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back to article Brit space agency to probe 'crackpot' antigravity device

A controversial British antigravity device is to be investigated by the government's National Space Centre, according to reports. If the technology really works, it would be able to counteract the force of gravity using only electrical power, permitting the easy building of Jetsons-style flying cars or hoverships and hugely …

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Let me get this right

If you shoot microwaves at people's houses you can float overhead with less energy.

Sounds like it would be popular even if it were real...

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Boffin

Nitpicking time

' lifting tonnes per kilowatt of energy'

Kilowatt is a unit of power, not energy!

Bring on the flying cars is all I can say!

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I'll tell you what...

Looking at that pic, anyone else reminded of 'Primer'?

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Coat

I admit...

This really convinced me. Honestly!

Mine's the one with the nuclear fusion power plant in the pocket.

EA

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note that "controversial" has not the same status as

"violates the conservation of momentum"

Existing "standard" physics states clearly that this device cannot work. But, curiously, the theoretical arguments advanced by Shawyer, don't include any new physics, just a somewhat confused calculation based on standard physics. Anyone want to spot the contradiction?

And, quite frankly, if you are going head-to-head against conservation of momentum and Einstein's theory of relativity, then you have to perform better than that video. What was it? Box hanging from a wire swings and/or rotates slowly?

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He's not that smart

You create something that, supposedly, floats, then post a video taken at the one angle that Doesn't show the object being detatched from the ground...

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even if it is a load of bunk

even if there is a 1 if 33billion chance he is right it is worth looking into if he is right it could be world changing

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FAIL

Also

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXJKdh1KZ0w

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Happy

Marty McFly

As a child of the 80s, all I'm wondering is, can we finally have hoverboards please?

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NB
Happy

I, for one,

welcome our new hover-board wielding anti-grav overlords!

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WTF?

Hmmmm

Wouldn't that monitor be a bit buggered being slap bang in the middle of an EM field?

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Boffin

No cars????

Say it isn't so...I want my flying car!

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Alert

Antigravity device?

Maybe not, but it makes a perfectly good crystal ball. Here's what it says about the future.

1) Emdrive is tested under rigorous scientific conditions and found to be a complete load of bollocks.

2) All funding is withdrawn, the inventor's branded a charlatan and his lovingly accrued accreditions are revoked.

3) The nuttier ends of the blogosphere (ugh) explode in an orgy of conspiracy theories as to how this technology is being suppressed by Big Oil / Big Government / The Military / The Illuminati / Alien sponges from the planet Thrarb / Mrs Johnson from No. 24 / whatever.

4) The Mythbusters build one from a set of "build your own antigravity machine" plans bought for $25 off eBay and prove it doesn't work.

5) Repeat 3.

6) etc. ad infinitum

7) Six million years later, a superintelligent radioactive mutant cockroach invents a microwave antigravity machine............

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On the other hand, if he is right...

Then you'll never be caught short for somewhere to heat up a bowl of soup.

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oh god has education fallen to the level

where people actually believe this crap?

I'm just assuming that Dr Costella is wrong and the guy is just deluded not a thieving con artist like the banking system that generates wealth until it needs to steal from the taxpayer just when it looked like it was going so well...

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On and on and on and on and...

Sounds like an electronic version of the "Dean Drive".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_drive

That didn't work either.

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Test it yourself at McDonalds'

Take a conical styrofoam cup.

Put a sealed lid on it.

Does the cup now float?

There is quite a lot of air bouncing around inside that cup, quite fast - exactly the same as his microwaves, but with considerably more momentum because they have a lot of mass.

If you want to check further, get a sensitive set of scales and find out if the weight of the cup and lid changes with the lid fitted or removed.

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Anonymous Coward

Radiaction thrust

As opposed to the light driven space crash that don't have a reaction mass? They are simply driven by the pressure from a light?

You do understand that you can weigh light by shining on weighing scales? And they call it 'radiation thrust' or some such, so as not to have to give up the idea of photons having no mass.

So yes there are charlatans here, but not necessarily the ones you are thinking of.

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Go

Gitwizard?

Clearly he's lying - this is an effect of zero point energy, but he thinks he'd be laughed at if he said that...

Stuff it - display the kit in front of he Fellows - if it works it works great then lets work out how - if not he can join up with David Blaine as a gitwizard.

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Anonymous Coward

oh sh1t

All those bloody car drivers getting into flying cars.

" He just came from nowhere" is heard often enough when there's just two dimensions for those cut off from the world in their little boxes to cope with - carnage if they add a third.

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Grenade

Balderdash

"He says that the thrust drops off rapidly once the generator starts moving along the line of thrust".

Moving relative to what? The spinning, orbiting Earth going round the sun which goes round the galaxy which moves relative to other galaxies?

@mmiied, re "even if there is a 1 if 33billion chance"

That means that we would need to test Thirty Three Billion crackpot devices to find one which worked. Scientists have better and far more productive things to do! Or would you like to try to persuade the various governments to tie up all the scientific resources of the entire planet for years to come "just in case"?

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Alien

Demonstrably false.

"He says that the thrust drops off rapidly once the generator starts moving along the line of thrust"

So, he claims that he has falsified Newtownian physics and relativistic physics.

Of couse, you can always get off the planet real fast by stopping. Just make sure you know what direction the planet is headed first.

Note that there ARE propulsion systems that don't have reaction mass in the conventional sense. The closest one would use magnetic effects to push against the Earth's magnetic field.

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Worth a punt?

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2008/09/chinese-buildin/

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McDonalds? The russian hobbyists got there first!

Make your own cavity flying machine:

http://www.rexresearch.com/grebenn/grebenn.htm

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If only I could power my hover car..

...on defeatism and name-calling - El Reg Comments Section would almost certainly have been invaded by the US* by now

* Other lap-dog states are available for blame sharing and fossil fuel stealing

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Grenade

@mmiied

I have a flying sausage that can travel through time and eradicate poverty and hunger. It's only in design stage at the moment, but i calculate a 1 in 32 billion chance that it will work. It will cost £50 million to investigate.

When can i expect my check from you?

PS. I have an O level in Sausology, so am more than qualified!

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The earth used to be flat, and at the center of the universe...

The earth used to be flat, and at the center of the universe...

I'm quite convinced he's wrong, as seems to be the consensus of everyone else, but people used to think the earth was the center of the universe, until Copernicus came along, and that the earth was flat'ish, until Magellan circumnavigated it*.

Terribly arrogant to just say "He's wrong, because we don't believe him" - we've made mistakes in the past about physics, are undoubtedly making loads now, and will make even more in the future.

* OK - it was known to be spherical (ish) before that, but he is the guy who conclusively proved it, even though he was dead by the end of the voyage...

Though you could argue the Greeks proved it, or the Egyptians.

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@Christoph

"@mmiied, re "even if there is a 1 if 33billion chance"

That means that we would need to test Thirty Three Billion crackpot devices to find one which worked."

Ah, yes, but you might find the one that works on the first go, so it's still worth doing...

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@richard12

Except that the forces in the coffee cup are unfocused and moving in random directions. You do know what a waveguide is and it's purpose?

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Anonymous Coward

Laser beam powered space craft

This is not pseudo science, it sounds exactly like the laser power space craft:

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/laser-97b.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_pressure

There is nothing special about light that doesn't apply to other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It sounds like wave pressure, as for violating the laws of 'conservation of momentum'.... oh good grief, are we in kindergarden?

"Shawyer throws relativity into his paper, if only because he really can’t avoid it for a particle that moves at the speed of light (well, is light, or its cousin, anyway). Maybe some weird spooky relativ-istic effect makes Shawyer’s scam drive work?"

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Boffin

re. Radiation thrust #

@AC 14:56 GMT

You don't have to have mass to have momentum. See Thickypedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photon#Physical_properties

First year physics really.

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Grenade

Wow, the wisdom of crowds.

Fascinating bunch of comments above, the commentards are out in force, armed with a smattering of physics, a huge dose of arrogance, and a near inability to actually read the story.. specially the ones who are claiming he's a zero-point energy nut.

That's not what I read, whatever claims he's making, this is a net consumer of energy, not a provider. He's basically saying he can apply energy to a chamber and generate a thrust. His special claim is that there is no reaction medium (either thrust against the atmosphere, other objects, or ejected matter) specifically he seems to say it thrusts against the gravitational field itself. I don't see that as physically impossible, just technically impossible until now?

As for the people complaining they cannot see 'under' the test rig.. read the article..sheesh.. where it is clearly stated that the rig is on an air bearing. His thrust unit is angled to rotate the rig on that bearing, not lift it.

(This would be thrusting 'across' gravity, not 'along' it; so I'm not convinced the effect is real; but I am convinced a lot of posters here are applying some barely remembered schoolboy physics and repetition of mantras against perpetual motion to dismiss it with no real understanding of what is actually being claimed.)

Maybe I'm just too fond of the skyhooks that Rupert the Bears professor friend used to make. The thing is that there is a field, the gravitational field, that ruins through most everything. If we can find new ways to interact with that that we should be able to make some interesting devices.

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Black Helicopters

Gyroscopes

Sounds a bit like the gyroscope-based reactionless drives popular in the Eighties; basically, a misunderstanding of physics.

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@Laser beam powered space craft

If you actually read the article, it isn't the same thing at all. It heats air and causes thrust, which of course is not at all the same thing.

Points for a valiant attempt though.

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Re: Laser beam powered space craft

Shawler claims an _improvement_ over ordinary light pressure -- by the Q factor of the cavity! Naturally if Q is high, you get more supposed "Shawler thrust", ... but high Q means that hardly any light escapes to provide actual thrust. The force exerted will in fact reduce as Q increases.

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FAIL

Wikipedia

I too can quote Wikipedia to disprove experimental physics:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beans

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Megaphone

Be Proud...

It's a British Invention, so it works OK!

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@ Bah Humbug

Columbus knew the earth was round. He even knew that he couldn't get to the spice islands by going the route that Cabot took cos he knew America was in the way - we'd been fishing the Newfoundland cod banks since 1480.

It only seems to be politicians and managers and others that run things that know jack.

If the guy can get it 10 foot off the ground outside then it might be worth looking at to see how the con worked.

Till then it might be worth teaching some newtonian physics to people who handle taxpayers money - transfer of momentum to the arse for idiots who fund this sort of thing.

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Alert

Biefield-Brown

Is this the same principle as the Biefield-Brown effect? That's donkey's years old, but I don't think it has ever been conclusively proven one way or the other. Goodness knows why (I'm not being sarcastic BTW).

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Space opera

It seems that someone has been reading some old (1950s and early 1960s) H. Beam Piper sci-fi. Piper's 'countragravity' worked something like what this guy says he has, only as Piper was writing fiction in the days before Star Trek he had to at least try to make his techno-speak hang together semi-plausibly. The ships in Piper's stories about the Federation appear to have been better thought out than that 'demonstration video' thing. After all, Piper _was_ writing for John Campbell at Astounding, and Campbell was notorious for wanting to see the rivets on the hulls of the spaceships before he bought the story. (Campbell would have bounced most of the stories put on the air in Star Trek, for example. Not least for the outrageous biology behind Spock...)

On the other hand, Campbell _was_ a big supporter of the Dean Drive, which this also somewhat resembles and which also didn't work. IIRC Lee Corey perpetuated a Dean Drive story or two a few years after Campbell's death. It wasn't nearly as well received without Campbell there to push it. I expect that this 'device' will go tits-up RSN.

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Bollicks.

There must be at least 5,000 ways to achieve a visual effect like that. There must be at least 50 ways to get a piece of kit to actually hover like that appears to. Have any of them proved to be of any use at all? Well, we do have mag-lev trains. Are they of any use at all? Er... Should we ignore it? No, we should not. It's like being given a lottery ticket that appears to have the winning numbers on it. It probably looks too good to be true because it is. On the other hand, wouldn't you feel a right wally if it was genuine and you sent them packing? What? Cold fusion? Yeah, I know...

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Anonymous Coward

@re. Radiation thrust etc. @Laser beam powered space craft

"If you actually read the article, it isn't the same thing at all. It heats air and causes thrust, which of course is not at all the same thing."

Radiation thrust is a PROVED, DEMONSTRATED thing, yes I know it's not Newtonian, but lots of physics isn't. Just because some bloke called Newton said he made laws, and they teach them as simplified physics, doesn't mean they are actually laws! They were just simplifications that were easy to teach to students!

I may have not found the right article that discusses it, but it's long been considered in space travel (as distinct from the solar sail probes).

"You don't have to have mass to have momentum"

Again, really, this is nothing special, the effect is called Radiation Thrust or some such. Yes I know light has no mass ergo it has no momentum, ergo it has no pressure, but it does and is measured and accepted.

IMHO, light is waves in matter, the proof that light has zero mass is simply not there, they just put in energy to accelerate particles, found they couldn't accelerate something with mass to the speed of light hence, some conclusion was jumped to, their theory was 'proven', and an awful lot of drivel has been built ontop of that since.

That aside, an electromagnetic wave causing pressure on objects is not new or special. It doesn't mean it's the effect he's using, just that what Mr Debunker is saying strikes me as baby physics (conservation of momentum as a law FFS) and hence not a debunking more a troll.

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Stop

re. Wow, the wisdom of crowds.

@Owen Carter

"he seems to say it thrusts against the gravitational field itself."

No he doesn't!

"He says that the thrust drops off rapidly once the generator starts moving along the line of thrust, so that the kit would really only be of much use to nullify an opposing force - for instance that of gravity."

He makes no statement that indicates his machine has any kind of interaction with the gravitational field, only that it could nullify the force of gravity (in the same sense that the force of gravity can be nullified by the effect of buoyancy in a balloon).

Whatever the effect of his device, it's obviously such a tiny force (at the moment) that it can only move the device under low friction conditions (hence the air table). But what's to prevent other tiny forces giving the same effect? For example, the device could be just rotating in the Earth's magnetic field. It will take some carefully designed experiments to prove or disprove the effect being claimed.

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Alert

More Hot-AIR!

take 1 microwave emmiting device, tune it to hydrogen or nitrogen.

turn on.

instant (quiet litterly ) hot air = thrust!!!

electric in >>>> hot air out

only slightly more efficient that a politician:

(wads of money in >>> lots of useless hot air out)

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Wot a scamm3rz lol!

This guy sounds worse than legendary scam kiddie Edward Jenner. Edward claimed that cow milkmaids never got smallpox ; having got simple cowpox it later protected them somehow from the more deadly smallpox. After eventually dreaming up a ludicrously stupid "smallpox inoculation derived from milkmaids" this master con-man side-stepped years of ridicule and cartoons lampooning him with a cow's head etc. Until errr finally someone noticed he was right and was single-handedly responsible for the only time in history mankind has completely eradicated a killer disease. You lot are going to look a bit daft if the anti-grav bloke does come up good.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ Bah Humbug

Tom 7 wrote:

"Columbus knew the earth was round. He even knew that he couldn't get to the spice islands by going the route that Cabot took cos he knew America was in the way - we'd been fishing the Newfoundland cod banks since 1480."

And the Vikings had been to Newfoundland as well. Columbus knew that, too. Oh, and the whole "everyone in the Middle Ages thought the world was flat" stuff has been shown to be a fallacy: the classical civilisations believed the world to be round and this knowledge didn't just go away, nor was it particularly ignored, apparently.

Of course, the whole "world is flat, Columbus shows otherwise - how daring!" business is just propaganda sold to the Ameritards, along with the "Thomas Edison invented everything" bollocks that gets paraded out to "inspire" American juniors. Just as the Britards have their own national myths, so do the Ameritards.

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Go

At least

he's not claiming it as the basis of a warp drive or anything like that vectored-momentum thing that crops up every so often.

And just thrusting against the Earth's gravitational field with another field doesn't sound particularly impossible- interaction of fields is the basis of tech like the electric motor, transformers, generators and a load of other stuff the world wouldn't work without.

It's also been shown that gravity can affect microwaves, radiowaves, light and other EM radiation Every slightly nerdy schoolkid has seen the rubber sheet and billiard ball explanation of spacetime, with light bending around stars and so on.

So if it's redirecting them and having other effects on them why shouldn't they be able to push back?

I'm not 100% sure about the actual physics- I'm an engineer not a theoretical physicist- but it certainly doesn't sound impossible to me.

I've just started a No.10 petition demanding that if this works it should be fitted to a DMC DeLorean for its first public showing... I'll post the link if/when it gets approved.

@AC 1636 the Biefield-Brown effect has been proven and has even been put into practical vehicles- the Japanese even made an EHD boat.

Accelerating charged particles with a high voltage is even in secondary school physics. Yes, it's been proven. But no, it's not antigravity- that's a frequently debunked (even on dedicated "lifter" sites) myth that probably came about by some marketing guy selling plans.

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Boffin

Not the only solution

What's wrong with Buttered Cat Arrays?

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