Saturday, March 6, 2010

EHD is alive and well.

Professor J. Reese Roth of the University of Tennessess, published: Electrohydrodynamic Flow Control with a Glow-Discharge Surface Plasma in the year 2000, his work in the field of EHD was highly classified and he was found guilty of failing to protect his research and given  received a four year sentence for (willfully) allowing secrets to fall into the hands of the People's Republic of China.
What the Chinese have done with said information may be deduced from the 2010 publication of Numerical Investigation of Plasma Active Flow Control out of the School of Jet Propulsion at Beijing University.

EHD has been the open secret of propulsion research for some time. This excerpt from an Air Force Research Lab press release, AFRL Proves Feasibility of Plasma Actuator, describes the  applications of it for propulsion purposes:
AFRL is laying the groundwork to develop revolutionary hypersonic aerospace vehicles. Researchers are examining the feasibility of replacing traditional mechanical actuators, which move like wing flaps to control an air vehicle's flight control surfaces, with plasma actuators that require no moving parts and are more reliable.
As part of its Boundary Layers and Hypersonics program, AFRL conducted a wind tunnel test to evaluate the feasibility of using plasma actuators for airframe flight control. The Boundary Layers and Hypersonics program is developing the knowledge of fluid physics to facilitate future revolutionary aerospace vehicle designs."

Another applied variant of EHD  principles led to an ion propulsion (IP) method, ideal for  in-spaace propulsion (as opposed to hypersonic flight within the earth's atmosphere). Apparently this technology has been known to be feasible since the first  working ion thruster engine was  developed by Harold Kaufman at Cleveland's NASA Glenn Research Center  in 1960.

And all of this relates to Townsend, how?

Well, in  the summer of 1953, Townsend was in Cleveland, reportedly reviewing the newly uncovered notes of Charles Fuller Brush. .That autumn, he called upon GE to make a presentation of  what has been presumed to be Wintherhaven....never mind that I think the Winterhaven document that is in public domain was a decoy for counterintelligence purposes. Anyway GE found something or another of such value in his work that they turned it over to their Washington office to push through. (summation of Townsend correspndence with Jo of that year)

Now I'm not saying that any of this is connected but by the time we launched our first satellites 4 years later, GE was the prime contractor for the CIA/NRO satellite contracts and Brush Materials of Cleveland,  the manufacturer of composites that would be used for re-entry vehicles. 

"Radar Material," that  stuff was called  when it was first appended to the name of the Atlantic Fleet Radar school back in 1941.  Scientists were just then discovering that properly engineered material could bend, absorb, and reflect the pings of incoming radar. They had no idea that it could also be used in more active applications.

Townsend Brown was the handpicked head of that school back then . Its name changed, first from the Atlantic Fleet Radio School to the Radar School to the Radar and Materials school with just a few months. And then Townsend 'left' the navy and moved right down the street from the Army Radar Command on Wonderland Ave. Sometimes chains of coincidences aren't.


Nate Cull said...

On ion propulsion: I'd have to put on the pedant hat and note that, in vacuum, all the ion propulsion techniques currently publically known for spacecraft are nothing at all like electrohydrodynamics as far as I can see, because EHD requires a fluid medium and ion propulsion does not.

I think it's worth pointing this out because there is a lot of confusion on this point.

Ion propulsion in a vacuum is a brute-force matter of 'chucking rocks out the back' - accelerating an ionised mass (cesium in the early experiments, xenon gas in the modern ones), squirting it like a rocket, recycling the charge as it passes (so the rocket doesn't end up with a huge electric charge) so neutral particles are ejected, and using the resulting reaction force to shove the craft forward. Basic Newton 101.

The best white-world ion drives we have so far - VASIMR and Hall Effect thrusters - are still pretty wimpy things compared with even old chemical thrusters. Very low acceleration. About the only advantage of ion propulsion is that since it uses less working mass, and can be solar-powered, you can keep a satellite or probe operational longer as long as you only do small and gentle course corrections. But eventually you WILL run out of xenon gas to squirt and then it's game over.

EHD , as I understand it, is the opposite - it's about accelerating not the craft but the medium. The Lifter is an example of this. It only works in air. At least if you believe the conventional explanation. An EHD craft can never run out of working fluid while it's within a medium (such as atmosphere; I have no idea how EHD is supposed to work in electrically conductive seawater since it's not a dielectric, but maybe it does).

By conventional physics, there is no way EHD can do anything at all in a vacuum since there's no medium to accelerate.

If there's an aether, then of course this could be a medium which might respond to EHD, so an EHD rig apparently moving in a vacuum might be support for the return of the aether. Which is an idea with such huge earth-shattering implications that it's still a forbidden thought in physics, and would require awesome evidence to be published outside the alternate journals.

And since all the publically available examples we have of EHD-type rigs in vacuum seem to be of very small devices twitching slightly when a transient power surge goes through them, there doesn't seem to be extraordinary evidence that any spooky force is happening. Certainly that seems to be the conclusion that Bryce DeWitt came to when looking at the Bahnson setup.

The Bahnson notebooks seem to be the best evidence we have so far of an EHD-in-vacuum effect (and therefore an aether), but that's still complicated by the fact that Bahnson was doing both air and vacuum experiments simultaneously, and obviously the air ones don't prove anything about EHD-in-vacuum.

My two cents, bearing in mind that I'm no physicist but a geek with an interest in hard science fiction, and Google access.

Comparative engine specs can be found on the wonderful Atomic Rocket site, which is primarily based at game designers and novelists (people who nitpick Star Trek for fun), but is still the best reference for both speculative-fiction and real-world space propulsion technology. I think these numbers are pretty solid.

Bearing in mind that this is best-known white-world science - if the black boys have better stuff, either even Steven Hawking doesn't know about it or he's not talking.

Nate Cull said...

But as always, the (tinfoil hat off) question is: if the black boys have Star Trek level toys, why isn't international science and US/NATO military doctrine significantly different from what it is? If William Stephenson's and Ian Fleming's friends have warp drives, why are US soldiers getting their butts kicked in Afghanistan by guys with AK47s, why is the CIA still messing around with winged drones, and why is the science community dumping billions into boring old tech like the Large Hadron Collider? I'm still looking for a plausible explanation for such a huge disconnect between alleged capability, and actually observed capability.

There's a million miles between wishing we had ubertech, writing a paper about ubertech, setting up a project to build ubertech, selling such a project to Washington, paying people to make ubertech... and actually having ubertech.

But with gravity, we certainly have (1) but not even really (2), let alone the rest. There's no flurry of academic papers like there was with atomic fission; on the contrary, the smartest academics today in general relativity and quantum gravity are absolutely adamant that gravity control is simply not possible on the energy budgets we have here on Earth. Ever.

This pessimism set in around the 1970s - science fiction still coasts along on the optimism of the 1930s when it seemed like we'd get force fields tomorrow - but it is the current consensus and does make a formidable mental barrier to thinking about this stuff.

It's certainly tempting to think that this anti-gravity-control doctrine from leaders in the field who also had nuclear experience, like John Wheeler, might have a darker motive and be designed to stop people even thinking about gravity control. Even done for the best of reasons. I'd really like there to be a gravity cabal. And Nick Cook for one thinks there is.

On the other hand, I'm not sure it passes Occam's Razor; the arguments made in textbooks that the numbers simply don't work seem hard to dispute. If nothing else because relativity maths is really, really hard and quantum maths is worse, so we have to rely on expert opinion. The fact that there's been no significant academic opposition to this position suggests that it's very hard to make a case for it.

But then again, very few academics today support the reality of psi, yet I'm personally convinced it exists, and moreover, that there is good academic evidence (Myers, Rhine, Moody, etc) which is simply forgotten.

But, skeptic hat again: If military groups have literally unthinkably high tech, why aren't they doing something dramatic with it, and - again - with all that help, why are they doing so poorly against peasants with rifles and C4? Yes, people telling us this story seem to have military credentials that check out, but are we quite sure we aren't being fed a line by elements of the intelligence services who for their own reasons want us to believe they can control gravity and time?

It's a heck of an interesting puzzle, is what it is.

A Rose by any other name... said...

It is indeed, Nate. It looks to me like something Townsend saw in the Brush papers set him off on the Winterhaven and Zenith quests. Does the W X _ Z sequence have any significance?

As to the possibility of the EHD effect in a vacumn, I would like to think that the vacumn effect is why the Sud Oest people were holding repeat demonstrations for ever more powerful circles of observers and that they saw more than a twitching lifter. But I can't prove it. YET.

Anonymous said...

(Nate, but can't remember my login).

Ha! Winterhaven, Xerxes, _, Zenith. Was there a Project Y?

This is why actual military project names use random words (or numbers), to avoid these kinds of guessing games. But the Winterhaven projects seem to have been more Townsend's personal hobby, so I guess secure naming wasn't an issue.

Here's something I just came across. Fred Singer, Iosif Schklovsky, and the 'Is Phobos artificial?' speculation. I wonder if these guys crossed Townsend's path at all?