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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Apr > Apr 6

Krauss' Faulty Physics [was: Friedman vs. Krauss

From: David Rudiak <DRudiak@aol.com>
Date: Tue, 6 Apr 1999 18:24:11 EDT
Fwd Date: Tue, 06 Apr 1999 23:45:07 -0400
Subject: Krauss' Faulty Physics [was: Friedman vs. Krauss


The following exchange occurred between Jeff Rense and Dr.
Lawrence Kraus on the Rense show during the debate between Kraus
and Stanton Friedman.

Rense mentioned a recent patent by Ernest Shearing (sp?) for
passenger protection in an electromagnetically propelled
vehicle.  The passenger would be surrounded by a superconductor
(SC), which would exclude any electromagnetic fields from the
interior.  In addition, the SC shield would be surrounded by SC
magnets, which Shearing said would also provide protection
against the effects of high acceleration or high gravity fields
by induction of eddy currents in the SC walls.

This was Kraus' response:

"Until it got to gravity, it didn't sound completely crazy.
Indeed, superconductors do a very good job of shielding against
magnetic fields.  Magnetic fields, of course, are not very
strong at all.  In the region of the Earth we don't use them
very much for propulsion.  But gravity fields don't produce any
currents and aren't shielded by anything superconducting, and
therefore, a superconductor doesn't shield you against any type
of gravitational acceleration in any way, shape, or form."

Despite Dr. Kraus' flippant dismissal, he is simply dead wrong
about this.

Here's another example of where Kraus says that he personally
can't think of how something could be done, ergo it's
impossible.  There is no way to protect against high
accelerations, he thinks, at least not in his physics.  Kraus
uses this as one of his lynchpin arguments the existence of
UFOs, saying there is no way they could execute the high
accelerations reported without squashing any occupants.  (Note
the assumption in his argument that craft exhibiting such
accelerations are necessarily manned by biological beings, but
let's ignore this for now.)

So how can large magnetic fields protect against high
accelerations?  It doesn't require any new principles of physics
or speculation about 24th Star Trek physics or unknown
antigravity fields.

The principle that could make it possible is diamagnetism.
Although most people are familiar with how a magnet will
strongly attract materials made of iron (ferromagnetism), most
people are unaware that magnets actually weakly repel most
materials.  That's diamagnetism.

The diamagnetic force is approximately proportional to the
square of the magnetic field. (Strictly speaking it is
proportional to the product of the magnetic field and the field
gradient, or spatial rate of change of the field.  But the field
gradient is itself proportional to the field.  Hence,
diamagnetism goes as the square of the field.)

Therefore increasing the field 10 times increases the
diamagnetic force 100 fold.  This strong dependency on field
becomes very important when we start talking about using
diamagnetism as an "inertial dampener."

Magnetic field strength is measured in units of Tesla or Gauss.
One Tesla is 10,000 gauss.  In everyday life, magnetic fields
are best expressed in units of gauss.  The Earth's magnetic
field is on the order of half a gauss.  A refrigerator magnet
may be on the order of 100 gauss.

Tesla size magnets, on the other hand, are generally found in
specialized laboratory applications.  E.g., superconducting
magnets used in magnetic resonance imagers are on the order of 2
Tesla in strength.  To give an appreciation of the relative
order of magnitude differences, if the Earth's magnetic field
were a quarter, an MRI magnet would be $10,000.

It is only when one gets into the Tesla range of magnetic field
strength that diamagnetic effects become significant.  Remember,
the effects go up approximately as the square of the field.  The
MRI SC magnet might be stronger by a factor of 100 than a
refrigerator magnet, but the diamagnetic force it can generate
will be approximately 10,000 times greater.

About two years ago, a rather dramatic demonstration of
diamagnetic effects appeared on the Net and media in the form of
the so-called floating frog experiment.  A very strong 12 Tesla
laboratory SC magnet was used to levitate small creatures such
as frogs, fish, etc.  Levitation depended on the principle of
diamagnetism, in particular the diamagnetic properties of water
in the animals.

I even remember at the time one physicist on Usenet who stated
that it must be a hoax, that he didn't know of any way in which
a magnetic field could do such things.

Sound familiar?

Why was this experiment significant?  Because it demonstrated
that with sufficiently strong magnetic fields, one could indeed
cancel the effects of gravity, not through any sort of
antigravity shielding, but by generating an opposing diamagnetic
force on molecules throughout the body of the animal.  The
animal is then practically in a zero gravity state.

If the magnet could be scaled up in size to accomodate a human
being, then human beings could be levitated in exactly the same
way.

If the field strength could be likewise scaled up by a factor of
10, then the resulting diamagnetic force would be 100 times
greater, sufficient to cancel a 100 g gravitational field or 100
g's of acceleration, what Kraus claims couldn't be done "in any
way, shape, or form."

SC magnets this large or strong do not exist now, but there is
certainly no law of physics that says they might not exist in
the future.  So this is currently a thought experiment.  If you
can make magnets sufficiently strong (only about an order of
magnitude greater than what we have now) then you can do in
principle what Kraus arrogantly claimed was impossible.
"Impossible" in Kraus' vocabulary, means procluded by
fundamental laws of physics.  That isn't the situation here.

Now some caveats on this wonderful "inertial dampener."  It
doesn't perfectly cancel inertial forces from acceleration.
First of all, the forces on all molecules in even a uniform body
are not exactly equal.  If one imagines a blob of water in front
of a magnet, the molecules furthest from the magnet will feel a
weaker diamagnetic force than those closer to the magnet.  If
you accelerate a spacecraft with the blob of water, the magnet,
if of sufficient strength, will create an equal acceleration on
the water blob and keep it from going splat on the back wall.
But the blob will flatten some because of uneven acceleration
throughout the volume.  If this were an astronaut, he/she will
still feel inertial forces, but they will be substantially less
than in an unprotected situation.

Secondly, biological organisms, while mostly made of water, are
made of many other molecules as well.  Most of these are
diamagnetic, but not equally diamagnetic.  The calcium in your
bones or proteins in your cells are not repelled by an amount
equal to the water in your body.  Other molecules such as oxygen
are actually weakly attracted by magnetic fields (paramagnetic).
Any iron in your body (such as the haemoglobin in your blood),
will be strongly attracted.

How serious a problem these differential forces might be I
cannot say.  It is a very complicated situation.  If mostly at
the microscopic level, they may not be too serious.  But if they
occur at the macroscopic level, they could be very serious
indeed.  You don't want your skeleton and guts moving in
opposite directions.  Needless to say, anybody with a steel
plate in their head need not book a ticket on our high
acceleration craft with magnetic inertial dampeners, unless they
like the added thrill of having the plate pulled right out of
their skull.

Secondary potential problems would be the production of induced
eddy currents in the body that cause heating and possible nerve
stimulation.  Fortunately, my calculations show that these are
probably managable.

For several years I worked in magnetic nerve stimulation.
Typically a magnetic field on the order of 1 Tesla pulsed in
about 100 microseconds is sufficient to stimulate peripheral
motor nerves (these are common design parameters for magnetic
nerve stimulators).  If you use magnetic fields 100 times
stronger than this to protect against, say, a 100 g sharp turn,
then to compensate and prevent adverse nerve stimulation, you
need to build up the fields over a longer period of time to keep
the stimulation subthreshold.  E.g., executing the hi-g turn in
about 1/10 second and building up the anti-inertial magnetic
field in the same period of time instead of 100 microseconds,
will do the trick.

Body heating is also not a serious problem as long as the
inertial magnets aren't repeatedly pulsed over a prolonged
period of time.

I would like to repeat that this magnetic "inertial dampener" is
currently a thought experiment.  It is something that could _in
principle_ be built and work, i.e., it violates no laws of
physics, contrary to Prof. Kraus' statements.  We can't engineer
it now in any practical way, but that doesn't proclude one from
being built in the future when we may have better
superconducting materials.

As Stanton Friedman repeatedly tried to point out in his debate
with Kraus, your conclusions are only as good as your
assumptions.  Kraus is obviously making a number of assumptions,
some of them rooted in hard physics, others nothing but
emotional gut-level proclamations masquarading as "scientific,"
to proclaim that alien visitation is literally impossible, or so
highly improbable as to not even be worthy of consideration.

But are his assumptions correct, or would other assumptions
produce quite a different result?  In this post, I have examined
his assumption that there is no known physics that could protect
against the inertial forces of acceleration.  When presented
with the idea that maybe strong magnetic fields could do this,
he flippantly dismissed with the statement,  "a superconductor
doesn't shield you against any type of gravitational
acceleration in any way, shape, or form."

Turns out he was wrong here, wasn't he?  What else might the
brilliant astrophysicist be wrong about?

To his credit, Kraus agreed to a public debate on the topic,
something that Carl Sagan refused to do.  Unfortunately, a radio
program is not a good forum in which to debate technical details
(just like a somewhat tabloid TV program during sweeps week is
not a good forum to present the best UFO evidence).  Would Prof.
Kraus agree to a written forum such as Updates in which his
assumptions and declarations can be subject to critical
scrutiny?  It won't be the same as writing snide hit pieces in
the New York Times about the Strieber program.  Kraus would have
to answer some hard-ball criticism from knowledgable people.

If Kraus demands scientific peer review of UFO evidence before
it is even worthy of his consideration, why shouldn't he be
subject to similar peer review for his UFO debunking?  What's
saucer for the goose is saucer for the gander.

Believe it or not, I actually had an overall favorable
impression of Kraus.  He seems like a decent fellow, not some
sociopathic debunker, obviously very bright, but also highly
prejudice and ill-informed when it comes to the subject of UFOs,
but perhaps willing to learn.  Agreeing to a public debate was
one example of that.  He also made statements that he has had
his mind changed in the past (at least in topics physics
related) by good data properly presented.

If put under the hot lights and forced to defend his many
statements debunking UFOs, he might discover his arguments are
not so writ in stone as he previously thought.  He screwed up
big time with his statement that inertial dampening is
impossible.  That already eviscerates other arguments he has
advanced against the impossibility of manned hi-g UFO maneuvers
or acceleration.

Maybe he'll discover after such a debate, that UFOs don't
necessarily violate any laws of physics and that alien
visitation isn't impossible or highly improbable after all.

David Rudiak


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