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From the secret world of the "black budget"
September 17, 2002 1:52 AM   Subscribe

From the secret world of the "black budget" comes the story of a man who wants to know the truth about the army's research into anti-gravity technology and zero-point energy ("There's enough energy in your coffee cup to evaporate the world's oceans many times over." ). Is he a lunatic? A "Ufologist"? Nope, he's an award-winning defense and aerospace reporter for Jane's Defence Weekly, the highly respected magazine on international military and policy issues. In fact, he says, the loonies may be right! He thinks there probably are saucerlike flying objects, but they're not alien, they're made in the USA (who got the technology from the Nazi's - who else?). He even goes so far as to suggest that the CIA has a program to discredit people who see UFO's. I like my stories rich, and this one is very rich. (via Atlantic Unbound)
posted by NekulturnY (13 comments total)

 
Is it my imagination or has this been discussed here before? Perhaps under the auspices of a different explicit link?

All the same, fascinating. :)
posted by donkeyschlong at 2:09 AM on September 17, 2002


interesting point about the energy in the coffee cup. I remember from my physics classes at school that during fission of a uranium nuclear bomb, only only a tiny percentage of the mass is converted to energy. Does anyone know the exact percentage?
posted by derbs at 2:57 AM on September 17, 2002


(Repost from my blog:)

When I read this article, I started guffawing after about a page. In my opinion, this Cook guy is a smart fellow who has been misled by his lack of scientific knowledge. He's not able to evaluate the claims he's given with math and physics, so he's vulnerable to an enthusiastic crank. [1] I doubt he even knows what the zero point energy is...

If you read the article, Cook's whole theory about "secret Nazi antigravity technology" is pretty ridiculous. There have been huge efforts by academics to reconcile gravity with QM, and most of the theorists (e.g. Bob Park at the American Physical Society) don't take antigravity seriously. Podkletnov's stuff is being investigated by NASA, and can't be dismissed outright, but no one has yet been able to reproduce it. As for Hutchison, I googled for him extensively and could find no Pentagon study. I did, however, find priceless gobbledygook from Hutchison's site, such as gems like these:
... the nature of heat may not be completely understood. This has far-reaching implications for thermodynamics, which hinges entirely on the presumption of such knowledge. It should be noted that the entirety of thermodynamics is represented by the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is insignificant in a context of 0 Hz to infinite Hz.


What the hell does that mean? Is he trying to say that we only understand the heating effects of electromagnetic radiation at infrared frequencies? That's not true...ever use a microwave? The references to "Secret Nazi tech" and John Hutchison make it seem as if Cook has tapped into the mysterious source of "zero point credibility".
posted by godlesscapitalist at 2:58 AM on September 17, 2002


Zero point field theory is a theory of gravity just about IMPOSSIBLE to understand, let alone use, and doesn't explain everything that Einstein's theory does.
posted by Veritron at 3:29 AM on September 17, 2002


Cook's book is interesting, but as comments above suggest, to be taken with a big pinch of salt. Some of the imagery is genuinely spooky in an X-files-ish way, but when such an organ as the Fortean Times is dismissive, one should certainly be sceptical.
posted by misteraitch at 3:32 AM on September 17, 2002


I saw one of Cook's antigravity articles in JDW a number of years ago, and it was wilfully ignorant. It even had a picture of an "antigravity-powered craft" -- a disklike machine that any aerospace buff, much less an aerospace editor for Jane's, would have recognized as an avrocar. His science was laughable, as to be expected, but when he makes aerospace errors... sheesh.

And the reason mainstream theorists don't take antigravity seriously is because at least with the Podkletnov incarnation, it leads to a perpetual motion machine. It doesn't stop NASA from investigating it, any more than it stops the patent office from patenting perpetual motion machines and faster-than-light antennas.

only only a tiny percentage of the mass is converted to energy. Does anyone know the exact percentage?
Don't know about fission reactions, but I believe that fusion converts approximately 0.1% of the mass of the nucleons into energy. (IIRC)
posted by ptermit at 5:16 AM on September 17, 2002


I was flipping across the radio dial one night, and heard this guy being interviewed by Art Bell. I remember specifically because of the repeated mentions made of his connection to Jane's.

I don't care who you are, or what you do, or what your credentials are - once you are a guest host on the Art Bell show, your credibility plummets to that of the "sounds of hell" recording.
posted by tpoh.org at 7:21 AM on September 17, 2002


Now is that guest or guest host, tpoh.org--and is it not that your credibility plummets to that of the "sounds of hell" recording if your name is merely mentioned in the same sentence as Art Bell's?
Oops, sorry...
posted by y2karl at 8:31 AM on September 17, 2002


Laugh-a while you can, Monkey Boys! When the Defense Department gets their hands on the Banzai Institute's Oscillation Overthruster, all the Red Lectroids trapped in the 8th Dimension will be free!
posted by MrBaliHai at 9:32 AM on September 17, 2002


Derbs: I remember from my physics classes at school that during fission of a uranium nuclear bomb, only a tiny percentage of the mass is converted to energy. Does anyone know the exact percentage?

The fusion reaction D+T yields He4+n+17.6 MeV, or about 0.4% mass-energy conversion. D+D yields around 4 MeV, or 0.09%.

IIRC, fission conversion is 2-3 orders of magnitude lower.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 11:53 AM on September 17, 2002


Laugh all you want, glorified naked monkeys.

I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords.
posted by geekhorde at 1:31 PM on September 17, 2002


"There's enough energy in your coffee cup to evaporate the world's oceans many times over." [Article]

Annihilating a cup of water would yield ~10^23 erg. The oceans contain ~10^24 g water, which would require ~10^33 erg to boil.

Cook and Puthoff are off by a factor of ten billion.

[rant on]
Any high school kid could have shown this in a couple minutes (if America taught science, rather than useless crap).

From the article: "Nick Cook [is] a respected military journalist." ... "Hal Puthoff [is] a very respected scientist in the field."

Respected? Why?

Missing high school physics by ten billion does not build credibility toward Cook's other, more "advanced" claims.
[rant off]
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 8:58 PM on September 17, 2002


Respected because he's... ahem... openminded. He was one of the coauthors of the famous Nature paper about Uri Geller's psychic powers. (Guess what his conclusion was?) That earns him lots of respect in certain circles. And lots of scorn from mainstream physicists.

As for the claim about energy in a cup of water; technically, he's not talking about mass energy, but about the zero-point energy. The equations for ZPE diverge, so if you interpret them strictly (which Puthoff, of course, does), that means there's infinite energy at every point in space. Of course, mainstream physicists don't think that infinite energy is to be taken literally, and even if it is, it's untappable. Puthoff would beg to differ on both points.
posted by ptermit at 5:16 AM on September 18, 2002


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