My favorite bit of misinformation about me on my Wikipedia page is the reference to a column, written by an ardent skeptic, that my book The Field was based on nothing more than Star Wars.
Clearly, the reviewer hadn’t read the book, or he would have seen that it rested on the published work of a band of prestigious frontier scientists.
Nor had our reviewer bothered to flip through the back of the book to pore over the approximately 400 references quoted or referred to – all from heavy-duty scientific publications.
But most glaringly, he was ignorant of the fact that even mainstream astrophysicists have accepted the existence of something very like the Force – an energy-dense energy field in empty space. In fact, they’ve been trying to get to it for a long time.
Some 19 years ago on a frosty winter day, I sat in a packed classroom at the University of Sussex’s international conference on Breakthrough Propulsion, listening to some 60 top scientists discuss how they were going to get a rocket to fly some 60 trillion miles into deep space.
The conference had attracted a prestigious international audience, scientists from NASA, the French Laboratoire D’Astrophysics Marseilles, professors from a number of American and European universities, and representatives from most of the major British newspapers and science magazines, lured there by the prospect of hearing how scientists had learned how to construct WARP drives, a la Star Trek.
Experiments making use of the most outlandish of new ideas in physics had been going on covertly for 30 years. Rumors abounded about secret testing sites at places like Los Alamos with billion-dollar ‘black’ budgets that NASA or the American military continued to hotly deny.
Even British Aerospace had launched its own secret program – codenamed Project Greenglow – to study the possibility of turning off gravity.
This was more than a batch of guys blue-skying about the ultimate in boy toys. It was clear to every scientist in the room that the planet had, at most, 50 years of fossil fuel left and that humans were facing a climate crisis, as the greenhouse effect slowly turned our world into a gas chamber.
Looking for new sources of energy wasn’t just necessary to power spaceships. It was also vital to power earth and maintain it intact for the next generation.
Engineering empty space
The undoubted main attraction was the astrophysicist Dr Hal Puthoff, the hero of The Field, one of the first to recognize the significance of The Zero Point Field as a medium to explain the unexplainable in human experience, but who, in his day job, had spent some 30 years by that time trying to harness the space between the stars.
The group had been talking about loads of possibilities for new methods of space-flight propulsion, like controlling inertia in order to move large things such as spacecraft with small forces, or turning to nuclear fusion.
Or, as Puthoff maintained, you could try something even more outlandish. You could try to extract your energy from the nothingness of space itself.
The Zero Point Field (ZPF – as the scientists called it) represented one of the best possible scenarios: an endless supply of energy for nothing.
Ever since physicist Robert Forward of Hughes Research Laboratory in Malibu, California, wrote a paper about how you might conduct experiments in extracting energy from the ZPF, physicists had come to believe that it was possible.
They believed you’d have to decouple from gravity, reduce inertia or generate enough energy from the ZPF to overcome both.
Then Hal thought of turning the whole project inside out, after a physicist of the University of Wales had tried to determine whether WARP drives were possible. You could do some ZPF ‘engineering,’ he said, by playing around with the curved space-time of Einstein.
It’s well known that the propagation of light defines the space-time metric. What you might be able to do is decrease the refractive index of the ZPF, which would then increase the speed of light. If you modify space-time to an extreme degree, the speed of light is greatly increased.
Essentially, you end up distorting and expanding space-time behind the spacehip, contract space-time in front of it, and then surf along on it faster than the speed of light.
If you could successfully do this, you’d make a spaceship travel at 10 times the speed of light. You’d finally have a Star Trek WARP drive, which might even enable you to travel through wormholes or even connect to distant parts of the universe.
Around the corner
At the meeting, when asked how close we were to doing any of this, Hal cleared his throat and said it might take 20 years to do it. But in July 2014, NASA’s Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory, led by engineer Harold ‘Sonny’ White, a director of Eagleworks at the Johnson Space Center, reported on thrust production from an engine without any propellant, based on many of Hal’s original ideas.
A number of physicists and researchers, including a team from physicist Nassim Haramein’s Resonance Project Foundation, are working on energies and energy generators based on engineering the ZPF.
Of course, if these engines are indeed developed, they will enable us to travel to Mars. At the moment, using the kind of energy we used to travel to the Moon, we’d need a rocket the size of the sun.
But these discoveries, which appear to be imminent, have a bigger implication about the survival of human beings. They would enable us to move beyond a scarcity of resources and the inevitable disputes that arise between people and countries to get hold of them, to an essentially unlimited source of energy – a ‘cosmic free lunch,’ as it was called at that scientific meeting. The answer to peak oil and disputes over oil and the resultant global warming it creates.
Now, that sounds to me like something suspiciously close to Star Wars.