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What if Gravity could be controlled?

  1. Nov 4, 2016 #1

    So I wrote a novel a while back called Breaking Gravity (info at the bottom) and about two months ago, the book suddenly took off found a pretty big audience.

    I'm now considering adding a follow up, but I'm looking for ideas. Specifically, the reason I'm here is that I'm hoping you guys can come up with some mind-blowing applications based upon the original scifi premise from my book.

    Before I explain the premise, please note that my story is specifically NOT hard science fiction!

    In fact, I tried very hard to avoid real science by supplying just enough to allow the reader to let go of what they know so that they could be entertained (hopefully) by a fantastical "what-if" kind of story.

    For that reason, I made the hero of the story a college student, studying business NOT physics. The premise of the story is that this kid, Dale, accidentally creates a device that can control gravity.

    With his device, he can:
    • Dial up or down the force of attraction.
    • Reverse the polarity of gravity.

    Dude. Stop laughing! I already specified that this isn't HARD scifi!

    Fine. Since your already laughing, one of the first things Dale does is build a hoverboard with his device. Here is a video of "Dale" explaining how it works:

    Come on, man, it's not THAT funny! Pull yourself together, I need some help here for crying out loud.

    Moving on now. During the moment of discovery (opening chapter), Dale is in doors when his device touches a can of soda. BOOM! Can gone. Dale thinks it just exploded until he notices a perfect circle in a ceiling joist above. The can is embedded three inches deep into the wood. Though he has no way of knowing it, the BOOM he heard was sonic, caused by the soda can instantaneously breaking the sound barrier because his device is at its highest setting.

    By the end of the chapter, Dale figures out how to replicate the event. Sort of. The first time he does it, the can bashes down through a table (opposite of what he expected). By switching leads, he gets the can to go up.

    After launching a few cans, Dale tries lowering the dial settings. The cans launches up, but no boom. At the lowest setting, the cans go up a few inches and topple over. But if he puts his hand above the can and keeps the device attached, the can will hover indefinitely.

    Over the following days, Dale records a series of tests and puts them up on Youtube. In one test, Dale is trying to figure out how much weight can be lifted so he glues aluminum to the bottom of a board and loads it with bricks. Unable to find a limit, Dale drives the front wheel of his car onto the board and turns the device on. The car lifts effortlessly.

    In another video, he lines up some old paint cans on a bench and, with the device at the highest setting, launches them one after another. That video is the one that gets him in trouble.

    Dale has no way of knowing that his paint cans are being launched right out of the atmosphere. As they go, they get tracked by JSpOC radars. In case you don't know, JSpOC is a real life agency that monitors low orbit debris. They use algorithms to screen out meteors, so high speed incoming traffic doesn't clutter the picture. But when Dale's paint cans show up, the system kicks out an alert. The techs think it's just an error because the speeds recorded are impossible, but they hand it off to the NSA anyway to investigate further.

    You get the idea. The kid is completely clueless about what he has and he's already in serious doodoo before he can even tell anybody about his device.

    Now that you have the gist of what's going on, let me 1) lay out the abilities of the fictional device and then 2) outline the applications touched on in the first book so that you can help me to 3) come up with some new applications.

    - Affects only aluminum
    - Causes aluminum to attract/repel to/from anything
    - Strength of attraction/repulsion can be adjusted
    - Focuses on the nearest mass
    - Does not affect mass subjected to focus

    The best way to explain the last two is to use Dale's test when he lifted the car by gluing the aluminum to the bottom of the board, driving the car onto the board, then turning on the device. If Dale then slid an egg under the board, the car would lift a couple inches higher because of the egg ~and~ the egg would not be crushed.

    Also, if you wrapped aluminum around a basketball and turned the device on (lowest setting, repulse), the ball would repel up from the ground. if something passed nearby and above (say a hand), it would cause the ball to move away and spin in the direction the hand had been going, even as it continued to hover.

    2) APPLICATIONS (in the first book already)
    - Hoverboard, see above.
    - Engine-less cars / flying cars
    - Engine-less planes / personal flying vehicles

    - Energy Creation
    - - - #1: Small scale: Shake light without need of shaking.
    Shake lights use a simple Faraday generator. Each time you shake, a magnet travels up and down thru a coil. Dale creates his own version, but instead of shaking, he uses a simple switch to turn on and off his device. When the magnet falls, it's weight triggers the switch sending the magnet up. The weight lifting turns the device off until the magnet falls and switches the device on again. The process repeats forever.

    - - - #2: Large scale: Hydroelectricity without need of flowing water
    Dams are used to collect water and build pressure. When the water is released, it passes over a turbine attached to a shaft that drives a generator which converts mechanical energy (flowing water) into electrical energy. But if you could point gravity away from a fixed position, you could cause a turbine to spin by pushing a propellor away. As the first propeller leaves, a second enters… and so on and so on.

    - - - #3: Micro scale: Miniature "batteries" that last forever
    Why bother generating large scale power when you can just miniaturize and give every device it's own power generator? Goodbye, nuclear power. Goodbye fossil fuels. Goodbye power lines and wall outlets.

    - Space Travel
    - - - #1: Atmosphere exit
    One of the primary limitations to space travel is the effort necessary just to leave the atmosphere. If you can reverse gravity, you don't need a jillion gallons of jet fuel to do that.

    - - - #2: Size limitations
    By solving the how-to-get-out-of-the-atmosphere problem, you can already build a much larger vehicle and fill it with far more supplies/tools/equipment for the journey. But why stop there? You could build gianormous crafts in any shape you desire. No need to even consider aerodynamics if you go up nice and slow.

    - - - #3: Passenger safety
    Going back to the idea of wrapping a basket ball in aluminum, that actually happens in the story. When a bullet is shot at the ball, the ball gets pushed out of the bullet's path, but the bullet keeps on going. Basically, the ball being wrapped in a field of anti-gravity is like a forcefield. Wrap a ship in it and--presto!--safe travels. :)

    - - - #4: Passenger comfort
    Zero gravity got ya down? Why not just create your own earth-like gravity inside your ship?

    - - - #5: Energy Limitations
    You don't need any power to get off the home planet, nor any power to leave the place your visiting. And thanks the Energy Creation stuff above, you don't need any heavy batteries. All of your devices have there own miniature power sources (probably two or three backup sources). What else do you need?

    - - - #6: Time commitment
    Yeah, that sucks. Currently, it would take about a bit more than three years to go to Mars and back (6 months each way, plus 18 months of waiting in the middle). But if you are using anti-gravity as your propulsion, then your speed would be limited only by the speed which gravity is transmitted/communicated/propagated. How fast does gravity propagate? Pretty close to the speed of light. But lets cut in half, just to be safe. If it takes fifteen minutes to get out of the earths atmosphere (so you don't burn up while leaving), and then push off at half the speed of light, your trip to Mars would take about a half hour. You could do your thing and get back in time for supper!

    - - - #7: Terraforming
    Look if we're already going back and forth to Mars, why not make ourselves comfortable? To heck with bulky pressure suits and portable oxygen supplies! Stick a few mirrors in orbit to direct some sun the right way, maybe add a series of super giant heat generators around the planet to warm that sucker right up. Since power generation is easy, we could turn that bad boy into a sauna in a hurry. Need more methane? Hop over to Titan and scoop some up. :)

    3) NEW IDEAS
    Part One: Oddball Stuff
    Ok so at the end of the book, DIY instructions for building Dale's device gets released out on the interweb. In the opening of the next book (or somewhere within), I'd like to show what happened after the instructions got released. I imagine every garage on the planet would be filled with inventors, trying to come up with something new. The nightly news would be filled with related stories: some comical, some tragic, and some pretty awesome.

    Lemme spitball real quick to give you a feel for what I'm looking for. What if some dude tried to play Santa, levitating a sled and real reindeer? Or what if there were a rash of break-ins in high rise apartments, burglars entering from the balconies (20 stories up).

    Part Two: Cool Stuff
    My hope was that anybody who read the book would end up thinking of their own ways to use gravity. So if I come back with a second installment, I'm going to have to dig deep to be sure I come up with stuff they haven't already imagined. I'll pay a visit to obvious things like no longer need to own land for a house if your house can fly and/or hover wherever you want it to.

    For that, I'm looking for things that are NOT practical because they require enormous amounts of electricity. For instance, atmospheric water generators (basically, on-demand-purified water).

    Any ideas you guys have would be greatly appreciated!

    And btw, since I'm here... I kind of assume this forum (a physics forum!) is populated with people who know physics. As such, how badly does this idea offend you? I mean, the way I treat gravity? Giving it polarity, etc?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2016 #2
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
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