Right Way to Be Crazy February 28, 2006Posted by gordonwatts in physics.
A while ago I complained about cold fusion and how it was covered in a Make Magazine article. The author of the article seemed to be saying that this fellow was right and all of science was wrong. I had no problem with that, but nothing is to be believed until it is independently verified; and the author should take that view as well.
The latest Make (thanks to my sister for getting me the subscription!) has an interview with a fellow from Seattle, Woody Norris. It ends with the following (spelling & grammar are my mistakes):
Rumor has it that you are working on some inventions that involve gravity. Anything you can share?
I am fortunate that I am now in a financial position that allows me to pursue big problems. So for the last several years, I have tried to deliberately invent over my head. When I can’t get the answers I need for the problems I’m working on, I find professors who specialize in the areas that I am working on and then pay them to conduct the research or write me papers. This allows me to get experts in niche areas to evaluate my ideas and tell me if they are smart or stupid.
So with that context, let me say that nobody really understands gravity. What we do know is that is has something to do with mass, and it is the result of something going on in the nucleus of the atom. I think I know what that “something” is. I might be the only person in the world who knows what that “something” is. I know that sounds brazen, but I believe it’s true. I have been working on a variety of experiments, over the course of years, to test my theory in a way that yields clear, unambiguous results so that it can be independently reproduced — I don’t want a Pons and Fleischmann situation.
Based on the current rate of progress, I am confident that within ten years we will understand the mechanism of gravity and be able to influence its in specific ways. I realize that most scientists reading this will think I am nuts, but I am no risking anybody’s money or reputation but my own. So if I am wrong, no big deal. If I am right, the rewards for everyone will be terrific.
Now, that is the right approach. Crazy idea? Outside the mainstream scientist (i.e. you probably can’t get peer-reviewed funding for it)? Probably. If I heard his idea would I think it was crazy? Probably? Should he follow it up? Sure! And he has the right yard stick for success: it can be independently reproduced. If you want to do something off the beaten track — those five words are what will make you famous (and rich). I wish him best of luck!