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Japanese scientist's findings not expected to survive further
investigation. Japanese scientists have reported that small
gyroscopes lose weight when spun under certain conditions,
apparently in defiance of gravity. If proved correct, the finding
would mark a stunning scientific advance, but experts said they
doubted that it would survive intense scrutiny.
A systematic way to negate gravitation, the attraction among
all masses and particles of matter in the universe, has eluded
scientists since the principles of the force were first elucidated
by Isaac Newton in the 17th century.
The anti-gravity work is reported in the Dec. 18 issue of
`Physical Review Letters,' which is regarded by experts as one of
the world's leading journals of physics and allied fields. Its
articles are rigorously reviewed by other scientists before being
accepted for publication, and it rejects far more than it accepts.
Experts who have seen the report said it seemed to be based
on sound research and appeared to have no obvious sources of
experimental error, but they cautioned that other seemingly
reliable reports have collapsed under close examination.
The work was performed by Hideo Hayasaka and Sakae Takeuchi
of the engineering faculty at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.
Unlike the exaggerated claims made for low-temperature, or
"cold," nuclear fusion this year, the current results are
presented with scientific understatement. The authors do not claim
to have defied gravity, but simply say their results "cannot be
explained by the usual theories."
More important, the experiment is outlined in rich detail,
ensuring that other scientist can try to duplicate and assess it.
"It's an astounding claim," said Dr. Rober L. Park, a
professor of physics at the University of Maryland who is director
of the Washington office of the American Physical Society, which
publishes `Physical Review Letters'. "It would be revolutionary if
true. But it's almost certainly wrong. Almost all extraordinary
claims are wrong."
The experiment looked at weight changes in spinning
mechanical gyroscopes whose rotors weighed 140 and 176 grams, or 5
and 6.3 ounces. When the gyroscopes were spun clockwise, as viewed
from above, the researchers found no change in their weight. But
when spun counterclockwise, they appeared to lose weight.
The rate of decrease was small, ranging up to 11-thousandths
of a gram when the gyroscopes turned at 13,000 rpm. But two
effects were significant. First, the weight loss increased as
speed did. Second, the pattern was stronger with the larger
gyroscope, indicating that the results might be applied to still
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