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Negative Outcomes: Gravitational Terrorism?
Designing a World without Gravity (5)
Gregory Daigle (gdaigle)     Print Article 
Published 2006-01-16 15:48 (KST)   
Until experimental claims can be independently verified the speculation about modified gravity will continue. However, a recent revival of quantum theories related to gravity-like forces and interest in the work of early experimenters in gravity effects has produced a spate of renewed attention in recent months.

Like any technology, the outcomes of modifying gravity can be positive or negative. In Part 4 we looked at positive outcomes in the form of beneficial applications. In addressing negative outcomes the concerns addressed here are primarily with abusive (if not dangerous) applications. What are the downsides and potential abuses of modG and how serious are they?

Abuses include the potentially injurious or harmful outcomes during normal usage. They also include purposeful intent to the detriment of people and society. Let's start with the worst of the worst and finish the discussion with malfeasance and poor taste in usage. Finally, we'll look at the veracity of the inventor's claims.

Terrorism

Terrorism concerns are a daily reality. Could modG technology facilitate terrorism? Not likely. Lower tech methods like shoulder-fired missiles, shoe bombs and box cutters are more likely technologies to be employed. Less obvious uses of modG ... such as centrifuges ... may pose a greater terrorism hazard.

A uniformly accelerating system is considered equivalent to a local gravitational field according to Einstein's "Principal of Equivalence." Laboratory centrifuges accelerate and spin samples separating liquids or gases by their specific gravity. The action of gas centrifuges could be reproduced by an intensifying gravitational field.

Gas centrifuges are complex yet effective tools to separate uranium isotope gases for the enrichment of nuclear fuels. Remember the discovery of aluminum tubes in Iraq before that war? Their potential role in gas centrifuges became one of the evidentiary claims of pre-war "intelligence" that led to the invasion.

There is the possibility that intensified gravitational fields may be capable of producing enriched nuclear materials just as gas centrifuges are. If modG centrifuges are a less expensive and complex proposition than gas centrifuges then they may contribute to making even small nations potential members of the "nuclear club". However, as with any nuclear technology, it is access to the unrefined nuclear fuel sources that really matter.

Criminal Intent

- As a means for theft, a modG device could easily be used to gain access to fenced-in areas such as open storage facilities and make off with any goods literally not chained down. Similarly, apartment/condo tower dwellers who currently feel safer on upper floors would have reason to feel less secure. They would be as vulnerable as any other homeowners - perhaps more so if they continue to hold on to their unsubstantiated sense of security. Every window and balcony door would have to remain locked and security-armed as if were on the first floor. ModG will no doubt be a boon to the security industry.

- Stealing goods is one issue - hiding them is another. ModG platforms could potentially be used as floating storage spaces for stolen items. This would make the job of the police more difficult as they would need to coordinate with other agencies such as the FAA to do radar sweeps ferreting out caches of goods floating in the sky.

- Jailbreaks using helicopters are the stuff of made-for-TV movies, but they have happened. If modG vehicles are developed with profiles smaller than helicopters then there is little doubt some daredevil will attempt this sooner or later.

Abrogation of Civil Rights

Meetings of the G8 and World Bank gave law enforcement a taste of how cell phones and other electronic communications devices can enable smart mobs and other quickly assembled/dissembled crowds for protests. Law enforcement is fighting back with new high-tech weaponry. Already, microwave weaponry for "crowd control" has been developed. So would it be too far-out to suggest that law enforcement might control crowds by using wide-area hypergravity of 2 or 3 gravities to restrain or slow protesters?

Religious Determinism

Surprisingly, gravity-lensing might also be used as a tool to promote religious dogma. The rebuilding of the Second Temple is considered by some religious groups to be one of the signs of the arrival of a Messiah. There are currently plans to build a virtual holographic Second Temple of Jerusalem projected as a hologram over the site of the Dome of the Rock. If gravity platforms were available to lift structural buildings, what would keep religious activists from floating a real temple over the site to achieve their ends?

Military

- The potential use of modG as delivery platforms for explosives would be no real surprise. However, there are already a wide range of potential delivery vehicles including missiles, piloted aircraft, conventional UAVs, mortars and many others. So a modG delivered payload would offer no inherent effectiveness over that of traditional delivery.

- There are some unconventional applications that could benefit the military, such as modG devices developing short bursts of intense gravitational waves. These could be used to collapse bridges, buildings and other military targets as a means for denying an enemy cover. Such weaponry might be used in a "crumple effect" pulling structures in on themselves. While the end result of demolition would be the same as bombing, it would minimize collateral injuries typically produced by shrapnel ejected in explosions. Whether this is abuse of the technology or not is open for debate, but if there is value for military applications it certainly will be considered.

Surveillance

As mentioned in Part 4, low-payload modG devices might be used as camera platforms. Any floating platform technology would immediately have an impact upon individual privacy and security. Occupants of high rises would no longer see their residences as being more private if camera platforms were able to easily reach the highest windows. Privacy would be diminished until other safeguards, such as HAFF field jammers, could be developed to ward against invasive camera platforms. If low-impact operating parameters can be achieved (e.g. quiet, low energy demand, stealth) this could be some spy agency's new tool for (hopefully) foreign surveillance.

Social Disenfranchisement

Part 2 of this series looked at architecture and the continuation of vertical classism. It is clear that until personal modG technology becomes widely available it will be expensive to own and be employed only by the affluent. This is to say that it would become the latest "divide" between people with very high and very low income levels. Clearly, flying cars and floating homes are not necessities of life, but they would become indicators of privilege that (as they float overhead) are impossible to ignore.

Creative Destruction

- Joseph Schumpeter's notion of "creative destruction" suggests that an essential part of capitalism is to have radical innovations supplant old ideas and break the back of virtual monopolies. Any impacts of HAFF technology on transportation, manufacturing, land development and other sectors of the economy would have to be considered a threat by those with existing stakes in these sectors.

- As a presumably all-electric competitor to oil-fueled vehicles, widespread usage of modG would increase electrical demand and likely decrease fuel demands. Though oil consumption might be lowered, niche vehicle production would increase as "early adopter" markets are identified and filled. These specialty markets might be filled by manufacturers of niche transportation vehicles such as snowmobiles and ATVs and not the major automotive manufacturers.

Harmful By-products

- Hollingshead mentioned in his September 2004 interview with Tim Ventura that versions of his device produced byproducts, presumably from the isotopic decay of elements in the central "RP" of the device. If these remain a by-product of HAFF devices and if deemed hazardous they must be contained and disposed of properly as mentioned in Part 1.

- The RP is composed of layers of insulators and iron. Iron also exists in free form in the human body and as a component of proteins in blood. Shielding the iron in the human body from such an isotopic conversion would be a prime concern. In addition, exposure to oscillating magnetic fields of high intensity are always a concern to users whether the source is a sewing machine or gravity-lensing device.

Unappealing

- Some uses may just be unappealing to some cultures. It was already mentioned in Part 3 that the words grave and gravity have the same Latin root. We have already seen crematory ashes launched into space as a challenge to long-held assumptions that our final resting places will be in the ground.

ModG would allow permanent floating cemeteries to be established for those wishing to remain within the confines of the Earth, but a little closer to their spiritual "home". Above-ground burial is not uncommon (e.g. mausoleums) and raising the remains of the deceased to the sky harkens to the burial practices of some Northern American Indian cultures. However the sensibilities of other cultures may find the practice unsettling.

Final Thoughts ... are the Claims Real?

Antigravity devices have been described in fiction literature for over one hundred years. Pursuit of modified gravity is considered by some to be no more a legitimate pursuit than that of perpetual motion. Dozens of alt. sci. (alternative science) Web sites discuss theories of antigravity as well as tapping into zero-point energy and the development of overunity devices outputting more energy than is seemingly input. Casual investigators will find many sites devoted to these topics including Tom Bearden's website, JNL Labs and Keelynet.

Antigravity and overunity are sometimes cited as the modern day equivalents of alchemy. Yet even Isaac Newton, an icon of modern science, wrote extensively about and experimented in alchemy. Certainly much of the terminology (e.g. gravitomagnetics, torsion fields, zero-point energy) employed in modified gravity research is directly pulled from the mainstream works of noted physicists such as Mach, Einstein, Cartan and others.

Do any modern theories support Hollingshead's claims? The German physicist Burkhard Heim's quantum theory was developed in the 1950's. He never attended conferences due to his physical disabilities and rarely published. His theories are not well known but are undergoing new critical reviews. Among other outcomes, they predict the mass of atomic particles with unmatched accuracy, plus the existence of two additional fundamental forces of nature. One of those forces, imparted by particles called gravitophotons, theoretically would allow the conversion of an electromagnetic field into a gravitational-like field. Conversion of EM into gravity is the basis of Hollingshead's claim as well as others including Profs. John Searl and Eugene Podkletnov.

If Hollingshead's device does not work there will be two likely explanations. Either he fooled himself or he fooled us. Thousands of products developed with good intentions by major corporations fail to make it to market each year. Sometimes the market isn't there to support it. Sometimes the cost is just too high to produce it or it's too hazardous to operate. And sometimes it just doesn't work as expected despite everyone's best efforts. The inventor might have fooled himself.

If it is we who are fooled then we will have had a good laugh at our own expense. And this wouldn't be the first time for such spoofing. The Sokal Hoax involved a published article entitled (coincidentally) "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity" submitted in 1996 by physicist Allan Sokal to see if a "leading journal of cultural studies [would] publish an article liberally salted with nonsense..." The result was an embarrassed editorial staff at the journal Social Text. A harsh lesson for the editors, but it was initiated with a genuine sense of intellectual curiosity from Dr. Sokal.

What have been the main criticisms of Hollingshead's claims? There have been four primary ones: two question the technical specifications, two deal with trust. One engineer tested a replicated component of the device and calculated that if powered to the specified limit it would have "exploded with the force of a hand grenade after maybe 100 microseconds." Others have suggested that a few of the dimensional specifications of the device that were leaked would not allow it to rotate properly.

Some of the early Magnetic_Levitation newsgroup members in close contact with the inventor became skeptical in 2003 when a public demonstration was cancelled at the last minute. Others were frustrated when photos and actual sample devices were not shipped to testers as promised. There has also been no independent replication or critical peer review of his experiments - all of which are elements contributing to the gold standard for scientific validation. But others say Hollingshead's reticence is justified by the legal issues surrounding the filing of patents.

Personally, I like his self-deprecating sense of humor. He identified himself as "wingedpiguk" on the online chats in homage to his farm's two porcine pets and, wryly, that antigravity would happen "when pigs fly". That's the sort of self-unimportance that reinforces my suspension of disbelieve for a bit longer.

Hopefully, we will not have to wait another year to put this speculation to rest.


Related Articles
Designing a World Without Gravity
Where's My Flying Car?
Living in Airspace: Room With a View
Pervasive Lensing: Just Your Everyday Antigravity


Gregory Daigle is a consultant in social technologies and e-learning, and a former professor of industrial design. This is the final submission in the "Designing a World without Gravity" series.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Gregory Daigle

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