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No. 69: May-Jun 1990

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Gravity-defying gyros come down to earth

It didn't take long for physicsts to rush into their labs to repeat the Japanese gyroscope experiments. The thought that a spinning mass might lose weight was just too horible to contemplate. Two replications of the Japanese experiment have been reported so far.

"James E. Faller and his colleagues at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics in Boulder, Colo., repeated the Japanese experiment by looking for signs of weight loss in a spinning gyroscope consisting of a brass top about 2 inches in diameter sealed in a small plastic chamber. 'We conclude that within our experimental sensitivity, which is approximately 35 times larger than needed to see the effect reported...there is no weight change of the type...described.'"

(Anonymous; "An Absence of Antigravity," Science News, 137:127, 1990. Cr. F. Hanisch)

"Now T.J. Quinn and A. Picard of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sevres Cedex, France, have repeated the experiment. They find changes in the apparent mass of their gyroscope that depend on the speed and sense of rotation, but they amount to only about 5 per cent of the effect reported by Hayasaka and Takeuchi."

(Anonymous; "Experiments Weaken Japanese Gyro Claim," New Scientist, p. 32, March 3, 1990.)

The French scientists think that the Japanese results can be explained as functions of friction and temperature on the gyro. On the other hand, S.H. Salter makes a case for gyro vibrations compounded by nonlinearity in the weighing mechanisms being the culprits.

(Salter, S.H.; "Good Vibrations for Physics," Nature, 343:509, 1990.)

From Science Frontiers #69, MAY-JUN 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss