The "Lifter" Phenomenon:
Electrogravitics, Antigravity, and More
Published in IE Volume 8, Issue
#45, September/October 2002
by Eugene F. Mallove
All over the world, a strange hobby is gathering
force the making of cheap, lightweight craft of aluminum foil,
balsa wood, and thin wire, which "thrust" themselves silently
upward in defiance of gravity. The model airplane-type structures,
superficially resembling triangular kites, have no wings, propellers,
or moving parts. Indoors or out, the craft leap upward against nylon
tethers that hold them back from zooming ever higher!
The "power" source for such craft? Nothing more than a
ground-based high-voltage power supply (30,000 volts and above)
often scavenged by tinkerers from old computer monitors. The internet-linked
hobbyists compete to see how much mass (actually, weight) of payload
(now in the several grams range) their "lifters" can carry.
They proudly display their new designs and accomplishments in internet
images and video clips; consult the several websites referenced
to view the videos and the original material.1
Even more amazing about this space-age hobby: There is no clear,
generally accepted physics explanation about how these craft work!
In electronics terms, they are asymmetrical capacitors (one side
or electrode holding more charge than the other) onto which charge
has been applied from a DC source. There is an unmistakable force
generated that makes these craft experience movement in the direction
toward the smaller-sized electrode. The "skeptics," of
course, have the usual knee-jerk reaction that this odd phenomenon
can be explained very simply. They contend that the craft are simply
imparting motion to ionized air molecules and are thus relying on
jet thrusting action of propelled mass, i.e. it's just "ion
wind." But some (not all) experiments, and all calculations
of the "ion wind" explanation that I have seen, find it
quite insufficient (by orders of magnitude, depending on the assumptions)
to explain the "antigravity" thrusting. Are these lifters
then, in part, "reactionless thrusters," or are they manifesting,
in part, genuine antigravity effects?
Know well that some of these lifters have been turned 90 degrees
and used in pairs to thrust horizontally about a shaft, creating
an interesting motor effect. (What are the energetics and ultimate
efficiencies of such motors? These are interesting and important
questions, to be sure.) It is not possible to say one way or the
other how lifters work their magic and that is part of the
excitement and charm of this area. This is a field ripe for open-ended
experimentation and development of products.
Bear in mind that the conditions and parameters of individual experiments
are very important firm conclusions about physics cannot be
drawn from a single isolated experiment, no matter how carefully
done. What is the voltage level, degree of asymmetry of the capacitor,
orientation, steady DC power vs. pulsed DC power, etc.? It may well
be, for example, that the truly interesting physics emerges only
at higher voltage levels; there is evidence of that in the historical
record of"electrogravitics" Thomas Townsend Brown's
work (see below) from which this field emerged.2
Do It Yourself!
If you are challenged by the prospect of doing your own experiments,
or perhaps you just want to participate in this new lifter hobby,
by all means go to it. Tim Ventura, a computer systems man who fell
into this vocation/avocation, has put up an excellent website for
hobbyists and others who are just getting into the field: http://www.americanantigravity.com
The site has relevant links to technical material of all kinds.
Tim Ventura even sells a computer CD with many megabytes of material
on it. He was kind enough to let us reprint several of his carefully
done "how to" construction segments. So even without web
access, newbies can begin to make their own lifters right from this
issue of Infinite Energy. We also reprint Ventura's gung-ho
introductory essay (p. 16), which relates how an Alabama company,
Transdimensional Technologies, which made the first of the modern
lifter embodiments, led to launching his American Antigravity enterprise.
Finally, I have posted some good references at the end of this Introduction.
Particularly apt is one published in January 2002 by the staff of
our collegial publication, Electric Spacecraft Journal.3
That same journal reports the replication of one of the T.T. Brown
experiments by Larry Davenport.4
Proceed with caution! This is
a fun hobby, but high voltages are involved and we want you all
to be safe and alive to see where this lifter phenomenon ultimately
Do not undertake experimentation without fully
understanding the hazards involved!
Electrogravitics: The Historical Background
The most important aspect of the lifter phenomenon is recapitulation
of the work of American inventor and physicist Thomas Townsend Brown
(1905-1985), who grew up in Zanesville, Ohio. From his teen years,
Brown was captivated by the relationship of electrical phenomena
to gravity. He worked on many inventions that seemed to bear on
this connection, and out of which the term "electrogravitics"
seems to have emerged. (One of his influential professors in Ohio,
Dr. Paul Biefield, allegedly was a classmate of Albert Einstein
an interesting historical connection and the origin of the
term "Biefield-Brown effect.") Tom Valone5,6
has compiled much useful information about the patents and work
of T.T. Brown. He notes, "Unknown to many non-conventional
propulsion experts, T. Townsend Brown's electrogravitics work after
the war [WWII] involved a classified multinational project. American
companies such as Douglas, Glenn Martin, General Electric, Bell,
Convair, Lear, and Sperry-Rand participated in the research effort.
Britain, France, Sweden, Canada, and Germany also had concurrent
projects from 1954 through 1956."
The NASA Patent and Denials
Another remarkable development in this lifter saga occurred
this year. A NASA employee was awarded a U.S. patent, #6,317,310
on the asymetrical capacitor thruster and it is assigned to NASA!
We have reproduced key introductory portions of this patent (see
p. 30) which seems to be grand theft of the intellectual property
of T.T. Brown, with no referencing thereof! The abstract glibly
"The high voltage source applies a high
voltage to the conductive elements of sufficient value to create
a thrust force on the module inducing movement thereof."There
is no discussion whatsoever in this patent of the infamous "ion
wind" explanation of the thrust. Given that NASA is in the
business of space travel in vacuo, it is implicit that the inventor
and agency believes this technology is relevant to spaceflight
either that or it is grossly misleading people. Is NASA somehow
trying to slip potentially reactionless thrusters (i.e. Newton's
Third Law violating technology!) or heretical "antigravity"
technology into the public arena? Probably not.
As it is often said, "Never attribute to malice
what is more readily explained by stupidity." From an internal
NASA memo (sent to Ventura in late May 2002):
An article appeared in the May 11, 2002,
issue of Wired.com/news, by Michelle Delio, about the controversial,
and as yet unresolved, "Lifter" effect; also known
as "Asymmetrical Capacitors," "Electrogravitics,"
and the "Biefeld-Brown effect (circa 1955)." This effect
claims anomalous thrust from high-voltage capacitors, and therefore,
falls within the scope of Breakthrough Propulsion Physics (BPP).
Marc Millis [of NASA] was quoted in the article. The version cited
in the Wired article is from Tim Ventura, a UNIX programmer for
AT&T Wireless. This topic is controversial because most of the
recent work, work that was not coordinated with the BPP Project,
has focused on promoting claims rather than on credibly resolving
the unknowns, and has published these claims in inappropriate venues.
Such activities have tainted the overall credibility of BPP research,
by association. Fortunately, a new effort, involving a reprogrammed
Congressional earmark, has been tasked to conduct an independent
experimental test of these "Asymmetrical Capacitor" claims.
This new effort, managed by MSFC's Gary Johnson, involves a MSFC-managed
earmark to the West Virginia Institute for Software Research (ISR).
This work is now being coordinated with BPP Project.
Yet other "PR" on this topic from
NASA alleges that the ion wind explanation suffices to explain Biefield-Brown!
Well, the physics establishment has had almost a century to deal
with this question and has simply ignored it, but now NASA, with
its patent already in hand, proposes to perform a funded study on
it. . .toward what end?
Open-Ended Questions: Other Antigravity and Reactionless Thrusters
The basic questions prompted by the lifter phenomenon are these:
1) How do electrical phenomena relate to gravity? 2) Are there "reactionless"
forces that can be generated by electromagnetic devices? The know-it-alls
of the physics establishment have preferred to deal with the question
of gravity's relationship to "electromagnetism" with its
favored grand unified theories. "Reactionless forces"
are simply too much for the poor physics community to deal with
in virtually any forum so it doesn't discuss them at all
that would be dangerous to its enterprise, like discussing cold
fusion dispassionately, without malice.
Whenever actual devices come along, such as
the gravity shielding experiment of Evgeny Podkletnov and others,8
the Establishment develops paroxysms of denial. It is going
absolutely berserk already when the "lifter" phenomenon
is brought up. It knows subliminally that it can't explain it satisfactorily,
so it thinks it can deal with it with a few jokes from spokesman
Robert Park. But unlike cold fusion, the lifter phenomenon is already
absolutely repeatable on demand. And, it looks like technological
applications are possible. Sooner or later, folks are going to find
out that the Emperor-Fizzix-really has no clothes. For now, enjoy
our coverage on this uplifting matter.
1. A few websites for lifter information:
2. Thomas Townsend Brown Patents:
*American Antigravity (Tim Ventura) http://www.americanantigravity.com
*JLN Labs, France (J.L. Naudin) http://jnaudin.free.fr/html/lifters.htm
FUK #300,311, Nov. 15, 1928, "A Method
of and an
Apparatus or Machine for Producing Force or Motion."
FU.S. #1,974,483, Sept. 25, 1934, "Electrostatic
FU.S. #2,949,550, Aug. 16, 1960, "Electrokinetic
FU.S. #3,018,394, Jan. 23, 1962, "Electrokinetic
FU.S. #3,022,430, Feb. 20, 1962, "Electrokinetic
FU.S. #3,187,206, June 1, 1965, "Electrokinetic
3. Staff Report. 2002. "Naudin's
Lifter Phenomenon," Electric Spacecraft Journal, 33,
January 16, 18-22.
4. Davenport, L. 1995. "T.T. Brown Experiment Replicated,"
Electric Spacecraft Journal, 16.
5. Valone, T., ed. 1994. Electrogravitics Systems: Reports
on a New Propulsion Methodology, Integrity Research Institute, Washington,
6. Valone, T. 1995. "T.T. Brown's Electrogravitics,"
Electric Spacecraft Journal, 14, 24-29.
7. Stein, W.B. 2000. "Electrokinetic Propulsion: The
Ion Wind Argument," Purdue University, Energy Conversion Lab
(Hangar #3, Purdue Airport, West Lafayette, IN 47906), September
8. Cohen, D. 2002. "Going Up (the latest on Evgeny Podkletnov
gravity shield experiments)," New Scientist, January
12, 173, 2325, 24-27.