Two big stories from the world of physics may portend the arrival of new weapons of mass destruction far more powerful and compact than atomic bombs.
In recent years it has been discovered that our universe is being blown apart by a mysterious anti-gravity effect called "dark energy". Mainstream physicists are scrambling to explain this mysterious acceleration in the expansion of the universe. Some physicists even believe that the expansion will lead to "The Big Rip" when all of the matter in the universe is torn asunder - from clusters of galaxies in deep space down to the tiniest atomic particles. The universe now appears to be made of two unknowns - roughly 23% is "dark matter", an invisible source of gravity, and roughly 73% is "dark energy", an invisible anti-gravity force. Ordinary matter constitutes perhaps 4 percent of the universe.
Recently the British science news journal "New Scientist" revealed that the American military is pursuing new types of exotic bombs - including a new class of isomeric gamma ray weapons. Unlike conventional atomic and hydrogen bombs, the new weapons would trigger the release of energy by absorbing radiation, and respond by re-emitting a far more powerful radiation. In this new category of gamma-ray weapons, a nuclear isomer absorbs x-rays and re-emits higher frequency gamma rays. The emitted gamma radiation has been reported to release 60 times the energy of the x-rays that trigger the effect.
The discovery of this isomer triggering is fairly recent, and was first reported in a 1999 paper by an international group of scientists. Although this controversial development has remained fairly obscure, it has not been hidden from the public.
Beyond the visible part of defense research is an immense underground of secret projects considered so sensitive that their very existence is denied.
These so-called "black budget programs" are deliberately kept from the public eye and from most political leaders. CNN recently reported that in the United States the black budget projects for 2004 are being funded at a level of more than 20 billion dollars per year.
In the summer of 2000 I contacted Nick Cook, the former aviation editor and aerospace consultant to Jane's Defence Weekly, the international military affairs journal. Cook had been investigating black budget super-secret research into exotic physics for advanced propulsion technologies.
I had been monitoring electronic discussions between various American and Russian scientists theorizing about rectifying the quantum vacuum for advanced space drive. Several groups of scientists, partitioned into various research organizations, were exploring what NASA calls "Breakthrough Propulsion Physics" - exotic technologies for advanced space travel to traverse the vast distances between stars. Partly inspired by the pulp science fiction stories of their youth, and partly by recent reports of multiple radar tracking tapes of unidentified objects performing impossible maneuvers in the sky, these scientists were on a quest to uncover the most likely new physics for star travel. The NASA program was run by Marc Millis, financed under the Advanced Space Transportation Program Office (ASTP). Joe Firmage, then the 28-year-old Silicon Valley CEO of the three billion dollar Internet firm US Web, began to fund research in parallel with NASA.
Firmage hired a NASA Ames nano-technology scientist, Creon Levit, to run the "International Space Sciences Organization", a move which apparently alarmed the management at NASA. The San Francisco based Hearst Examiner reported that NASA's Office of Inspector General assigned Special Agent Keith Tate to investigate whether any proprietary NASA technology might have been leaking into the private sector.
Cook was intrigued when I pointed out the apparent connections between various private investors, defense contractors, NASA, INSCOM (American military intelligence), and the CIA. While researching exotic propulsion technologies Cook had heard rumors of a new kind of weapon, a "sub-quantum atomic bomb", being whispered about in what he called ⌠the dark halls of defense research.
Sub-quantum physics is a controversial re-interpretation of quantum theory, based on so-called pilot wave theories, where an information field controls quantum particles. The late Professor David Bohm showed that the predictions of ordinary quantum mechanics could be recast into a pilot wave information theory. Recently Anthony Valentini of the Perimeter Institute has suggested that ordinary quantum theory may be a special case of pilot wave theories, leaving open the possibility of new and exotic non-quantum technologies.
Some French, Serbian and Ukrainian physicists have been working on new theories of extended electrons and solitons, so perhaps a sub-quantum bomb is not entirely out of the question.
Even if the rumors of a sub-quantum bomb are pure fantasy, there is no question that mainstream physicists seriously contemplate a phase transition in the quantum vacuum as a real possibility. The quantum vacuum defies common sense, because empty space in quantum field theory is actually filled with virtual particles. These virtual particles appear and disappear far too quickly to be detected directly, but their existence has been confirmed by experiments that demonstrate their influence on ordinary matter.
"Such research should be forbidden!"
In the early 1970's Soviet physicists were concerned that the vacuum of our universe was only one possible state of empty space. The fundamental state of empty space is called the "true vacuum". Our universe was thought to reside in a "false vacuum", protected from the true vacuum by "the wall of our world". A change from one vacuum state to another is known as a phase transition. This is analogous to the transition between frozen and liquid water. Lev Okun, a Russian physicist and historian recalls Andrei Sakharov, the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, expressing his concern about research into the phase transitions of the vacuum. If the wall between vacuum states was to be breached, calculations showed that an unstoppable expanding bubble would continue to grow until it destroyed our entire universe! Sakharov declared that "Such research should be forbidden!"
According to Okun, Sakharov feared that an experiment might accidentally trigger a vacuum phase transition.
Could the wall of our universe be breached from within? The amount of energy required to punch a hole through the wall appeared to be enormous, and no known natural physical phenomena, even the most energetic, had punched through either. A recent report commissioned to examine potential dangers at the Large Hadron Collider, a next generation particle accelerator, concluded that we were safe to the best of our existing knowledge.
Others are not so certain, however.
At least one of the Russian physicists I had corresponded with was said to have been a former associate of Andrei Sakharov. He strongly hinted at new theories the Russians had developed which allow for the manipulation of the fundamental constants of nature, but he never revealed more than a sketch of his ideas. His claim was that a breakthrough was within reach, perhaps within five years.
Recent theoretical explorations may suggest another approach to the physics of the vacuum. Some physicists have speculated that the invisible gravitating dark matter could be the other side of the invisible dark energy coin, and that suggests the possibility of manipulating the vacuum for energy release. If a controllable parameter could be found to mediate the balance between the invisible dark forces, the result would unleash the vacuum energy of creation in all of its awful power and majesty.
If it were possible to control the dark sides of the force then spacetime, the arena where everything we know takes place, could be bent and twisted with infinitely greater ease than was ever suspected. This would open Pandora's box to everything from vacuum energy weapons of mass destruction (capable of destroying the universe!) to spacetime warp drives and time
A quick survey of the international electronic archive of physics papers at www.arXiv.org shows that research into the vacuum of spacetime is alive and well. Most authors are independent researchers struggling with limited funding and resources, yet their theoretical results suggest that somewhere in Nick Cook's black world, a major breakthrough has already taken place.
Most likely the United States and Russia are in the lead. China, France, Ukraine, Iran, India, Cuba and Saudi Arabia all have scientists actively pursuing the fundamental physics that determine the fabric of our reality, and are seeking the theory and the means to access the enormous energies locked inside of the vacuum since the creation of the universe.
Even if the black budget world has yet to unleash the enormous potential of vacuum energy, there are signs that those in power may have begun to take notice. Dr. Harold Puthoff, a scientist with strong government connections, has previously worked on classified projects for the CIA, is a major
proponent of vacuum energy physics. Nick Cook's book, "The Hunt for Zero Point", and his recent stories on zero point energy in "Jane's Defence Weekly" have also brought attention to the dangers and military potential of vacuum research. The American intelligence community financed so-called psychic spies for over twenty years and through four presidential administrations. It is highly unlikely that they would ignore the potential of the quantum vacuum.
George Chapline, of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Dr. Jack Sarfatti in San Francisco, have independently proposed that the quantum vacuum may be unstable to the formation of coherent virtual processes.
Sarfatti suggests that gravity is an emergent property determined by the physics of the vacuum. His idea is to find a means of directly interacting with the coherent physics of the vacuum that he believes controls the shape of spacetime. Such a possibility would seem to be consistent with the reported success of Evgeny Podkletnov, the Russian scientist experimenting with spinning superconducting disks. Podkletnov's most recent papers report the appearance of a mysterious coherent beam of "gravity like radiation" with a measured force of 1000 G. In an interview on BBC radio, Nick Cook pointed out one immediate application of the Podkletnov beam - the destruction of missiles and satellites in flight or in orbit around the earth. Cook showed the BBC internal documents from Boeing, the American aerospace contractor, proving their interest in Podkletnov's research.
The connections between Podkletnov's results, and the kind of vacuum research explored by Sarfatti, beginning in 1999 at Joe Firmages International Space Sciences Organization are the latest threads in a trail that most likely originates in cold war disinformation, a game played by East and West against each other. Glasnost has shifted the balance of partnerships and the positions of the players, but not the stakes of an outcome that would leave the world with ever more prolific and powerful weapons of mass destruction.
When I first contacted Nick Cook, he wrote "What intrigues me in this whole business are the connections„Е"
Although Nick Cook never revealed the identity of his "deep throat" contact called "Dr. Dan Marckus" in the book "The Hunt for Zero Point", there was no question that the Podkletnov results had played a major part in fitting together the pieces of the puzzle. The interest in Podkletnov's results exhibited by NASA, Boeing, and others in the international arena of aerospace and military research communities was evidence that there was more here to explore than the latest musings of the intellectual elite. The truth is that a fundamental theory of gravity at the scales of subatomic nuclear physics does not exist. The fact is that no one understands the nature of the gravitational field at very small scales. In fact gravity has barely been probed much below one millimeter. Every attempt to unify the physical theories of gravity with the well-known standard model physics of electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces, has failed. More importantly there has been recent progress in the exotic areas of mainstream research, such as superstring theory, which suggest new kinds of physics which might support explanations for Podkletnov's "impulse gravity" effect.
One of the current fads in theoretical physics involves large extra dimensions of space that allow a much stronger version of gravity to leak off the membrane world of our ordinary three dimensions. The large dimensional picture allows for the well known force of electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces, to be confined to a three dimensional "brane-world" floating in a higher dimensional space. Gravitons, the
particles of the gravitational force, are viewed as closed strings, and are able to slip off of our "brane-world", which explains why the gravitational force is so much weaker than the other forces that hold matter together.
Gravitons could be exchanged between our brane-world and another brane floating nearby in the same higher dimensions.
The Chapline and Sarfatti pictures offer a more direct interaction with the new physics than the brane world ideas. Sarfatti's personal vision is to find a means of using electromagnetic fields to couple to the virtual fields that control the shape of spacetime. The technical details will be
available in Sarfattis forthcoming book of Promethean future physics, Super Cosmos.
One wonders, could the black budget world have created some of the technology needed to explore and test these new realms? Without funding and vision, those in the private sector are limited to exploring the theoretical possibilities. Real money is needed to bring these kinds of visions to the test, but the stakes are so enormously large that any existing program would almost certainly be unacknowledged.
The discovery of gamma-ray isomer triggering has been called a key that unlocks the release of stored energy. My Russian contact described a key that controls the creation of new physics in local regions of our existing spacetime. Controlling the creation of new physics is another way of saying that the fundamental laws of physics are not fixed forever but can be
adjusted to create new exotic phenomena.
Human beings will discover new and more efficient methods of mass destruction hidden behind the doors of our ignorance. Somewhere near the intersection of our fantasies, the imagination of creative scientists, and the real world in which they reside, are the keys that unlock the doors of
Gary S. Bekkum