Excited Superconductor to drive Gravity Wheel - 11/17/97

The following info was provided courtesy of Jeffrey M. Brown on August 7th, 1997.
The text that follows shows how to make a reduced gravity zone which could effectively use gravity to drive a heavy wheel. It would work like a waterwheel except that gravity is the driving force.

Of course, it takes energy to keep the superconducting material in its superconducting state, so it's up for grabs as to whether the thing could produce any overunity.

With enough weight, it should produce serious torque that could be geared up to provide either mechanical power or to drive an electrical generator.

Team claims device defies gravity

by Robert Matthews and Ian Sample
The Ottawa Citizen

Scientists in Finland are about to reveal details of the world's first antigravity device. Measuring about 12 inches across, the device is said to reduce significantly the weight of anything suspended over it.

The claim has been rigorously examined by scientists, and is due to appear in a physics journal next month. It could prove to be one of the most astonishing scientific developments of the century, sparking a technological revolution. By combatting gravity, the most ubiquitous force in the universe, everything from transport to power generation could be transformed.

Nasa, the American space agency, is taking the claims seriously, and is funding research into how the anti-gravity effect could be turned into a means of flight.

The researchers at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland, who discovered the effect, say it could form the heart of a new power source, in which it is used to drive fluids past electricity-generating turbines.

Other uses seem limited only by the imagination:

According to Dr. Eugene Podkletnov, who led the research, the discovery was accidental. It emerged during routine work on so-called ``superconductivity,'' the ability of some materials to lose their electrical resistance at very low temperatures.

The team was carrying out tests on a rapidly spinning disc of superconducting ceramic suspended in the magnetic field of three electric coils, all enclosed in a low-temperature vessel called a cryostat.

``One of my friends came in and he was smoking his pipe,'' Dr. Podkletnov said.

``He put some smoke over the cryostat, and we saw that the smoke was going to the ceiling all the time. It was amazing -- we couldn't explain it.''

Tests showed a small drop in the weight of objects placed over the device, as if it were shielding the object from the effects of gravity -- an effect deemed impossible by most scientists.

``We thought it might be a mistake,'' Dr Podkletnov said, ``but we have taken every precaution.'' Yet the bizarre effects persisted.

In recent years, many so-called ``anti-gravity'' devices have been put forward by both amateur and professional scientists, and all have been scorned by the establishment.


A researcher in Finland claims to have defeated gravity - by Otis Port in New York - 09/30/96 - Business Week

Is this science? Or science fiction? A Russian researcher working in Finland claims he has discovered a way to partially negate the effects of gravity -- using a spinning disk made of a superconducting ceramic. The claim has yet to be verified, but it's being taken seriously by NASA and scientists elsewhere.

Four groups, including one at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., are scrambling to duplicate the Finnish antigravity setup.

The so-called gravity shield was brought into being accidentally by Eugene E. Podkletnov while he was doing research on high-temperature superconducting materials at Tampere University of Technology. To create the shield, he chills the disk to around -334F and zaps it with an electromagnetic field that causes it to spin. At around 3,000 revolutions per minute, anything placed above the rotating disk supposedly loses some 2% of its weight. Podkletnov claims this weight loss occurs in all materials--metal, wood, and plastic.

Even more astounding: If two disks are stacked one atop the other, the weight loss reportedly doubles to 4%.

A FUROR. Details on the phenomenon had been slated to appear in the October issue of the Journal of Physics-D: Applied Physics, published by the British Institute of Physics. But a Sept. 1 article in London's Sunday Telegraph, based on the scientific paper, precipitated a furor.

One of the listed co-authors complained he is no longer connected with the project. Podkletnov then withdrew the paper--sparking charges of misconduct, for including the name of a former associate without his permission, and cries of outright fraud.

NASA remains undeterred. The scientific uproar ``won't affect our plans. We're going to continue,'' says L. Whitt Brantley, chief of * NASA's Advanced Concepts Office. If the antigravity effect is real, he adds, ``we want to be the first to know.'' Cloning Podkletnov's disk is NASA's main mission now. The disk is about 11 inches across and may take a couple months to construct. ``Building a superconductor disk of that size hasn't been done in the U.S. yet,'' explains Ronald J. Koczor, a chief engineer at NASA Marshall.

A gadget that defies gravity would have profound business implications. Built into cars, trains, and planes, it could drastically slash fuel consumption and open new vistas for designing vehicles with little concern for size and weight. And if a stack of 100 disks, each providing a 2% weight loss, can produce a cumulative 200% weight loss, that could launch spacecraft.

In addition to NASA, laboratories in Italy, Canada, and India are trying to duplicate Podkletnov's work, says Giovanni Modanese, a theoretical physicist at Max-Planck-Institut for Physics in Munich. And Antioch University researcher John H. Schnurer was already cranking up * his first stab at antigravity as this issue went to press. If it works, Schnurer plans to assemble a stack of four or five disks. ``I want a weight loss of 10% or more,'' he says. ``You'll be able to feel that by placing your hand over the disks.''

There is a theoretical basis for the effect. Ning Li, a senior research scientist at the University of Alabama's Huntsville campus, believes superconducting disks are analogous to permanent magnets. A magnet's field comes from millions of magnetic particles all oriented in the same direction. Similarly, each atom in a whirling superconductor creates a minuscule ``gravitomagnetic'' field--and if all the atoms are aligned, Li says these gravity fields can compound in strength.

MANY SKEPTICS. Modanese of Max-Planck disputes Li's theory. He insists the only feasible explanation is an esoteric quantum-physics reaction that can soak up gravitational energy. In support of this idea, Modanese says Podkletnov told him in April that objects lose weight even under the spinning disk.

However, the overwhelming reaction among scientists is to reject both notions. After all, gravity is a force that's not supposed to be pliable. The doubters contend there's a simpler explanation: some kind of error that's tainting Podkletnov's results.

Modanese believes Podkletnov has been diligent, so antigravity is probably real. ``If confirmed,'' he adds, it will have ``amazing applications.'' The stickler, of course, is ``if confirmed.'' Is Podkletnov a shoo-in for a Nobel Prize, or a candidate for a special-effects Oscar? The issue should be settled within a few weeks.


It sounds like something from The X-Files, but levitation is raising eyebrows--and interest at NASA - by Otis Port in New York - 02/17/97 - Business Week

Floating on air? It's possible. Just chill a ceramic superconductor below 90K (-300F) and place it on a magnet. The superconductor will levitate. It's called the Meissner effect, and it might one day lead to an ``antigravity'' machine.

John H. Schnurer, director of physics engineering at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, thinks he might have taken a first step in that direction last fall. After chilling a 1-inch-diameter superconducting disk, he threw a switch that sent an electrical current surging through a set of coils positioned around the disk. Above the disk was a plastic sample hanging from one end of a homemade balance scale containing no metal parts. The plastic sample rose ever so slightly -- corresponding to an

apparent 5% loss

in the weight of the sample. ``Great fun,'' said Schnurer -- his restrained way of shouting ``Eureka!''

WEAK FORCE. Many physicists are sure antigravity is a delusion. Even if it does exist, it can't be more than one-millionth as strong as gravity, says Eric G. Adelberger, a professor of physics at the University of Washington who studies gravity. And because gravity itself is such a weak force, tiny magnetic fields and temperature changes can cause spurious results. Adelberger says it's crucial to control temperatures to one-thousandth of a degree--way beyond the scope of Schnurer's setup.

At least two scientists theorize that the apparent weight loss is real.

Giovanni Modanese, a physicist at the Italian National Agency for Nuclear & High Energy Physics in Trento, agrees antigravity is unlikely--but a ``gravity shield'' is something else. It would produce an unseen tunnel above the disk, and inside it things would weigh less because exotic quantum-physics reactions would be absorbing some of gravity's pull.

Ning Li, a senior research scientist at the University of Alabama's Huntsville campus, believes that under the proper conditions, the minuscule force fields of superconducting atoms can ``couple,'' compounding in strength * to the point where they can produce antigravity. Li and Modanese have been debating each other since the early 1990s, when Eugene E. Podkletnov, a Russian materials scientist then at Tampere University of Technology in Finland, reported strange gravity-attenuation effects in his experiments.

FINE-TUNING. To settle the issue, researchers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and two national laboratories are setting up experiments. NASA physicist David A. Noever was so eager to get going he paid his own fare to Denver to borrow a gravitometer, an ultrasensitive gadget for measuring gravity. ``It shows you how excited these people are. They're working their rear ends off,'' says L. Whitt Brantley, chief of NASA's Advanced Concepts Office.

So far, Schnurer has replicated his weight-loss experiment 12 times. He points out that the balance doesn't move when he turns on the juice without the disk -- or when the disk isn't in the Meissner state.

Still, Schnurer admits, his setup is crude, and he is now making other refinements.

To spread the fun around, Schnurer has formed the Gravity Society, with Podkletnov and Modanese as charter members. It now has a bare-bones Web page and should soon offer scientific papers from the trio.

Until NASA or one of the national labs can determine why superconductors cause balances to tilt, skeptics will have an easy time denying Schnurer's results. He cheerfully admits he's no theoretician, just an inveterate tinkerer. ``I can't even understand Giovanni's math,'' he says. ``But this is big fun.''