Maybe there is some merit to these posts, so we had to put 'em somewhere...


Postby adminman » Sat Apr 09, 2005 1:31 pm

[This letter originally appeared in Infinite Energy #60, March-April 2005 and is reprinted here by request of the author and with permission from the publishers of Ininite Energy]

Dear Sirs:

The small force retarding the motion of the Pioneer spacecraft discovered by John Anderson (Los Angeles Times, 12-21-04) may result from something both stranger and more ordinary than anyone suspects. An alternate source of their deceleration may be the Biefeld-Brown effect, a tendency of shaped capacitors (and possibly capacitors in general) to produce a small thrust toward their positive pole, discovered by Paul Biefeld and his student Thomas Townsend Brown in 1923. The strong photoelectric effect produced by the hard UV in extra-atmospheric sunlight would knock electrons out of exposed metal surfaces and cause a buildup of positive charge on a vehicle's sunward side while its innards act as a dielectric, turning the entire spacecraft into an asymmetrical capacitor. Since the positive charge is induced by sunlight, the resulting force will always push toward the Sun.

This conjecture lends itself to a prediction that can be tested: If the Pioneer anomaly is caused by the photoelectric and Biefeld-Brown effects, the anomaly should taper off as vehicles move away from the Sun. The "curve of deviation" will flatten out with distance instead of increasing. The data should be reexamined for evidence of this, and heroic efforts should be made to reestablish contact with both Pioneer spacecraft. Doing so may eliminate the need for an expensive redundant mission.

T.T. Brown's original patents claimed the effect works in a vacuum and is not a product of "ionic wind" in the air, as some insist. NASA's more recent patents, which favorably cite Brown's work and emphatically declare the effect to be real (patents 6,317,310, 6,411,493 and 6,775,123), claim it only works in air and a gaseous dielectric is required for its operation, but I found this claim ambiguous. If the device only works in an atmosphere and reactant must be supplied, why patent something intended for use in space? Are there significant gains over competing forms of electric propulsion? NASA's patent 6,775,123 also says "thrust is substantially and significantly reduced" in a vacuum but does not say it vanishes completely. Whether the effect works in a vacuum is crucial to resolving the Pioneer anomaly, and for field-effect propulsion and power-generation in general. Further and nongovernmental testing is essential.

If the Biefeld-Brown effect really does work in a vacuum, it will alter the motion of any unevenly-charged object free-falling in space. The cause and conditions under which the phenomenon occurs are disputed, but it definitely exists and may occur naturally -- perhaps inevitably -- in near-Solar space. Despite the debate over what causes it, the Biefeld-Brown effect works with relatively conventional forces and does not require the existence of multiple dimensions or unobserved forms of matter. This odd old discovery may explain the Pioneer anomaly without the need for trendy conjecture. Perhaps physicists should try to explain anomalous behavior with observed phenomena before taking hypothetical leaps into the unknown.

G. Solov

Originally published in Infinite Energy #60, March-April 2005, under heading "Alternate explanation for Pioneer anomaly." Visit for magazine info. (c) 2005 G. Solov. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of author. Others wishing to post or publish please contact me for permission,

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