Electrogravitics is claimed to be an unconventional type of effect or anti-gravity force created by an electric field's effect on a mass. The name was coined in the 1920s by the discoverer of the effect, Thomas Townsend Brown, who spent most of his life trying to develop it and sell it as a propulsion system. Through Brown's promotion of the idea it was researched for a short while by aerospace companies in the 1950s. Electrogravitics is popular with conspiracy theorists with claims that it is powering flying saucers and the B-2 Stealth Bomber.
Since apparatus based on Browns' ideas have often yielded varying and highly controversial results when tested within controlled vacuum conditions, the effect observed has often been attributed to the ion drift or ion wind effect instead of anti-gravity.
Electrogravitics had its origins in experiments started in 1921 by Thomas Townsend Brown (who coined the name) while he was still in high school. He discovered an unusual effect while experimenting with a Coolidge tube, a type of X-ray vacuum tube where, if he placed on a balance scale with the tube’s positive electrode facing up, the tube's mass seemed to decrease, when facing down the tube's mass seemed to increase. Brown showed this effect to his college professors and even newspaper reporters and told them he was convinced that he had managed to influence gravity electronically. Brown developed this into large high-voltage capacitors that would produce a tiny propulsive force causing the capacitor to jump in one direction when the power was turned on. In 1929 Brown published "How I Control Gravitation," in Science and Invention where he claimed the capacitors were producing a mysterious force that interacted with the pull of gravity. He envisions a future where, if his device could be scaled up, "Multi-impulse gravitators weighing hundreds of tons may propel the ocean liners of the future" or even "fantastic 'space cars'" to Mars. Somewhere along the way Brown came up with the name Biefeld–Brown effect, named after his former teacher, professor of astronomy Paul Alfred Biefeld at Denison University in Ohio. Brown claimed Biefeld as his mentor and co-experimenter. After World War II Brown sought to develop the effect as a means of propulsion for aircraft and spacecraft, demonstrating a working apparatus to an audience of scientists and military officials in 1952. A Cal-Tech physicist invited to observe Brown's disk device in the early 50s noted during the demonstration that its motivation force was the well known phenomenon of "electric wind", and not anti-gravity, saying “I’m afraid these gentlemen played hooky from their high school physics classes….” Research in the phenomenon was popular in the mid-1950s, at one point the Glenn L. Martin Company placed advertisements looking for scientists who were "interested in gravity", but rapidly declined in popularity thereafter.
Since this effect could not be explained by known physics at the time, the effect has been believed to be caused by ionized particles that produces a type of ion drift or ionic wind that transfers its momentum to surrounding neutral particles, an electrokinetic phenomena or more widely referred to as electrohydrodynamics (EHD).
Electrogravitics has become popular with UFO, anti-gravity, and government conspiracy theorists where it is seen as an example of something much more exotic than electrokinetics, i.e. that electrogravitics is a true anti-gravity technology that can "create a force that depends upon an object’s mass, even as gravity does". There are claims that all major aerospace companies in the 1950s including Martin, Convair, Lear, Sperry, Raytheon were working on it, that the technology became highly classified in the early 1960s, that it is used to power the B-2 bomber, and that it can be used to generate "free energy". Charles Berlitz devoted an entire chapter of his book on The Philadelphia Experiment (The Philadelphia Experiment: Project Invisibility) to a retelling of Brown's early work with the effect, implying the electrogravitics effect was being used by UFOs. The researcher and author Paul LaViolette has produced many self-published books on electrogravitics, making many claims over the years including his view that the technology could have helped to avoid another Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.
Many claims as to the validity of electrogravitics as an anti-gravity force revolve around research and videos on the internet purported to show lifter-style capacitor devices working in a vacuum, therefore not receiving propulsion from ion drift or ion wind being generated in air. Followups on the claims (R. L. Talley in a 1990 U.S. Air Force study, NASA scientist Jonathan Campbell in a 2003 experiment, and Martin Tajmar in a 2004 paper) have found that no thrust could be observed in a vacuum, consistent with the phenomenon of ion wind. Campbell pointed out to a Wired magazine reporter that creating a true vacuum similar to space for the test requires tens of thousands of dollars in equipment.
Byron Preiss in his 1985 book on the current science and future of the Solar System titled The Planets commented that electrogravitics development seemed to be "much ado about nothing, started by a bunch of engineers who didn't know enough physics". Preiss stated that electrogravitics, like exobiology, is "a science without a single specimen for study".
Anti-gravity (also known as non-gravitational field) is a theory of creating a place or object that is free from the force of gravity. It does not refer to the lack of weight under gravity experienced in free fall or orbit, or to balancing the force of gravity with some other force, such as electromagnetism or aerodynamic lift. Anti-gravity is a recurring concept in science fiction, particularly in the context of spacecraft propulsion. Examples are the gravity blocking substance "Cavorite" in H. G. Wells's The First Men in the Moon and the Spindizzy machines in James Blish's Cities in Flight.
In Newton's law of universal gravitation, gravity was an external force transmitted by unknown means. In the 20th century, Newton's model was replaced by general relativity where gravity is not a force but the result of the geometry of spacetime. Under general relativity, anti-gravity is impossible except under contrived circumstances. Quantum physicists have postulated the existence of gravitons, massless elementary particles that transmit gravitational force, but the possibility of creating or destroying these is unclear.
"Anti-gravity" is often used to refer to devices that look as if they reverse gravity even though they operate through other means, such as lifters, which fly in the air by moving air with electromagnetic fields.Biefeld–Brown effect
The Biefeld–Brown effect is an electrical phenomenon that produces an ionic wind that transfers its momentum to surrounding neutral particles. It describes a force observed on an asymmetric capacitor when high voltage is applied to the capacitor's electrodes. Once suitably charged up to high DC potentials, a thrust from the negative terminal to the positive terminal is generated. The effect was named by inventor Thomas Townsend Brown who claimed that he did a series of experiments with professor of astronomy Paul Alfred Biefeld, a former teacher of Brown whom Brown claimed was his mentor and co-experimenter at Denison University in Ohio.The use of an asymmetric capacitor, with the negative electrode being larger than the positive electrode, allowed for more thrust to be produced in the direction from the low-flux to the high-flux region compared to a conventional capacitor. These asymmetric capacitors became known as Asymmetrical Capacitor Thrusters (ACT). The Biefeld–Brown effect can be observed in ionocrafts and lifters, which utilize the effect to produce thrust in the air without requiring any combustion or moving parts.In his 1960 patent titled "Electrokinetic Apparatus," Brown refers to electrokinesis to describe the Biefeld–Brown effect, linking the phenomenon to the field of electrohydrodynamics (EHD). Brown also believed the Biefeld–Brown effect could produce an anti-gravity force, referred to as "electrogravitics" based on it being an electricity/gravity phenomenon. However, there is little evidence that supports Brown's claim on the effect's anti-gravity properties.Electrokinetics
Electrokinetics may refer to:
Electrokinetic phenomena, a family of several different effects that occur in heterogeneous fluids
Electrokinetic potential, Zeta potential
Electrokinetic remediation, a technique of using direct electrical current to remove particles from the soil
Electro-kinetic road ramp, a method of generating electricity
Micellar electrokinetic chromatography, a chromatography technique used in analytical chemistryElizabeth Rauscher
Elizabeth A. Rauscher is an American physicist and parapsychologist. She is a former researcher with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Stanford Research Institute, and NASA.In 1975 Rauscher co-founded the Berkeley Fundamental Fysiks Group, an informal group of physicists who met weekly to discuss quantum mysticism and the philosophy of quantum physics. David Kaiser argued in his book, How the Hippies Saved Physics that this group helped to nurture ideas which were unpopular at the time within the physics community, but which later, in part, formed the basis of quantum information science.Rauscher has an interest in psychic healing and faith healing and other paranormal claims.Gravity Research Foundation
The Gravity Research Foundation is an organization established in 1948 by businessman Roger Babson (founder of Babson College) to find ways to implement gravitational shielding. Over time, the foundation shed its crankish air, turning its attention from trying to block gravity to trying to understand it. It holds an annual contest rewarding essays by scientific researchers on gravity-related topics. The contest, which awards prizes of up to $4,000, has been won by at least five people who later won the Nobel Prize in physics.
The foundation held conferences and conducted operations in New Boston, New Hampshire through the late 1960s, but that aspect of its operation ended following Babson's death in 1967.
It is mentioned on stone monuments, donated by Babson, at more than a dozen American universities.Index of physics articles (E)
The index of physics articles is split into multiple pages due to its size.
To navigate by individual letter use the table of contents below.Ion-propelled aircraft
An ionocraft or ion-propelled aircraft is an aircraft that uses electrohydrodynamics (EHD) to provide lift or thrust in the air without requiring any combustion or moving parts. Current designs do not yet produce enough thrust for manned flight or heavy loads.List of hypothetical technologies
Hypothetical technologies are technologies that do not exist yet, but that could exist in the future. They are distinct from emerging technologies, which have achieved some developmental success. Emerging technologies as of 2018 include 3-D metal printing and artificial embryos. Many hypothetical technologies have been the subject of science fiction.List of topics characterized as pseudoscience
This is a list of topics that have, at one point or another in their history, been characterized as pseudoscience by academics or researchers. Discussion about these topics is done on their main pages. These characterizations were made in the context of educating the public about questionable or potentially fraudulent or dangerous claims and practices—efforts to define the nature of science, or humorous parodies of poor scientific reasoning.
Criticism of pseudoscience, generally by the scientific community or skeptical organizations, involves critiques of the logical, methodological, or rhetorical bases of the topic in question. Though some of the listed topics continue to be investigated scientifically, others were only subject to scientific research in the past, and today are considered refuted but resurrected in a pseudoscientific fashion. Other ideas presented here are entirely non-scientific, but have in one way or another impinged on scientific domains or practices.
Many adherents or practitioners of the topics listed here dispute their characterization as pseudoscience. Each section here summarizes the alleged pseudoscientific aspects of that topic.Paul Alfred Biefeld
Dr. Paul Alfred (22 March 1867 – 21 June 1943) was a German-American electrical engineer, astronomer and teacher.Theoretical physics
Theoretical physics is a branch of physics that employs mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. This is in contrast to experimental physics, which uses experimental tools to probe these phenomena.
The advancement of science generally depends on the interplay between experimental studies and theory. In some cases, theoretical physics adheres to standards of mathematical rigor while giving little weight to experiments and observations. For example, while developing special relativity, Albert Einstein was concerned with the Lorentz transformation which left Maxwell's equations invariant, but was apparently uninterested in the Michelson–Morley experiment on Earth's drift through a luminiferous ether. Conversely, Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize for explaining the photoelectric effect, previously an experimental result lacking a theoretical formulation.Thomas Townsend Brown
Thomas Townsend Brown (March 18, 1905 – October 27, 1985) was an American inventor whose research into odd electrical effects led him to believe he had discovered a connection between strong electric fields and gravity, a type of antigravity effect. Instead of being an antigravity force, what Brown observed has generally been attributed to electrohydrodynamics, the movement of charged particles that transfers their momentum to surrounding neutral particles in air, also called "ionic drift" or "ionic wind". For most of Brown's life he attempted to develop devices based on his ideas, trying to promote them for use by industry and the military. The phenomena came to be called the "Biefeld–Brown effect" and "electrogravitics".
In recent years Brown's research has had an influence in the community of amateur experimenters who build "ionic propulsion lifters" powered by high voltage. There are still claims that Brown discovered antigravity, an idea popular with the unidentified flying object (UFO) community and spawning many conspiracy theories.United States gravity control propulsion research
American interest in "gravity control propulsion research" intensified during the early 1950s. Literature from that period used the terms anti-gravity, anti-gravitation, baricentric, counterbary, electrogravitics (eGrav), G-projects, gravitics, gravity control, and gravity propulsion. Their publicized goals were to develop and discover technologies and theories for the manipulation of gravity or gravity-like fields for propulsion. Although general relativity theory appeared to prohibit anti-gravity propulsion, several programs were funded to develop it through gravitation research from 1955 to 1974. The names of many contributors to general relativity and those of the golden age of general relativity have appeared among documents about the institutions that had served as the theoretical research components of those programs. The existence and 1950s emergence of the gravity control propulsion research have not been a subject of controversy for aerospace writers, critics, and conspiracy theory advocates, but their rationale, effectiveness, and longevity have been the objects of contested views.