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First Steps Toward Artificial Gravity 470

Posted by samzenpus
from the stay-grounded dept.
CompaniaHill writes "Have scientists been able to artificially generate a gravitational field? Researchers at the European Space Agency believe so. "Small acceleration sensors placed at different locations close to the spinning superconductor, which has to be accelerated for the effect to be noticeable, recorded an acceleration field outside the superconductor that appears to be produced by gravitomagnetism. This experiment is the gravitational analogue of Faraday's electromagnetic induction experiment in 1831." The effect is very small, so don't expect to see it used in spacecraft any time soon. But the effect is still many times larger than the predictions of Einstein's theories. "If confirmed, this would be a major breakthrough," says [Austrian researcher Martin] Tajmar. "It opens up a new means of investigating general relativity and it consequences in the quantum world.""
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First Steps Toward Artificial Gravity

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  • Forgot spaceships (Score:4, Informative)

    by bigattichouse (527527) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:03PM (#14988198) Homepage
    How about creating foam metals in a low gravity field?
  • Not again! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tempest451 (791438) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:08PM (#14988249)
    Artificial gravity has been dangled in front of our noses for years, by alien nuts, pseudo-scientist, and garage engineers. Like cold fusion and zero-point energy, it's always much-adu-about-nothing. Ya know what, just park a starship in orbit before you tell us about another "break-through" in artificial gravity.
  • Yevgeny Podkletnov (Score:5, Informative)

    by volts (515080) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:11PM (#14988275) Homepage
    This sounds like the work of Yevgeny Podkletnov [bbc.co.uk] He claimed to have countered the effects of gravity in an experiment at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland in 1992 using a spinning super conducting ceramic ring.
  • Re:Awesome (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eightyford (893696) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:13PM (#14988292) Homepage
    Oh, that's easy.
    It's called science fiction for a reason.


    Exactly. It is called science fiction for a reason.
  • Not quite. (Score:1, Informative)

    by sparkhead (589134) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:14PM (#14988302)

    The claims are disputed and have not been verified by similar experiments.

    The paper was released March 9, if it were as important as it would seem at first glance it would have made a huge impact in the physics community. It hasn't.

    Nasa paper on alternate propulsion [nasa.gov]

    Similar experiment that disputes results of this one [esa.int].

    Not saying it's not a find of some kind, but you might want to hold off on purchasing that hoverboard.

  • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Informative)

    by bev_tech_rob (313485) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:17PM (#14988336)
    You haven't been keeping up on your Trek manuals, have you? The Inertial Dampening System predicts the adjustments it has to make when the command to jump to warp is issued. With weapons impacts, those are not predicted. The system can only REACT, therefore you get the shaking and jolting...
  • Re:What is gravity? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tim C (15259) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:22PM (#14988381)
    Short answer: go read about general (not special) relativity.

    Slightly longer answer: gravity is essentially the warping of space-time by the mass of an object. You can think of it as being like putting a heavy object on to a trampoline - the surface is pulled down under it. If you put a ball on it near the object, it'll roll down the sheet towards it.

    Gravity is a bit like that, but in three dimensions.
  • Orginal Paper Here (Score:5, Informative)

    by spiro_killglance (121572) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:35PM (#14988498) Homepage
    Hi, i found the paper at the Los Almos pre-print archive.

    http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0603033 [arxiv.org]

    Actually, i think i believe the experiment, but i don't
    think i believe the interpretion, as the article and
    the above paper state, this effect is 10^30 times stronger
    than the gravitation force you'd expect from too small
    chunks of matter. I think they've discovered a new force
    all together.
  • by naasking (94116) <naasking AT gmail DOT com> on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:45PM (#14988598) Homepage
    Slashdot had an article on a "hyperdrive" paper [slashdot.org] which is based upon Heim Theory [wikipedia.org]. Heim theory postulates EM-gravity coupling via the gravito-photon, and the experiment the Heim researchers recommended to produce gravito-photons [slashdot.org], and thus produce gravitational effects, sounds similar to what this article is describing.
  • Re:Not quite. (Score:5, Informative)

    by S3D (745318) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:47PM (#14988618)
    The claims are disputed and have not been verified by similar experiments.
    And your sources ?
    Similar experiment that disputes results of this one. http://esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/gsp/Experimental _Detection.pdf [esa.int]
    You should read the article you are citing. That is the exact experiment, that mentioned in TFA - Martin Tajmar et al experiment, which show anomalous gravimagnetic effect in the superconductive niobium ring which can not be explained by General Relativity, but can be explained by analogy between gravitons and photons.
  • Re:What is gravity? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:50PM (#14988654)
    Think of it like this: all objects "want" to move along the surface of the trampoline/table cloth/whatever. It would take "more energy" to make them move in any other way.

    Expanding this to a three-dimensional space-time fabric, means that the smaller ball will roll toward the bigger ball because it's the path of least resistance: it doesn't take and extra energy. If more energy is supplied (rockets, whatever) you can force the smaller ball into a different path.
  • by SpottedKuh (855161) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:54PM (#14988693)
    Neither. Apparently, you've been asleep since the beginning of the 20th century: Newton is WRONG.

    Wow, someone feeling a little snarky this morning? I didn't say that I agreed with the grandparent in my previous post -- I do remember some high school physics. I was just attempting to do some justice to the thread that he started by helping to clarify his point. After all, his post (though scientifically outdated) raised a question that at least deserved a civil discussion.
  • ah, (Score:2, Informative)

    by koroviev (begemot) (924304) on Friday March 24, 2006 @01:24PM (#14988965) Journal
    found it: http://esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/gsp/Experimental _Detection.pdf [esa.int] both seem to be the case, and/or not adressed - the accelerometers do have metal on them (it does mention wires), and the setup is in a faradey cage (which does not eliminate the Earths magnetic field..um..off course nothing would anyway)
  • Re:ah, (Score:3, Informative)

    by nusuth (520833) <oooo_0000us&yahoo,com> on Friday March 24, 2006 @01:48PM (#14989199) Homepage
    IANAP but the paper clearly addresses both issues. The most convincing data was that this effect is restricted to low temperature superconductors. Presumably (again IANAP) magnetic effects should be unaffected by superconductor type.
  • by SiliconEntity (448450) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:37PM (#14989564)
    Thanks, that is a good reference and does answer some of the questions that have been posed here.

    They measured accelerations with commercially available accelerometers. These were placed into steel boxes to act as Faraday cages and block EM radiation. They ran the experiment many times with non-superconductors and with the superconductors too warm to super-conduct, and found no effects.

    There were no effects with high temperature superconductors, which their theory (a non-standard theory) predicted. There were also no effects when high-temp superconductors were lowered to liquid helium temperatures, which they also predicted.

    The only effects they saw were with low-temp superconductors, niobium and lead. There were no effects above their superconducting temperatures.

    They basically saw two effects. When accelerating a spinning superconducting ring, accelerometers located near a ring segment recorded an acceleration opposite to that experienced by the ring segment. So for example if this piece of the ring was spinning north, when they sped it up the accelerometers showed a southward force, and when they slowed it down the accelerometers showed a northward force.

    The strongest reading was by an accelerometer inside the ring, but one located just above the ring was almost as strong. This was actually contrary to their (non-standard) theory, which predicted that the force should be mostly localized to the ring plane. But since their theory is completely blue-sky and non-standard, that perhaps doesn't mean too much.

    The other effect they saw was with a constant spinning speed, lowering the temperature from non-superconducting to superconducting. As they passed through the critical temperature, the accelerometers again felt a force. It was noted that this force was in the opposite direction from the acceleration force, which I believe was also contrary to their (non-standard) theory.

    They also briefly mentioned Podkletnov, but only to say their results were "very different" from his. They also said that they did not see any signs of the effects he reported, to the limits of their measurement. I would note that I think Podkletnov used a spinning disk while these guys used a spinning ring.

    Overall it looks like a very careful experiment that did eliminate most sources of error. However the measured values were close to the noise limits of the accelerometers, which is always a little suspicious in science. The experiment definitely looks ready for replication. If it works it will turn gravitational theory on its head. There is no theory in existence that can account for these results. Not general relativity, not quantum gravity, and not even these guys' non-standard theory will work. Something completely new will be needed.
  • by Valdrax (32670) on Friday March 24, 2006 @04:03PM (#14990281)
    I just realized after getting halfway through the paper you linked that it's by Dröscher himself, and it's describing the very loop + torus device and hyperspace transition mentioned in the New Scientist article that I linked.

    Page 15 gives a picture of the device, and sections 3.3 & 3.4 give the "vague description" of "hyperspace" travel that the article mentioned. It has to do with the absorption of positive gravitophotons (a Heim theory predicted particle for the interaction between gravity and EM forces). By the theory, if this happened, then the only possible result would be transitioning to another space-time system with a lower gravitional potential since going faster then c in is impossible, and reducing the gravitional constant is impossible. This "parallel space" would scale differently from ours but still obey the same laws within itself, and transitioning to and from it would allow objects to appear to travel faster than light from our perspective since c would seem to be higher in that space than ours.

    I'm don't really buy it, but there's a lot of math there that I really don't understand well enough to attempt to debunk it. I'm going to probably be spending a lot time with books and the internet going over this paper trying to understand what he's getting at. It's a lot easier to read than I thought when I first glossed over it, but it's still too advanced for my C-in-Optics understanding.
  • by Bit_Squeezer (824571) on Friday March 24, 2006 @04:17PM (#14990385)
    Cities in flight or something like that was the name of the book. Instant association for me.
  • Re:Forgot spaceships (Score:3, Informative)

    by VIPERsssss (907375) on Friday March 24, 2006 @04:37PM (#14990505)
    All of those have been done:

    antilight: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experimen t [wikipedia.org]
    antisound: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noise-cancelling_head phone [wikipedia.org]
    antiheat: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bose-Einstein_Condens ate [wikipedia.org] (specifically "laser cooling")
  • Re:Heim theory? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday March 24, 2006 @04:50PM (#14990620)
    This doesn't require anything outside of general relativity. GR predicts that if you accelerate a mass you'll get a gravito-magnetic field just like if you accelerate a charge you get an electromagnetic one. Heim theory predicts that there is a linkage between electromagnetism and gravity, specifically that you can use one to create the other. That idea could potentially explain why they observed a greater force than expected from pure general relativity.

    However, the scientists who measured this effect have another explanation for the extra force. The article mentions that if you assume the gravitons gain mass (as photons are assumed to do) in this superconductor experiment you can describe the increased strength of the field.
  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday March 24, 2006 @05:29PM (#14990943)
    Nobody addressed your last point:

    It's going to be AWFULLY hard to notice light bending in a gravitational field that small. I don't believe we can detect it in Earth's gravity, which is, apparently, 100 million times stronger than their field. We can see it in star light that skims the sun, and I think I read once that measurements have been made using Jupiter's gravitation field.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 25, 2006 @03:29AM (#14992914)
    actually, if you read the original paper (links posted by other people here), you will find they do refer to Podkletnov, but say that the results are different (but there setup is also a bit different, so...).

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