free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 210. BURKHARD HEIM

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

210. BURKHARD HEIM

This is some truly mind-bending stuff:
Scientists are thinking of building an extraordinary anti-gravity machine which - if it works - could make "hyperdrive" starships a reality.

The design is based on the ideas of a little-known but brilliant German physicist who modified Albert Einstein's theories of space and time.

Burkhard Heim postulated a multidimensional world in which the forces of gravity and electromagnetism are coupled together.

Last year, a paper drawing on the concept won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' Future Flight prize.

It envisaged an engine that could not only defeat gravity but propel a space craft through multidimensional hyperspace at unbelievable speed.

Using the drive, it would take as little as three hours to reach Mars, and just 80 days to journey to a star 11 light-years away.

Testing the idea would require a huge rotating ring, several metres in diameter, placed above a superconducting coil to generate an intense magnetic field.

If the theory works, a large enough current and magnetic field should cause the ring to float free by reducing gravity.

Stretching technology to its limits

Building such a machine would stretch existing materials and technology to its limits. But one space propulsion scientist in the US thinks it might be possible.

Roger Lenard, from Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, runs a powerful X-ray generator known as the Z-machine.

He told New Scientist magazine that it could "probably generate the necessary field intensities and gradients".
Source
The life story of this man, Burkhard Heim, is also amazing, and a tribute to the powers of the human mind and spirit.

Burkhard Heim

30 Comments:

At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 8:16:00 AM PST, Blogger Joel123 said...

A little too Star Trekky for me. I think there is a chance of Star Trek future for Man, but it's very slim. It is the only hope of long term survival though. I think the latest geologic theory is that we have evolved during a brief warming cycle in the planet's history. That means even sustainable utopian eco-fairylands are doomed in the end. Finding another planet or figuring out climate control is the only real chance - of course unless there is a cataclysmic seismic event or asteroid collision. No wonder religion is so popular.

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 10:08:00 AM PST, Blogger Jan-Willem Bats said...

People might travel into space eventually. But the Star Trek type of exploration is flawed at the core.

For exploration purposes, we will be sending robots into space first. Not humans.

Space is not human-friendly.

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 10:10:00 AM PST, Blogger The Masked Lemming said...

We're saved!!!

I bet GM will have an anti-gravity SUV rolling off the production line just in time to stave off bankruptcy!!!

TML

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 10:33:00 AM PST, Blogger Quantoken said...

Can we concentrate on facts and realities, please? If you start to talk about anti-gravity, you might as well talk about perpertual motion machines, or about teleportations. None of these stuff are real!

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 1:10:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

I think the latest geologic theory is that we have evolved during a brief warming cycle in the planet's history. That means even sustainable utopian eco-fairylands are doomed in the end.

Well, nanofabrication will eventually be able to provide us all the food we need — which will be useful since enhanced humans will live longer. And once we are able to have mind/computer interfacing, faster-than-light travel will be useful but not essential for interstellar travel, as long periods of time can be compressed.

Look, I regard this as in the same vein as the hydrino theory (which also proports to change the laws of physics) - if it is possible it would be kind of nice, but it's most likely not. I'm sure we'll get there eventually, so if we do it within five years it's just a bonus.

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 1:12:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

Building such a machine would stretch existing materials and technology to its limits. But one space propulsion scientist in the US thinks it might be possible.

Just thought I'd add, if something is impossible today because of limits in the strength, properties, abundance or resilience of materials, then nanoassembly can solve that, too. So quite a few previously impossible or impractical things will be made possible. Don't know if that includes this machine.

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 2:14:00 PM PST, Blogger Wildwell said...

This blog was pretty good, a careful look at the situation with figures, went downhill with the personal stuff, now we're just onto the fairy stories.

Time to delete from my favourites I think..

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 2:45:00 PM PST, Blogger Buffy said...

Hey, great blog! I've been looking for more information on Heim's theories. Seems to me only a few people in the world are smart enough to really understand the concepts and the math. Maybe along with assembler nanotech and artificial intelligence we'll get smarter people who can do these things? I won't bet against it.

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 3:55:00 PM PST, Blogger Omnitir said...

This is very interesting stuff, and if it works out, could bring some radical changes to the world. Even if it were only ever used by government space agencies, it would allow some amazing advances and greatly speed up any space industrialisation process (which as I’ve said before, I believe is, and must be, the future of industrial civilisation).

But two points I'd like to address:

1/ The concept is based on a new brand of particle physics theory. This new theory is very intriguing, but is by no means widely accepted – in fact it’s hotly contended.

2/ Even if the tests are successful, and in 5 or so years we have a machine (theoretically) capable of faster then light travel, it doesn’t mean that we’ll have a Star Trek like scenario. Even with a “hyper drive”, you can’t zip people across spacetime. You still need to overcome the problem of inertia – something that even Star Trek doesn’t explain beyond “inertia dampeners”. So we could probably make a trip to Mars in a few hours, but accelerate any faster and the g-force will rip you apart. So even with this drive, humans won’t be travelling far in space for a long time to come.

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 3:55:00 PM PST, Blogger Omnitir said...

Windwell (and likeminded others) - why does the occasional post about theoretical concepts scare you off so much or cause you to roll your eyes or laugh? While it sounds far-fetched, it’s at least theory based in the real scientific world. These theories are more plausible then many of the doomsday theories I’ve read in certain other doomer-centric forums.

An optimist site occasionally talks about theoretical physics or theories on future advanced technology, while a doomer site occasionally (and often frequently) talks about Mad Max scenarios, conspiracy theories, mass death, or the future stone age. Doomers try to say that this occasional theoretical technology stuff discredits the optimists. What the hell do you think the full-on doomsday cult stuff does to the doomer camp?

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 4:36:00 PM PST, Blogger JD said...

Wildwell wrote:
Time to delete from my favourites I think..

Bye, Wildwell. Thanks for your contributions and best of luck.
JD

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 4:38:00 PM PST, Blogger JD said...

Here's the New Scientist article on Heim:
Link

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 5:19:00 PM PST, Blogger The Masked Lemming said...

Wildwell wrote

"now we're just onto the fairy stories."

Now come on you silly doomer! The technology described in this post is almost as vialbe as Omnitir's post about downloading our consciousness into computers and then being able to beam ourselves across the solar system.

Really, we need more realistic, solution-based posts like these.

Why didn't Robert Hirsch mention these as posible mititgation strategies is beyond me. Guess the doomers can get to even the best of em.

TML

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 5:21:00 PM PST, Blogger Joel123 said...

Hey I'm just curious. Theoretically, if we transfer our minds to computers and transport ourselves across the universe, can we still have sex?

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 5:47:00 PM PST, Blogger Wildwell said...

Windwell (and likeminded others) - why does the occasional post about theoretical concepts scare you off so much or cause you to roll your eyes or laugh? While it sounds far-fetched, it’s at least theory based in the real scientific world. These theories are more plausible then many of the doomsday theories I’ve read in certain other doomer-centric forums.

Because they are theoretical! In theory I could win the lottery tomorrow, or be hit by a bus, or they might find a cure for cancer, or Iran might nuke Israel. It doesn’t get us further forward does it? For a start this sort of technology would spurn a whole new arms race, so I’m not overly hopeful that we would see it in our lifetime (if at all) for a number of political reasons. And, as the article said this theory is nothing new, like many of the more outlandish ideas of people like Einstein, Telsa, to name but a few.

This is about the world now. There’s a whole bunch of stuff that in theory we might be able to do. Whether we can or not, or it’s practical, cost effective, environmentally friendly, safe, or politically acceptable is another matter.

So where are we in the Peak oil debate? Well, not really any further forward. On one hand we have the ultra-Doomers who are fitting everything possible to their way of thinking, and now we have a set of people who obviously like star trek coming up with a load more theory on the other side to fit with their ‘view of the world’, or at least one they would quite like.

Economists argue ‘Prices will rise and alternatives will become available’. This is an article of faith in actual fact. This isn’t Peak Oil debunked, this is, ‘well these are some of the ideas they are talking about’. It’s just a fantasy. Using that very concept I might as well go and get an unaffordable loan tomorrow, because hey, the loan will get so expensive the tooth fairy will leave the repayments under the pillow.

Ladies and Gentleman, thank you for your time, now if you excuse me I must get on.

 
At Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 8:09:00 PM PST, Blogger Omnitir said...

Because they are theoretical! … It doesn’t get us further forward does it? … This is about the world now. There’s a whole bunch of stuff that in theory we might be able to do.

Isn’t most of peak oil theory theoretical? Can we be any more certain that the auto industry is about to collapse triggering the collapse of the global economy, then we can be that some radical new technology might come along? Isn’t all peak oil discussion just theoretical?

Are you suggesting that people should not even consider possible solutions if they aren’t already being implemented?

By this logic: in theory one might be able to grow a vege patch in the backyard – but since that isn’t happening right now in my yard and is just a theory for a future outcome, it should not be considered. False logic.

Why only consider pessimistic theories and disregard optimistic ones?


On one hand we have the ultra-Doomers who are fitting everything possible to their way of thinking, and now we have a set of people who obviously like star trek coming up with a load more theory on the other side to fit with their ‘view of the world’, or at least one they would quite like.


Then there are those few that try to look realistically at all options and be objective. Yes, global economic collapse could happen, and mass die-off is a possibility. But so too new technology could be a factor worth considering.

Would it be more objective to disregard any theory that doesn’t strike us as being realistic? If this were the case, then most of us probably wouldn’t have seriously considered peak oil in the first place.


Ladies and Gentleman, thank you for your time, now if you excuse me I must get on.


Goodluck Windwell. Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish. :)

 
At Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 12:08:00 AM PST, Blogger Roland said...

To Wildwell,

Personally, I would never, and have never, proposed faster-than-light travel, molecular nanotechnology, AI, brain reverse-engineering, free energy or biological enhancement as solutions to Peak Oil, or even to the larger problem of human unsustainability. I believe we have to discount futurism and solve these problems in line with the "intuitive linear view", which means talking about public transport, home farming, solar energy, coal liqeufaction, global warming, and so forth. I don't think emerging technologies are necessary to make us sustainable. And that's basically the tone of POD: "real-world" solutions that are possible with today's technology, or with technology very similar to today's.

But I also believe that the "intuitive linear view" is wrong, and privately I think people who are worried about global warming and population are barking up the wrong tree. This doesn't stop me being very concerned about the environment, recycling all my rubbish, walking everywhere, supporting Co2 reductions efforts, and so forth. But when it comes to the long-term future of humanity, those issues don't concern me as much as misuse of nanotechnology. Privately, I think that within several decades we will see the potential of nanotech to cure every human ill and bring greater new dangers ... and that artificial intelligence will completely change the nature of life on Earth, probably for the better. And so on.

This is not the subject of POD, but I don't think that the occasional post on "wildcard" technologies does any harm.

And Wildwell, I agree that once more word about nanotech gets out it'll cause a huge public opinion backlash. That's good! There will be debate, which is what we need. Development will be carefully monitored and properly considered. You want to do the world a service, go out and scare the pants off everyone about nanotech - then remind them that if we do it right it can solve poverty and save the environment! Look at GM food or stem cells: they're still going to happen, just more slowly and responsibly.

Anyway, it's a shame you're leaving, since I really enjoyed your articles on New Urbanism, city densities and so forth and I pretty much agree with you on everything else. So thanks for the good posts.

 
At Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 12:10:00 AM PST, Blogger Roland said...

Hey I'm just curious. Theoretically, if we transfer our minds to computers and transport ourselves across the universe, can we still have sex?

Well, we can have sex in virtual reality (probably much better than normal sex anyway).

Or if you prefer, you can download yourself back into a physical body and have sex in that.

So don't worry, you can have as much sex as you like!

 
At Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 1:56:00 AM PST, Blogger popmonkey said...

jeezes. when did this blog turn into slashdot???

i'm with wildwell, can we stick to peak oil please?

 
At Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 2:03:00 AM PST, Blogger popmonkey said...

i have a suggestion, jd. start a new blog called "singularityiscoming" or something. i'd read it. i find this stuff very interesting and am not a total skeptic. i think if we don't kill ourselves we've got a lot of amazing shit coming in the next 95 years.

but you're doing a disservice to a mostly excellent blog about a very specific issue by posting such totally unrelated content. not to mention that the content you posted has been talked about all over already and most of your readers have, i'm sure, see it, or would have soon.

c'mon man, i don't want to see you scaring off folks like WW. he's one of my favourite members of the PoD gang.

 
At Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 2:44:00 AM PST, Blogger JD said...

Right on, pop. Point taken. I posted it because it was interesting and it was the first time I'd heard about it. I'm pretty skeptical about it myself, but it's interesting to talk about. I'm human. :^/

Note, however, that peak oil isn't about oil at all -- it's about all the things which will replace oil (unless you believe peak oil marks the endpoint of civilization rather than a transition). So it's no wonder if the topic strays away from oil. The last thing I want this site to be is a site nervously obsessed with day-to-day oil trivia. The pessimist sites are holding down that angle.

Which brings me to my last point. I don't think this post is what pushed WW over the edge. It was the nuclear stuff. In fact, I think that is where the great "splitting of the sheets" is going to occur -- between the pro-nuclear and the anti-nuclear side. Unfortunately, despite how much I like WW, he's more comfortable on the other side.

(Cool picture, BTW. Gotta get me one one of these days...)

 
At Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 3:58:00 AM PST, Blogger Roland said...

I still don't understand why we need nuclear power. Isn't one of the main points of this site that electricity is almost entirely from coal and gas, and oil is used in cars, where it's mostly wasted? Why do we need nuclear at all?

Anyway, I'm sorry about Wildwell leaving and I hope he comes back.

 
At Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 8:14:00 AM PST, Blogger al fin said...

Is there anything more absurd than a doomer rejecting ideas because they are "theoretical?" BS in spades! What is doomerism but theory? It is all theory, you DW!

You must have heard of all the doom theories of the seventies and eighties? How most assuredly hundreds of millions would starve in the eighties, the world would run out of oil in the early eighties, a new ice age was imminent, the civilised world would collapse by 1999. Theory of doom.

You just do not like competing theories, although you like your own theory well enough.
:0)

 
At Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 8:46:00 AM PST, Blogger popmonkey said...

jd, i understand that there's more to peak oil than oil itself. but warp drives? what's in between? i think that's what this blog should stick to.

as far as WW, you can't really speak for him. i'd like to see him change his mind and come back and post again.

i find it ironic that in #198 you were talking about the splintering in the doomer community...

 
At Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 7:09:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

What I find interesting is how hard it is to draw the line between "realistic" and "fantasy" once you start to look at emerging technologies. I mean, you start with coal liquefaction and biofuels, maybe a bit of advances in renewable energy. And then nanotech solar brings you to molecular nanotechnology, and MNT brings you to more powerful computers, which brings you to AI. And once you've got AI you've got scientific progress that is ten times faster, you've got brain reverse-engineering, and you've got immortality and multiple consicousnesses. And then you've got femto-engineering, and you have the creation of new universes with their own physical laws, and then that brings you to our own universe, and whether we are in fact a simulation, or whether aliens designed our universe with laws conducive to the rise of life, which is God, the mutliverse, the nature of existence, the nature of nonexistence, and so forth.

Everything is connected.

But as hard as it is to draw artificial lines, you have to in order to make a realistic debate.

One the one hand there's Peak Oil and current issues. Then there's the age of emerging technologies. Then there's philosophy/metaphysics/post-singularity. Sometimes you have to keep the three seperate, but sometimes it's fun to mix them just to get a bit of perspective.

 
At Thursday, January 12, 2006 at 4:42:00 AM PST, Blogger Freak said...

When you think about it, so many of the things we take for a convenience today seemed like sci-fi just a few years ago. Go back and watch some sci-fi from the 90's or 80's. We're ahead of the curve, it's what we power it all with thats an issue. How much of the internet is powered by coal?
doesn't that sound silly


coal-powered broadband global communications network.

backwards is not an option.....
supplies of what we have won't last forever, so we change or we die. and since death is also not an option, we change.

 
At Friday, January 13, 2006 at 12:16:00 PM PST, Blogger popmonkey said...

roland and freak:

but don't you guys understand how that kind of forward thinking deters the discussion of mostly short term effects of Peak Oil? we've already lost one superb contributor to this blog (and no, i don't think it was the nuclear issue) and a random visitor looking for info on peak oil lands on #210 and reads about warp drives is not likely to stick around.

i understand what you guys are saying. all these things are possible. i have my own reservations about whether they will be achieved or not and why but they have nothing to do with peak oil either.

to me Peak Oil is a problem right now whether or not peaking is occuring. this immediacy of the problem is why i found this log so compelling. musics of the #210 sort don't really do anything to help the understanding of the issues and may drive potentially valuable contributors away. it makes for a bad signal/noise ratios from the pov of someone looking for info on PO.

okay, i think i've ran out of ways to say the same thing :D

 
At Friday, January 13, 2006 at 4:04:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

I agree with you Popmonkey, and I'll try and be quiet from now on. :-)

(Although when doomers try and make long-term future predictions, I feel I have to make a comment about it. It's just not their specialty, and ruins the credibility of Peak Oil just as much, if not more, than JD's or my technological posts)

 
At Monday, January 23, 2006 at 2:36:00 PM PST, Blogger FutureQ said...

Things that make you think, hmmm? http://www.earthtech.org/publications/ibison_tardyons_and_tachyons.pdf From a think tank on similar subject matter found here.
http://www.earthtech.org

 
At Monday, January 23, 2006 at 2:43:00 PM PST, Blogger FutureQ said...

Grrr, all attempts to attach the urls to text failed in preview and it appears cut the long url off. Just go to the home site for the organizattion the second url. Or find their link on Wiki at bottom of Heim article then click the url they have at bottom for their publication list to find one on tardyons and tachyons, austensibly the matter behind dark matter and repulsive force appaernetly accelorating the universe expansion. The organization appears to be mainstream. But your mileage may vary.

 

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