Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Sci/Tech
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Bob Park, American Physical Society
This has zero chance of success
 real 28k

Monday, 27 March, 2000, 23:34 GMT 00:34 UK
Gravity research gets off the ground
Plane AP
Such devices would shield planes from the Earth's pull
A leading UK company is challenging what we understand to be the fundamental laws of physics.

The military wing of the hi-tech group BAe Systems, formerly British Aerospace, has confirmed it has launched an anti-gravity research programme.

It hopes that Project Greenglow will draw scientists from different backgrounds to work on future technologies that will have echoes of the propellantless propulsion systems being investigated by Nasa's Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Program.

Gravitation shielding

If any of the work is successful, it could lead to dramatic developments in the way we travel - anti-gravity devices could make it much easier for aeroplanes, spacecraft and even the next generation of cars to get off the ground.

In 1996, the experiments of a Russian scientist were jeered at by the physics world. Writing in the journal Physica C, Dr Yevgeny Podkletnov claimed that a spinning, superconducting disc lost some of its weight. And, in an unpublished paper on the weak gravitation shielding properties of a superconductor, he argued that such a disc lost as much as 2% of its weight.

However, most scientists believe that such anti-gravity research is fundamentally flawed. It goes against what we know about the physical Universe and is therefore impossible, they say.

Pascal's Wager

"I find it rather peculiar that they've done this," said Bob Park from the American Physical Society, in reaction to the BAe Systems admission. "One can only conclude that at the higher levels of these organisations there are people who don't have a very sound grounding in fundamental physics.

"You can invest a little money in far-out projects if they have some chance of success - it's called Pascal's Wager. In this case, most scientists would say there is zero chance of success."

Nonetheless, this view will not stop anti-gravity devices from continuing to be a popular feature of science fiction and the inspiration for countless websites.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other Sci/Tech stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Sci/Tech stories