Researchers create gravity in lab experiment

Scientists funded by the European Space Agency have measured the gravitational equivalent of a magnetic field for the first time in a laboratory. Under certain special conditions the effect is much larger than expected from general relativity and could help physicists to make a significant step towards the long-sought-after quantum theory of gravity.

Just as a moving electrical charge creates a magnetic field, so a moving mass generates a gravitomagnetic field. According to Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, the effect is virtually negligible. However, Martin Tajmar, ARC Seibersdorf Research GmbH, Austria; Clovis de Matos, ESA-HQ, Paris; and colleagues have measured the effect in a laboratory.

Their experiment involves a ring of superconducting material rotating up to 6 500 times a minute. Superconductors are special materials that lose all electrical resistance at a certain temperature. Spinning superconductors produce a weak magnetic field, the so-called London moment. The new experiment tests a conjecture by Tajmar and de Matos that explains the difference between high-precision mass measurements of Cooper-pairs (the current carriers in superconductors) and their prediction via quantum theory. They have discovered that this anomaly could be explained by the appearance of a gravitomagnetic field in the spinning superconductor (This effect has been named the Gravitomagnetic London Moment by analogy with its magnetic counterpart).

Small acceleration sensors placed at different locations close to the spinning superconductor, which has to be accelerated for the effect to be noticeable, recorded an acceleration field outside the superconductor that appears to be produced by gravitomagnetism. “This experiment is the gravitational analogue of Faraday’s electromagnetic induction experiment in 1831.

It demonstrates that a superconductive gyroscope is capable of generating a powerful gravitomagnetic field, and is therefore the gravitational counterpart of the magnetic coil. Depending on further confirmation, this effect could form the basis for a new technological domain, which would have numerous applications in space and other high-tech sectors” says de Matos. Although just 100 millionths of the acceleration due to the Earth’s gravitational field, the measured field is a surprising one hundred million trillion times larger than Einstein’s General Relativity predicts. Initially, the researchers were reluctant to believe their own results.

“We ran more than 250 experiments, improved the facility over 3 years and discussed the validity of the results for 8 months before making this announcement. Now we are confident about the measurement,” says Tajmar, who performed the experiments and hopes that other physicists will conduct their own versions of the experiment in order to verify the findings and rule out a facility induced effect.

In parallel to the experimental evaluation of their conjecture, Tajmar and de Matos also looked for a more refined theoretical model of the Gravitomagnetic London Moment. They took their inspiration from superconductivity. The electromagnetic properties of superconductors are explained in quantum theory by assuming that force-carrying particles, known as photons, gain mass. By allowing force-carrying gravitational particles, known as the gravitons, to become heavier, they found that the unexpectedly large gravitomagnetic force could be modelled.

“If confirmed, this would be a major breakthrough,” says Tajmar, “it opens up a new means of investigating general relativity and it consequences in the quantum world.”

The results were presented at a one-day conference at ESA’s European Space and Technology Research Centre (ESTEC), in the Netherlands, 21 March 2006. Two papers detailing the work are now being considered for publication. The papers can be accessed on-line at the Los Alamos pre-print server using the references: gr-qc/0603033 and gr-qc/0603032.

From European Space Agency

23 COMMENTS

  1. Been a few months.

    My interest is in artificial gravity fabrication. One capable of containing explosions…e g transmutations.

  2. “An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out, and that the growing generation is familiarised with the ideas from the beginning.”
    By the Father of Quantum Mechanics: Max Planck

  3. With regard to the original article, have there been any updates? I’ve been watching expectantly but have seen nothing. The gravity probe B story really didn’t talk about any more experiments the ESA guys are doing.

  4. Latest Tajmar Paper with NZ reference:
    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0707/0707.3806.pdf

    Now, the probe:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_Probe…timeline#Future

    ” On February 9, 2007 it was announced that a number of unexpected signals had been received and that these would need to be separated out before final results could be released. Consequently, the date for the final release of data has been pushed back from April 2007 to December 2007.

    Speculation on some internet sites, such as PhysicsForums.org, has centered around the source and nature of these anomalous signals. Several posters and alternative theorists (some skeptical of GPB and its methodology) have indicated that understanding these signals may be more interesting than the original goal of testing GR. ”

    Where in these forums was this speculation going on?
    Anyone know?

    Since it seems the anomalous data may confirm Tajmar et al., even better than the Canterbury results, this is of great interest here.

  5. “Despite the similarity to the apparatus used by Podkletnov, the authors carefully state in their eprint … that their claimed result should not be confused with the claims of Podkletnov.

    Specifically, they measured a tangental gravitomagnetic force created by Type I superconductors, (Elemental Lead and Niobium rings at liquid helium temperatures) but failed to measure an axial force from Type II superconductors (YBCO and BSSCO ceramics at liquid nitrogen temperatures) as described by Podkletnov. Thus, their results suggest a magnified form of ‘frame dragging’ rather than gravity reflection. However, there are major differences between the experiments, such as the method of driving the ring. (In the ARC experiments, the ring was physically driven by a motor, while Podkletnov’s experiment levitated and spun the ring using magnetic fields.)”

  6. I’m getting tired of headlines that promise miracles, followed by an article about some interesting, small phenom. This headline says that the researchers “created Gravity,” when all they did was cause some TINY TINY Microscopic thing to happen that doesn’t fit theory. It’s not gravity – it’s not even microgravity…

    Dial it down, journalists!

  7. This research happened a while ago, you would expect by now we would have seen news that it had either been duplicated, or debunked.

    Neither has happened; the net is silent on the subject, except for fringe claims that have been around for even longer. What gives?

  8. First let me point out that the article was written in early 2006 so if it had panned out it would be bigger news by now.
    This particular brand of pseudoscience has been floating around for awhile, usually rotating superconductor is paired with anti-gravity however.

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