LET THE RECORD SHOW that I single-handedly came up with a hypothesis by which we might confirm one of the concepts of Burkhard Heim and also witness natural anti-gravity at work in our galaxy (or as I prefer to think of it: ‘Invert Gravity’).
The concept occurred to me while reading the lead article in a New Scientist magazine about ten years ago. After reading about the recent interest in the theories of Herr Heim, I came upon a shorter piece about our collective and continuing puzzlement over what exactly propels matter out of a collapsing star. Scientists at the time couldn’t find enough horsepower in any of their pet theories. I don’t know if that has significantly changed.
Supernova: “a star that suddenly increases greatly in brightness because of a catastrophic explosion that ejects most of its mass.” I won’t go into the complex taxonomy of the types; suffice to say that anything bigger than about 10 solar masses will eventually blow.
Wikipedia: ‘The extremely luminous burst of radiation expels much or all of a star’s material at a velocity of up to 30,000 km/s (10% of the speed of light), driving a shock wave into the surrounding interstellar medium‘.
That’s a lot of horsepower, people, but 10 years ago no-one could explain it. Nor could they explain why the stuff goes north and south as huge ‘dumbbells’ of high-energy star stuff. (There are many beautiful photos on the internets. Here’s one:)
Back to Heim – he proposed that if we could build a big enough torus, packed with super-magnets that we spin up to an enormous rotational speed … VOILA: Gravity would be neutralised or even reversed, and the thing would start to hover. Or fly. Or something.
So I was left thinking: ‘Hmm… super magnets … spinning torus … So how exactly does a red giant collapse in upon itself? What are the moment-by-moment dynamics?
Over many hours or days I imagined the bloated Red Giant slowly shrinking inwards. But of course it always had spin and as we all know: Angular Momentum is Conserved. (Tie a weight on the end of a string and spin it around at neck height. You’ll soon be strangling on the concept.) The equatorial regions with the most angular momentum would speed up as they neared the core, hold position longer, and resist the collapse (think orbiting satellites), while the polar regions would collapse fastest.
At some point the star would briefly look like a flattened ball, and that outer rim – made of screaming hot plasma – could conceivably take its own adventure for a short time. Seething with immense magnetic currents it separates into a plasma doughnut about the width of Mercury’s orbit and maybe as fat as Jupiter. (Okay: some wild guessing here.)
Pulled inward, orbiting at ever higher speeds, our plasma torus could conceivably shrink down to a tight tube, bound by those speculative magnetic fields (After all, plasma can act as a mega-electrical current (think lightning). Maybe now it is a miniscule 20,000 miles thick with a doughnut hole about the diameter of our sun.
We’re now just milliseconds away from the kablooie-moment (sorry about the science-y jargon), faster, tighter … until at some key moment that torus perfectly replicates Heim’s proposed machine, but at a HUGE scale. … And then what?
If Heim (and Ged Maybury) are right, it acts as an epic-sized ‘gravity inverter’; blowing off mega-tonnes of star-stuff north & south (that “equal & opposite force” thing). Imagine if we reverse the polarity of the graviton flow (you heard that in Dr Who’s voice, didn’t you?) and 90% of the star’s mass is ‘blown away’ to become a dumbbell shape of supercharged particles flying away at a tenth of the speed of light.
Imagine the gravitational forces inside a star that has already shrunk smaller than our sun. Reversing that for –x– seconds would give things a decent kick, eh? Maybe the only thing left after that is the ‘doughnut’, which subsequently collapses into a tiny neutron star or gets eaten by Homer Simpson. After that the cosmic light-show is over.
Now remember: it’s not an explosion. There was nothing inside the star with enough physical or chemical energy to push the stuff away. It is merely a momentary inversion of the normal action of gravity.
Wild guessing, or worth crunching some numbers?
The quickest test would be to get good data on the ejecta from a supernova, calculate its collective mass/velocity/temperature (its energy, effectively), run it backwards accounting for radiant losses, and see if that matches the thermal and gravitational energy it theoretically had during the collapse of its parent star. That bit will be easy. Running simulations on a collapsing star, especially of the magnetic behaviour of my theoretical torus – that’s gonna take a few super computers. Anyone up to it?
They say that gravity sucks, but maybe sometimes it blows. Something has to explain how stars explode exactly the way they do.
Anyway, since I got fobbed off* all those years ago, I’m putting it here on record for the rest of the world to ignore if it so deserves. But could someone do the math first, please? And you never know – somewhere in the near-future you might just get the chance to say, “Hey, I knew the guy who first thought of this!” Do that for me, okay?
Thanks for following my explanation, and goodnight.
If you want a crushingly sad story, read this:
[Further reading about Heim (note the closing sentence): http://io9.com/5855461/one-weird-theory-could-make-anti-gravity-and-faster-than-light-travel-possible
& Here is a precis of that New Scientist article: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/06/hyperdrive/
* [I wrote to New Scientist with the idea, they replied something like, “Yes, very interesting. We passed it on to the most appropriate researchers.” – which I later began to suspect meant, “We threw your ideas in the bin.” (Prove me wrong, someone!)]
DISCLOSURE: In 1972, one year after walking off my high-school stage Dux in Math and Sciences, I achieved an A+ in Physics (Otago University, Dunedin). The Dean invited me to consider undertaking an honours Degree in Physics. So … at the very least, I’m no slouch at passing exams; eh? (And I regret turning it down.)