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ANTIGRAVITY BREAKTHROUGH IN ESA LAB

For decades some researchers have believed that gravity is essentially an analogue of magnetism and that ultimately we will learn to control it in similar ways. Among the possibilities dreamed of have been anti-gravity devices, and even time travel, but heretofore all this has been dismissed as idle fantasizing at best. Now, however, a new break­through experiment funded by the European Space agency may change all that.

The so-called gravito-magnetic effect has now been measured in a major laboratory. The researchers have used what they call an angularly accelerated superconducting ring to induce non-Newtonian gravitational fields nearby. Their results could open the door to a new science of antigravity.

Just as a moving electrical charge creates a magnetic field, so a moving mass generates a gravito-magnetic field. But, according to Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, the effect is virtually negligible. Now, however, physicists Martin Tajmar, Clovis de Matos, and colleagues have measured the effect in a laboratory and have shown that under certain conditions it is vastly stronger than Einstein predicted.

The new results were presented in a one-day conference in March at ESA’s European Space and Technology Re­search Center (ESTEC) in the Netherlands. Some physicists predict that the experiment could lead to the long-sought quantum theory of gravity.

TIME TRAVEL SAID POSSIBLE

Time travel is not only possible, we may be doing it by the end of this century. That is the astounding notion current­ly proposed by a respected New England college professor.

Using Einstein’s equations, Ronald Mallett has designed an actual time machine which he plans to build and test within the next 10 years. Whether we can actually time travel will depend upon the outcome of experiments for which he now seeks funding.

According to Mallett, a University of Connecticut physics professor for 30 years, who published his first research on time travel in 2000 in Physics Letters, all other proposals for warping space/time involve gigantic quantities of mass, but his concept is different.

He explained his ideas to PhysOrg.com, “Einstein showed that mass and energy are the same thing. The time ma­chine we’ve designed uses light in the form of circulating lasers to warp or loop time instead of using massive ob­jects.” (For more information visit http://www.physorg.com/news63371210 .html).

Mallett was inspired to investigate time travel as a child. After he had seen the movie of H.G. Wells’ story The Time Machine he wanted to travel into the past to warn his recently deceased father of the dangers of smoking. Now, however, he subscribes to the parallel universe concept of alternative realities and does not believe the present mo­ment can be changed by manipulating past events. Instead he believes any time traveler’s action would generate a separate reality independent of the present.

SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT COMMON

For those who have argued that mainstream science does not play fair these days comes new support in the form of a study of scientific misconduct. And it is not just gross violations like the falsifications, plagiarism and fabrication which have been making headlines lately—i.e., the stem cell cloning scandal of Hwang Woo-suk in Korea, Pharma­ceutical giant Merck’s withholding of critical heart attack data on one of its drugs, faked data in a Norwegian cancer study, etc. According to the study’s author Raymond De Vries, an associate professor of medical education and a member of the Bioethics Program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, scientific misbehavior seems to be en­demic today.

The study was published in April in the premier issue of the Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics.

De Vries says that intense competition between scientists these days is causing them to worry about things they shouldn’t be thinking about like how their data will be interpreted, not just its integrity. In other words, they are thinking about whether their research will lead to conclusions their peers might not like. Other issues also men­tioned by the study include the increasing number of rules which scientists are supposed to follow, and questions of how to deal with the growing competition for the rewards in a shrinking pie.

The study collected its data primarily from six focus groups with a total of 51 researchers gathered from the top U.S. research universities. The groups were asked to discuss misconduct which the participants had either practiced or witnessed. “After the focus groups,” said De Vries, “we felt like we had been at a confessional. We didn’t intend this, but the focus groups became a place where people could unburden themselves.”

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