Topic: EXTRAORDINARY "hyperspace" engine could make interstellar space travel a reality  (Read 11016 times)

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Offline Stormbringer

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EXTRAORDINARY "hyperspace" engine could make interstellar space travel a reality

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Welcome to Mars express: only a three hour trip

IAN JOHNSTON
SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT


AN EXTRAORDINARY "hyperspace" engine that could make interstellar space travel a reality by flying into other dimensions is being investigated by the United States government.

The hypothetical device, which has been outlined in principle but is based on a controversial theory about the fabric of the universe, could potentially allow a spacecraft to travel to Mars in three hours and journey to a star 11 light years away in just 80 days, according to a report in today's New Scientist magazine.

The theoretical engine works by creating an intense magnetic field that, according to ideas first developed by the late scientist Burkhard Heim in the 1950s, would produce a gravitational field and result in thrust for a spacecraft.

Also, if a large enough magnetic field was created, the craft would slip into a different dimension, where the speed of light is faster, allowing incredible speeds to be reached. Switching off the magnetic field would result in the engine reappearing in our current dimension.

The US air force has expressed an interest in the idea and scientists working for the American Department of Energy - which has a device known as the Z Machine that could generate the kind of magnetic fields required to drive the engine - say they may carry out a test if the theory withstands further scrutiny.

Professor Jochem Hauser, one of the scientists who put forward the idea, told The Scotsman that if everything went well a working engine could be tested in about five years.

However, Prof Hauser, a physicist at the Applied Sciences University in Salzgitter, Germany, and a former chief of aerodynamics at the European Space Agency, cautioned it was based on a highly controversial theory that would require a significant change in the current understanding of the laws of physics.

"It would be amazing. I have been working on propulsion systems for quite a while and it would be the most amazing thing. The benefits would be almost unlimited," he said.

"But this thing is not around the corner; we first have to prove the basic science is correct and there are quite a few physicists who have a different opinion.

"It's our job to prove we are right and we are working on that."

He said the engine would enable spaceships to travel to different solar systems. "If the theory is correct then this is not science fiction, it is science fact," Prof Hauser said.

"NASA have contacted me and next week I'm going to see someone from the [US] air force to talk about it further, but it is at a very early stage. I think the best-case scenario would be within the next five years [to build a test device] if the technology works."

The US authorities' attention was attracted after Prof Hauser and an Austrian colleague, Walter Droscher, wrote a paper called "Guidelines for a space propulsion device based on Heim's quantum theory".

Offline Stormbringer

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Also an article in New Sceintist on it but it's subscription members only for the full article.

Offline Death_Merchant

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Translation: "Hey! Someone from NASA actually returned our call!!!!"

Sure, would be cool. But that's all this really is now....
Cheers,
Death "believes only experiments" Merchant

BTW: In an era where we worry about EM from cellphones, what would a mag field big enough to pop you into another dimension do to the passengers?
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Offline J. Carney

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BTW: In an era where we worry about EM from cellphones, what would a mag field big enough to pop you into another dimension do to the passengers?

I agree... I'll start whooping and hollering when we get the first call back "Earth to Mars in 3 hours and I feel fine." Till then, anyone can theorize anything.


And as far as health effects... well, Hell, I'll willingly give myself cancer and cut 20 years off my life if I can walk thesurface of another planet before I die.
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Offline Darth Sidious

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BTW: In an era where we worry about EM from cellphones, what would a mag field big enough to pop you into another dimension do to the passengers?

I agree... I'll start whooping and hollering when we get the first call back "Earth to Mars in 3 hours and I feel fine." Till then, anyone can theorize anything.


And as far as health effects... well, Hell, I'll willingly give myself cancer and cut 20 years off my life if I can walk thesurface of another planet before I die.

You arent the only one.  Heck, i'd probably volunteer for a one-way trip to another planet

Offline Dracho

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Even if it's completely fatal to humans, imagine what it could do for our unmanned space exploration. 

Or, on a more frightening note, combine this with genetic research and you could develop the explorer at the target system from store biological material, educate him via machine, then return his human perspective, via probe, upon his death.
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Offline prometheus

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Sounds like a lot of horsesh*t to me... How do we know what the effect of jumping into other dimensions with different physical laws will be on the matter we are built of and take for granted?


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Offline Stormbringer

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Sounds like a lot of horsesh*t to me... How do we know what the effect of jumping into other dimensions with different physical laws will be on the matter we are built of and take for granted?

By experimentation.

Offline prometheus

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Sounds like a lot of horsesh*t to me... How do we know what the effect of jumping into other dimensions with different physical laws will be on the matter we are built of and take for granted?

By experimentation.

I'll eagerly await the results... 


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Offline Bonk

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I have my doubts.

The highest accurately known feild strengths I am aware of in NMR and MRI instrumentation range from 8-20 Tesla. If accurate higher feild strengths were avaialable I'm pretty sure they'd be in use in such studies.

The other issue I have with such an idea is the effect of such immense feild strengths on electronic systems, not to mention living biological systems. In NMR and MRI studies the control systems are located remote from the experiment site in order that they continue to function normally. Field strengths in NMR studies are not limited by the living subject as in MRI but only by magnet technology and the physical limitiations of the facility and proximity of the human operator and control electronics. Recall that water has a dipole moment.

The part in the article:
Quote
Also, if a large enough magnetic field was created, the craft would slip into a different dimension,

... poses significant issues in my mind. How are the control electronics and/or passenger to be sheilded from the destructive influence of such immense feilds encompassing them? And if they are sheilded well enough to survive the experiment would they still be subject to the postulated effects of such a device? (i.e. would the engine take off and leave the controls and operator behind?)

The proposed experimental apparatus:
http://www.sandia.gov/media/z290.htm
I fail to see how the feild strenghts could be accurately known and reproducible in such an apparatus, knowing the intricacies of NMR experimental apparati.
Built and designed for another purpose altogether, though it looks pretty cool in action:

Offline Stormbringer

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I have my doubts.

The highest accurately known feild strengths I am aware of in NMR and MRI instrumentation range from 8-20 Tesla. If accurate higher feild strengths were avaialable I'm pretty sure they'd be in use in such studies.

The other issue I have with such an idea is the effect of such immense feild strengths on electronic systems, not to mention living biological systems. In NMR and MRI studies the control systems are located remote from the experiment site in order that they continue to function normally. Field strengths in NMR studies are not limited by the living subject as in MRI but only by magnet technology and the physical limitiations of the facility and proximity of the human operator and control electronics. Recall that water has a dipole moment.

The part in the article:
Quote
Also, if a large enough magnetic field was created, the craft would slip into a different dimension,

... poses significant issues in my mind. How are the control electronics and/or passenger to be sheilded from the destructive influence of such immense feilds encompassing them? And if they are sheilded well enough to survive the experiment would they still be subject to the postulated effects of such a device? (i.e. would the engine take off and leave the controls and operator behind?)

The proposed experimental apparatus:
http://www.sandia.gov/media/z290.htm
I fail to see how the feild strenghts could be accurately known and reproducible in such an apparatus, knowing the intricacies of NMR experimental apparati.
Built and designed for another purpose altogether, though it looks pretty cool in action:



I would imagine that solutions for such problems are possible. for example optical fiber optic control lines and computers, faraday cage shielding, cold plasma field line shunts or otherwise shaping the field so it does not permeate the capsule. it strikes me that the thing works by modifying space and therefore the field intersecting the crew cabin is not necessary. once a local space is isolated the effect does not depend on universal permiation of the local space but acts at the boundary layer.

Offline Dracho

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Here is a great place to data mine on the subject..

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3217961/

 Jan. 6, 2006 | 7 p.m. ET
Hyperspace hyped: Could extradimensional physics provide a way to propel spacecraft to other stars without bulky chemical fuels, through shortcuts in spacetime that get around Einstein's cosmic speed limits?

The idea sounds like a "Star Trek" dream come true, and it's generated a Warp Factor 7 buzz this week, thanks to a report in New Scientist magazine that makes it sound as if some heavyweights in the physics world might be willing to look into the concept. But when you do a little checking around, there's little sign that the concept is actually gaining serious traction in the scientific community
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Offline Death_Merchant

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I have first hand experience with a working hyperspace drive:

Experimental items needed:

1) a car
2) a designated driver (henceforth called "test pilot")
3) a bottle of JD (actual experiment originally conducted with 4 large martinis)

Other than an unknown period of unconsciousness and some strange ill effects the next day, it worked!
Made it from a New Year's  Eve party to home unperceptibly fast!

Only downside: such a spacecraft may require a roll-down or power window
« Last Edit: January 10, 2006, 09:44:55 am by Death_Merchant »
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Offline Lepton

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Another dimension?  I think if the idea is framed in that manner then it is clearly a bunch of silliness.  If such a dimension were to exist it would not be a dimension of space in the manner that we know it.  If matter in the manner that we know it even it exists in such a dimension, it is likely to be only one aspect of matter that we currently experience in the known dimensions.  Think of hacking a dimension off of the known dimensions and think of what matter or energy for that matter (a little pun there) would be without it.  A dimension is a dimension.  It is not a whole other type of space.  While string theory suggests the existence of other dimensions, it clearly is not this sci-fi junk that these fools are referring to.

Now if rather what they are referring to is another parallel set of spatial dimensions like a hyperspace, the same theoretical problem pertain.  Again, what is the state of matter in that parallel space from known space?  Is all known space matter and energy represented in that parallel space or merely aspects of it that pertain to that parallel space.  If the latter which I would suspect would be true, then I can hardly imagine that applying some sort of energy in known space could translate known space matter and energy into this parallel dimension as it would be impossible, nor do I believe that somehow applying energy in that parallel space could affect the movement of matter and energy in known space.

The only way in which I could think such a thing might happen, warp drive so to speak, is if matter and energy in known space is merely a subset of a real matter and energy in a larger superspace and that known space and known dimenson are a subset of the entirety of real space.  What I mean by that is that known space is intimately tied and bound with this superspace that I am calling real space rather than there being a hyperspace that is merely parallel or wrapped into known space.  Then one might be able to effect some change in real space aspects of matter and energy and have its effects felt in known space or the converse.


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Offline Lieutenant_Q

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You know...this kinda sounds...Event Horizon-ish...
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Offline Stormbringer

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You know...this kinda sounds...Event Horizon-ish...

The new scientist article has become available:

Take a leap into hyperspace
05 January 2006
From New Scientist Print Edition
Haiko Lietz
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 EVERY year, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics awards prizes for the best papers presented at its annual conference. Last year's winner in the nuclear and future flight category went to a paper calling for experimental tests of an astonishing new type of engine. According to the paper, this hyperdrive motor would propel a craft through another dimension at enormous speeds. It could leave Earth at lunchtime and get to the moon in time for dinner. There's just one catch: the idea relies on an obscure and largely unrecognised kind of physics. Can they possibly be serious?

The AIAA is certainly not embarrassed. What's more, the US military has begun to cast its eyes over the hyperdrive concept, and a space propulsion researcher at the US Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories has said he would be interested in putting the idea to the test. And despite the bafflement of most physicists at the theory that supposedly underpins it, Pavlos Mikellides, an aerospace engineer at the Arizona State University in Tempe who reviewed the winning paper, stands by the committee's choice. "Even though such features have been explored before, this particular approach is quite unique," he says.

Unique it certainly is. If the experiment gets the go-ahead and works, it could reveal new interactions between the fundamental forces of nature that would change the future of space travel. Forget spending six months or more holed up in a rocket on the way to Mars, a round trip on the hyperdrive could take as little as 5 hours. All our worries about astronauts' muscles wasting away or their DNA being irreparably damaged by cosmic radiation would disappear overnight. What's more the device would put travel to the stars within reach for the first time. But can the hyperdrive really get off the ground?

“A hyperdrive craft would put the stars within reach for the first time”The answer to that question hinges on the work of a little-known German physicist. Burkhard Heim began to explore the hyperdrive propulsion concept in the 1950s as a spin-off from his attempts to heal the biggest divide in physics: the rift between quantum mechanics and Einstein's general theory of relativity.

Quantum theory describes the realm of the very small - atoms, electrons and elementary particles - while general relativity deals with gravity. The two theories are immensely successful in their separate spheres. The clash arises when it comes to describing the basic structure of space. In general relativity, space-time is an active, malleable fabric. It has four dimensions - three of space and one of time - that deform when masses are placed in them. In Einstein's formulation, the force of gravity is a result of the deformation of these dimensions. Quantum theory, on the other hand, demands that space is a fixed and passive stage, something simply there for particles to exist on. It also suggests that space itself must somehow be made up of discrete, quantum elements.

In the early 1950s, Heim began to rewrite the equations of general relativity in a quantum framework. He drew on Einstein's idea that the gravitational force emerges from the dimensions of space and time, but suggested that all fundamental forces, including electromagnetism, might emerge from a new, different set of dimensions. Originally he had four extra dimensions, but he discarded two of them believing that they did not produce any forces, and settled for adding a new two-dimensional "sub-space" onto Einstein's four-dimensional space-time.

In Heim's six-dimensional world, the forces of gravity and electromagnetism are coupled together. Even in our familiar four-dimensional world, we can see a link between the two forces through the behaviour of fundamental particles such as the electron. An electron has both mass and charge. When an electron falls under the pull of gravity its moving electric charge creates a magnetic field. And if you use an electromagnetic field to accelerate an electron you move the gravitational field associated with its mass. But in the four dimensions we know, you cannot change the strength of gravity simply by cranking up the electromagnetic field.

In Heim's view of space and time, this limitation disappears. He claimed it is possible to convert electromagnetic energy into gravitational and back again, and speculated that a rotating magnetic field could reduce the influence of gravity on a spacecraft enough for it to take off.

When he presented his idea in public in 1957, he became an instant celebrity. Wernher von Braun, the German engineer who at the time was leading the Saturn rocket programme that later launched astronauts to the moon, approached Heim about his work and asked whether the expensive Saturn rockets were worthwhile. And in a letter in 1964, the German relativity theorist Pascual Jordan, who had worked with the distinguished physicists Max Born and Werner Heisenberg and was a member of the Nobel committee, told Heim that his plan was so important "that its successful experimental treatment would without doubt make the researcher a candidate for the Nobel prize".

But all this attention only led Heim to retreat from the public eye. This was partly because of his severe multiple disabilities, caused by a lab accident when he was still in his teens. But Heim was also reluctant to disclose his theory without an experiment to prove it. He never learned English because he did not want his work to leave the country. As a result, very few people knew about his work and no one came up with the necessary research funding. In 1958 the aerospace company Bölkow did offer some money, but not enough to do the proposed experiment.

While Heim waited for more money to come in, the company's director, Ludwig Bölkow, encouraged him to develop his theory further. Heim took his advice, and one of the results was a theorem that led to a series of formulae for calculating the masses of the fundamental particles - something conventional theories have conspicuously failed to achieve. He outlined this work in 1977 in the Max Planck Institute's journal Zeitschrift für Naturforschung, his only peer-reviewed paper. In an abstruse way that few physicists even claim to understand, the formulae work out a particle's mass starting from physical characteristics, such as its charge and angular momentum.

Yet the theorem has proved surprisingly powerful. The standard model of physics, which is generally accepted as the best available theory of elementary particles, is incapable of predicting a particle's mass. Even the accepted means of estimating mass theoretically, known as lattice quantum chromodynamics, only gets to between 1 and 10 per cent of the experimental values.

Gravity reduction
But in 1982, when researchers at the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg implemented Heim's mass theorem in a computer program, it predicted masses of fundamental particles that matched the measured values to within the accuracy of experimental error. If they are let down by anything, it is the precision to which we know the values of the fundamental constants. Two years after Heim's death in 2001, his long-term collaborator Illobrand von Ludwiger calculated the mass formula using a more accurate gravitational constant. "The masses came out even more precise," he says.

After publishing the mass formulae, Heim never really looked at hyperspace propulsion again. Instead, in response to requests for more information about the theory behind the mass predictions, he spent all his time detailing his ideas in three books published in German. It was only in 1980, when the first of his books came to the attention of a retired Austrian patent officer called Walter Dröscher, that the hyperspace propulsion idea came back to life. Dröscher looked again at Heim's ideas and produced an "extended" version, resurrecting the dimensions that Heim originally discarded. The result is "Heim-Dröscher space", a mathematical description of an eight-dimensional universe.

From this, Dröscher claims, you can derive the four forces known in physics: the gravitational and electromagnetic forces, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. But there's more to it than that. "If Heim's picture is to make sense," Dröscher says, "we are forced to postulate two more fundamental forces." These are, Dröscher claims, related to the familiar gravitational force: one is a repulsive anti-gravity similar to the dark energy that appears to be causing the universe's expansion to accelerate. And the other might be used to accelerate a spacecraft without any rocket fuel.

This force is a result of the interaction of Heim's fifth and sixth dimensions and the extra dimensions that Dröscher introduced. It produces pairs of "gravitophotons", particles that mediate the interconversion of electromagnetic and gravitational energy. Dröscher teamed up with Jochem Häuser, a physicist and professor of computer science at the University of Applied Sciences in Salzgitter, Germany, to turn the theoretical framework into a proposal for an experimental test. The paper they produced, "Guidelines for a space propulsion device based on Heim's quantum theory", is what won the AIAA's award last year.

Claims of the possibility of "gravity reduction" or "anti-gravity" induced by magnetic fields have been investigated by NASA before (New Scientist, 12 January 2002, p 24). But this one, Dröscher insists, is different. "Our theory is not about anti-gravity. It's about completely new fields with new properties," he says. And he and Häuser have suggested an experiment to prove it.

This will require a huge rotating ring placed above a superconducting coil to create an intense magnetic field. With a large enough current in the coil, and a large enough magnetic field, Dröscher claims the electromagnetic force can reduce the gravitational pull on the ring to the point where it floats free. Dröscher and Häuser say that to completely counter Earth's pull on a 150-tonne spacecraft a magnetic field of around 25 tesla would be needed. While that's 500,000 times the strength of Earth's magnetic field, pulsed magnets briefly reach field strengths up to 80 tesla. And Dröscher and Häuser go further. With a faster-spinning ring and an even stronger magnetic field, gravitophotons would interact with conventional gravity to produce a repulsive anti-gravity force, they suggest.

“A spinning ring and a strong magnetic field could produce a repulsive anti-gravity force”Dröscher is hazy about the details, but he suggests that a spacecraft fitted with a coil and ring could be propelled into a multidimensional hyperspace. Here the constants of nature could be different, and even the speed of light could be several times faster than we experience. If this happens, it would be possible to reach Mars in less than 3 hours and a star 11 light years away in only 80 days, Dröscher and Häuser say.

So is this all fanciful nonsense, or a revolution in the making? The majority of physicists have never heard of Heim theory, and most of those contacted by New Scientist said they couldn't make sense of Dröscher and Häuser's description of the theory behind their proposed experiment. Following Heim theory is hard work even without Dröscher's extension, says Markus Pössel, a theoretical physicist at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam, Germany. Several years ago, while an undergraduate at the University of Hamburg, he took a careful look at Heim theory. He says he finds it "largely incomprehensible", and difficult to tie in with today's physics. "What is needed is a step-by-step introduction, beginning at modern physical concepts," he says.

The general consensus seems to be that Dröscher and Häuser's theory is incomplete at best, and certainly extremely difficult to follow. And it has not passed any normal form of peer review, a fact that surprised the AIAA prize reviewers when they made their decision. "It seemed to be quite developed and ready for such publication," Mikellides told New Scientist.

At the moment, the main reason for taking the proposal seriously must be Heim theory's uncannily successful prediction of particle masses. Maybe, just maybe, Heim theory really does have something to contribute to modern physics. "As far as I understand it, Heim theory is ingenious," says Hans Theodor Auerbach, a theoretical physicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich who worked with Heim. "I think that physics will take this direction in the future."

It may be a long while before we find out if he's right. In its present design, Dröscher and Häuser's experiment requires a magnetic coil several metres in diameter capable of sustaining an enormous current density. Most engineers say that this is not feasible with existing materials and technology, but Roger Lenard, a space propulsion researcher at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico thinks it might just be possible. Sandia runs an X-ray generator known as the Z machine which "could probably generate the necessary field intensities and gradients".

For now, though, Lenard considers the theory too shaky to justify the use of the Z machine. "I would be very interested in getting Sandia interested if we could get a more perspicacious introduction to the mathematics behind the proposed experiment," he says. "Even if the results are negative, that, in my mind, is a successful experiment."

From issue 2533 of New Scientist magazine, 05 January 2006, page 24
Who was Burkhard Heim?
Burkhard Heim had a remarkable life. Born in 1925 in Potsdam, Germany, he decided at the age of 6 that he wanted to become a rocket scientist. He disguised his designs in code so that no one could discover his secret. And in the cellar of his parents' house, he experimented with high explosives. But this was to lead to disaster.

Towards the end of the second world war, he worked as an explosives developer, and an accident in 1944 in which a device exploded in his hands left him permanently disabled. He lost both his forearms, along with 90 per cent of his hearing and eyesight.

After the war, he attended university in Göttingen to study physics. The idea of propelling a spacecraft using quantum mechanics rather than rocket fuel led him to study general relativity and quantum mechanics. It took an enormous effort. From 1948, his father and wife replaced his senses, spending hours reading papers and transcribing his calculations onto paper. And he developed a photographic memory.

Supporters of Heim theory claim that it is a panacea for the troubles in modern physics. They say it unites quantum mechanics and general relativity, can predict the masses of the building blocks of matter from first principles, and can even explain the state of the universe 13.7 billion years ago.


Offline Bonk

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It may be a long while before we find out if he's right. In its present design, Dröscher and Häuser's experiment requires a magnetic coil several metres in diameter capable of sustaining an enormous current density. Most engineers say that this is not feasible with existing materials and technology, but Roger Lenard, a space propulsion researcher at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico thinks it might just be possible. Sandia runs an X-ray generator known as the Z machine which "could probably generate the necessary field intensities and gradients".

For now, though, Lenard considers the theory too shaky to justify the use of the Z machine. "I would be very interested in getting Sandia interested if we could get a more perspicacious introduction to the mathematics behind the proposed experiment," he says. "Even if the results are negative, that, in my mind, is a successful experiment."


Credibility dropping fast...

The Z-machine target:

... a fair bit short of a few meters.

Top feild strengths in MRI instruments with a ~1M magnet bore are around 8 Tesla currently. NMR instruments typically run about 20 Tesla in their cryogenically cooled superconducting magnets with a bore of about 5 cm. Quite a ways to go, though probably feasible. Cryogen maintenance in a spaceship engine application leaves a lot of questions.

This is where they lose me:
Quote
gravitophotons

Kook alert! Sorry, but gravity is still essentially magic as far as we are concerned. Until I see "gravitophotons" in an accepted and reproducible experiment... till then our knowledge of gravity is purely empirical and must remain so to be valid in my view.

Set your phasers to "stunned" folks!  :D

Offline Stormbringer

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LOL. What do you think quantum gravity or the linking of the EM quanta to gravity would mean?

Offline Bonk

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I am unaware of any such thing as "quantum gravity". All matter is quantised, thus energy. All of it is subject to the same phenomenon we know as gravity.

Linking EM quanta (photons) to gravity would have innumerable implications.

Offline Stormbringer

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indeed. yet that is the current holy grail of physics to one way or another unify the rules of quantum mechanics with those of grvity in one profound equation.