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No. 68: Mar-Apr 1990

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Science waits for - almost begs for - refutation

Two Japanese scientists, H. Hayasaka and S. Takeuchi, have spun up some gyroscopes, weighed them and - Horrors! - found that they weighed less when spinning in one direction than the other. They admit the heresy of their results: "The experimental result cannot be explained by the usual theories."

The gyroscopes employed are small, weighing about 175 grams when not spinning. When spun clockwise, as viewed from above, no weight changes were observed. But rotating at 13,000 rpm counterclockwise, the 175-gram gyroscope lost about 10 milligrams. The balance's sensitivity was 0.3 milligram. This is a very large effect; and the weight loss increased linearly with increased speed of rotation. Obviously, the physicists are most perplexed by this "antigravity" effect.

Perplexity has been accompanied by outright disbelief. R.L. Park, a physics professor at Maryland, remarked: "It would be revolutionary if true. But it is almost certainly wrong. Almost all extraordinary claims are wrong." R.L. Forward, an Air Force consultant, con-curs: "It's a careful experiment. But I doubt it's real, primarily because I've seen so many of these things fall apart."

(Anonymous; "Anti-Gravity Effect Claim by Japanese," San Francisco Chronicle, December 28, 1989. Cr. J. Covey. Also: Anonymous; "A Gyroscope's Gravity-Defying Feat," Science News, 137:15, 1990.)

Comment. The amazing thing - the anomaly - is that such "misguided" research got funded at all and the results published. But then, maybe Japanese research proposals do not have to get by 7 (that's seven) reviewers, as required by the U.S. National Science Foundation!

From Science Frontiers #68, MAR-APR 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987