The Universe is filled with magical things,
patiently waiting for your wits to grow sharper.

--Eden Philpotts




Preface:  Down The Rabbit Hole


Unlike Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, this is not a fairy tale. But at times it seems like one, so it seems fitting to begin by saying:

Once upon a time, there really was a person named T. Townsend Brown.

We know his name. We know where he was born and where he was raised. We know who his parents were, his wife, his children and even his grandchildren. We know most of the places where he lived — and there were literally dozens of them. We know where died, and where he is buried.

But that’s about all we really know. Beyond that, the man is a ghost, a zephyr — a myth.
Most of the useful details about the life and times of T. Townsend Brown have vanished — or been deliberately hidden — behind a heavy veil of classified military research, covert intelligence operations, legendary experiments with flying discs, lost notebooks, unverifiable claims and fantastic possibilities. All the arrows in Townsend Browns life point to the universe that Eden Philpotts describes in the epigram that begins this volume, but like stones hurled across the surface of a mountain lake in the early morning dew, the story points in the life of Townsend Brown all skip across the surface of our consciousness and disappear into a shroud of mist.

Nevertheless, Townsend Brown — or, Dr. Brown as those close to him still like to call him, despite his lack of academic credentials (and that’s another story in its own right, which we’ll get to eventually) — lived an extraordinary life, and his story deserves to be told to whatever extent the loose details can be rounded up into some kind coherent narrative.

Somehow, all the mysteries of the past century — nuclear physics, relativity, quantum mechanics, UFOs and alien contact cover-up conspiracies, the clandestine operations of the military industrial complex — all seem to converge in the life of this one extraordinary man. There are a few minor accounts of his life already in circulation, but they are largely filled with the sort of vague details that only amplify the mystery that surrounds Brown’s life. It is time that some semblance of the larger picture be revealed.

* * *

I had never heard of Townsend Brown before the night of July 9, 2002. At the time, I was in the midst of putting the finishing touches on my first book, The Boy Who Invented Television — a biography of Philo T. Farnsworth, another obscure 20th century scientist who was, indeed, only 14 years old when he conceived the basic operating principals for the system of sending moving pictures through the air that is still in use throughout the world today.

As I was putting the finishing touches on the Farnsworth biography, I was wondering what I might do for an encore after it was published, when a curious e-mail message showed up in my in-box. The message read:

T. Townsend Brown was another inventor who is forgotten and swept under the rug. .He died on Catalina Island around 1985.

Science in the late 50s said what he did was against physical law, yet the government classified his work. A bunch of government contractors both American and foreign have been working on it ever since.

So where did all the R&D go? If you go out in the desert about 125 miles south west of Las Vegas at night you will see an object flying around in the distance with a bluish haze around it. That’s where it went. Also Sharper Image is selling an air purifier on cable TV for $60. He never collected the royalties for that either.

The message was unsigned. The only hint of the sender’s identity was his e-mail address. But I took the bait, and before I knew it I was hooked on a remarkable tale, and found myself wandering off on a twisted journey, a compulsive quest to learn about and tell the story of one of the most remarkable unheralded men of the Twentieth Century.

* * *

Shortly after receiving the mysterious, unsigned e-mail, I ran a Google search and found a website dedicated to the life and work of this T. Townsend Brown. From the opening paragraphs I learned:

Thomas Townsend Brown, an American physicist, was a leader in developing theories concerning the link between electromagnetic and gravitational fields theorized by Dr. Albert Einstein. He advanced from theory to application with the development of solid and disc-shaped apparatuses, which are believed to have created and utilized temporary, localized gravitational fields.

Brown's work became very controversial due to the similarity between his work and what is believed to be the propulsion method of some observed UFO's. His name is also often mentioned in the same breath as the so-called "Philadelphia Experiment," as a possible candidate along with Nikola Tesla, A.L. Kitselman and Dr. Einstein."

Gravitational fields? Einstein’s Unified Field Theory? That all sounded reasonable. But “disc-shaped apparatus and UFOs” ? Hey, I write serious science biographies, not tales of borderline pseudo-science. At the time, I considered myself a reasonable person, and so I have always relegated anything having to do with UFOs to the lunatic fringe. “The Philadelphia Experiment” I had only vaguely heard of, but on the map of paranormal phenomena, I figured that “Roswell” and “Philadelphia” were located somewhere near each other in the same oblivious state.

Nevertheless, I poked around the website a little longer until I found an e-mail address for whoever had created it. I didn’t want to give away too much in my first attempt at contact, so I tried to ask some fairly benign questions:

I've just visited the T. Townsend Brown website and I'm curious, how did you come by the material that you present? Who in the family represents the estate? And how did you happen across it in the first place ?

And then I forgot all about it until nearly a month later, when I got a message from a fellow named Andrew Bolland:

I met Townsend's daughter by chance back in the mid-80's and became good friends with the family over time (I'm from Ohio) and at one point they gave me everything that was left of his work to do with what I thought best. As far as the research goes, I represent the family interest…

The timing could not have been better… I was only a week away from the publication date of my Farnsworth biography, at which point I would be a published author. So I lobbed a pitch in Andrew’s direction, asking if collaborating on a biography of Townsend Brown might be something that he or the family would consider.

Another month passed, and then Andrew wrote again:

I spoke with Brown's daughter and she thinks it would be fun to get involved. She was his primary research assistant - building prototypes and whatnot. Let me know if you want to pursue it.

It seems providence had spoken.

* * *

As with the Farnsworth biography, I started out to tell the story of an inventor, a true genius whose inventions were exploited in the world of commerce, while the actual source of the innovations were cast aside by the Masters of Industry — feckless tycoons who stole not only the products divine inspiration, but all the wealth, fame and glory that those inventions should have bestowed upon their actual creators.

The basic elements of the storyline are common to the lives of men like Tesla, Lee DeForest, Edwin Armstrong, Philo T. Farnsworth and myriad others. These are the “golden goose” fables of the modern era, where the source of creative genius is neglected or outright destroyed for the short-term benefits of the material world, and the prospect of further, even greater advances are often lost in the shuffle.

At first blush, the Townsend Brown story sounded precisely like another such story, and I set out to write what I thought would be a straightforward sequel to my first published book. But slowly, I came to learn that the Townsend Brown story represented an entirely different dimension — literally and figuratively. I had no idea I’d be writing a “non fiction novel,” or, if you will a “speculative biography” with pages that jump straight out of “The X-Files.”

Anybody who has seen “The Matrix” movies will recall the scene early in the first movie (the good one) where Morpheus offers Neo a choice between a red pill a blue pill.

“You take the blue pill,” Morpheus tells Neo, “and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.

As Neo contemplates his options, Morpheus continues, “You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland — and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

Now I look back and wonder: when exactly did I take the red pill? How long have I been in the rabbit hole now?

The effort you are now reading represents nearly three years of concentrated research into the life and work of an obscure 20th century scientist who — I am slowly coming to believe — may have known more about the invisible threads that bind our universe than anybody who has ever felt their effects here on the surface of this planet.

In the course of this research, I have come — was led, actually, as I hope I will be able to describe as the story unfolds — to the inescapable conclusion that Townsend Brown’s singular knowledge, unique insights and clandestine connections may have opened the door to a very real universe — a very different reality — that is almost impossible for mere mortals to comprehend. It's certainly hard for me to comprehend, and I've been staring right at it for the better part of three years now.

Slowly, and still with some reluctance, I have come to appreciate the myriad ways that the commonly accepted notions of “reality” are only a fraction of what actually exists in this Universe. And it seems at times that Townsend Brown patrolled the very edges of this reality, and secured for himself a quiet vantage point from which he could see through the metaphysical mist into a parallel universe where we all live but that has somehow managed to remain hidden just beyond our daily view for thousands of years.

This, then, is what I have come to think of as “The Parallel Universe of T. Townsend Brown.” To enter this Parallel Universe, I have had to swallow the red pill and toss myself down the rabbit hole.

But you, dear reader, do not need to choose between the red pill and the blue pill. I have already done that for you. All you have to do is turn the page…

Next Chapter



© 2005 Paul Schatzkin/Tanglewood Books. All Rights Reserved. ANY reproduction of this material without the express, written permission of the author will be dealt with severely. Contact: Contact via e-mail



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[i] -- the site was originally developed by Andrew Bolland, a friend of the Brown family and advocate of Brown’s work.