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In 1980, roughly 15 years after G. Harry Stine had co-authored with Davis, Victory and Korff, a presentation before the American Physical Society, Stine published a “fictional novel” entitled Stardriver.  To assume that the work is totally one of fiction is likely a big mistake.  The science in this science fiction novel is too close to the factual publications Davis and Stine co-authored, and the basic plot is too realistic to explain what actually happened to cause the theory to be virtually still-born.

Quotations from the Novel, Stardriver, written by G. Harry Stine (a Del Rey Book, Ballentine Publishing, a division of Random House, New York, July 1980):  

“Mathematics will only give you the logical consequences of your initial assumptions.” (page 38)

“Inventors lead technology.  They figure out something that works and leave it to the scientists to explain why and the engineers to make it bigger, better, faster, and cheaper.  Invention is the bridge between research and engineering.  Except it sometimes doesn’t work out as neatly as I’ve indicated.” (page 55)

Quoting Davis:  “...the basic principles of both classical (Newtonian) and modern (relativistic) physics have never been compared with many of the empirical findings and know-how of the engineering arts.”  “Of great interest to me in this regard is the behavior of real systems when subjected to sudden change.  The very nature of the relativistic space-time concept, the quantum nature of matter and energy, and the reaction of real systems leads me to a postulate that both physicists and engineers will generally agree to without argument:  The characteristics of any given system cannot be changed in zero time, and a definite period of time must elapse between the instant of onset of a change and the moment at which the entire system responds to the change as a total system.  In a period of time less than this, the system does not and cannot behave as it does with constant inputs.  If one accepts the hypothesis that one cannot change a given system in zero time, a number of fascinating consequences follow.” (page 52)

“Bill and Vic had taken the basic Maxwell equations that tied together electricity and magnetism and had extended the analogy of the Maxwell electromagnetic field equations to gravity and inertia.  Out of their analogy came the hypothesis that a gravitational field was a consequence of a moving gravitational charge as opposed to a static electric charge producing an electric field.  The analogy to the magnetic field produced by a moving charged particle was the accelerated gravitational charge producing an “inertial field”.  And when a gravitational charge was subjected to a change of acceleration, a ‘surge’ or a jolt -- such as when a gyro is precessed -- a new form of radiation should be produced analogous to electromagnetic radiation of charged particles.  Osbourne labeled this new radiation as ‘gravito-inertial radiation’.  It was a logical assumption of Osbourne’s unassailable basic assumption.”  (page 59)  [emphasis added]

“Back in the nineteenth century, it was generally believed by scientists that alternating current couldn’t do any work because the positive and negative cycles averaged out to zero.  It took Steinmetz to get out of that cul-de-sac and introduce the use of a purely imaginary number that does not exist in the Universe at all and without which alternating current won’t work: the square-root of minus-one or ‘i’.  And he introduced such concepts as ‘capacitances’, ‘inductance,’ and ‘impedance.’  There were analogies to AC theory in Osbourne’s work, and I began to see where it might be possible to utilize an alternating or cyclic force to produce work in an unbalanced system that was properly tuned so that the reaction force was out of phase with the action force.  A quick look through the lab reports showed that Osbourne had quickly given up on mechanical devices and gone to experimental units that were driven at very high cyclic frequencies in order to get above mechanical resonance points.  To get high frequencies required electromagnetic devices operating in the megaHertz range, and Osbourne, Vic, Len, an Carl had gone to oscillating plasmas which, at first, expended all their radiant energy into the electromagnetic spectrum, that being the easiest path for excess energy to leave the system.  To make the sky hook [the novel’s proposed propulsion system] work, Len and Carl figured out the sawtooth wave concept that drove the system asymmetrically.  The unit then also radiated into the electromagnetic spectrum as before, but had so much excess energy to get rid of that it had to escape the system as GI radiation.  What really surprised me was the small amount of input energy required to make the sky hook perform at all.  I should have expected it because there was no mass being expelled.  Some clever gadgeteering by Carl and Wendell Stone produced a system in which nearly all of the electromagnetic radiation was picked up and fed back into the system through a positive phase-shifting feedback loop.  A small amount of electromagnetic radiation from unshielded parts still leaked out.” (page 60)

“It appears that we may have identified a whole new type of radiative energy although we have not yet been able to build a detector to sense or measure what the theoretical equations tell us must be there.” “By proper definition of the field vectors, we’ve found it possible to apply Maxwell’s equations to predict the behavior of this new type of radiation” “If we do indeed have a new form of radiation, we should be able to figure out how to direct and focus it.  We might be able to transmit mechanical power over great distances with no mechanical connections; this includes the possibilities of energy beams that will push or pull.” (pages 86-87)

 “...if there really is GI radiation and the fourth or inertial field, it’ll create problems for the relativists.”  (page 128)  “We must be very careful... that we do not directly negate any of the current beliefs of the relativists or the particle physicists because they are firmly in control of the publications and of the peer review process.  While it is entirely possible that your hypothesis will probably reveal many new aspects to subnuclear physics, the data must be presented in such a manner that these specialists can easily adjust their own beliefs and findings to live more comfortably with your hypotheses than with the ones they are presently enmeshed in.” (page 129)

“...a simple glass tube filled with neon at a fraction of a torr.  There are other gases that might have worked better and given us a more efficient plasma, but neon is cheap and readily available.  We established a plasma in the tube.  Then we accelerated the charged plasma particles with a very high frequency sawtooth wave shape.  The sharp-rising leading edge of the sawtooth wave smacks the plasma hard, and it reacts by moving and accelerating.  Before the system has time to react as a whole, the plasma is then socked with the trailing edge of the sawtooth wave at a much lower rate-of-change of acceleration.  If we hang the unit ballistically with the thrust axis horizontal, any thrust that shows up will displace the pendulum.” “...we’re using an asymmetrical sawtooth wave to drive it.  Different rates-of-change of acceleration in different directions.  All the early experiments with this sort of system were made with mechanical devices working at a hundred Hertz or less, and they all tended to come apart once the reaction force was properly phased with the action force.  So we went to electromagnetic, driving at several megaHertz...” (pages 37-38)

 “It’s not a matter of phasing at all.” (page 100) “When you make the load very large, it will drastically change the response time of the system.  So you don’t change the phasing.  You change the driving frequency...” (page 101)

“The sky hook turned out to be weird.  It had a ‘resonance point’ when it was pushing a load.  Up to a point, the heavier the load became -- about fourteen times the weight of the sky hook unit itself -- the more efficient the unit became, approaching an unbelievable 85.6 percent efficiency pushing a 282-kilogram load.  Above that load level, its efficiency fell off slowly.” “The dimensions of the load were critical.  The longer we made the load up to a certain point, the more efficient the sky hook became!  We thought we were going to end up with a two-dimensional matrix array that would tell us how to handle loads with various weights and dimensions, but a third variable suddenly surfaced: The point of attachment of the load to the skyhook was also critical!  When we coupled the load to the mid-point of the sky hook unit, a completely different set of operating characteristics manifested themselves!  And when we coupled to the rear phasing coil, it was different still.” (page 139)

“I think you’re running up against a phenomenon of the nature of matter itself.”  What about various crystalline structures, directionally oriented materials such as fiberglass, wood, colloids?  “On top of the three-dimensional matrix, we had to add a fourth dimension that was dependent upon the material and its stress-strain characteristics in different directions.” (page 141)

 “Son of a gun!  It works better when it’s pushing a load!” (page 138)

“...we cannot design a universal unit that will do everything!  It must be designed for a job, for a specific load or a specific range of loads.” (page 155)

“The reason I’m going to send a space drive vehicle to Mars on a shoestring is because I’ve fought tooth and nail against our overpriced, overengineered, overtested, and overrated space program for years.  It’s run by a bunch of Brahmin high priests who’ve set it aside as their own private preserve.  Every low-cost, privately financed project that’s come down the pike -- things like OTRAG -- have been killed by them.  I’m going to beat them.”  (page 41)

 “I had in mind,” Osbourne mused, “that we’d make our work known by means of a tour de force that nobody could ignore and that would result in the total inability of the government to classify our work.”  “When Mike lands on Mars in a space vehicle driven by a sky hook, it’ll be very hard to ignore or classify our work.”  (page 130)   “..about twenty days if we boost at one-tenth gee.” (page 131)  “Going to Mars with a space drive is a noble goal... and the pun was intended.” (page 132)  “We cannot apply the concepts of rocket flight into orbit with the sky hook.  The sky hook requires a source of electrical energy.” (page 135)

“We have a potential propulsion device.  One first thinks of it as a replacement for the rocket propulsion system, but I would like to voice a strong opinion that we do not attempt to market it in this fashion until after we have received issued patents that cannot be classified under a secrecy order from the Department of Defense.” (page 156)

“The history of science and technology is rife with examples of parallel developments.”  “Both Newton and Liebnitz worked out the calculus independently.  People think that Darwin was responsible for the Theory of Evolution, but Wallace actually preceded Darwin into publication!  In more recent times, Shockley, Brattain, and Bardeen were not the only persons working on solid-state electronic devices, which were actually invented and patented years previously... but they were first to announce.”  [And win the Nobel Prize!]  “Give me a few minutes and I can present you with a list of several dozen developments in the past decade that have been carried out in complete isolation independent of one another, and yet were nearly identical in scope and content.”  (pg 157)

“We don’t know yet whether the sky hook’s progeny will be able to propel anything faster than light.  All of Vic’s field equations say ‘maybe’, but Ted Mayan says Vic missed the equivalent of a decimal point, a ‘small error’ that Mayan claims will raise the ultimate velocity of a gravitation charge to more than 30,000 times the speed of light.  Korsinski argues with him, but Serge is interested in what goes on at the other end of the universal scale where he’s working on a theory of the quantization of time that has its roots in our work.  Between Mayan with his grand view of cosmology and Korsinski delving into the basics of matter itself -- two doors that were opened by Bill and Vic -- we’ll get the answer someday.  And ‘someday’ isn’t an indeterminate time in the far future; I’m betting on no more than ten to fifteen years before one of Mayan’s or Korsinski’s graduate students makes that trip to Stockholm.” (page 242)

“...the corporate information disclosure form.  It sounds very nasty.”  “It locks up everything I do -- all scientific and technical work, all patents and patent rights, all copyrightable material, everything.  It says that I can’t talk to anybody or write anything about what I do for NEMECO under any circumstances without prior written approval from the chief executive officer of the company.  That’s pretty broad and pretty restrictive.  And there’s no time limit on it.”  (page 43)

“...like how to put a gravitational lid over a city, and a couple of twenty or so other goodies that make science fiction movies and TV shows look old-fashioned to those of us who know.” (page 238)


Reading the above in order pretty well gives the gist of the story.  First the excitement of the science discovery, and then the difficulty in presenting the results, the need to avoid the TOP SECRET stamp of the feds, and finally, just a lousy non-disclosure form.  The fact there was no mention of writing novels may have been the saving grace.  At least we have the gist of what was going on, even if the mathematics might have to be replicated.  It’s probably just a question of motivation -- assuming it hasn’t already been done in secret (which is the most likely scenario).


The Fifth Element         Davis Mechanics         Davis and Stine

Forward to:

Relativistic Variations on a Theme          The Sixth Element



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