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Gravitational anomalies: An invisible hand?
From The Economist print edition ^ | Aug 19th 2004

Posted on 08/21/2004 1:31:57 AM PDT by ScuzzyTerminator

Gravitational anomalies

An invisible hand?

An unexplained effect during solar eclipses casts doubt on General Relativity

“ASSUME nothing” is a good motto in science. Even the humble pendulum may spring a surprise on you. In 1954 Maurice Allais, a French economist who would go on to win, in 1988, the Nobel prize in his subject, decided to observe and record the movements of a pendulum over a period of 30 days. Coincidentally, one of his observations took place during a solar eclipse. When the moon passed in front of the sun, the pendulum unexpectedly started moving a bit faster than it should have done.

Since that first observation, the “Allais effect”, as it is now called, has confounded physicists. If the effect is real, it could indicate a hitherto unperceived flaw in General Relativity—the current explanation of how gravity works.

That would be a bombshell—and an ironic one, since it was observations taken during a solar eclipse (of the way that light is bent when it passes close to the sun) which established General Relativity in the first place. So attempts to duplicate Dr Allais's observation are important. However, they have had mixed success, leading sceptics to question whether there was anything to be explained. Now Chris Duif, a researcher at the Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands, has reviewed the evidence. According to a paper he has just posted on arXiv.org, an online publication archive, the effect is real, unexplained, and could be linked to another anomaly involving a pair of American spacecraft.

Three different types of instrument have been used to detect the Allais effect. The first are conventional pendulums, such as the one Dr Allais used originally. The second are torsion pendulums, which work by hanging a bar that has weights at each end from a wire. As the wire twists back and forth, the bar rotates in pendulum-like motion. The third are gravimeters, which are, in essence, very precise scales. All of these instruments measure the acceleration due to gravity at the Earth's surface, a quantity known as g. The Allais effect is a small additional acceleration, so tiny that it would take an apple about a day to fall from a tree branch if it were the only gravitational effect around.

Allez, Allais

Dr Duif has examined various conventional explanations for the Allais effect. He finds the most obvious suggestion—that it is a mere measuring error—unlikely, because similar results have been found by many different groups, operating independently and, in at least one case, without knowledge of Dr Allais's results.

He also discounts several explanations that rely on conventional physical changes that might take place during an eclipse. One of these is that the anomaly is caused by the seismic disturbance induced as crowds of sightseers move into and out of a place where an eclipse is visible. That seems unlikely, given that one of the experiments with a positive result was conducted in a remote area of China while another that had a negative result took place in Belgium, one of the most crowded parts of the planet. Dr Duif also considered the possibility that, because the moon's shadow cools the air during an eclipse, this cooler, and thus denser, air might exert a different gravitational pull on the instruments. This change could, he reckons, affect a gravimeter, but it cannot account for the results from the pendulums.

Dr Duif rules out a third explanation, too: that cooling of the Earth's crust due to the eclipse shadow causes the ground to tilt slightly, and thus distorts the results. He notes that although a detectable tilt is caused when the temperature drops by a few degrees, that tilt is too small to explain the anomalies and, in any case, it would lag roughly 30 minutes behind the shadow (because it takes time for the ground to cool) while the experimental measurements show a change in g instantaneously during an eclipse.

Although Dr Duif discounts each of the conventional explanations on its own, he admits that they might, in combination, account for the Allais effect. But the possibility also remains that General Relativity—Einstein's sacred child—is wrong.

This suggestion would fit in with another odd phenomenon: the fact that the Pioneer 10 and 11 space-probes, launched by NASA, America's space agency, in the early 1970s, are receding from the sun slightly more slowly than they should be.

According to a painstakingly detailed study by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the part of NASA responsible for the craft, there is no conventional explanation for this. There may, of course, be no relationship with the Allais effect. But Dr Duif points out that the anomalous force felt by both Pioneer probes (which are travelling in opposite directions from the sun) is about the same size as that measured by some gravimeters during solar eclipses.

So what are the alternatives? One possibility (though it could not account for the Pioneer observations) is known as Majorana shielding. This eponymous theory is that large masses (such as the moon) partially block the gravitational force from more distant objects (such as the sun). Another idea is “MOND”, or Modified Newtonian Dynamics, a theory put forward in 1983 by Moti Milgrom of the Weizmann Institute in Israel. MOND suggests that at very low accelerations gravity gets a bit stronger. An even stranger suggestion, made in 2002 by Mikhail Gershteyn, then at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is that the force of gravity is different in different directions. Most physicists do not like that one at all. It requires that the conceptual “frames of reference” against which movement, acceleration and so on are measured, are not uniform in all directions. But it was a similarly radical idea—that there is no absolute frame of reference in the universe, only local frames that can be measured relative to one another, which put the “relativity” into relativity theory in the first place...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: allaiseffect; astronomy; einstein; gravity; newton; pendulum; physics; pioneer; pioneeranomaly; relativity; tvf
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1 posted on 08/21/2004 1:31:57 AM PDT by ScuzzyTerminator
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To: ScuzzyTerminator

Hahahahaha! - I love it! <:D


2 posted on 08/21/2004 1:41:39 AM PDT by my_pointy_head_is_sharp
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To: ScuzzyTerminator
Dr Duif also considered the possibility that, because the moon's shadow cools the air during an eclipse, this cooler, and thus denser, air might exert a different gravitational pull on the instruments.

Well, air, as all matter, does exert a gravitational pull, though an incredibly tiny one. And yes, cooler air, being denser, will exert slightly more pull.

But that being said, isn't the effect of concern here air resistance instead? The ambient temperature will have a much greater effect on air resistance then the gravitational pull exerted by said air...
3 posted on 08/21/2004 1:43:16 AM PDT by swilhelm73 (I WILL VOTE FOR GEORGE W. BUSH INSTEAD OF JOHN KERRY because I still believe in the rule of law)
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To: Physicist

ping!


4 posted on 08/21/2004 1:44:34 AM PDT by my_pointy_head_is_sharp
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To: ScuzzyTerminator

bump!


5 posted on 08/21/2004 1:45:48 AM PDT by griffin
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To: ScuzzyTerminator

Can't the force of g be somewhat dependent upon the distance from gravitational bodies? Certainly there is a gravitational pull on the earth from the sun (hence our orbit) - why couldn't the moon shield us from that momentarily, even when you consider diffraction of the gravitational force?

Seems as though the results of the current mission to Saturn have shown that gravitational forces can be planar as well.


6 posted on 08/21/2004 1:57:52 AM PDT by datura (The Difference Between a Democrat and a Communist Is????)
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To: ScuzzyTerminator
"But Dr Duif points out that the anomalous force felt by both Pioneer probes (which are travelling in opposite directions from the sun) is about the same size as that measured by some gravimeters during solar eclipses."

Huh? Traveling in opposite directions from the sun? I did not realize the sun traveled. Help me out here (/snicker).

7 posted on 08/21/2004 4:40:57 AM PDT by NetValue (They're not Americans, they're democrats. They hate the US Constitution.)
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To: ScuzzyTerminator

This is a very silly post. The Allais effect is only puzzling to someone who fails to view the Earth, the moon, and the sun as a single system.

All objects with mass exhibit gravitational force. The force of gravitational attraction between 2 objects is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between those two objects, so the farther away the objects are from each other, the weaker the attraction is, but it is still there. The Earth, for example, has a gravitational attraction for Pluto, and vice-versa, even though they are billions of miles apart. So, the gravitional force that an observer measures is related to his distance from the center of mass of all those objects that are exhibiting gravitational force on him.

When the moon is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun, the center of mass of that system is slightly farther away from the observer on the surface of the earth, than if the moon is in line between the earth and the sun. When the moon eclipses the sun, it is directly in line between the earth and the sun, so the center of mass (and the center of gravitational attraction) will have its maximum shift sunward along a line stretching between the earth and the sun...and near which the observer of the eclipse will be. (I am ignoring the effects of variations in the moon's orbital radius). The pendulum swings faster because it is closer to the center of gravitational attraction of the system, making gravity ever-so-slightly greater.


8 posted on 08/21/2004 4:56:30 AM PDT by Renfield (Philosophy chair at the University of Wallamalloo!!)
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To: PatrickHenry

For your perusal.


9 posted on 08/21/2004 5:05:57 AM PDT by Junior (FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC)
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To: ScuzzyTerminator
If the change in the rate of the pendulum is due to a change in the force of gravity, I don't see why a scale wouldn't measure the effect far more accurately.

If the change in the rate is due to a distortion of spacetime, I don't see why an atomic clock wouldn't measure the effect far more accurately.

10 posted on 08/21/2004 5:53:38 AM PDT by Physicist
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To: Renfield
If that were the cause, there would be a gradual change during the day as the point of measurement changed distance from the center of mass. The maximum and minimum times would change as the location of the moon changed during the month. However the paper the article references shows a definite spike during the eclipse. If the measurements are correct, something stranger is going on.
11 posted on 08/21/2004 5:59:30 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (cong rec 27.3.86 jk speech doubleplusungood malreported cambodia rectify)
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To: Renfield
The pendulum swings faster because it is closer to the center of gravitational attraction of the system, making gravity ever-so-slightly greater.

That doesn't work, because the Earth is in free-fall with respect to the combined sun-moon system. The only part that doesn't cancel is the gravitational gradient, AKA the tidal force, and this definitely is greater during an eclipse.

12 posted on 08/21/2004 6:00:19 AM PDT by Physicist
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To: swilhelm73
A finite amount of air (or steel, or water, or whatever) has a given mass, no matter what temperature it may be.

The earth,s atmosphere is finite. Thus its mass is the same, no matter what its density might be.

Gravity is said to be inexorably tied to mass, not density. Giant gas planets have a gravitational pull that correlates with their mass, not their density. Although, that is not necessarily correct, in that their mass has been back calculated based upon the strength of their gravitational pull.

13 posted on 08/21/2004 6:33:05 AM PDT by steve in DC
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To: ScuzzyTerminator

bump


14 posted on 08/21/2004 6:34:46 AM PDT by sionnsar (Iran Azadi ||| Resource for Traditional Anglicans: trad-anglican.faithweb.com)
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To: ScuzzyTerminator

> So what are the alternatives?
> ... Majorana shielding ...
> Another idea is “MOND” ...

Suppose gravity is a push, and not a pull?

_____________
Believe it or not ST, I bought a SCSI
adaptor two weeks ago - 50HD female to
50LD male - probably the last SCSI
component I'll ever buy.


15 posted on 08/21/2004 6:45:45 AM PDT by Boundless
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To: VadeRetro; jennyp; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Physicist; LogicWings; Doctor Stochastic; ..
Maybe nutty. Science list Ping! This is an elite subset of the Evolution list.
See the list's description in my freeper homepage. Then FReepmail me to be added or dropped.
16 posted on 08/21/2004 7:27:12 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (If I never respond to you, maybe it's because I think you're an idiot.)
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To: PatrickHenry

Thanks for the ping!


17 posted on 08/21/2004 7:33:29 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: ScuzzyTerminator

Interesting post. Thanks for putting it up.

MOND means “moon” in German, by the way.


18 posted on 08/21/2004 7:44:59 AM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: Renfield
When the moon eclipses the sun, it is directly in line between the earth and the sun, so the center of mass (and the center of gravitational attraction) will have its maximum shift sunward along a line stretching between the earth and the sun...and near which the observer of the eclipse will be.

If so, then the effect should also be observed whenever the moon is more-or-less in line with the sun (ie, once every month), rather than exclusively being seen during an eclipse

19 posted on 08/21/2004 7:52:20 AM PDT by SauronOfMordor (That which does not kill me had better be able to run away damn fast.)
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To: PatrickHenry
Explanation (PDF Alert): Phys Rev D 2003

This article should have been available to "The Economist" had their reporter been scientirically literate. The paper was even in the references to Duif's paper. It's worthwhile to iterate the bibliography operator.

20 posted on 08/21/2004 8:25:52 AM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Doctor Stochastic
Thanks for that link. We can now return to where we were before the “Allais effect” was noticed:

"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie ... that's amore!"

21 posted on 08/21/2004 8:37:20 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (If I never respond to you, maybe it's because I think you're an idiot.)
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To: Physicist; RadioAstronomer
"If the change in the rate is due to a distortion of spacetime, I don't see why an atomic clock wouldn't measure the effect far more accurately."

(I was in Munich to film the eclipse in 1999, but I certainly didn't have an atomic clock)

On the Behaviour of Atomic Clocks during the 1999 Solar Eclipse over Central Europe
Article http://www.mpq.mpg.de/~haensch/eclipse/full.html

No evidence found of time distortion during eclipse
--abstract from article -
Previous reports on detected influences of solar eclipses on atomic clocks and the movement of pendulums have brought up speculations that some yet undetected gravitational shielding effect exists. We have compared the relative pace of three types of atomic clocks, based on the ground state hyperfine transitions of hydrogen, rubidium and cesium during the total solar eclipse on 11th of August 1999 over central Europe. In our experiment, no anomalous changes in the relative clock rates correlated with the eclipse were found, at a level much smaller than previously reported.
22 posted on 08/21/2004 8:48:14 AM PDT by edwin hubble
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To: Doctor Stochastic
By Van Flandern, no less! LOL

But waaaaaait, wait wait waitaminute...

I thought there was supposed to be a global academic conspiracy to keep Van Flandern out of the pages of reputable journals, and here he is in Phys. Rev. D! Things that make you go "Hmmm..."

23 posted on 08/21/2004 9:18:15 AM PDT by Physicist
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To: steve in DC
A finite amount of air (or steel, or water, or whatever) has a given mass, no matter what temperature it may be.

Density can be consider to be the measure of the amount of matter within a given area. The ambient temperature is the primary determinate of the density of air. Cold air is denser the warmer air. As such, there are more "air" molecules in the area around the pendulum if the air is cooled.

So, cold air does indeed generate a stronger gravitational pull then warmer air.

However, as I pointed out originally this effect would be very very small.
24 posted on 08/21/2004 10:16:30 AM PDT by swilhelm73 (I WILL VOTE FOR GEORGE W. BUSH INSTEAD OF JOHN KERRY because I still believe in the rule of law)
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To: Physicist; Doctor Stochastic
By Van Flandern, no less! LOL

I noticed that too. :-)

25 posted on 08/21/2004 10:50:28 AM PDT by RadioAstronomer
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To: edwin hubble; Physicist; Doctor Stochastic
We have compared the relative pace of three types of atomic clocks, based on the ground state hyperfine transitions of hydrogen, rubidium and cesium during the total solar eclipse on 11th of August 1999 over central Europe. In our experiment, no anomalous changes in the relative clock rates correlated with the eclipse were found, at a level much smaller than previously reported.

Would have been fun to have been involved with that experiment! :-)

I am anxiously awaiting the results from the Gravity Probe B.

26 posted on 08/21/2004 10:55:33 AM PDT by RadioAstronomer
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To: swilhelm73
One might suggest that the differential in mass might place more air molecules in closer proximity to the pendulum, but overall, the mass of air in the atmosphere has to be considered static for these purposes.

Regarding a change in proximal mass, and its discernable impact in the speed of the pendulum, I would suggest that the near transit of a heavy truck would have more significant gravitational impact than a slight change in air temperature, no matter how swiftly that change in temperature might occur.

(But I am too poorly schooled and too lazy to perform the calculations to support my statement:-)

27 posted on 08/21/2004 11:07:02 AM PDT by steve in DC
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To: ScuzzyTerminator
Majorana shielding. This eponymous theory is that large masses (such as the moon) partially block the gravitational force from more distant objects

Thus explaining why the force of gravity increases. ??????

MOND is more interesting.

28 posted on 08/21/2004 11:13:47 AM PDT by RightWhale (Withdraw from the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty and establish property rights)
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To: Doctor Stochastic

It's conclusion is chock full of "mights" and "mays" - basically calling the experiments that detected it poorly controlled. I don't think this is a definitive explanation.


29 posted on 08/21/2004 11:29:49 AM PDT by mvpel (Michael Pelletier)
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To: steve in DC
I would suggest that the near transit of a heavy truck would have more significant gravitational impact than a slight change in air temperature, no matter how swiftly that change in temperature might occur.

That's exactly why I have to believe that the reporter meant air resistance, not air's gravitational effect. ;)
30 posted on 08/21/2004 11:35:31 AM PDT by swilhelm73 (I WILL VOTE FOR GEORGE W. BUSH INSTEAD OF JOHN KERRY because I still believe in the rule of law)
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To: Renfield
Someone said, "If you cannot say it in numbers you don't understand it," or words to that effect.

So let's see some equations and confirming calculations, please--otherwise you are blowing hot air.

--Boris

31 posted on 08/21/2004 11:55:14 AM PDT by boris (The deadliest weapon of mass destruction in history is a Leftist with a word processor)
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To: Doctor Stochastic
AAARGH! Van Flandern! My brain is exploding.

Amazing he got published in Phys Rev D. He is the fellow who continues to claim that gravity propagates at infinite velocity...

32 posted on 08/21/2004 11:58:04 AM PDT by boris (The deadliest weapon of mass destruction in history is a Leftist with a word processor)
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To: RadioAstronomer
>I noticed that too. :-)<

Perhaps he upped his medication.....

33 posted on 08/21/2004 2:02:33 PM PDT by longshadow
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To: PatrickHenry

When the Moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie...that's a movie.


34 posted on 08/21/2004 2:08:04 PM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Physicist

Are the pendula in question oriented in some respect to the line of earth, moon, sun?


35 posted on 08/21/2004 2:10:30 PM PDT by Old Professer (If they win, it will be because we've become too soft.)
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To: Renfield
This is a very silly post. The Allais effect is only puzzling to someone who fails to view the Earth, the moon, and the sun as a single system.

When the moon is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun, the center of mass of that system is slightly farther away from the observer on the surface of the earth, than if the moon is in line between the earth and the sun.


And you're saying this about astronomers and physicists. Ha ha ha. You're comparing the gravitational attraction of the moon on an object on earth with relationship to the sun, the object being either between the sun and the moon or the moon being between the object and the sun. This difference in gravitational pull isn't what the difference noted in the Allais effect is talking about. The Allais effect is a change in the period of the pendulum that is observed during the period of totality and only within the zone of totality. The change begins and ends with that short period of totality.
36 posted on 08/21/2004 2:24:26 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: SauronOfMordor
If so, then the effect should also be observed whenever the moon is more-or-less in line with the sun (ie, once every month), rather than exclusively being seen during an eclipse

No, if there's shielding going on, the zone of totality would be the place where the effect would be the greatest.
37 posted on 08/21/2004 2:27:26 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: ScuzzyTerminator
Here's something related. Ron Koczor was doing some work several years ago with the Allais pendulum effect, but I've misplaced all my email correspondence with him about it.
38 posted on 08/21/2004 2:33:24 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: ScuzzyTerminator
Here's another one more directly on the subject from NASA about the work Ron Koczor was doing.
39 posted on 08/21/2004 2:36:21 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: ScuzzyTerminator

"That's not a moon, it's a sattelite!!

40 posted on 08/21/2004 2:37:57 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (I want to die in my sleep like Gramps -- not yelling and screaming like those in his car)
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To: boris

I'd have thought that Van Flandern getting published in Physics Review would be about as likely as Anita Bryant doing a Playboy spread.


41 posted on 08/21/2004 3:22:01 PM PDT by RightWingAtheist (<A HREF=http://www.michaelmoore.com>stupid blob</A>)
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To: Doctor Stochastic; PatrickHenry; RadioAstronomer
Dammit DS, you had to go and spoil it with that PDF.

On the other hand, I have experienced gravitational anomolies when I was a younger man: a large inhale of a clove cigarette appears to increase local gravity by a factor of 5. Quite an experience.

42 posted on 08/21/2004 5:28:40 PM PDT by Shryke (Never retreat. Never explain. Get it done and let them howl.)
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To: Shryke
... you had to go and spoil it ...

You want gravitational anomalies? Here you go: Tibetan Sound Levitation Of Large Stones.

43 posted on 08/21/2004 5:44:44 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (If I never respond to you, maybe it's because I think you're an idiot.)
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To: ScuzzyTerminator

The Economist?


44 posted on 08/23/2004 6:22:21 AM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: FairOpinion; vannrox; Swordmaker

An invisible hand?

45 posted on 03/18/2006 9:03:17 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Yes indeed, Civ updated his profile and links pages again, on Monday, March 6, 2006.)
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To: ScuzzyTerminator

The more they know, the more complicated it gets.


46 posted on 03/18/2006 9:05:56 PM PST by TASMANIANRED (The Internet is the samizdat of liberty..)
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To: FairOpinion; vannrox; Swordmaker

oops, should have mentioned this topic is about two years old. :') Link still works, I guess.


47 posted on 03/18/2006 9:08:47 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Yes indeed, Civ updated his profile and links pages again, on Monday, March 6, 2006.)
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To: 75thOVI; AndrewC; Avoiding_Sulla; BenLurkin; Berosus; CGVet58; chilepepper; ckilmer; Eastbound; ...

From nearly two years ago.


48 posted on 03/18/2006 9:10:01 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Yes indeed, Civ updated his profile and links pages again, on Monday, March 6, 2006.)
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To: tricky_k_1972; KevinDavis

?

from two years ago.


49 posted on 03/18/2006 9:15:26 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Yes indeed, Civ updated his profile and links pages again, on Monday, March 6, 2006.)
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This topic is from August 2004, nearly two years ago. If you hadn't read this far before you posted, don't come cryin' to me, missy! I've already posted two or three post mortem messages in here before this one.

Pioneer [gravitational] anomaly put to the test
Physics World | September 2004 | Slava Turyshev and John Anderson
Posted on 09/27/2004 2:38:32 PM EDT by PatrickHenry
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1228396/posts
31 posted on 09/27/2004 3:58:20 PM EDT by tortoise
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1228396/posts?page=31#31


50 posted on 06/25/2006 2:11:25 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (updated my FR profile on Wednesday, June 21, 2006.)
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