Friday, December 19, 2008

"Gravity Weapons" A Nonsense

For once, something that could have been a crackpottery got snipped in the bud.

The US Defense Intelligence Agency actually commissioned a study to evaluate a dubious funding proposal on using gravitational waves from humans! I'm not kidding, and these things are way too stupid to make up.

The good thing out of all this is that a sane outcome prevails:

When the JASON team did the maths, however, results were not good for the plan's supporters.

The technique is so inefficient that it would take longer than the lifetime of the universe for every power station on Earth to produce a gravitational wave with the energy of one ten millionth of a Joule. Accelerating a spacecraft at 10 metres per second squared, a rate that just exceeds the pull of Earth's gravity, would require 1025 times (a 1 followed by 25 zeroes) the electricity output of the world.

The report (pdf format) concludes: "These proposals belong to the realm of pseudo-science, not science."

Phew! At least this report salvaged the "intelligence" part in the name of the agency. But this is not always the case.

But he quips that given the US defence establishment's history of funding bad science, over-long reports that rubbish such ideas at an early stage may not be a bad thing. "The Department of Defense always have a few projects on the go that disobey the rules of thermodynamics, so I wish they would commission this kind of in-depth study in more cases."

In the mid-1990s and early 2000s the Pentagon spent millions of dollars on developing a quasi-nuclear weapon called the hafnium bomb that was actually based on junk science. When put into that context, perhaps the money spent on a report that prevents similar spending on gravitational wave weapons was actually a good investment.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, there are still plenty more of this pseudo-scientific trash around.

The recent internet buzz surrounding "Polywell" Fusion Reactors is another good example of "science by internet committee".