New schemes to cancel the pull of gravity aren't just science fiction, by Corey S. Powell.
Antigravity: It's all up in the air, from Business Week.
Breaking the law of gravity, by Charles Platt, from Wired.
Anti-gravity device gives science a lift, by Robert Matthews and Ian Sample.
Anti-gravity device weighed down by controversy, by Robert Matthews in New Scientist, 21 Sept. 1996.
Allegedly the B-2 Stealth Bomber would already use an anti-gravity engine based on the use of allegedly the newly discovered element 115.
NASA has just awarded $600,000 to a project that the space agency hopes will duplicate the controversial experiments of a Russian scientist who claims to have invented a device that blocks the force of gravity. NASA's interest in antigravity is both obvious and practical -- anything that eases the burden of getting big rockets out of Earth's gravity well and into space is a good thing. If a device could even partly shield a rocket from the Earth's gravity, the spacecraft would need less thrust to achieve orbit. Most scientists think this is impossible, but E. E. Podkletnov, a materials scientist at the Moscow Chemical Scientific Research Center, is not one of them. Several years ago, Podkletnov claimed that he had performed experiments in which a spinning, superconducting disc lost as much as 2 per cent of its weight. In practical terms, that doesn't sound like much, but to a scientist, it's an astounding claim. And that's when NASA officials got interested. NASA is now paying an Ohio-based company, Superconductive Components, to build a 12-inch (31-centimeter) super-conducting disc to continue a series of experiments on gravity shielding. The first experiment didn't work, but it wasn't exactly as specified by Podkletnov, because the first disc was too small. "For a small disc four to five inches in diameter, we didn't see any gravitational signal much above the noise of tens of nanogees," says Ronald Koczor, a physicist at NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
However, Koczor and David Noever, also at Marshall, believe that the experiments are worth pursuing. "We're trying to get a 12-inch disc. We succeeded in pressing one last November, and we're trying to set it up to put radio-frequency signals into the disc," Koczor says. The RF signals used by Podkletnov, ranging from 100 to 1000 megahertz, were evidently an important feature of his experiment. According to Ho Paik, a gravitational physicist at the University of Maryland, they are probably wasting their time. "Gravity's produced by mass - it's not produced by quantum mechanics," he says. "I can't see why you'd do an experiment based upon physics that's completely wrong." But the team seems undaunted. Eventually, Koczor and Noever hope to replicate elements of Podkletnov's experiment more faithfully. "There will be an exhaustion point, but in my opinion anyone who proves it's not worth doing had better have done it in the same way [Podkletnov] did," says Noever.
NASA's Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Workshop reports.