Biefeld–Brown effect – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A pretty thorough explanation of the Biefeld–Brown effect just showed up in Wikipedia:

The Biefeld–Brown effect is an effect that was discovered by Thomas Townsend Brown (USA) and Dr. Paul Alfred Biefeld (CH). The effect is more widely referred to as electrohydrodynamics (EHD) or sometimes electro-fluid-dynamics, a counterpart to the well-known magneto-hydrodynamics. Extensive research was performed during the 1950s and 1960′s on the use of this electric propulsion effect during the publicized era of the United States gravity control propulsion research (1955 – 1974). During 1964, Major De Seversky had in fact published much of his related work in U.S. Patent 3,130,945 , and with the aim to forestall any possible misunderstanding about these devices, had termed these flying machines as ionocrafts. In the following years, many promising concepts had to be abandoned due to technological limitations and were forgotten. The effect has only recently become of interest again and such flying devices are now known as EHD thrusters. Simple single-stage versions lifted by this effect are sometimes also called lifters.

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Another “Atomic Spy” Passes On

R. R. Furman, 93, Dies; Led Bomb-Project Spying

Robert R. Furman, a former Army major who as chief of foreign intelligence for the American atomic bomb project in World War II coordinated and often joined harrowing espionage missions to kidnap German scientists, seize uranium ore in Europe and determine the extent of Nazi efforts to build the bomb, died Oct. 14 at his home in Adamstown, Md. He was 93.

"Harrowing espionage missions", eh?  Enough to make you wonder who else’s path he might have crossed… anybody we know?

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TED Prize for SETI Researcher

The presitigious "TED" conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design) has awarded one of its three annual grants to a SETI researcher:

Astronomer Jill Tarter is Director of the SETI Institute’s Center
for SETI Research, and also holder of the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for
SETI. She has devoted her career to hunting for signs of sentient
beings elsewhere, and almost all aspects of this field have been
affected by her work.

Jill led for Project Phoenix, a decade-long SETI scrutiny of about
750 nearby star systems, using telescopes in Australia, West Virginia
and Puerto Rico. While no clearly extraterrestrial signal was found,
this project was the most comprehensive targeted search for
artificially generated cosmic signals ever undertaken.

So, umm, anybody wanna volunteer to tell her that she’s looking in the wrong place?

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Look! Up in The Sky!

No!  Down in the water!

Since the subject of (stealth?) submarines comes up from time to time in our explorations, I thought I’d pass on this story about Steve Fossett’s Super Secret Flying, Diving, Space Bound Submersible that was recently sent to me:

Unbeknownst to most of the world, the late super rich adventurer Steve Fossett had started work on an amazing flying submersible that would one day theoretically touch the stars. More importantly, however, was that the design would have allowed adventurers and scientists alike (and most importantly Fossett himself, of course) to venture into the deadly depths of the Mariana Trench, some 36,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Sadly, the design was put on hold immediately after Fossett went missing about one year ago, but that hasn’t stopped San Anselmo inventor Graham Hawkes from detailing the project that Fossett tapped him to create two years before his death.

Morgan always did say we’d be surprised to learn of some of the things that roam beneath the surface of the seas.  And like I told somebody over the weekend, submarines are easier to conceal than, say, aircraft.  Still you have to wonder what means of propulsion a craft like the one envisioned here would employ….??

There is another story about Fosset’s "flying submersible in the Marin Independent Journal:

The Hawkes say they were four weeks away from launching the "Deep
Flight Challenger" when news came of Fossett’s disappearance. The
submersible is now owned by the explorer’s estate, and Hawkes is unsure
whether it will ever get to make its historic dive. The couple would
not disclose the cost of the vehicle.

"He would have felt as though he was traveling beyond the reach of his
fellow man," Hawkes said. "The deep ocean is an incredibly beautiful,
peaceful place. You’re surrounded by strange life forms, and you’re
seeing a place on the planet that no one has seen before. If people
understood what it was like, it would be crowded down there."


The subject is being discussed in our forums.

Continue reading

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“Flash of Genius” – A Timely Reminder

The release of the new movie "Flash of Genius" has brought the subject of  How Inventors Always Get Screwed into the daily media diet.

BTW, if you don’t know about Armstrong, you should read Lawrence Lessing’s (he’s not the Internet Lessig) 1956 biography, "Man of High Fidelity." The book is sadly out of print (old paperback copies are selling for $25.00 on Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN)). ortunately, though, the complete text of the book has been posted here by the Internet Archive…

Anyway, if you think American technological prowess begins and ends with the Mac and iPhone, you owe it to yourself to read this tale of a true genius struggling against those out to steal the fruits of his brilliance. In Armstrong’s case, his nemesis was RCA impresario David Sarnoff….

RCA — along with Westinghouse and a host of other companies — infringed Amstrong’s patents for years. He was less lucky than Kearns, though. He committed suicide by walking out of a hotel window in 1954…

The point I want to make is that people who
think modern technology sprung fully realized in some easy and fun way
from the landscaped corporate vistas of Silicon Valley don’t know
squat. Every development from Maxwell, Edison, and Tesla; up through
Marconi and De Forest; to Eckert, Mauchly and the present day has not
come without a humongous struggle. (For another great tale of inventor
screwing — tellingly, also involving RCA — read Tube: The Invention of Television by David Fisher, about the travails of Philo Farnsworth.)


The importance of this topic in the current scenario cannot be over-stated.  Our leaders keep telling us that we’re going to innovate our way out of the current energy / economic / environmental crises.  Maybe somebody needs to remind our leaders what really happens to the individuals who produce the innovations we’re counting on to reshape the world.

If they really want to "transform America" (as one of the major party candidates stated upon launching his campaign), then they need to take a long hard look at how individual genius suffers in a world dominated by monolithic corporate capitalism.

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So Much for our “Wits Getting Sharper”

We like to think of America as the shining light of civilization, Reagan’s "city on the hill," a bastion of "exceptionalism" according to that great contemporary political philosopher Sarah Palin.

Well, maybe not so much:

It must be tough being Ronald Wright. As a blisteringly insightful historian with eyes as much on the future as the past, it’s easy to imagine how painful it must be to live here in the early 21st century and watch as the United States leaves a trail of blood across the globe. Some would go into politics or activism to try and stop it; if you’re an award-winning author and former Massey Lecturer like Wright, however, odds are good you’d focus all that outrage into a book instead—which is exactly what the author of A Short History of Progress and A Scientific Romance has done with his latest must-read, What is America? A Short History of the New World Order. But I’ll warn you now: it’s scary.

How scary? Check this out: “The Columbian Age was built on colonial attitudes: on taming the wilderness, civilizing the savage, and the American dream of endless plenty. Now there is nothing left to colonize. Half a millennium of expansion has run out of room. Mankind will either share the Earth or fight over it—a war nobody can win. For civilization to continue, we must civilize ourselves. America, which helped set the Europeans on their new path half a century ago, must now examine its own record—the facts, not the myths—and free itself from the potent yet potentially fatal mix of forces that created its nation, its empire, and the modern world.”

In to such a world, we’re going to introduce technologies that draw on the most powerful forces in the universe?  No wonder some things are kept in a library that nobody has a card for….

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Geek Humor

In case anybody was wondering.

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Things That Go Zap

At the High Energy Amateur Science gathering in Richmond , VA.

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Nobel Laureates Endorse Barack Obama

Not that I want to get political or anything on a site dedicated to science, but 61 Nobel Laureates speaking in unison warrants some attention:

An Open Letter to the American People

This year’s presidential election is among the most significant in
our nation’s history. The country urgently needs a visionary leader who
can ensure the future of our traditional strengths in science and
technology and who can harness those strengths to address many of our
greatest problems: energy, disease, climate change, security, and
economic competitiveness.

    We are convinced that Senator Barack Obama is such a leader, and we urge you to join us in supporting him.

Not that I needed any persuading.

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Another Crazy Idea?

Personally, I love it when critics say some novel Idea won’t work. I say, just build the thing, and we’ll see:

Chinese researchers claim they’ve confirmed the theory behind an "impossible" space drive, and are proceeding to build a demonstration version. If they’re right, this might transform the economics of satellites, open up new possibilities for space exploration –- and give the Chinese a decisive military advantage in space.

To say that the "Emdrive" (short for "electromagnetic drive") concept is controversial would be an understatement. According to Roger Shawyer, the British scientist who developed the concept, the drive converts electrical energy into thrust via microwaves, without violating any laws of physics. Many researchers believe otherwise. An article about the Emdrive in New Scientist magazine drew a massive volley of criticism. Scientists not only argued that Shawyer’s work was blatantly impossible, and that his reasoning was flawed. They also said the article should never have been published.

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