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Can Electricity Destroy Gravitation?

Is it possible to nullify, and further to even reverse, the effect of gravity by electricity? This scientific conundrum seems about to be solved, at least to a certain extent. To begin with, everybody is familiar with that law of physics which states "that all particles of matter attract each other with a force which is greater the nearer the particles are together," and to be still more definite, Newton's law says that bodies behave as if every particle of matter attracted every other particle with a force that is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. It is the gravitational attraction between the earth and the bodies upon it which causes the latter to have weight.

This fact is often lost sight of and should be well understood by every student. To make the matter more clear let us imagine that a man's body is (as by flying, jumping, diving from a high point, etc) for the moment separated from the surface of the earth. As soon as the mass of the body is separated from the earth, gravitational attraction is set up between the two masses.

The earth pulls the man's body, and also his body pulls the earth, but as the mass of the earth is infinitely greater, its movement cannot be detected.

The scientists of to-day believe that in some mysterious way the minute electrical charges existing on the particles making up molecules and atoms are definitely linked up and concerned with such basic phenomena as gravitation. Since all bodies are made up of atoms it would seem to logically follow that the forces of gravity must depend in some way upon attractions which atoms exert upon each other, and due to the fact that the atoms are separated, at least in solids and liquids, by extremely small distances, we might expect these inter-atomic forces to be relatively more powerful than are those of ordinary gravitation.

Until recently, however, the mystery linking this inter-atomic activity with the force of gravitation baffled all attempts at solution altho many scientists had tackled it.

But at last experimental proof has been forthcoming thru the untiring labors of Professor Francis E. Nipher, of the St. Louis Academy of Science. In a pamphlet issued November 8th, 1917, Professor Nipher supplies experimental evidence that gravitational attraction can not only be suspended or nullified by the electrical current, but it actually can be transformed into "gravitational repulsion!"

All during the summer of 1917, Professor Nipher had his apparatus in almost continuous operation and the experiments have been repeated time and again, always with the same result.

Prof. Nipher's mechanical apparatus resembled that used in the "Cavendish experiment," by which it was first experimentally proved that Newton's law of universal gravitational attraction applied to small bodies in their action upon each other at short distances, just as well as it did to small terrestrial bodies under the influence of the earth. This apparatus consists of a delicate torsion suspension fiber (see Figs. 3 and 4) a light, rigid arm at the lower end of the fiber suspension, and at either end of this bar two small lead spheres of known mass. Two equal large balls of solid lead are placed close to the small suspended spheres in the manner shown.

Now, remembering our law of physics stated above - that every body in space attracts every other body proportionally to their respective masses and inversely as the distance between them - then it is evident that when this apparatus is set up, that the small suspended spheres will be slightly attracted by the larger, stationary balls. This condition is represented in Fig. 1.

Before connecting any form of electric current to the modified Cavendish apparatus, Prof. Nipher took special precaution to carefully screen the moving element from any electro-static or electro-magnetic effects. His apparatus briefly consists of two large lead spheres ten inches in diameter, resting upon heavy sheets of hard rubber. Two small lead balls, each one inch in diameter were now suspended from two silk threads, stationed at the sides of the two large lead spheres, from which they were separated a little distance. Moreover, the suspended balls were insulated elaborately from the large spheres by enclosing them first airtight in a long wooden box, which was also covered with tinned iron sheets as well as cardboard sheets. There was, furtheremore, a metal shield between the box and the large metal spheres. The large metal lead spheres now exerted a certain gravitational pull upon the suspended small lead balls as indicated in Fig. 1, and the small lead balls were slightly pulled over towards the large spheres.

In his first experiments Prof. Nipher applied a high tension current from a static machine to the large lead balls, see Fig. 2. No difference was noted whether the positive or negative terminals were applied. In one of these experiments the masses were "repelled" (normal gravitational attraction had been nullified and changed to repulsion) by a force nearly twice as great as the initial gravitational repulsion. This effect is shown at Fig. 2.

In further experiments Prof. Nipher decided to check his results. To do this he replaced the large solid lead spheres with two metal boxes, each filled with loose cotton batting. These hollow boxes (having practically no mass) rested upon insulators. They were separated from the protective screen by sheets of glass and were grounded to it by heavy copper wires.

The metal boxes were then charged in every way that the solid lead spheres had been, but not the slightest change in the position of the suspended balls could be detected. This would seem to prove conclusively that the "repulsion" and "gravitational nullification" effects that he had produced when the solid large balls were electrically charged, were genuine and based undoubtedly on a true interatomic electrical reaction, and not upon any form of electro-static or electro-magnetic effects between the large and small masses.

If they had been, the metal boxes, with no mass, would have served as well as the solid balls.

Another interesting experiment was conducted with low frequency alternating current applied to the large lead spheres.

Spring contact brushes were fastened to the wooden blocks supporting the large spheres as shown in Fig. 4, one brush on either side of the ball. This permitted sending current thru the ball from one side to the other. First, a direct current of 20 amperes was sent thru the two large masses, but no effect upon the suspended masses could be detected. Next, an alternating current of 20 amperes was sent thru the large masses, see Fig. 4, with the result that the gravitational attraction was quickly reduced to zero, and not only that but in 15 to 20 minutes the small lead spheres had moved away over one-half as much to the opposite direction as the distance they had been attracted originally towards the large masses. Thus gravitation had not only been completely nullified, but it was actually reversed.

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