By H Gernaback
COMING INVENTIONS No. 4
For millions of years the human race has been reared on a planet upon
which gravitational effects may be termed as being fairly high. All the
various effects produced by the mass of the earth, not only on every
human being, but upon every object as well, are so ingrained into us, and
we have grown so accustomed to them, that it appears to us the most
natural thing in the world when a stone drops or an apple falls from the
We seldom try to fathom why such gravitational effects do occur, and
until Newton first propounded his immortal work on gravitation, even deep
thinkers did not clearly understand why a stone released from the hand
should strike the earth with a thud. Even today few people realize what
gravitational effects are. They will give you an off-hand answer, saying
“Oh, yes! A stone falls downward because the earth’s gravitation attracts
it,” and leave it go at that. But how many have ever given a thought to
the idea what would happen to all of us if gravitation suddenly ceased?
Gravitation is not the same on all planets of the heavenly bodies. We
have described in previous articles in this magazine the effects produced
upon heavenly bodies smaller than the earth, where consequently the
gravitation is reduced as well.
For instance, a man who on earth weighs 150 pounds weighs only 25 pounds
on the moon. On the little planetoid Eros, which has a diameter of only
ten miles, the gravitational pull is practically nothing. Thus, the
150-pound man on this planet only weighs 2 ounces instead of 150 pounds.
From this follows that weight is only a term conceived in our brain. It
is only fairly stable on the earth. Remove the earth and you would be
absolutely weightless, there being no gravity, except, of course, for the
attraction of the sun or other heavenly bodies, if you came within their
As Professor Einstein so aptly put it m a recent interview: “Take this
house and remove the earth to an infinite distance. What happens? The
house as well as the objects contained therein will weigh nothing out in
space. Our bodies would float in the air providing air was retained in
We could just as well walk on the ceiling as along the sides and bounce
from ceiling to the floor; it would be all the same. For in space there
is no up or down, and the word ‘weight’ has no meaning.”
Fig. 4. - A Reproduction from Our front Cover Drawing. Showing What
Happens to You At Dinner When Gravitation Is Suspended. The Girl by the
Way is Not Blowing Bubbles, But is Drinking a Grape Fruit Highball, Which
Of Course, Weighs Nothing. The Ball Formation is Caused By Surface
Tension, Which Causes Liquids to Form Into a Sphere. This Is the Same
Principle That Make Small Drops Perfectly Round.
Recently a cable dispatch from Rome brought the announcement that Prof.
Maiorana discovered that lead balls swimming on a pool of mercury lost a
certain amount of weight. It was explained that the weight was lost due
to a screening effect which the mercury produced on the lead ball. - In
other words, mercury ads as a sort of insulator against the earth’s
gravitational waves. For gravitation certainly is propagated the same as
other forms of energy, i.e., in wave-form.
Prof. T. J. J. See, famous investigator of Mare Island, California, in an
address before the California Academy of Sciences, announced recently
that his researches on gravitation in 1917 and his latest researches on
molecular forces confirmed Maiorana’s claim that the screening of
gravitation has been shown to exist. “In 1917,” says Professor See, “I
explained the fluctuation of the moon’s main motion by the circular
refraction of the sun’s gravitation waves, as they are propagated thru
the solid body of our earth at the time of lunar eclipses.
I found also from dealings with capillary forces that quicksilver is
indeed very resistant to the waves which produce molecular action, and
this developed a new theory of the depression of the mercury in capillary
tubes. This would tend to confirm Maiorana’s claim that a basin of
mercury beneath a suspended mass of lead may decrease the gravitation of
the lead by a small amount. My researches on ether show conclusively that
gravitation is due to waves in the ether, and certain very resistant
bodies in the line of action may thus introduce a slight screening
This reasoning opens up new avenues of thought of what may be accomplisht
in the future when we have found a perfect screen against gravitation.
Let us go back to our famous Newton experiment of the falling apple.
Suppose we find some means of interposing between the apple and the earth
a screen which effectively cuts off all the gravitational effects above
it. Then suppose we attempt to let the apple drop. It will no longer drop
because we have neutralised gravitation. Of course, so far no insulator
of gravitation exists, but that does not mean that one will not be found
sooner or later.
Let us now cite a very simple analogy. Fig. 1 shows a powerful
electro-magnet. It will, let us say, attract one hundred pounds of iron.
This is shown at A, which represents a mass of iron. The instant the
current is turned on the mass leaps forward to the magnet, which will
hold it attracted as long as the magnetism acts.
Turn to Fig. 2. Here we repeat the same experiment, but between the
magnet and the iron mass A we interpose a thick sheet of copper. The
magnet still acts on the mass A just as if the copper piece B were not in
existence. In other words, the magnetism passes right thru the copper
mass just as your apple will be attracted by the earth, even should you
interpose a sheet of copper between the apple and the earth.
Gravitational effects will still flow thru the copper as if it were not
there, exactly as is the case with our magnet. If, in Fig. 2, we
substitute various other bodies we find that, with one or possibly two
exceptions, the effect will always be the same. If the copper sheet B is
removed and instead of it we substitute a slab of marble or a plank of
wood, or most any other substance, the effect will still be the same. The
iron mass A will still be attracted by the magnet, the magnetism passing
right thru the marble, thru the glass or thru the other substances, just
as if they were not there. All these substances act to magnetism just
like a sieve acts to water. It makes no difference if our sieve be made
of copper, glass or any other substance, the water runs right thru it, as
we well know. So with magnetism and the various substances.
Now turn to Fig. 3. If instead of our copper sheet, we now substitute a
thick iron or wicket plate, C, our magnet will no longer attract the iron
mass A. Why not? For the simple reason that iron and nickel are about the
only magnetic substances we know of. In other words, our magnetic lines,
instead of attracting the mass A, now attract the iron plate, and
effectively short-circuit what we call the lines of force emanating from
the magnet; for this reason no magnetism worth mentioning reaches the
As seen in Fig. 3, altho the current is on, the mass A is no longer
attracted. What have we accomplisht in this experiment? Simply this: We
have effectively placed a screen between the magnet and the mass A. In
other words, the iron plate C no longer acts like a sieve, because it
does not let pass magnetic lines of force, but absorbs them.
Just as if our sieve mentioned above was made of blotting paper. We know
that blotting paper has many fine pores, and altho acting as a sieve in a
way, we keep the water from rushing thru it because now the sieve,
strictly speaking, does not act as a sieve any longer, i. e., it absorbs
The same with gravitation. If we can find a means, and I predict that
such a means will be found in less than one hundred years, to effectively
screen gravitational effects, the most wonderful era will have dawned
We know today that gravitational effects a r e mainly electrical. We
already described in our March 1918 issue (page 743) of the ELECTRICAL
EXPERIMENTER, Professor Francis E. Nipher’s historical experiment
conducted at the St. Louis Academy of Science, in which he actually
demonstrated that electricity acting upon lead balls effectively reduces
gravitation. This certainly proves the correlation between electricity
and gravitation, and at a not far distant date I predict that a way will
be found to entirely nullify all gravitational effects by means of
Suppose someone perfects a gravitation screen, a metallic or other screen
which is laid flat upon the earth. It is then charged by means of a
certain form of electricity as depicted in Fig. 4. The screen here shown
is made of round circular. discs invented by Nikola Tesla, because round
discs, when used in connection with tremendous high frequency currents,
do not cause such great loss by radiation in the atmosphere as if a
single sheet or net were used. The screen suggested would be in the form
of a shallow sauce-pan as shown.
As soon as energized in the correct manner all gravitation, above the
screen, will be shut off. In other words, any object placed above the
screen no matter how high above it will become weightless. It will have
mass but no weight. Suppose two lead balls were suspended above the
These would of course not drop down to the ground now. They would stay
freely suspended, but a curious thing would happen. These two balls if
placed near enough together would gradually draw together and finally
collide, because each sphere according to Newton’s law of gravitation
would now be a “planet” by itself, and one sphere would act upon the
other. The effect however, would be extremely slight; all in proportion
to the size of the balls.
This experiment is only mentioned because it should be borne in mind that
in the other examples which follow, there will be mutual gravitational
attraction between the various bodies floating in the air such as shown
in Fig. 4.
For instance, there will be a certain amount of gravitational attraction
between the man and the little foot-stool. This effect, however, is so
negligible that at the distance shown in the illustration, there would
not be enough gravitational attraction between the two bodies to attract
each other sufficiently to make one object move to the other.
Let us now see what happens, when gravitation is suddenly suspended. Fig.
4 and our cover illustration shows this graphically.
There being no weight whatsoever, the two persons shown can move their
hands and bodies any way they wish without the slightest effort. They can
assume any pose they desire and they will stay suspended, hanging as it
were, fixt in space, unless they jerk themselves out of their position
into another one. It will be seen that the little foot-stool hangs
suspended in a curious position. The lady just gave it the very slightest
kick, and it immediately collided with the gentleman’s leg, only to bump
back again towards the lady’s feet; this would have kept up indefinitely,
were it not for the resistance of the air, which after a few oscillations
stopt the foot-stool in the position shown.
How did the lady and the gentleman as well as the different table
utensils come to be in the position as shown in our illustration? Before
the current was turned on they were seated at a table in the usual manner
with the objects on the table. The current was then turned on,
effectively making the two human beings as well as the table and the
other objects weightless.
Holding on to the table, both slightly pusht against the electrified
screen an d immediately both table and everything e1se went sailing a few
feet into the air.
If the push had been too hard they would have landed with their heads
against the ceiling, so the push necessarily had to be very slight. An
attendant then came along and pulled away the tables and the chairs with
the resulting effect shown in the illustration. The objects could no
longer fall, and therefore remained in the positions shown.
The gentleman now wanted to smoke and removed the matches and cigarettes
“laying” beside him. After he had removed his hands from them, the
objects remained just where he left them. They could not of course fall.
The lady then profest a desire to have a grape-juice highball. Her
companion took the g1ass containing grape-juice, turned it upside down,
but not a drop came out. There was no gravitation, hence the liquid could
not flow out of the glass.
Then he simply jerked away the glass with a quick movement, and the grape
juice came out of the glass by reason of its inherent inertia. Due to the
surface tension present in all liquids, the grape juice immediately
formed itself into a small sphere. Surface tension in liquids always
tends to produce balls of any liquid, as you may easily convince yourself
by spilling drops of water on a cloth, and particularly velvet. You will
see that the drops form themselves into perfect spheres.
But drop a glass full of water on the velvet and it will spread all over.
Why? The gravitational effect of the earth interferes with the surface
tension and is sufficient to prevent the water from forming itself into a
big sphere. In other words, in dropping water, only small spheres can be
formed, because on them the gravitational effect is small, and not
sufficient to overcome the surface tension of the liquid. But where no
gravitation exists as in our illustration, you can readily take a
bucketful of water or any other amount and after jerking the pail away,
the water will remain suspended in the form of a sphere.
After the gentleman in our illustration had shown the effect to his
companion, he proceeded in the manufacture of the grape-juice high-ball
in a novel manner. Instead of mixing the grape juice in the glass, he
simply took the siphon which was handy and squirted the seltzer right
into the sphere of grape juice while the lady stirred it thoroly by means
of her Straw. During this operation the sphere did not stay perfect, but
wobbled a bit just like a soap bubble wobbles and contorts when we blow
against it. The second she ceased stirring, the whole formed itself into
a beautiful light purple sphere - the grape-juice high-ball was ready for
consumption. She applied the straw to it and drank from it as shown in
En passant we might mention that if the lady is fond of spaghetti, she
will have no trouble whatsoever to eat it, for it will certainly not fall
from her fork, and if it should slide because of its being slippery, it
certainly will not fall on her dress.
Neither need she fear that her egg would bespatter her, for it would not
slide from her fork onto the dress.
A curious thing that these two people find immediately is that literally
they will tread on air. Their bodies have no weight whatsoever, and
therefore nothing will seem heavy to them and all movements will be
accomplisht with the greatest ease. An arm left in a certain position, as
for instance, the gentleman s arm in the illustration, will stay in the
position shown. It will not fall to his body, for it has no weight. It
will be a delightful sensation for our weary bodies if we succeed in
Always remember that most tiredness is produced mainly by the great
weight of our bodies. Take for instance our feet and legs which have to
support the weight of our bodies.
Our shoulders and backs become tired because they support our heavy heads
and body. Hence, when we stretch out in our beds in the evening, we
immediately reduce the gravitation because then our feet and backs do not
have to support the total bodily weight any longer.
One important thing we must remember in this experiment, if the sun or
the moon were overhead and if the room were open, all objects would
immediately rise skyward, due to the attraction of the sun or moon if
overhead. The two human beings shown in our illustration would then float
a considerable distance upward until the wind blew them beyond the limits
of the screen, when ofcourse they would be dasht to earth and probably
killed. This experiment if conducted will have to be made in a closed
room, or at least one with a ceiling.
If we wish the objects not to bump against the ceiling, if the sun or
moon are overhead, it would then be necessary to have an electrified
screen under the ceiling as well, in order to cut off the gravitational
effects from the sun or moon as the case may be. Then the objects would
stay readily suspended in mid-air. The reader may wonder how the two
people will get down again to terra firma. Very simple.
The current is gradually reduced when the gravitation will make itself
felt again and the bodies will settle down gracefully descending to the
earth like a parachute.
What is the practical object of this invention? Thousands of new uses
will be found for it. All our homes and our offices will be equipt with
the invention, and the immediate important result will be no doubt
greater longevity of human beings. The wear and tear on. the muscular and
nervous systems due to the weight of our bodies is tremendous at present,
all of which tends to shorten our lives. Remove the cause and we
immediately become more or less rejuvenated.
In our illustration 5, I have shown several applications of the invention
in which it will be seen that the persons or objects are all screened
from the earth’s gravitation. In sketch 1 we see a badly wounded patient
in a hospital with his legs extended.
He certainly will never be bed-ridden, and he will not become chafed
because there is nothing to chafe against. Patients, particularly, will
find the new invention of tremendous boon and they will all recover ever
so much sooner. Our patient could sleep in any position and his sleep
will be refreshing. He will not be smothered either by having his body
pressing against an uncomfortable mattress. If he wishes to change his
position, he uses the vertical hand rail as shown. He can move his body
up or down and with practically no effort.
Of course a well man would not need such a rail because by giving quick
jerks, he could move from one position to another, but a sick person
could not do this. Our patient’s leg, too, remains in the exact position
as ordered by the doctor.
Scene 2 shows a locomotive factory, where a weightless locomotive is
being assembled without the use of electrical cranes or ponderous
machinery. The huge six-foot wheels and the heavy piston case weigh
nothing, and can be moved about and handled with the greatest ease. A
locomotive will be assembled in one quarter of the present time by
workmen who will not perspire in performing the job and who will not go
home with “broken” backs due to the strenuous work. Work then will become
a pleasure and a locomotive will be turned out in one quarter of the time
at one tenth the labor expense it took heretofore.
Scene 3 shows a factory girl assembling various devices. It immediately
becomes apparent that a very small space suffices for her work. No longer
is she restricted to one plane as the present day working table.
She could work in a dozen different working planes if she desires. The
finisht boxes are at her left and the work she is doing is placed around
her wherever it is most convenient. She does not have to reach and
stretch as much as before, and being that things are right where she
wants them, and furthermore because her bodily move- ments no longer tire
her, she will become extraordinarily efficient, and will turn out ten or
twelve times as much work as she did heretofore. No longer will she go
home with a back-ache from physical exer- tion. She will go home refresht
froni her day’s work, as is apparent.
Scene 4 shows our friend the typist in her office. Here too, work has
become mere play. The confusion of the objects is only apparent. The
things are just where they are needed and within easy reach.
Everything is just where it should be and she can write in whatever
position suits her best. She can either recline, or should she desire it,
she could stretch flat on her back with her typewriter above her. Or if
she is particularly eccentric, she can lie with her face towards the
floor and the typewriter beneath her! It all depends upon her head-ache,
in whichever position she is most comfortable I The strap suspended in
front of her is simply for her convenience as is the guard rail at her
side. By these she can move into any position she wants to without
jerking herself about or without touching the floor.
Of course, she will turn out more letters than ever, and there will not
be any three o’clock afternoon fatigue. One thing we must mention and
that is that this typewriter must not be of the gravity type where the
keys fall back by themselves. Such a typewriter would not work here. The
typewriter must be one that has springs attached to the key levers to
pull them back into the original position. Another thing and this is
quite important, she must not bang the keys too hard because if she did
the typewriter would “swim” away and hit the floor! This would make for a
Perhaps she would find that after all the typewriter should be held by
strings or cords, otherwise she would have to chase it all over the
Scene 5 shows how the heaviest of safes is moved readily by the smallest
of “flivvers”, simply by having an electrified net underneath the safe,
which serves to cut off the earth’s gravitational effects. In order that
the safe is not blown away by the wind - you see it weighs nothing, -
ropes or chains hold it to the truck. The automobile furnishes the
electricity to electrify the net, and if our driver is wise he will carry
an electrified net in front of the machine as well. Then if he runs into
the stout party as shown, she will not be thrown violently against the
hood of the flivver, but will remain suspended immediately in front of
the auto without coming to grief; even if the wind blows her against the
hood of the auto, little harm will be done to her, because you see altho
nominally weighing 269 lbs., she now weighs nothing, hence has lost
practically all inertia. A little bump therefore will hardly be felt.
Scene 6 shows what happens when the elevator cable in the sky-scraper
breaks. This immediately closes a relay which electrifies the handy
gravitation net below. Result—the elevator does not fall several floors,
killing its occupants. Instead the elevator simply stays suspended as
shown, until the repair crew “fishes” the elevator to the next floor
where the passengers alight, none the worse for their experience.
After the repairs have been made, the power from the net is shut off
because in an elevator we desire the gravitation in order to pull the
elevator down. But going up is another matter. Instead of using a 10
horsepower motor to run the elevator as heretofore, we only need one of
these little toy motors, because when the elevator goes up, the
electrified net is switched on, and the car and its occupants then weigh
nothing. Even 1/10 of a horsepower will be way sufficient to propel the
Thousands of other uses will be found for the invention, and it will
indeed revolutionize the entire globe. Life on this planet instead of
being a daily drudge will become a pleasure. Perhaps then we will no
longer need servants to do work about the house because it will be so
easy to do it ourselves. Our tempers will be vastly improved, and as
stated before our lives will be greatly prolonged.
The millennium certainly will have arrived for humanity when gravitation
can be suspended at will by man.
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