Chapter 21:

Gravity & Electricity, Space & Time


Science at the dawn of the twenty-first century is telling us that there are four fundamental forces in the Universe. One of them is called “gravity.” One is called “electromagnetism.” The others are the “weak force” — the energy released when unstable atoms decay and produce nuclear radiation — and the “strong force” — a force so powerful that it can overcome the tendency of similarly-charged particles like protons to repel each other, so that they can be bound up into atomic nuclei. This is the same energy that is released when nuclei are split and atomic bombs go bang.

At the time Townsend Brown began his investigations, the only indisputably recognized fundamental forces were gravity and electromagnetism. In the 1920s, the nuclear forces had not yet gained the recognition they now enjoy as fundamental forces in their own right.

Regardless of how many fundamental forces you want to recognize, it seems safe to say that gravity has been with us the longest. And yet, oddly, it is the fundamental force that we are least able to explain, and to this date, apparently completely unable to manipulate in any meaningful way. Despite hydrogen bombs and trips to the moon, despite computers and satellites and hand-held geo-positioning systems, gravity remains pretty much a mystery, and any attempts to actually harness its motive power have gone for naught, or worse, been the subject of intense ridicule.

Gravity affects every fiber and molecule of our existence. Gravity cleaves our feet to the surface of this spinning ball of dirt and water we call Earth; Gravity keeps that blue and green marble and its planetary sisters from spinning off into space as they whirl around the Sun; And gravity causes the whole solar system to spin through a vast galaxy that wanders through an even more infinite universe. It is all held together by a network of invisible threads about which we know little more than its effect on apples that part company with the branches of their trees, as Sir Isaac Newton is said to have famously discovered.

It was Newton who first suggested that gravity is not only a fundamental force, but something pervasive in the Universe. In a bit of foreshadowing to some of the more esoteric aspects of quantum mechanics that emerged 250 years after his encounter with the falling apple, Newton said that everything in the universe has some effect on everything else. “The powers of gravitation arose from the impulses of a subtle medium that is diffused over the universe,” Newton wrote in his Principia, “and penetrates the pores of grosser bodies." In other words, Newton was saying that every object in the universe, from the smallest particles to the largest planets and stars, are some how connected to every other object in the universe. We will see that idea emerge, albeit in an entirely different form, when quantum physics take seed in the twentieth century.

As has been previously discussed, the early twentieth century presented myriad challenges to long-accepted scientific precepts, which challenges were often derived from man’s rapidly evolving understanding of electricity. Ultimately, man’s concept of gravity was transformed by his understanding of electricity, so it does not seem unreasonable that he might imagine a relationship between the two. However, while our concept of gravity has certainly evolved over the centuries, the basic “why” of it remains a mystery, and our ability to do much with it besides fall down or drop things is virtually non-existent.

Newton did a heroic job of elucidating the mathematics of gravity. He believed that gravity is a function of mass, and gave us a set of reliable equations by which we could measure its effects. For more than 300 years mankind has had at its disposal a set of equations that state that the more massive a celestial body, the more gravity it has; the greater the distance from that celestial body, the less the effects of its gravitational field.
But even Newton could not really explain what exactly makes gravity work, or how its attractive ability is transmitted from one object to another.

More than two centuries after Newton, Albert Einstein took a stab at solving at least part of that continuing mystery when he published his General Theory of Relativity in 1916. Einstein’s theory turned Newton’s theory inside out: where Newton had said that gravity was a function of mass, Einstein said it was actually a function of space, a manifestation of the impact that massive bodies have on the space around them.

According to General Relativity, stars and planets bend, or warp, the space around them, and other planets or moons are held in their orbits by the resulting curvature. (That might explain what keeps the planets from flying out of their orbits; however, just what source of energy keeps them orbiting… well, that’s an entirely different discussion perhaps left for another time…).

The most common illustration of this effect depicts a celestial body — our sun, for example, resting comfortably in the elastic fabric of space; the Sun’s presence causes the space around it to stretch, the way a rubber membrane would stretch if a ball were placed upon its surface. In the resulting curved space, planets assume their orbit around their stars, and moons assume their orbits around their planets.


Einstein’s theory about gravity and the bending of space was deemed proven in 1919, when an expedition went to Africa to view and photograph a solar eclipse. By comparing photographs of the star field around the eclipsed sun with photographs of the same stars when the Sun was not present, scientists observed that the position of the stars appeared to have shifted when the Sun entered the equation. The gravity of the Sun, they concluded, was bending the light from these distant stars, thus proving Einstein’s theory that celestial gravity “bends” space.

Physicists today are still debating whether gravitation causes the curvature of space or the curvature of space produces gravitation; And in either case, while this “curvature in the fabric of space” concept might explain what keeps Spaceship Earth rotating around the sun. it still falls short of explaining why we terrestrial passengers stay on board our spinning vessel. Just why gravity does what it does — how its influence is transmitted, what actually causes it to press our feet to the floor and our fannies to the seat — that remains pretty much a mystery. Einstein may have given us an explanation of how gravity works in the cosmos, but he hardly gave us the kind of practical grasp that men like Faraday and Maxwell gave us of the electromagnetic force, i.e. the kinds of theories and equations that enable us to actually do something with gravity besides surrender to it.

It is into this seeming breach that Townsend Brown now stepped. After his first patents were granted, he next appeared in print in the August, 1929 issue of Science and Invention magazine, under a headline that seems to suggest that electricity and gravity had found their Faraday:


This is the first time we find Townsend Brown writing in his own words, and the first time we see him speaking specifically of actually “controlling” gravitation (note, however, that nowhere in this article does he use the term ‘antigravity.”)

First, Brown attempts to correlate his ideas with Einstein’s recently published quest for the Unified Field Theory — a set of equations that would define the theoretical relationship between gravity and electromagnetism (and later the nuclear forces). Brown seems to take Einstein’s theories one step further, tying them into the physics of matter as well:

There is a decided tendency in the physical sciences to unify the great basic laws and to relate, by a single structure or mechanism, such individual phenomena as gravitation, electrodynamics and even matter itself. It is found that matter and electricity are very closely related in structure. In the final analysis matter loses its traditional individuality and becomes merely an "electrical condition."

Brown seems to be suggesting here that matter itself is an electrical manifestation of some sort. Perhaps he is extrapolating from the notion that atoms consist mostly of electrically charged protons and electrons.

In fact, it might be said that the concrete body of the universe is nothing more than an assemblage of energy which, in itself, is quite intangible. Of course, it is self-evident that matter is connected with gravitation and it follows logically that electricity is likewise connected.

Though these statements might seem a bit of a stretch, there is actually a simple logic to them: Brown is saying that all matter is some form of concentrated energy, all of it bearing electrical properties. It is self-evident that matter is connected with gravitation because we know that large material objects — planets, stars, etc. — exist within their own gravitational fields, attracting smaller material objects toward their surface. Thus, if you accept his previous thesis that matter itself is an ‘electrical condition,’ then perhaps it “follows logically that electricity is likewise connected” to gravity.

These relations exist in the realm of pure energy and consequently are very basic in nature. In all reality they constitute the true backbone of the universe. It is needless to say that the relations are not simple, and full understanding of their concepts is complicated by the outstanding lack of information and research on the real nature of gravitation.

Brown seems to be confirming what was inferred earlier, that despite our daily familiarity with the force of gravity, we really know bupkus about it. He offers a brief explanation of Einstein’s “distorted space” theory of gravitation, and then goes straight to the question of field theories and the difficulty even Einstein has encountered in coming up with a “Theory of Combination.”

It has required Dr. Einstein’s own close study for a period of several years to achieve the results others have sought in vain and to announce with certainty the unitary field laws.

But…

Einstein’s new field theory is purely mathematical. It is not based on the results of any laboratory test and does not, so far as is now known, predict any method by which an actual demonstration or proof may be made….

However, Dr. Einstein's announcement of his recent work has spirited the physicists of the entire world to locate and demonstrate, if possible, any structural relationship between electro-dynamics and gravitation. It is not that they questioned or doubted Einstein’s reasoning or his mathematics, (for they have learned better), but that they realized that a relation should exist and were eager to find it.

The author then goes into some detail in describing precisely how he, beginning as early as 1923, had discovered and “constructed the… bridge between the two then separate phenomenon, electricity and gravitation.”

(click here to read the entire Science & Invention article from August 1929)

The article ends with a bit of speculation about just where all this new technology might ultimately lead.

Multi-impulse gravitators weighing hundreds of tons may propel the ocean liners of the future. Smaller and more concentrated units may propel automobiles and even airplanes. Perhaps even the fantastic "space cars" and the promised visit to Mars may be the final outcome. Who can tell?

Who indeed. But one is compelled to wonder… is that all there is? Plains, trains, and automobiles, maybe big boats and space cars?

Maybe that’s not all there is. Reconsider for a moment the earlier discussion of General Relativity and its depiction of gravity as a “curvature of space.”

Einstein’s theory says that gravity causes a curvature in space. So, if a device like the gravitator can produce a synthetic gravitational field, it stands to reason that the “space” around that device is also some how “curved.”

However, when Einstein said that gravity produces a curvature of space, he also said that space and time are inseparable cross-threads in the fabric of the universe he called “spacetime.” So, if one can, by electrical means, manipulate gravity, and — as Einstein said — that implies some kind of bending of space, then: does it not also stand to reason that artificially induced gravity also implies the bending of time?


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