# Chances of Technology Supression

## Main Question or Discussion Point

As many of you have seen on the internet, there are a few nut-cases out there who believe in free-energy suppression, MIBs, UFOs, aliens, etc, etc, without proof.

But, IF it were possible to make something potentially dangerous to the world with readily available parts/components. Would the governments of the world, or scientific establishments, try to suppress the knowledge/information that would make it possible?

Related General Discussion News on Phys.org
turbo
Gold Member
It is already possible to build stuff that is extremely destructive with readily-available materials, or to use things available on the black market to leverage manageable risks into disasters. I won't mention any specifics, but in practice, all the governments can do is try to keep tabs on people who look up such stuff on the Internet, or infiltrate groups that they suspect "might" be motivated to wreak havoc.

f95toli
Gold Member
Not really.
It is interesting to note that the first official report from the Manhattan project (released just after the war) contained quite a few details about how to build an atomic bomb. Groves argument for releasing so much information to the public was that anyone who was actually planning to build a bomb would be able to find the information anyway (the science was already known and now everyone knew that a bomb was possible) and a proper report was the best way to stop speculations.

Groves argument is still correct. Most of the "dangerous" information is out there anyway for the simple reason that most of it can be used in peaceful ways as well. Biological weapons is a good example; many labs have the tools and knowledge needed to produce e.g. a virus simply because they need it in research which is aiming to cure disease. Hence, the information is available in books and journals.
The same is true for most weapons and other types of "dangerous" knowledge.

Known science technologies aren't what I'm thinking here..

Assume someone could go to say, Petco, Radio Shack, and Lowe's. Spend $100 bucks, and build a device that could say .... Make all petroleum products within a 2000 mile radius turn into Lime Jello. Lol If this was possible, would this information be available to the public? Or would the science behind it be suppressed? Last edited: Ivan Seeking Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member Anything that poses a threat to national security could be classified. Something like you describe would certainly pose a threat to national security. Stealth technology was kept secret for about thirty years. The SR-71 even employed primitive stealth technology. This is not a subject for S&D - moving to GD. Last edited: BobG Science Advisor Homework Helper Known science technologies aren't what I'm thinking here.. Assume someone could go to say, Petco, Radio Shack, and Lowe's. Spend$100 bucks, and build a device that could say .... Make all petroleum products within a 2000 mile radius turn into Lime Jello. Lol

If this was possible, would this information be available to the public? Or would the science behind it be suppressed?
Your first line creates one big contradiction. Unless some alien race suddenly drops some technology eons beyond our current knowledge, then even your most state of the art inventions are based on known science. Whatever new technology someone develops is going to be developed independently by someone else within several years, or a decade or two at most.

This simple fact means the chances of total technology suppression is impossible. You classify new developments that would provide a threat to national security or a tremendous advantage to national security to slow others from matching your own current technology level. At best, you gain a few years or, if suppression of the knowledge is particularly effective, maybe a decade at most. Anyone who believed suppressing the spread of knowledge about a new technology provides a permanent advantage would be terribly naive. As soon as some new technology is developed (and somewhat suppressed), the race is on to take the next step to maintain that advantage.

One example: Newton and Leibniz developed a whole new branch of mathematics - calculus - independently of each other within about 10 years of each other. Why? Because calculus was the next logical step based on the current level of mathematics. If they hadn't developed it, someone else would have in about the same time frame.

Another, even more puzzling example: Civilizations totally isolated from each other - say ancient civilizations in Western hemisphere and Eastern hemisphere - tended to develop the same new technologies surprisingly close to each other in time considering there was absolutely no interaction between them. Civilizations in the East tended to always be ahead, probably because there more civilizations, which meant more chances for interaction and a spread of knowledge, but you would think that more opportunities for interaction would create an ever increasing gap in technology. Perhaps it was starting to, but as soon as transportation reached a point to really start spreading knowledge effectively, it also spread colonization to the Western hemisphere, meaning the two hemispheres weren't isolated any longer.

vanesch
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Your first line creates one big contradiction. Unless some alien race suddenly drops some technology eons beyond our current knowledge, then even your most state of the art inventions are based on known science. Whatever new technology someone develops is going to be developed independently by someone else within several years, or a decade or two at most.
I fully agree with you, and this is why the fight against nuclear proliferation is a kind of fight against the second law of thermodynamics. Even in the early stages, there were at least 4 independent developments of nuclear weapons (of which only one came to terms: the Manhattan project). They had different degrees of advancement, but they all were slowly converging towards more or less the same path.

The British had done some research (in the beginning without the US's knowledge) - which is what enabled them to fear that Nazi-Germany could be on its way too. In Germany (probably very fortunately) due to boron impurities in the used graphite, one had come to the conclusion that the only way to make a reactor was with heavy water (hence the whole episode with the Norwegian heavy water factory and so on). This slowed them down seriously, but their plan wasn't wrong. At the end of the war, they were on the verge of having a working heavy water reactor which would have enabled them eventually to make plutonium. They already had the rudiments of chemical plutonium separation in their hands.
The Japanese had started their own investigations, following the path of uranium enrichment, but they realised that they didn't have the technical means to build a large factory that would give them a weapon before the end of the war, so they canceled this to put their ressources elsewhere.

In fact, Manhattan wasn't further than these features in 1941. This means somehow that the others were only 3 or 4 years behind on the Manhattan project, and had assigned less ressources to it. But independent paths (which were going in the right direction!) were already created from the beginning.

And note that all this was before the biggest secret was out: that it is actually *possible* to build a nuclear weapon.

Danger
Gold Member
And in reference to the OP subjects mentioned, bear in mind that 200mpg carbeurators, over-unity machines, etc. are pure hogwash. They aren't suppressed; they just don't exist.

And in reference to the OP subjects mentioned, bear in mind that 200mpg carbeurators, over-unity machines, etc. are pure hogwash. They aren't suppressed; they just don't exist.
I agree. There's a difference between things that are dangerous and possible, to things that are dangerous and impossible (Or unproved/improbable like UFO's).

Danger
Gold Member
Quite so. There's no question that UFO's exist; that existence is imbedded in their name: Unidentified Flying Objects. Most of them are mirages, sundogs, bad moonshine, you name it. The rest have rational explanations as well, although in some cases we don't know what those are. The ET thing is next to impossible.

And in reference to the OP subjects mentioned, bear in mind that 200mpg carbeurators, over-unity machines, etc. are pure hogwash. They aren't suppressed; they just don't exist.
My question isn't about the likely hood of something like fuel -> jello, over-unity machines, etc.. This thread is simply about the odds that science/physics laws, etc, could be custom tailored/manipulated or suppressed to prevent terrorists from causing mass damage, etc.

I'm just asking if there was a science law that explained how something like that is possible. Do you think that information could be kept from the public, or intentionally modified to make it less harmless.

My question isn't about the likely hood of something like fuel -> jello, over-unity machines, etc.. This thread is simply about the odds that science/physics laws, etc, could be custom tailored/manipulated or suppressed to prevent terrorists from causing mass damage, etc.

I'm just asking if there was a science law that explained how something like that is possible. Do you think that information could be kept from the public, or intentionally modified to make it less harmless.
And, from what I'm reading here, the answer is conclusively "No". We don't live in a cyberpunk world, in 1984, or in Fahrenheit 451-land :D. The means to learn how to build something obscenely destructive is easily obtained by persons not in league with the government.

"I don't know" is the correct answer, actually.

Danger
Gold Member
"I don't know" is the correct answer, actually.

To see what you guys would say.

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
The ET thing is next to impossible.
Actually, we don't know that. We only know it to be true to the limit of our own understanding of physics. It could be that visitations are a near certainty given enough time.

NoTime
Homework Helper
I'm just asking if there was a science law that explained how something like that is possible. Do you think that information could be kept from the public, or intentionally modified to make it less harmless.
Yes.

BobG
Homework Helper
I'm just asking if there was a science law that explained how something like that is possible. Do you think that information could be kept from the public, or intentionally modified to make it less harmless.
Yes.
No.

If it could, Aviation Leak (also known as Aviation Week and Space Technology) would go out of business within a month.

Danger
Gold Member
To see what you guys would say.
Fair enough. I'm beginning to wonder, however, if this might not belong in the Political Science section. It seems to be more a matter of opinion over actuality. For one thing, no government can suppress something that happens outside of its borders (although some entities who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are USA, keep trying).

edit: Sorry, Ivan. I had a client come in half-way through this, and thus posted it without seening your response. What I meant by that is that it would take a gross violation of the laws of physics, probability, and common sense for an extraterrestrial visitation to take place.

Last edited:
NoTime
Homework Helper
No.

If it could, Aviation Leak (also known as Aviation Week and Space Technology) would go out of business within a month.
And if everyone that rediscovered the actual truth agreed with the original perpetrator to keep it quiet.
What then?
Not governments or groups (I don't give them that kind of credibility), just random people acting independently and deciding that letting the contents out of Pandora's box was probably not a good idea.

It's probably harder to keep a scientific/technological advancement secret for a long time now a days than it was before. But I assume there is a lot we have no idea exists.

Personally, I shudder at the thought of somebody out there possessing technology far beyond what I myself own. I mean... just the thought of my anti-gravity ispacetime-destabilizer being outdated is... oops. perhaps I've said too much.

NoTime
Homework Helper
It's probably harder to keep a scientific/technological advancement secret for a long time now a days than it was before. But I assume there is a lot we have no idea exists.

Personally, I shudder at the thought of somebody out there possessing technology far beyond what I myself own. I mean... just the thought of my anti-gravity ispacetime-destabilizer being outdated is... oops. perhaps I've said too much.
Lol. It may be far worse

russ_watters
Mentor
Stealth technology was kept secret for about thirty years. The SR-71 even employed primitive stealth technology.
Actually, it was 15 years. I may seem pedantic about this, but the stealth story is probably the quinticential modern example of the secretly-developed revolutionary new technology.

Prior to the F-117, stealth wasn't a technology; the SR-71 and D-21 were made relatively stealthy mostly by dumb luck and trial and error. The real stealth technology owes itself to a 1966 Russian paper on how objects reflect EM radiation (a paper the Russians ignored, which is why we even got to see it!). It was translated in 1974 or '75 and picked-up by a Lockheed engineer, who designed and radar tested the first true stealth object in late 1975 (a 10' wooden diamond). 1975 is the true birth year of stealth technology.

The world first saw the F-117 in the 1991 Gulf war, when the technology was laid bare for the world to see. I have a copy of Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising, from 1987, that describes the tactical capabilities in pretty good detail, though (he got the shape wrong, though). The difinitive book (for laymen) on its development was published in 1994 and certainly any decent aerospace company in the world could duplicate the technology using info in the public domain by then.

Anyway, stealth technology was kept almost completely secret for just over 15 years. The technology was only laid bare because of the Gulf War, but the F-117 was already out of date by then anyway. In that time, tens of billions of dollars were spent on it by the government and several large companies worked on its development. That's pretty impressive. The project wasn't as big as the Manhattan project, but it was a lot longer. I think it represents the limit of what a government can keep secret technology-wise.

Last edited:
I've read of incidents where the government tried to keep technological advencements secret. Every time the information still got out that the technology existed if not the actual information necessary to develope the technology. Current day, considering the internet, I would say that keeping any information suppressed would be extremely difficult.
On the other hand I've heard that many corporations do quite a good job of buying up patents and hiding them away to protect their business interests. It's quite legal and raises fewer eyebrows when a corporation sues someone and has their work confiscated for patent infringement.

vanesch
Staff Emeritus