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"I don't know why I write science fiction. The voices in my head told me to!"
- Charles Stross

Gravity Nullification (Gravity Screen)  
  Gravity annulled in its entirety in a small area.  

Ralph explained to his guests that with the invention of the nullifying of gravitation, many new and wonderful effects had come about. Gravity, he explained, was an electromagnetic manifestation, in the ether, the same as light, radio waves, etc. It had always been the dream of scientists for hundreds of years to nullify the effect of gravitation. "In other words," Ralph continued, "if you pick up a stone and open your hand, the stone will fall to the ground. Why does it fall? First, because the earth attracts the stone, and second because the stone attracts the earth. There is a definite gravitational pull between the two. The effect of the stone in pulling up the earth is, however, inconsequential, and while the stone does exert a certain amount of pull towards the earth, the latter is so tremendously larger that the effect on the earth is not felt at all.

"'If,' scientists had argued for hundreds of years, 'you could interpose between the stone and the earth a screen which nullified gravitation, the stone would not fall down when let go, but would remain suspended just exactly where you left it.'

"Scientists also argued that if gravitation was an electromagnetic manifestation of the ether, it should be possible to overcome and nullify it by electrical means.

"It took hundreds of years, however, before the correct solution was found. It was known that certain high frequency currents would set up an interference with the gravitational waves, for it had been found in the first part of our century that gravitation was indeed a wave form, the same as light waves, or radio waves. When this interference between the two waves, namely, the gravitational waves and the electrical waves was discovered, it was found that a metallic screen charged by electric high frequency waves would indeed nullify gravitation to a certain extent. If you charged a metal netting in this fashion and you weighed yourself on a spring scale on top of the screen, insulated of course from the screen itself, your weight would be roughly diminished one-half.

"In other words, about half of the gravitation had been nullified, the other half still remaining. Thus things stood until about two years ago, when I began to occupy myself with the problem. I reasoned that while we had achieved much, still much more remained to be done. Our anti-gravitational screen still let through some of the gravitational waves, or fifty percent of the energy, which we could not seem to counteract. I felt that it was not so much the effect of the current as the material of the screen which seemed to be at fault. Experimental work along this line convinced me that I was on the right track and that if ever gravitation was to be annulled in its entirety a screen of a special material would have to be evolved in order to obtain the desired results.

"I finally found that only the densest material known, namely thoro-iridium, would completely stop the gravitational waves, providing that the metal screen was uninterruptedly bombarded with alpha rays which are continually emitted by radium.

"The screen finally evolved was expensive to make at first, but quantity production now has very considerably lowered the price."

From Ralph 124c 41 +, by Hugo Gernsback.
Published by Modern Electrics in 1911
Additional resources -

The final act:


(Gravity Nullification from 'Ralph 124c 41 +' by Hugo Gernsback)

The final act was where a huge water ball, about twenty-five feet in diameter, was pushed to the center of the arena, while a number of pretty girls entered the liquid itself and swam within the ball. The ball was lit up by strong searchlights, and the entire arena darkened, as the girls swam within the clear crystal water ball. When the swimmers needed air, all they had to do was to push their heads out of the sphere, breathe, and then resume "swimming," or jerking themselves around within the weightless water.

Fans of modern science fiction, like Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2007), recall this scene:

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Ralph 124c 41 +
  More Ideas and Technology by Hugo Gernsback
  Tech news articles related to Ralph 124c 41 +
  Tech news articles related to works by Hugo Gernsback

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