Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 27/05/2002Believe in anti-gravity? Nah, me neither.

Monday 27/05/2002

Believe in anti-gravity? Nah, me neither. Neither do the chaps over at American Antigravity, despite their teasing name. What they do believe, however, is that they've found a new way of making things float that doesn't match any current theory.

OK so far. They have a Web site -- go on, you can guess the name -- where they have mpegs of their designs hovering around above test benches, and some sane and serious discussion of what may be going on. And, delightfully, they have a list of instructions for doing it yourself.

It gets better. For your Blue Peter antigrav machine, you will need tin foil, balsa wood, fuse wire, superglue... and a 25-kilovolt power supply. Haven't got one? Yes you have -- you're looking at it right now (*). A computer monitor generates roughly that many volts, and all you have to do is take the back off, stick a lead under the big rubber sucker that's there to stop people sticking leads into the dangerous bits, and you're off.

Of course, this can kill you -- and we need all the readers we can get, so don't do it. Instead, read the safety instructions on the Web site. Then think hard -- and if in doubt, find a nerd with some high voltage experience to do the sparky bits.

Speaking as a nerd who does have high voltage experience -- I was building 20kV supplies out of old tellies when I was fourteen, and I have no idea how I survived -- it's a joy in itself to hook things up to over-boisterous electrons and watch them glow, frazzle, spin and noisily destruct.

But if there's a better use of the Internet than to tell us how to build dangerous devices that break the laws of physics, I don't think I know it.

(*) OK, so you've got a laptop or a LCD panel. Nobody loves a smartarse. Go and rip the back off your Aunt Glenda's telly instead.