Travel to the Stars in 80 Days?
Ted S. Frost
“We all agree that your theory is crazy, but is it crazy enough?”— Niels Bohr, Nobel physicist Heim’s theory was developed by a reclusive, severely handicapped physicist without the benefit of academic facilities and support. It was never subjected to peer review in established journals. Its author never attended seminars or colloquiums.
Its author’s books were produced by a publishing house with a reputation for paranormal titles. Some of the theory’s conclusions sound too good to be true and until recently, it was never translated into English. Burkhard Heim (1925–2001) was born in Potsdam, Germany. In 1944, he suffered a horrendous accident while working on explosive devices: he lost both forearms and 90% of his sight and hearing. Despite these handicaps, Heim subsequently obtained a PhD in theoretical physics at the University of Göttingen.
While at Göttingen, he became intrigued with the idea of using quantum mechanics rather than explosives for space travel. This led him to a unique theory of physics, ‘a theory of everything’ (TOE) that apparently solves the biggest conundrum of physics— reconciling quantum mechanics with Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Heim’s handicaps made him reclusive. Despite the urging of friends and prominent physicists such as Werner Heisenberg, he declined to publish his work in peer reviewed journals: he said it needed refinement. In 1977, he finally outlined his work in the Max Planck Institute’s journal. He was ignored. In 1980 he published the first of three books describing his ideas in more detail. Walter Dröscher, a retired patent officer, began to collaborate with him and helped him expand his ideas.
Heim’s theory involves abstruse mathematics. The expanded version uses 12 dimensions in describing the fabric of spacetime. It unifies and reconciles quantum mechanics and general relativity while incorporating mathematics from both. It correctly predicts the masses of fundamental particles to a degree no other theory can approach. It does away with the Higgs boson, the hypothetical particle physicists have long sought, without success. It establishes a basis for the dark energy that seems to accelerate expansion of the universe, and accounts for the dark matter that seems to keep galaxies from flying apart. And it appears to resolve the anomaly of the weakness of gravity.
The real astonishment, though, is that it predicts faster-than-speed-of-light space travel as a practical reality. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics surprisingly awarded its annual prize for the best paper of 2004 to “Guidelines for a space propulsion device based on Heim’s quantum theory” coauthored by two Heim proponents, Walter Dröscher, Heim’s original collaborator, and Jochem Häuser, a physicist and professor of computer science at the University of Applied Sciences in Salzgitter1. This publicity has purportedly led to interest by the U.S. military. A researcher at Sandia National Laboratories has expressed interest in testing Heim’s idea.
Heim’s theory relates electro-magnetism to gravity in such a way that their interaction under certain extreme conditions can affect gravitational field potentials to the point of generating an anti-gravity reaction. The practical test for this concept would require a large rotating ring placed above a superconducting coil. The theory predicts that, if the current in the coil and the magnetic field are strong enough, they will interact with gravity in such a way as to produce a repulsive anti-gravity field force sufficient to float free from the constraints of Earth’s gravitational field.
According to Dröscher and Häuser, the apparatus could wind up in a parallel space where the covariant laws of physics are valid but the vacuum speed of light differs. This theoretically would permit travel faster than our speed of light. The paper’s authors claim this principle could be developed into a hyper-drive motor that could allow space travelers to reach Mars in three hours and a star system eleven light-years away in eighty days.
Testing the concept would require a coil several meters in diameter capable of withstanding an enormous amount of current density. Most engineers say this is not feasible with current materials and technology. However, the Sandia Lab researcher speculates that the X-ray generator at the Sandia facilities called the “Z machine” could generate the necessary field intensities and gradients.
The mathematics involved are formidable. One reviewer calls them almost incomprehensible, involving such concepts as ‘metronic difference calculus’ and ‘non- Hermitian partial metric tensors’ and ‘central eigenvalue equations.’
Heim’s theories have been embraced by UFO enthusiasts, since they provide theoretical support for flying saucers. But now that the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics has taken it seriously, Heim’s theory may get more scientific attention.
A key feature is the quantification of space-time into tiny discrete packets called ‘mentrons’, similar in concept to the quanta of quantum mechanics. Einstein’s general relativity, on the other hand, treats space-time as an unbroken continuum which makes it fundamentally incompatible with quantum mechanics. The Heim theory breaks gravity down into three separate forces rather than one, with standard gravity being the summation of all three.
The propulsion device Dröscher and Häuser envision in their AIAA paper would use the magnetic field gradient it generates to convert photons into the attractive and repulsive gravitophotons predicted by Heim’s theory. According to the theory, attractive gravitophotons interact with matter whereas repulsive gravitophotons do not, thereby creating an unbalanced force and an anti-gravity effect. The attractive gravitophotons can generate sub-luminal (less than speed of light) movement.
Further acceleration into parallel space and superluminal (greater than speed of light) travel would come from the repulsive force of gravitophotons converted into quintessence particles (a hypothetical repulsive particle that would explain the ‘dark force’ accelerating the universe’s expansion).
Dröscher and Häuser’s paper contains several “For the lack of space…” and “… cannot be given in the framework of this paper” qualifications. In terms of technical challenges, attaining the necessary magnetic field strength isn’t the biggest problem—it’s sustaining it. And even if it works, no one has any idea what would happen to humans near it.
But the cover story of the first 2006 issue of the
New Scientist includes a discussion of Heim’s theory and Dröscher and Häuser’s paper 2. The mathematical framework of Heim’s theory may be hard to follow and in need of explication, but its successful prediction of the mass of fundamental particles is impressive. Hans Auerback, a theoretical physicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, has commented: “As far as I understand it, Heim’s theory is ingenious. I think that physics will take this direction in the future.”
1.Dröscher and Häuser’s paper can be found at: hpcc-space.de/ publications/documents/aiaa2004-3700-letter.pdf. Although hyper-technical in the extreme, it contains enough layman’s language to make interesting reading.