How much does an anti-gravity machine cost

When will the anti-gravity machine come?

Most physicists reject these thoughts as crazy. They refer to the fact that gravity is not mediated via an exchange of particles as with the other "normal" forces, but is a property of space-time that cannot be tricked.

"It doesn't work," said Eugene Podkletnov, a Russian physicist at the University of Tampere, Finland. In 1992 he constructed an apparatus that is supposed to partially shield the gravitational force. To do this, he locked a rapidly rotating superconducting disk in a tank filled with liquid helium and exposed the disk to a high-frequency magnetic field. To his amazement, a small weight hanging on a scale above the apparatus became two percent lighter. The effect was even measurable on the floors above, says Podkletnov.

Much effort has been made to repeat Podkletnov's attempt since 1992, but hair-raising errors were shown to all of the experimenters who allegedly succeeded. Serious researchers always got negative results. Prof. Friedrich Hehl from the University of Cologne emphasizes that no experiment gave any indication of the existence of antigravity. In high-energy accelerators with K0 mesons, for example, it was found that matter and antimatter particles behave completely identically in the earth's gravitational field. “Theory and experiments go very well together,” says the gravity expert. Nevertheless, the belief in anti-gravity remains unbroken - this has been proven by a working group from the Marshall Space Flight Center of the American space agency NASA in Huntsville, Alabama. It is part of the “Breakthrough in Propulsion Physics” project and is intended to research propulsion systems for the spaceships of the future. The scientists are currently trying to produce larger and cleaner superconducting disks and hope to be able to check the Podkletnov experiment next year.

The Woodward effect is also of interest to the NASA researchers, as it does not reduce gravity but, on the contrary, uses it. Einstein's famous formula E = mc2 says that the energy content of an object and its mass are related. If the energy changes very quickly, the mass changes accordingly. If it were possible to set the object mechanically in vibration according to the oscillation, one would have a simple drive for interstellar spaceships: If the mass is low, the object is moved forward, the mass is large, backward.

The bottom line is that there is little force left that drives the spaceship forward - according to the motto "two steps forward and one backward" the spaceship would jerk through space. This drive is of course not a perpetual motion machine: it requires a lot of electrical energy. But that could be obtained from solar cells, whereas today fuel has to be carried along in tanks.

October 1, 1999