The topic of “gravity modification” elicits both skepticism and disbelief. Inappropriately confused with science fiction, the subject has been intensely studied for years both by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). Now, a three-year study and its follow-up indicate that the artificial generation of local gravity effects is possible. The resultant ability to modify gravity locally might lead to microgravity or zero-G applications on Earth, as mentioned in a 2006 cover story for New Scientist magazine (Nov 11-17).
Formation of this study group has been recommended to the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs’ Center for Science, Technology, and Public Policy to initiate early discussions on how gravity modification might positively benefit the economy and technological leadership of Minnesota. Participants in these exchanges should understand that the discussion points and projections of future applications within this
document currently rest upon a single set of research results from grants funded by ESA and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. If the results are confirmed and further refined then the projections will necessarily change focus and scope.
At least two other physics labs are currently attempting to replicate the ESA results. If independent confirmation of the above research results is found to be lacking then these study group exchanges should be tabled. If confirmation is suitably convincing then these exchanges should be expanded and the workings of this study group formalized. However, waiting until confirmation of results are universally accepted puts economic development opportunities in Minnesota at a distinct disadvantage.
Therefore two questions must be asked and answered early in the process of establishing these exchanges: 1) how to identify when promising research becomes institutionally acceptable, and; 2) how to restrain criticism of formative ideas until they can reach maturity.
The State of California found early public support of nanotechnology research and private partnerships not only drew talent to the state but also positioned it as a leader in the field. According to nanotech publication Small Times, California took the lead not only in their overall research category, but also in three out of their four micro- and nanotech-specific measures.
Similarly, early discussions of the benefits and policy outcomes for gravity modification research will give Minnesota an opportunity to position itself as a leader in what has been described as “the basis for a new technological domain” with significant implications for transportation, architecture, urban planning and statewide economic development.
College of Design