The Electrostatic Pendulum Experiment from P. Cornille

The ELPEX Project - Questions and Answers

created on 11/16/97 - JLN Labs - last update on 02/12/99


I will answer below the most frequently asked questions. First, let me give you more details about the experiments. The balls are massive aluminum balls weighting 500 g each. We also use professional high voltage power supplies bought from Glassman where the currents and the voltages are measured at all times with a good accuracy. The pendulum was placed in the middle of the laboratory at a distance greater than 2.2 m from the insulating walls.


First question: is the stimulated force produced by the electrostatic forces resulting from the induced charges in the surroundings ?

Four tests were done to reject the hypothesis that the force is induced by the surroundings:

First test, we switch the polarity of the power supplies and observe that the direction of the force has also changed 180. We recall that the direction of the force must not change if the stimulated force is produced by asymmetries of the electrostatic forces.

Second test, we put a wood plate about 5 mm near by the negative ball. When the voltage is increased, one can see the pendulum attracted by the induced charges in the wood plate, at about 30 kV when we increase the voltage above this value, then the stimulated force takes over and one can see the pendulum moving away from the wood plate in the opposite direction.

Third test, we used coated wires to supply the balls, therefore the ionization current almost drops to zero, about 3 micro-amp. In that case, no more translation effect was observed even by oscillating the D. C. voltage.

Four test, when the ionization current is present, we oscillate the D. C. voltage and obtain an huge increase of the kinetic energy of the pendulum which proves that we are using an external force to produce work. We recall that an internal force can be distinguished from an external force by oscillating the potential function since for an internal force, the oscillating kinetic energy does not increase with respect to time (Think of the case of the harmonic oscillator) while for an external force the kinetic energy does increase (Think of the case of a swing pushed by an external observer)

The earth magnetic force play no role in this experiment since the force involved is too small and not in the good direction.


Second question: is the stimulated force produced by electrical wind or corona discharge ?

We must point out that the stimulated force does not exist if there is no current circulating inside the conductors as proved by my formula 11. Let us recall that a current flows inside a conductor if there is a permanent non uniform electrical field inside the conductor. There are several ways to produce this non uniform field, for example it can be produced by the presence of thin wires near by the balls as explained in the paragraph 6-11 high-voltage breakdown in the Feynman lecture book, see also the very important and not well-known paper by H. A. Pohl, Non uniform electric fields, Scientific American, N 12, p. 107, (1960) dealing on this subject.

The current can also be produced by ionization of the air or by the leakage current in a dielectric. In the report by R. L. Talley, Twenty first century propulsion concept, N PL-TR-91-3009, May (1991) by Veritay Technology, Inc. where the pendulum was in vacuum, no effect was observed because there is no current involved in the experiment excepted in one experiment where a dielectric was placed between the two electrodes. In that case, the observed effect can be explained by the leakage current in the dielectric. I think that this positive result justifies our view point that a current is needed in order to produce a stimulated force through the violation of Newton's third principle. One can also criticise the experiment by noting that the voltage 19 kV is too small to show the effect. T. T. Brown used voltage up to 150 kV and obtained huge forces, see the book by P. A. LaViolette, Subquantum Kinetics The Alchemy of Creation, Publisher 1176 Hedgewood Lane, Schenectady, NY 12309, ISBN 0-9642025-0-6, (1994).

There are several possible mechanisms to explain the motion of the pendulum by an electrical wind effect:

The first one, the thrust results from the ejection of charged particles by the wires. Due to the cylindrical symmetry of the wires, the reaction forces must cancel to zero on the average.

The second one, electrons are attracted by the positive ball and the positive ions by the negative ball, due to the difference of mass of the two species of particles, the motion should be in the direction of the negative ball and cannot explain the thrust in the positive direction.

The third one, both negative and positive ions are attracted by the balls of opposite polarity. The transfer of momentum in the positive direction can be explained by a collision process and is due to the difference of mass between the two kind of ions. Therefore, a calculation taking into account the mass of the electrons shows that this transfer is quite small in comparison with the stimulated force.


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