Monday, September 11, 2006

Tim Ventura, Anti-Gravity, and The Philadelphia Experiment

Some years time ago, whilst I was working as a programmer, a software engineer who was aware of my physics background approached me and asked if I knew anything about LCR circuits. The outcome of the ensuing conversation was that I promised I would give him some information on the theory of these circuits, and subsequently I provided him with a couple of sheets of equations. He never did tell me just why he wanted this information. I knew him to be accomplished in both hardware and software engineering and I guessed he was engaged on some private hardware project. In time he left the company, but that was not the last I heard of him. Some years later I happened across an engineering magazine containing an article where he was being hailed as an inventor of a new device. The device? - A dimmer switch for fluorescent lighting. That’s a bit like managing to invent a tin of stripped paint. The magazine article claimed that my friend had been told that such a device was against the laws of physics.

Although I don’t think there was really any contravention of the laws of physics here, this engineers attitude is in many ways typical of his class. He now has a consultancy and in his publicity material we read of “ ….our radical and positive attitude. Where others might say ‘it's not possible’, we'll take up the challenge to inquire, improve and innovate.” As a theorist I like to keep an eye on the practical inventers: if anyone is going to test the laws of physics to breaking point it’s the engineers and inventors – their eye is on what they can actually achieve and not what on the laws of physics tells them they can’t do. They tinker around until they get what they want or stumble across something new, and if they manage to achieve this by dispensing with the laws of physics, so be it!

Perpetual motion has long been an interest of engineers and inventors, and the modern version of the perpetual motion aficionado can found amongst the “zero point energy” web sites. The “zero point energy” enthusiasts are not actually striving for perpetual motion as such, for their hope is now grounded in fundamental physics and they are seeking to harvest an inexhaustible supply of free energy by extracting it from the quantum fluctuations of space. These web sites are not for the girls – they don’t present sensitive green schemes that modestly gather energy from nature’s gentler and familiar forces of wind, wave and water, but instead these are very male projects that aim to hunt down and wrench energy from nature by exposing her deepest secrets. It is a masculine story of daring do, a venture into the unknown for treasure, exceeding great treasure. And it’s not all amateurs: Professor Martin Fleishmann of cold fusion fame probably fits into this category.

However, my favourite cutting edge engineer-inventor web sites, for obvious reasons, are the antigravity sites. If there is such a thing as gravitational anomalies that break the mould of current gravitational theory then these men stand a good chance of finding them. Prominent among the antigravity workers is Tim Ventura. Dubbed as “The Linus Torvalds of Antigravity” he is the designer and constructor of the high voltage lifters popular amongst garage based inventors (See leading picture accompanying this post). These ‘lifters’ are reckoned by some to demonstrate an antigravity effect, although it has to be said that the physics of these lifters looks suspiciously like the well-known ion wind effect rather than a true gravitational anomaly

As well as constructing lifters Ventura spends a lot of time researching the background of antigravity, and he mixes with some colourful characters and tells some very colourful stories. One story he reports is so fantastic that it has provided material for film producers. It is a story of intrigue, misunderstood geniuses, secret Nazi projects, heroic refugee scientists, cover-ups, governmental conspiracies, sci-fi technology, flying saucers, you name it. It’s the physics version of The DaVinci Code, an admixture of all the ingredients of block-buster cinema. Does real life ever bring together all this in one convenient concentrate? It does in Tim's stories.

The story starts with that now legendary theoretical genius, Einstein. After developing his space-time curvatur
e theory of gravity Einstein went on to attempt the development of a unified field theory that would incorporate electromagnetism; this much is well known. It is also well known that this had the effect of marginalizing Einstein from the main stream of physics as the new kids on the block went on to develop quantum theory, a theory toward which Einstein expressed diffidence. Hence, the picture of Einstein in his latter years is that of solitary genius working by himself into old age on a now forgotten project, a project that many today would regard as the work of a has been. It is at this point that Ventura’s less substantiated narrative takes over. Taking up the testimony of some of his mysterious contacts Ventura hints that Einstein’s efforts to create a unified field theory were at least partly successful and when he escaped Nazi Germany and fled to America Einstein left a colleague in Germany who handed over the details of this theory to the Third Reich. The Nazis set up a research park under SS chief, Hans Kammler (pictured) where they endeavored to make use of Einstein’s unified field theory to develop new superiority weapons. Like "The DaVinci Code" Ventura’s story has real sites that you can actually visit and ponder the mystery. The research park is in Poland and you can see its dank underground workshops. Above these workshops on the surface is a strange concrete construction (pictured), which, provided you have flying saucers in mind, looks suggestively like a saucer launch pad - either that or it's modern day Stonehenge with all the associated mystery!

The Nazis, it seems, did not succeed in bringing about a practical result. Instead the research park was overrun by the Russians, but not before one of the top scientists escaped to America. This scientist then provided vital input toward secret American military projects of which the most notorious was the infamous Philadelphia experiment. So what’s the Philadelphia experiment? It was an experiment that, like all promethium tamperings with the fundamentals of nature, went horribly wrong. It was intended that via an application of Einstein’s unified field theory rays of light would be bent round an object in such a way as to give it a cloak of invisibility. However, instead the experiment succeeded in teleporting the test object! And what was the test object? Was it an experimentally controlled carefully quantified block of metal? No. Was it a fly that accidentally got trapped in the apparatus? No. Was it a laboratory rat? No. Was it a tank? No. Was it some brave volunteer? No. It was nothing less than a whole battleship, crew and all! (USS Eldridge – pictured) Today there is a cast of colorful characters flitting in and out of the shade who are supposed to have some sort of connection with and/or knowledge of this experiment and know a lot more than they are letting on. Tim Ventura, of course, has had contact with some of them and like a modern day Tintin he is helping to bust the Governmental cover up and conspiracy surrounding the experiment.

I like Tim Ventura; he’s ambitious, he’s bright, he’s freelance, he’s fair-minded and he thinks big, but he has, perhaps, taken the male hankering after the Boys own adventure just a little too far. I recommend
Tim's site, if like me, you find fiction rather tame compared to stuff that adds an extra twist by inextricably tangling fact with, let’s just say, some creative interpretations (a bit like the Jack the Ripper Dairies!) and thus presents the investigator with the problem of trying to extract the true story. Unfortunately, although I am a gravity investigator myself, I can’t come anywhere near matching this kind of drama, and this may be why I have to tell you about other peoples’ adventures rather than my own. The story of my own encounter with the romantic force of gravity is utterly commonplace and banal. That story would include those holidays spent on the beach at the Norfolk seaside resort of Hemsby as I reflected on the problem of gravity, a problem that I increasingly felt was coming my way. Whilst the Children played in sand and sea I, between sips of tea from a vacuum flask, spent many hours with binoculars looking out to sea, pondering with amazement the bulging curvature of the planet Earth that becomes so apparent when good binoculars are used. I have always found that sight breath taking. To see the Earth as a planet from a height of just a few feet above sea level added a palpability to Arthur C Clarke’s technically competent 2001 trilogy of interplanetary travel, a trilogy I read through on more than one occasion during those Hemsby beach holidays. That’s about as near I got to intrigue and high adventure during my forays into Gravitational theory. Boring? No doubt, but then I can only tell it as it is.