity is known theoretically but not observationally? If we can directly gauge and measure gravitational fields, then we have taken the first critical step to manipulating them, right?

Pardon any shoddy physics, but I was a chem guy, and only undergrad.

 

So, this shows that GR (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988387)

Does not accurately predict this effect.

great, so GR is not the end all be all.... perhaps that other theory that is the basis for the hyper drive the DoD is funding will explain this better.

Back In My Day.. (1)

ReidMaynard (161608) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988390)

Back in my day we had *real* gravity. Morning, noon, and night, always pulling a brother down.

European Gravity (1)

obender (546976) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988393)

Before realising it was coming from ESA - European Space Agency I thought it was another article about McDonalds.

Can someone help explain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14988410)

I grew up on the Eastern Canadian shoreline. There was a crator location which was operated as a tour site. You would walk around these cabins which had been set up all around this fairly large crator. The really interesting thing was the gravity (or a force of some kind) would pull you towards the crator.

It would pull you so strongly towards the crator that you could lean opposite to the force (crator) at an almost 45 degree angle and you would not fall.

I tried to locate the site using google but i'm on a 15 minute break and wasn't able to find it. Can anyone locate the site or explain the phenomenon?

Re:Can someone help explain? (3, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988479)

The really interesting thing was the gravity (or a force of some kind) would pull you towards the crator. It would pull you so strongly towards the crator that you could lean opposite to the force (crator) at an almost 45 degree angle and you would not fall.

My guess is that it was a perspective trick - like you sometimes get in funhouses, you know? The slope was steeper than it looked, and your brain interpreted the conflicting information from your eyes and your inner ear as a horizontal force.

Rotating Superconductors (1)

BenBenBen (249969) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988559)

IS it just me, or has the notion that rapidly rotating superconducters can be used to generate/repel gravity cropped up in numerous "conspiracy theories" about UFOs [google.co.uk] etc? Do these predate general science?

Bob Lazar claimed this, IIRC, as did a number of other 'crackpots' who tell of reverse-engineered alien tech.

Weird, is all...

Re:Can someone help explain? (0, Offtopic)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988547)

This is what happens when you drink too much Moosehead.

Attractive for Communications? (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988416)

Communications may be a more important application than spacecraft. If it is hard but possible to detect artificial gravity sources fluctuating at a particular frequency, we would have a transmitter/receiver pair that is (a) hard to detect; (b) not blocked by much of anything, e.g. usable by submarines, deep-shaft miners, and networks that don't want to either lay cable or launch satellites.

Next thing you know (0, Flamebait)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988437)

some bottled water swilling, cell-phone fearing, earth hugging idiot will be complaining that it's not as good as *real* gravity, or worse, that AG causes some vague and unspecific health problems that only *they* can perceive and can never be reproduced in the lab and yet they'll have enough collective political pull to keep it an ongoing issue and complete waste of time in the public discourse.

Hmmmpf.

Slashdot misses the point again (5, Insightful)

dildo (250211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988445)

Artificial gravity is not the real exitement around this experiment. The really important part is, you know, experimental evidence that may provide insight into the unification of relativity and quantum mechanics.

I wonder what the editors were thinking:

"Well, we can talk about the really exciting implications of this experiment that will be relevant to respectable physics ... or we could talk about some artificial gravity field thingy that will make crackpots and sci-fi fans excited. Well, it looks pretty obvious. Defer to the crackpots."

How long before some crackpot on the threads says: "Well, if you just spin the disk backward, logically it should follow that the artificial gravity will turn into anti-gravity! I have made the greatest scientific discovery since Einstein! Wait... I better be quiet about this before the oil companies and government agencies try to sabotage me, just like they did with my zero-point energy machine and my perpetual engine (I'm still working on getting the lubricant working correctly...)"

Nice job, guys.

Waiting for the UFO squads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14988447)

I can see it now, yes yes yes.

A large spinning disc, made of superconductive metal, with a crew compartment in the middle - saucer shaped if you will.......

God help us if the UFO geeks postulate this.

Gyroscopic Effects (1)

AeroIllini (726211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988493)

So, we just install a few million of these tiny spinning superconductors under the floorboards of a spaceship, and eureka! artificial gravity.

So what would the gyroscopic effects of millions of tiny spinning masses be on the spaceship? Would these effects be bigger or smaller than the gyroscopic effects of a large spinning habitation module creating artificial gravity through centripital means?

What would happen if we spun all the little buggers the other way? Would they go from suck to blow?

Old crackpots never die (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988497)

Oh christ, not Podkletnov again.

Orginal Paper Here (5, Informative)

spiro_killglance (121572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988498)

Hi, i found the paper at the Los Almos pre-print archive.

http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0603033 [arxiv.org]

Actually, i think i believe the experiment, but i don't
think i believe the interpretion, as the article and
the above paper state, this effect is 10^30 times stronger
than the gravitation force you'd expect from too small
chunks of matter. I think they've discovered a new force
all together.

Spaceships? (1)

manifoldronin (827401) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988501)

We want to see flying saucers!

Wow (1)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988504)

I remember reading about this in Wired magazine a long time ago, some Russian guy claimed to have done it, and everyone dismissed him as a crackpot.

Re:Wow (1)

UltimaOmegaOblivion (946937) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988577)

Similar responses were given to those who believed the Earth was round and that we were not the center of the universe. Yet people still dismiss those with different, and possibly correct, views as insane/drunk/stoned.

Damn you (1)

EyelessFade (618151) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988516)

You win again, gravity!

Theoretically... (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14988587)

Relativistic mass is gravitational mass (a body approaching speed of light gains mass instead of speed + the heavier a body is, the stronger its gravity -> the faster the body moves the stronger its gravity). The movement doesn't have to be in a straight line, it can be equally well a circular trajectory. So if you get something to spin fast enough that material on the outer edges reaches linear speed near to c, it gets heavier and as result its gravity increases. By pumping arbitrary amounts of energy into rotation you're arbitrarily increasing the mass and as result creating a small body that isn't travelling in space but has arbitrarily high gravity. Slow it down and its gravity drops.
Now theory hits practice and centrifugal forces break it apart long before it nears c. But if you managed to get a piece of material hard enough not to break and withstand the forces, you can quite easily make it into a controllable gravitational mass.
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