musings on penning traps and geonium atoms .... so, last night at the bar, i got into a long, unwanted conversation with somebody about their plan to create an "antigravity" machine. to gauge his intelligence about *actual* physics, i asked him if his antigravity machine was also a perpetual motion machine. he replied "yes, of course" and i started scanning the bar for somebody to bail me out of the conversation. then i started musing about some of this "star trek physics" stuff, and remembered that by using a Penning device, we can trap a single electron in a quadrupole field and make incredibly precise measurements of the properties of single electrons. from reading on wikipedia, i found that the "fake" atom in the trap with no nucleus is called Geonium, after J. Wheeler's ideas on purely gravitational-EM objects with no actual "mass", only a region of high curvature. http://hussle.harvard.edu/~gabrielse/gabrielse/papers/1984/GeoniumWithoutAMagneticBottle.pdf --this talks about the properties of the "geonium" atom inside a penning trap, using "relativistic mass increase" to confine the electron *without* a container. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geonium_atom --Wikipedia (i admit, it often distorts physics explanations) says that "the role of the nucleus is played by adjusting an external field." So, what i'm wondering is this -- if we can apply an *external* field in a Penning trap and create "false mass" to trap a single electron, what prevents us from simply turning up the intensity of the external field (presumably increasing the voltages of our quadrupole magnets in the trap), and create the "false mass" of two, or a hundred, or a zillion atomic nuclei, by using an extremely large power source? Just to take this to an extreme -- let's say we could build a "modified penning trap" that could generate a very large "false mass" field, comparable with the mass of the Earth, or some such. since we have control (presumably) of the positive and negative charges -- electrons, fake protons and such -- what would be the properties of the "object" inside the trap? a highly-charged, non-neutral, high-mass piece of matter ... ? anyone on these Forums who would like to tear this idea apart, please be my guest.