Weird Science: Antigravity that works?
May 28, 2002 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Weird Science: Antigravity that works? These guys are working on devices that apparently do levitate / hover without any visible means of propellant (videos 1, 2, 3, 4). However, nobody can really explain why or how they work. Weird.
posted by Irontom (11 comments total)
nice navigation..... as for that first video... hmmm...

mommy why to triangles fly?

because they do tommy, because they do.
posted by folktrash at 8:26 AM on May 28, 2002

Not weird, WIRED!

(You can see the wires in the first & last of the vids... I didn't look at the other two).

This may explain the Roswell crash: the wires broke!
posted by jonl at 8:39 AM on May 28, 2002

cool scam!
posted by muppetboy at 8:42 AM on May 28, 2002

Isn't the idea with the wires that they stop the things from flying away? Although - I'm just imagining that they have the camera upside down...
posted by Spoon at 8:53 AM on May 28, 2002

Wired is right, but I don't think this technology is fake. There are plans to build them on the net. I'm pretty sure it is legit. The wires you see connect the lifter to the high voltage power source....I presume.
posted by banished at 9:38 AM on May 28, 2002

The wires are there to tether the device and ground it (look at the construction pdfs). The propellant, in this case, is the large amount of electricity being dumped into the system.
posted by Kikkoman at 9:39 AM on May 28, 2002

Have similar fun with small science at home :-)
posted by Arqa at 9:44 AM on May 28, 2002

how many times is this link going to come up on meme sites?

it's not really a mystery at all. the device uses shitloads of electricity to shoot some metal/balsa wood up in the air.. said metal/balsa wood is tethered to the ground with wires so that it doesn't just fly up and fall off the current generator...

great.. we'll all have flying cars.. but.. they'll be strung to the ground and unable to travel anywhere that isn't directly above a power source... hmm.. this doesn't seem useful all of a sudden.
posted by twiggy at 10:26 AM on May 28, 2002

The NASA patent obliquely referred to in their background info is real: Apparatus and method for generating thrust using a two-dimensional, asymmetrical capacitor module... but if I'm reading it correctly it sounds more like a high-voltage monorail system than "antigravity":
a frictionless connection for connecting said capacitor module to said support rail for movement therealong; and a high voltage source, having first and second terminals connected respectively to said first and second sliding electrical contacts, for applying a high voltage to said conductive elements of sufficient value to create a thrust force on said module inducing movement thereof along the support rail
Seems to be a favorite of the Wacky Science contingent, though. Can anybody better versed in electronics than me decipher the patent-speak for us?
posted by ook at 10:31 AM on May 28, 2002

From their own FAQ:

Is This Antigravity?
Lifter technology is currently being investigated to determine if the anomalous side-effects noticed in testing are in fact gravitational in nature, but Lifter technology is probably not "true" Antigravity. The definition of "true" Antigravity would be that it actually reduces or negates the effects of gravity on the prototype

Using a loose definition of anti-gravity means that planes and helicopters and rockets operate by anti-gravity. I prefer to call this "propulsion" (assuming the effect is real)
posted by vacapinta at 1:25 PM on May 28, 2002

I think you've misunderstood, Twiggy. While the Levitron magnetic top mentioned above has to be kept above a special platform in order to levitate, the Lifter appears to have no such limitation. As I understand, it doesn't push against anything, as far as anyone can tell.

As for being tied to the ground, the problem is that batteries are too heavy. One guy has rigged up an untethered test with a stack of nine-volt batteries for a power source and a few helium balloons to calibrated to offset the weight of the batteries and used the lifter technology to drive it around by remote control. It's been tested in a faraday cage and in a vacuum and it still works.

The biggest problem with the lifter seems to be that noone has demonstrated it with a payload of more than 10-20 grams. Working backwards from the test data on jnaudin's website, it looks like most of these lifters require about 6 watts/gram to work. That's too inefficient to be practical at present, but it's also not totally out of the park. If a factor of 10 efficiency improvement could be made, and if it turns out scale linearly for mass (I have no idea if it does) you might need 50kW to lift a person, or about 67 horsepower, which compares favorably with, say, a car.

Much of what makes the Lifter interesting is that noone seems to know how it works. Is there a new law of physics on the horizon?
posted by krebby at 8:03 AM on May 29, 2002

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