• Homecoming

    I have finally returned from what is likely to be my last journey to Peru. Not that I lack the will, or even the means, to build another airship. But at long last and perhaps justly so, my time is running out. When Elektra went down, all but a small part of its cargo was lost. Fortunately each case was packed well, and a few were retrieved from the Mar de Cortés. These supplies will last a year, perhaps more, while I look for another solution.

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  • Electrical Heresy 101

    Where does the light and heat come from? The answer may surprise you...
    Where does the light and heat come from? The answer may surprise you…

    Over the past half-century, the study of Quantum Electrodynamics has led to a new understanding of electrical circuits. But this information has not been shared with the general public. In our schools students are taught principles that have remained unchanged for nearly two centuries. As a result, free-thinkers and conservatives alike are confined by antiquated concepts that do not reflect an understanding of quantum reality.

    A Thought Experiment

    Imagine a simple electrical circuit, in which a battery is connected by copper wire to a switch and a light bulb. This is a series-type circuit, with a single wire connecting each component to the next, and only one path for the electricity to take. When the switch is closed, electric current flows out of the battery, through the switch, through the bulb, and then back to the battery. If battery and bulb are well-matched, the bulb will emit light and heat whenever the switch is closed.

    When we observe that the bulb emits light and heat, it is obvious that an energy transformation has taken place. Where did the energy come from? From the battery, of course. Energy stored in the battery was drawn out and converted into light and heat.

    What happens if we run the bulb too long? That’s easy to predict. The longer the switch remains closed, the more energy is drawn out of the battery. Eventually the battery will become depleted and the bulb will go dark.

    That is the conventional explanation, and it seems reasonable. But if we want to truly understand the system, we need to ask a few more questions. For example, by what means is the energy transferred from battery to bulb?

    Electric Current

    We’re taught that electrical energy is conveyed by a flow of charges, or electrons, along the wire. This movement of electrons is called the electric current. We can measure the electric current by inserting a meter between the switch and lamp. When the switch is closed, the meter indicates how much current is being drawn from the battery. After a while we observe that the current begins to decrease, the lamp grows dim, and if we are willing to wait long enough, the current will eventually drop to zero.

    At this point, the operation of this circuit seems clear. Energy from the battery is conducted via wires to the bulb, where it is converted into light and heat. That’s about as far as the conventional explanation goes. But if we accept that explanation, then we have accepted a fallacy. Indeed, here lies a whopper of untruth that is responsible for many problems in the world today.

    Suppose we cut the return wire from bulb to battery, and insert a second meter into the circuit. If we did that, we would see that the intensity of electric current at both points in the circuit is exactly the same. In other words, no electric current is consumed as it passes through the bulb. Each unit of charge, every electron, that leaves the battery and travels along the copper wire, returns to the battery after passing through the bulb. If none of the electric current is consumed, then it follows that it cannot be the source of light and heat energy.

    Source Dipole
    Source Dipole

    The Heretical Quantum

    If the electric current is not consumed by the lamp, then what is really happening in this simple circuit? Where is the energy source that lights the lamp, and why does the battery run down?

    According to Quantum Electrodynamics (QED), the battery represents a source dipole, an object with an abundance of positive charges on one pole (i.e., the battery terminal) and an abundance of negative charges on the other. This is an unbalanced condition, and therefore work is required to separate the charges and to maintain the distance between them. In a battery, that work is performed by a chemical process.

    In the space around a source dipole, a region known as the electric field exists. The voltage potential at any point in the field varies with distance from one pole or the other. Without a source dipole nearby, QED represents space as a smooth, flat surface. Any charged particles passing along that surface would continue in a straight line. When a source dipole is present, the resulting electric field would cause such particles to be attracted to one terminal or the other. In this case QED represents space as a curved or warped surface.

    The warped surface condition is temporary, and space will tend to revert back to its flat, unstressed condition. In order to do that, the source dipole must be neutralized by transferring excess charges between the poles. This transfer or flow of charges is the QED representation of electric current. Depending on the conductivity of materials used, the transfer of charges can be very slow or very fast. But in every case, the sole purpose of electric current is to move excess electrons from one side of a source dipole to the other.

    In other words, energy from the battery is not expended to light the lamp, but rather to neutralize itself. When the terminals are connected, the flow of electric current forces a chemical reaction inside of the battery, which reduces and eventually destroys the source dipole. The chemical reaction generates heat, and if the dipole is neutralized too quickly then the battery may become dangerously hot. This is commonly referred to as a short-circuit.

    Getting to the Point

    Based on the study of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED), the operation of this simple series circuit can be understood in two parts:

    • Electric current flows from one battery terminal to the other, in order to neutralize the source dipole.
    • Light and heat are generated as a consequence of electric current passing through the bulb. These effects do not require the conversion or reduction of electric current.

    That second point is the key: Light and heat are secondary effects that occur when current passes through the bulb. If those effects do not require the conversion or reduction of current, then where does the energy come from? The answer may surprise you. It is subtle, but extremely important: The energy that is expressed as light and heat comes from the ambient environment.

    The world around us is bubbling with energy, but we don’t notice it because environmental energy is disorganized and random, or of such high frequency that it can only be detected by the most sensitive instruments. When electric current passes through the bulb, interactions at the quantum level cause a tiny amount of environmental energy to be organized into a coherent form. The heat given off by the bulb is a coherence of ambient thermal oscillations. In a similar way, the light emitted by the bulb is a coherence of high frequency background radiation.

    And now we can expose that whopper of untruth mentioned earlier:

    There need not be a 1:1 relationship between neutralization of the source dipole, and the expression of light and heat by the lamp. The fact that these effects typically occur together is merely an engineering convenience.

    What does this mean in a practical sense? It means that electricity need not be used once and thrown away. In a properly designed circuit, electric current can be passed through a load more than once, generating output such as heat and light each time, without violating any natural laws.

    What would happen if young engineers were taught this concept? What kind of machines would they build? How much cleaner and more efficient would our energy systems become?

    Only time will tell…

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  • Project #1: Make a Simple Etheric Translator

    Variations of the Linear Etheric Translator
    Variations of the Linear Etheric Translator

    Building a Linear Etheric Translator is a great way to begin exploring subtle energy technology. This simple device acts as a sort of lens, to collect and concentrate subtle energy. It can be used to develop and practice extended sensory perception, or in combination with similar devices to create complex etheric machines. Best of all, the translator is easily constructed from common materials.

    Of great significance is the fact that etheric translators are self-powered; no battery or external power source is required. They operate by condensing unstructured energy from local space and emitting a focused, linear flow.

    Attempts to detect subtle energy with conventional electronic instruments invariably fail. This is because subtle energy is a natural, living force, and electronic measurements can’t be made directly. But that doesn’t mean it’s not real. After all, the existence of microbes was unknown for many thousands of years before the microscope was invented.

    Subtle energy is easily sensed by living systems, however, and with practice most people can feel it as touches their skin. Practicing sensory experiments with etheric translators will naturally lead to enhanced energetic awareness. It is an effective way to “remove the blinders” that we take upon ourselves to reflect the norms of society.

    The etheric translator can be constructed in about 30 minutes. The following materials are required:

    Common materials are used to construct etheric translators
    Common materials are used to construct etheric translators
    • A length of small diameter metal tubing. Copper or brass work well and are relatively easy to cut. Tubing sizes less than 8 mm diameter (or 5/16 inches) are more convenient. Soft coiled tubing can be used if you carefully straighten it by hand.
    • A tubing cutter for making clean, precise cuts. This is a hand-held tool with a circular blade and knob that can be adjusted for different sizes of tubing (see photo.)
    • Cotton cord such as clothesline or shoe laces.
    • Hot glue gun. This is optional, but it makes winding easier.
    • Scissors, metric ruler, electrical tape.

    Terminology and Justification
    Although scientists and philosophers have written about subtle energy for thousands of years, a consistent terminology is lacking in modern scientific literature. For our purposes, we will consider the term ether to be synonymous with subtle energy and orgone energy. Based on previous studies (many of which are described on bendingspace.net), we postulate the following:

    • Ether is invisible and ominipresent
    • Ether penetrates and interacts with matter as described by Steiner and Wachsmuth
    • Multiple grades of ether exist in the natural environment
    • One grade of ether can be transformed into another, by a quasi-physical process analagous to phase change.
    • In the unbound condition, ether exhibits reverse gradiant potential, which means that ether tends to flow from a region of low potential to a region of high potential. This is also known as negentropy, the tendency to spontaneously create more complex systems.

    That last point, about negentropy, is promptly dismissed by anyone who has been taught the so-called “Laws” of Thermodynamics. Yet evidence of negentropy may be found everywhere, simply by observing the growth of living systems. In living systems, minerals and particles self-organize into complex structures.

    One may rightfully ask, what evidence supports the assertions presented here? One type of evidence is direct observation. Several individuals have studied etheric translators using clairvoyant sight and other forms of extended sensory perception. Their observations are consistent with each other, and with other sources consulted by the author.

    The Linear Translator emits a ray of etheric energy
    The Linear Translator emits a ray of etheric energy

    Another type of evidence is scientific data collected by Trevor James Constable. These include photos, videos, and radar images generated during two decades of atmospheric experiments. But let’s be clear: The purpose of this article is not to prove anything. Rather, it describes a process by which you can perform your own experiments and make up your own mind.

    Interested readers are encouraged to accept these concepts on a provisional basis, to be verified as soon as possible through meditation and direct experience. For some, confirmation will come literally by their own hands. Others may criticize these ideas with a great sense of certainty. Those who are determined to disbelieve are encourged to move on and enjoy other pages less challenging.

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  • A Walk in the Andes

    Continued from Railway in the Sky

    The G&Q Railway in Riobamba
    The G&Q Railway in Riobamba

    When we arrived at Riobamba, the effects of altitude hit us as we stepped down from the train. The slightest exertion made us feel weak and unsteady. Obviously, we were in no condition to embark on a mountain trek. Carlos merely nodded, and made the necessary arrangements.

    We rested two days in a primitive hotel, drinking cocoa tea to relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness. On the third day Carlos returned with three stout campesinos, each leading a comical, long-necked pack animal. Two of the animals were loaded with supplies, and the third was harnessed to carry our gear. By this time our heads were beginning to clear.

    The first week passed without incident, as we wound our way through alpine fields and across mountain slopes. Our heading was South and then East, deeper into the Andes. We hiked in single file, with Carlos in front and the campesinos and pack animals behind. The scenery was spectacular; I’d seen nothing like it, except once on vacation in Austria as a boy.

    We traveled further each day as our bodies grew accustomed to the altitude. After about 10 days the headaches became infrequent, and we started to truly enjoy the journey. Carlos proved to be an experienced mountain guide, and taught us to deal with the uncertainty of high mountain weather. The nights were quite cold, and we often found ourselves huddled together in sleep.

    On the Andean slopes today
    On the Andean slopes today

    Carlos spoke English with us, and in a rapid, local dialect with the campesinos. Otto, Pavel and I used English for the most part, although Otto insisted that we switch to Czech from time to time.

    There was ample opportunity to share stories of our war-time experiences. Some of Otto’s tales were quite fantastic, and I doubted there was much truth in them. I thought he was spinning a yarn to rival my accounts of aerial combat over the Channel. Of course, I discovered later that at least some of his story was true. In fact, I still have the evidence.

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  • Loom Of The Future

    Loom_Of_The_Future

    Those of us who are drawn beyond the boundaries of conventional thought owe a debt to one of the great amateur scientists of the 20th century, Trevor James Constable (TJC). Originally an aviation and military historian, Constable became fascinated with the UFO phenomena, and began a decades-long quest into the unseen forces of nature.

    When I encountered his books years ago, I was surprised and naturally skeptical at TJC’s assertion that many UFOs were actually biological entities. Based on the evidence he collected, Constable became convinced that a race of invisible bioforms, or sky-critters, inhabited Earth’s atmosphere. This belief prompted a decades-long adventure during which he uncovered important research into terrestrial etheric physics, and developed breakthrough technologies which are unprecedented in modern times.

    This lifelong quest was rooted in TJC’s early career as a military historian. Constable became aware of several well-documented cases in the 1940s and 50s, of US fighter planes being dispatched to intercept incoming enemy aircraft detected on radar, only to find nothing in the sky. The most famous of these occurred during World War II near the Pacific island of Okinawa. TJC recounts this event in his 1976 publication, The Cosmic Pulse of Life (page references to the first edition):

    Initial radar contact was 120 miles. The “blip” or echo returning from the incoming force was very large, supporting an estimate of 200 to 300 aricraft. At 100 miles range, their speed was determined to be 650 knots — nearly 700 mph. No known aircraft in the world at that time could attain such a speed. At eighty miles and at an altitude of 12,000 feet, the incoming force of aircraft began to spread out in two formations from the main body, as though preparing to assault the whole American task force.

    Only 12 aircraft were available as air cover for the U.S. ships, all other American aircraft being absent on strikes against Japanese positions in the Ryukyus. These twelve fighters were scrambled and vectored by Dawson towards the attacking force. In bright weather, with only scattered clouds at 5,000 feet, the American fighter pilots enjoyed unrestrained visibilty. At 15,000 feet on intercept they could see 50 miles but they never did see the incoming 200 to 300 enemy aircraft.

    Directed accurately from the carrier to intercept the “enemy”, the veteran Navy pilots could not see the attacking force even when directly above them, as seen on the carrier radar. The “enemy” nevertheless kept coming towards the task force, now at general quarters for the impending attack. Dawson warned the bridge by telephone that the enemy was almost upon them. The skipper told him he was crazy, that there was nothing to be seen in the sky. Radar still showed the hordes of attackers. The incredulous Dawson went on deck himself and saw — nothing. (p.10)

    According to Constable, similar encounters have occurred hundreds of times in the decades since the advent of radar technology. In most cases the objects detected by radar were invisible to the naked eye. The official explanation is that these objects were propagation anomalies. This apparent refusal to deal with the mountain of scientific evidence concerning invisible UFOs, points to a mass neuorsis of materialistic thinking. He writes:

    My experience has taught me the futility of seeking formal recognition for any of these findings, because such a venture reduces itself always to a hopeless battle against character structure — against modes of reaction and behavior inculcated since infancy. One is forced to choose between continued quiet work and exhaustion in the labyrinths of scientific bureaucracy.

    My choice was the former, seeking to demonstrate as conclusively as possible that the invisible is upon us… (p. 26)

    Constable resolved to conduct his research outside of the traditional scientific community. He was a practical engineer with an open mind and a desire to learn, and these qualities have served him well. His first major discovery occurred in 1957, while conducting a series of experiments in the Mohave desert. TJC took thousands of photographs of the desert sky with a standard camera and black & white film, using an 18A filter. This type of filter blocks all visible light, allowing images in the infrared spectrum to be captured on film. Constable knew that the unknown objects were physical, since they could be detected on radar. He reasoned that these objects must give off heat, especially since they were known to travel through the atmosphere at high speed. An image taken in the infrared spectrum should reveal their presence.

    The experiment continued for several months, and from thousands of attempts a handful of conclusive images were captured on film. But the images were more strange and unsettling than anyone could have imagined. Instead of sleek, saucer-like objects, the photos showed enormous amoeba-like creatures!

    As incredible as this may sound, similar images have been captured by independant researchers in Italy and Romania, without prior knowledge of Constable’s work. Further confirmation is provided by NASA, in video footage shot from the Columbia spacecraft in February 1996. Details and photos are included in the fourth edition (2008) of The Cosmic Pulse of Life.

    More information about Constable’s early research, including images of the sky-critters, may be found in references at the end of this article. But the most important discoveries of his career were yet to come.

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  • Multi-Dimensional Circuits

    Kenneth Strickfaden created special effects for classic Hollywood films using Inductive Discharge
    Kenneth Strickfaden created special effects for classic Hollywood films using Inductive Discharge

    Switched mode power circuits are an efficient means of generating high voltage output from a low voltage source. The operating principle behind these cicuits is quite remarkable. Every so often (generally, many thousands of times per second) a bundle of stored electric energy flashes from one state, or condition, into something entirely different. During those brief moments, an instantaneous acceleration of charge occurs in the output circuit.

    The flash is sometimes called a radiant event; the conventional term is inductive discharge. Curiously, the normal rules of electric conduction are suspended during these events. Under normal conditions, such as when batteries or capacitors are discharged, the source voltage gradually declines until equilibrium is reached. At equilibrium (that is, when the voltage potential in circuit components is the same) electric current does not flow. This behavior is well-known and often described in terms of a mathematical relation known as Ohm’s Law.

    The discharge of an inductor behaves quite differently. In this case, the source voltage rises spontaneously, as high as it needs to, until the potential in other parts of the circuit is overcome. This voltage rise, repeated many times in rapid succession, results in step-charging an attached capacitor higher and higher. Have you ever used an electronic camera flash, and heard a faint sound that quickly rises in pitch? That is the sound of a capacitor being step-charged to several hundred volts.

    The reason the output circuit behaves differently, is because the new variable of time, or more accurately time compression, has been added to the system. When viewed on an oscilloscope, it becomes clear that pulses in the input circuit are time-compressed in the output circuit. This compression squeezes each pulse in the time dimension, which results in a corresponding voltage rise. The pulses become shorter and shorter, and the voltage rises higher and higher, as the potential in other components is overcome.

    In a mathematical analysis, the output circuit would be modeled as a higher-order equation (as compared to the input) due to the added variable of time-compression. The combination is therefore a multi-dimensional circuit.

    We are interested in multi-dimensional circuits because they present a unique opportunity to engineer an important natural phenomenon. During inductive discharge, the energy transformation is like a material phase change, as from the liquid state to a vapor. And just like the vapor-compression cycle in a common heat pump, the output circuit is capable of absorbing energy from the environment, through the action of inductive discharge.

    In a conventional design the net energy gain is relatively small, and obscured by losses associated with other parts of the circuit. But the principle is valid, and a properly designed and tuned system is capable of greater efficiency, by absorbing energy from the environment to offset the inevitable losses.

    A more detailed discussion follows…

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  • Make a Variable Inductor

    A home made variable inductor
    A home made variable inductor

    Thanks to the growth of online retailers such as Mouser and Electronic Goldmine, it is easy to search, compare and purchase thousands of electronic components at afforable prices. Even so, certain components are relatively uncommon and difficult to find. Such is the case with variable inductors.

    Inductors are of particular interest because of their ability to operate in two completely different energy domains. Electric current is a physical thing, readily sensed by human touch. But pass that current through an inductor, and something happens in the space around it. A stressed condition occurs, which is intangible and yet capable of extracting energy from the circuit and storing it in a magnetic field. If the electric current is reversed or shut it off abruptly, the stored energy is released back into the circuit, with greatly increased intensity. The voltage potential resulting from inductive discharge can be many times greater than that of the orginal electric current. In other words, fast switching of current in an inductor causes electricity to raise its own potential. This principle, known as “Method of Conversion”, was discovered by Tesla in 1887, is used throughout modern industry in the design of high efficiency power supplies.

    Coil_photo_1

    Inductors are measured and rated according to their inductance. Variable inductors are designed with a moving part that can be used to make fine adjustments. They are generally used in the tuning of resonant circuits. There is quite a lot to say about oscillators and resonant circuits. See for example, Chapter 25 in Benjamin Crowell’s book Light and Matter.

    Variable inductors fall into two basic categories: inductors for signal applications (sometimes called chokes) and power inductors. Most variable inductors available online are of the signal variety. My interest lies in power inductors, and these are much less common and therefore harder to find.

    Fortunately, it is not very difficult to make your own variable power inductor. The basic components include a cylindrical ferrite core (such as Mouser part # 623-2631102002), and a roll of stiff, 18 gauge insulated wire. I found some plastic coated steel wire at a hardware store, and a ferrite core in my spare parts box, left over from a previous project.

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  • Anti-Gravity in the 1950s

    LaViolette_cover
    There are several reference books available on electrogravitics, also known as anti-gravity. Two of the best are Electrogravitics II by Thomas Valone, and Secrets of Antigravity Propulsion by Paul A. LaViolette. These books contain a wealth of information.

    Modern anti-gravity research began with Nikola Tesla’s shock discharge experiments in the 1890s. Tesla discovered, quite by accident, that under certain conditions a tangible force could felt several feet away from his discharge apparatus. The presence of this force was completely unexpected. Intrigued, he re-focused his experiments and determined that this force could be transmitted over distance, in a narrow beam and with only minimal losses. Tesla lacked sufficient funds to develop the technology further, and could only speculate on its possible applications.

    In later interviews, Tesla predicted a future in which electric airships traversed the skies for commerce and pleasure. The airships would be self-propelled or supported by energy beams from the ground. These ideas, widely reported in the popular press, provided an atmosphere of scientific credibility to fanciful visions of the Atlantean Vailx.

    Another prominent researcher was Thomas Townsend Brown of Zanesville, Ohio. Brown observed an unexpected force while experimenting with high voltage tubes. His first patent, granted in 1928, describes “…a method of controlling gravitation and deriving power therefrom, and to a method for producing linear force or motion. The method is fundamentally electrical.” (British patent 300,311 dated Nov. 15, 1928)

    U.S. Patent 1,974,483
    U.S. Patent 1,974,483

    The force that Brown discovered is called the Biefeld-Brown Effect, named after Brown and his mentor, a professor of Physics at Denison University. Brown’s research continued while serving as a Naval Radio Officer in the 1930s, and as an Allied Intelligence agent in the 1940s. Eventually, his results captured the attention of leading aerospace firms. Brown was largely responsible for the interest in gravitation control that flourished in the aerospace industry during the 1950s.

    One of the many fascinating points covered in the books by Valone and LaViolette is how open and publicly acknowledged anti-gravity research was in the 1950s. Several articles about research projects at U.S. aviation firms were published in the mid 1950s. The New York Herald Tribune reported in November 1955:

    Many in America’s aircraft and electronics industries are excited over the possibility of using its magnetic and gravitational fields as a medium of support for amazing “flying vehicles” which will not depend on the air for lift. Space ships capable of accelerating in a few seconds to speeds many thousands of miles an hour and making sudden changes of course at these speeds without subjecting their passengers to the so-called “G-forces” caused by gravity’s pull also are envisioned. These concepts are part of a new program to solve the secret of gravity and universal gravitation all ready in progress in many top scientific laboratories and long-established industrial firms of the nation.(p75)

    The Herald goes on to cite gravitational control research at General Dynamics, Glen L. Martin Co., Convair, Bell Aircraft, Lear Inc. and Sperry-Rand. Technical reports from this era have surfaced and support the existence of these research programs.

    In an effort to prepare the public for the appearance of new, unconventional flying vehicles, the U.S. Dept of Defense issued a press release on Oct. 15, 1955. Secretary of the Air Force Donald A. Quarles was quoted as follows:

    We are now entering a period of aviation technology in which aircraft of unusual configuration and flight characteristics will begin to appear…The Air Force and other Armed Services have under development several vertical-rising, high performance aircraft… Vertical-rising aircraft capable of transition to supersonic horizontal flight will be a new phenomena in our skies, and under certain conditions could give the illusion of the so-called flying saucer.(p73)

    John Searl's Levity Disc
    John Searl’s Levity Disc

    Within a few years, the commercial programs quietly shut down and official references disappeared from mainstream press. Copious amounts of dis-information began to appear, suggesting that flying disks were of interplanetary origin. Apparently it was decided that anti-gravity research should become a state secret, and that public sightings of advanced flying vehicles could be dismissed as fanciful tales of science fiction.

    Anti-gravity research continued in the form of highly classified programs by military contractors and secret labs in the U.S, Britain and Soviet Union. LaViolette presents evidence that the American B-2 Advanced Technology Bomber utilizes electrogravitic propulsion to extend its range. (During the Kosovo War in 1999, B2 bombers flew non-stop from their home base in Missouri to Kosovo and back.)

    Several different approaches to field-propulsion technology have been documented. I was amused to note that the direction of my own research, which diverged from Brown’s early work, has gone unreported. Government-funded programs are using more energy-intensive approaches such as flame-jet ionization and microwave phase conjugation. Meanwhile, a few private enterprises exist in isolation, flying literally “under the radar” with low altitude, all-electric airships.

    Links:

    U.S. Gravity Control Propulsion Research

    The Thomas Townsend Brown Family Website

    Defying Gravity: The Parallel Universe of T. Townsend Brown

    The Scientific Notebooks of Thomas Townsend Brown

    The Story Behind the John Searl Story

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  • Nikola Tesla Day

    Tesla at Colorado Springs, 1900
    Tesla at Colorado Springs

    Nikola Tesla was born on this day, 158 years ago. Depending on who you ask, he was either a crazy eccentric who fed pigeons, or a brilliant engineer who changed the world. If he were to be judged by his works, there would be little debate.

    Do you use electricity from a power grid to light your home? Did you listen to the radio today? Have you used an electric motor, or ever had an X-ray? All of these things can be attributed to Tesla.

    Tesla made it clear, in his writings and lectures, that his motivation for discovery was to improve the quality of life for humanity. Tesla was a pacifist, and although much is made of his plans for a so-called “death ray”, he never used that term and in fact had designed a particle beam device solely for the defense of nations. The same technology was intended to power electric airships for convenient, safe transportation.

    It was a tradition, while Tesla was alive, to honor his birthday with a lavish party to which prominent members of the press were invited. The tradition continues, as evidenced by several articles that appeared on the Internet today. People are still fascinated by Tesla, although men of science generally scoff at his claim that nature could supply limitless amounts of free energy. Of course, those are the same people who make a big deal about Newton’s apple that fell from a tree, but never ask how it got up there in the first place. They like to quote the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that all systems tend to dis-associate and decay. But they will spend two or three hours on a Saturday, cutting back the lawn that self-assembles in their yard.

    In 2013, Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal series of Web comics, led a successful crowd-funding campaign to acquire Tesla’s old laboratory, where the famous Wardenclyffe Tower once stood. And today, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, contributed $1 million dollars to help build a museum there. It’s a good day.

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  • Railway in the Sky

    Continued from The First Expedition

    SS Cristobal (courtesy of Björn Larsson)
    SS Cristobal (courtesy of Björn Larsson)

    From New York we sailed on the SS Cristobal. Life aboard ship was surreal, with clean linens, fine dining, and games of leisure on the sports deck. I was unaccustomed to such luxury, and the contrast with my experiences during the war could not have been more acute.

    After 8 days at sea, we disembarked at Guayaquil, a busy port city on the coast of Ecuador. It was near mid-day and the streets were strangely quiet. (We learned that it is customary for business to close at mid-day.) Otto checked his notebook, and we found our way to a certain cantina in the Las Peñas district. The place must have been at least a hundred years old. Compared to the accommodations aboard ship, it seemed like we had travelled backwards in time. We entered the dark interior and found a table near the back.

    A few hours passed before two men approached. One was obviously American, but did not give his name. He introduced the other as Carlos, who would be our guide. The American placed a small parcel on the table, shook hands with Otto, and left. Otto opened it carefully and discovered a large amount of local currency, in folding paper and silver coins. Pavel and I were mystified, but Otto merely smiled and promised to explain later.

    Carlos left for a short time, and then beckoned us to follow him outside. By this time the city had come alive, and the streets were noisy and crowded. Carlos led the way for several blocks, once turning abruptly through a narrow alley. We arrived at a shabby guest house where a room had been prepared. Carlos introduced us to the proprietor, answered a few questions, and promised to return in the morning. We settled ourselves and then ate, drank and talked well into the night.

    Climbing Devil's Nose in Ecuador
    Climbing Devil’s Nose in Ecuador

    In the morning Carlos re-appeared, and we loaded our gear into a cart for the short ride to a place called Duran. There we boarded a narrow-gauge train that was apparently the pride of Ecuador. Compared to the Cristobal, it seemed primitive indeed. The cars were 40 years old and badly in need of repair. However, the railway turned out to be a remarkable feat of engineering.

    The G&Q Railway was completed in 1908 by an engineer from Virginia. It connects the port of Guayaquil with the capital Quito high in the Andes. The railway climbs from sea level to an altitude exceeding 3000 meters, and travels nearly a thousand kilometers. It was an ambitious project, but despite its importance for economic development, the railway never actually turned a profit.

    It was an incredible journey into the mountains. We crossed several dramatic gorges on improbable bridges, and at one point actually climbed switchbacks, the train moving backwards and forwards up a steep rock face called the Devil’s Nose. The locals call it Ferrocarril en el cielo, or Railway in the Sky.

    To be continued…

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