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Monday, 29 July, 2002, 20:53 GMT 21:53 UK
Russia's 'gravity-beating' scientist
Commercial jet in front of moon
Are anti-gravity devices science fiction or fact?
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing's work on an experimental anti-gravity device is based on a concept pioneered by Russian physicist Yevgeny Podkletnov.

BBC Monitoring looks back at his long and often controversial career.

Yevgeny Podkletnov was born into a highly educated family in the Soviet Union in the mid-1950s.

His father was a scientist and a professor in St Petersburg, while his mother had previously conducted research in the field of medicine.

Dr Podkletnov himself followed his father into a career in science, first earning a degree from the Mendeleyev Institute in Moscow, and then moving on to work at an institute within the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In the late 1980s, Dr Podkletnov left for Finland to pursue his research work at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland.

He first came to prominence in 1992, when he claimed to have conducted a successful experiment into what he called "gravity shielding".

Scepticism

Other scientists however, were initially unable to reproduce the results of Dr Podkletnov's experiment in their own laboratories, and the Russian scientist's research was viewed with considerable scepticism.

Space shuttle Discovery
Only in space are the effects of gravity ameliorated

Undeterred, Dr Podkletnov submitted a paper on the research to the Institute for Physics in London. It was accepted for print, and was to be published in October 1996.

But, a month before that, news of his research entered into the wider public domain, when the Sunday Telegraph published an article highlighting the great potential for "anti-gravitation" technology.

The material for the article, which had been leaked, provoked a broadly negative reaction among the scientific community at large, and among Dr Podkletnov's research colleagues.

A week after the article appeared, Dr Podkletnov asked the Institute of Physics to withdraw his paper from publication.

Despite these problems however, major players have continued to maintain an interest in Dr Podkletnov's work.

In 2000, the British defence contractor BAe Systems confirmed that it would be funding research into a device said to modify the effects of gravity. And now Boeing, the world's largest aircraft manufacturer, is also using Dr Podkletnov's research in its own programmes.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

29 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
27 Mar 00 | Science/Nature
27 Mar 00 | Europe
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