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Machs Principle Evolves

Andrew Palfreyman on the MLT Breakthrough

By Tim Ventura & Andrew Palfreyman, December 12th, 2005
Engineer & innovator Andrew Palfreymans seen it all from Marcus to Searl, and then some. He joins
us to talk about his latest project: an experimental collaboration with Woodward & March to develop
the Mach-Lorentz Thruster, and help this technology evolve from milligrams to kilograms of thrust


Id like to start out by asking about your background, education, and interest in
AG/BPP research. Most of us get the bug for this stuff at some point, and Im wondering how
it happened for you.

Palfreyman: I graduated from Oxford

University UK in Physics in 1970 at age 20, after 3
years study; prior to that I worked for a year with
Marconi Space and Defense Systems in Stanmore,
UK, as an apprentice electronics engineer, being
too young to go up. After a trip around the world
for over a year, I began my engineering career in
earnest, which has continued to the present day over 30 years and counting. I've been involved with
a range of technologies: hardware, software, and
systems design, radar, graphics, robotics,
networking, and generally algorithmic stuff. I like
Andrew Palfreyman: Shown relaxing at
solving puzzles and these days that usually means
home with his wife & two children.
writing code and/or filing patents. I've worked as
an engineer in Britain, Germany, and for the past
20 years in the USA. I'm currently employed in a video streaming start-up in Silicon Valley. I
had a crack at algorithms for reverse-engineering genetic networks a couple of years back,
between jobs; systems biology is a fascinating new discipline. At one time or another I've learned
a few languages and achieved reasonable fluency in some. And I have a few other interests.
Chiefly these days it's the Woodward Effect, which we abbreviate to W-E.
It's hard to say how the "alternate propulsion" bug bit, and when. I remember that as a young
boy I was always drawing Heath Robinson type sketches for a variety of perpetual motion
machines. In my 20's, I came up with a scheme to float a particular geometry of
superconductors using the earth's field, based on an article in EE Times which reported that a
room-temperature superconductor (titanium boride) had been discovered by a certain Fred
Furtek at Wright-Patterson (this news disappeared tracelessly soon afterwards). So you could
say I've always been interested in that sort of thing. I even captured a UFO on video recently;
that's a first for me.


As I understand things, you spent a fair amount of time surfing the newsgroups,
reading up on the various designs to make an informed choice about what to focus your efforts
on. The project that eventually caught your eye was the continuing research of Dr. James
Woodward into Machs Principle Propulsion. Can you tell us how you got involved?

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Pete Skegg's excellent Quantum Cavorite website, in 1998, was where I

encountered Professor Woodward's work for the first time. It was presented pretty much as an
adjunct to Podkletnov's work, but I soon realized that, if I wanted to participate, I would be able
to construct Woodward's experimental rig, but had no chance of constructing Pod's (NASA
seems to have had a similar experience :). There was really no choice! So I phoned Prof.
Woodward, did some due diligence as well as I could, and, intellectually satisfied, decided that
I'd attempt a replication using the old piezo method. I did cast my net wider (and have kept it
fairly wide since 1998), but there is nothing out there of which I'm aware which satisfies all of
the following desirable criteria for the private, and hopefully critically discerning, experimenter:

a cheap and affordable table-top experimental set-up

a theory from which predictions can be made, using only undergraduate-level math
the promise of great results from modest outlays of money and time.

I should mention that Woodward's experimental protocols are exemplary; they exemplify the
scientific method in a way that few emulate. A lay observer would probably get the impression,
reading about how he conducts his experiments, that he is doing his damndest to disprove any
observation of the effect! He takes extraordinary pains to eliminate all possible sources of
confusion in the data, by construction of dummy devices, doing the experiment several different
ways, adjusting the variables (phase, voltage, temperature, timing, orientation, etc.), and only
drawing a conclusion when it is clear that a plethora of reasonable alternative and mundane
explanations for the effect are not the cause of the observed thrust. He is to be thoroughly
commended for his meticulous approach. This was another key factor in my decision to pursue
this path.
As for an overview of Mach's Principle, this
information is widely available both in books and
on the Web. Bear in mind that Mach's Principle
was Einstein's starting point in moving from his
special to his general theory. I think the germ of
the concept probably originated with Newton and
his "bucket" thought experiment: when you swing a
bucket filled with water and with an attached rope
around you, you feel a centrifugal force via the rope
as a consequence of the rotation. The water in the
bucket assumes the characteristic shape based on
classical physics. Now remove all other mass in the
universe, and consider relative to what are you now
spinning the bucket? Mach's Principle states that
centrifugal force will vanish if all the rest of the
mass in the universe vanishes. Boiled down to
essentials, it states that there is no inertia without
all the other stuff out there. It might occur to you
Dr. James Woodward: Professor of Physics
that this is a bit tricky to prove directly, since the
at Cal-State Fullerton & MLT designer.
experiment would involve destroying (at least) the
entire known universe. Prof. Woodward has found
a way of getting around this embarrassing experimental detail. Inertia, like elementary charge, is
one of the deep and largely mysterious facts of everyday life, and getting an experimental handle
on it is an exciting idea for the curious of mind - especially if you can have a go for just a few
dollars. That's not a bad risk/reward ratio, I think.

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Can you tell us a bit about your collaboration with Paul March & Jim Woodward?
From what Ive heard, youre all three testing prototypes and comparing notes to move this
project forward more rapidly.


Prof. Woodward has been at this since at least 1991. Paul March and
myself began at roughly the same time - in 1998. Since that time there has been regular
communication between us, and with other experimenters, as ideas mature and details continue
to be worked out. Even for such a simple-sounding experiment, there certainly are a host of
details to which attention must be paid. We are still, you could say, in the discovery phase on a
good deal of these. These kinds of considerations lie chiefly in the materials science realm, but
electronic engineering also plays a role, as do alternative physical explanations for certain
aspects. We do what we can; none of us have large budgets, and all of us have other
commitments. It has been tremendous fun thus far, that is for sure.


This collaboration seems to be getting results this year, the rumor is that a paper
citing a reactionless-propulsion effect above the margin of error is being presented at the STAIF
conference. This is a first in the mainstream physics community. Can you tell us a bit about this?


I'm aware of three papers being presented at STAIF 2006 dealing

specifically with the Woodward Effect; I believe that might be a record for a single conference.
Perhaps momentum is indeed accumulating; one hopes so at least. Prof. Woodward, with his
latest grad. student Peter Vanderventer, is presenting his latest data along with an updated
theoretical review. Paul March and myself are presenting a mixed paper; about half of it deals
with Paul's experimental data over the past 12 months, and the other half is an engineering
mini-treatise I wrote intended to make designing an efficient MLT easier and more optimal. I
would hope you could use it as a sort of design manual if you wanted to build your own set-up.
Previously it was not terribly obvious how to do this well, when all you had to start off with was
the Woodward field equation, and you were simply wondering what kind of capacitor you should
use. There is also an experimental replication report from Nembo Buldrini et al from Austria. I
think you'll see a mixed bag of results here, but there might be some surprises.

AAG: One of the surprises that youre talking about is interest from goverment & military
sources, who have reportedly been closely scrutinizing the recent MLT data for potential
applications. Have you seen any positive feedback from the military about these latest results?
Palfreyman: There has been interest in WE from the government and military from the start.
I'm not at liberty to mention names, but the "big
boys" have certainly been having a good sniff. It is a
good bet IMHO that some are still "sniffing" down
some deep black project hole, but then how would
we know anyway? Perhaps they already have
something deployed. Perhaps they failed to get
results. One doesn't get feedback from these folks
as a rule. Your tax dollar at work, of course, and we
are taught to suck up that behavior and move along.
An exercise in patronizing arrogance might be a
better description. Soapbox off...
Mach-Lorentz Thruster: Woodwards
sealed prototype for precision testing.

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There are literally hundreds of inventors working with off-center rotators that are
claimed to be purely mechanical implementations of Machs Principle, and while a few of them
will climb an incline, none of them appear to demonstrate propulsion in free-space. How is the
Mach-Lorentz Thruster that youre working with different from these more rudimentary

Palfreyman: The basic principle hasn't changed since Prof. Woodward wrote down his
original equation relating time differential coefficients of energy density to mass fluctuations in
the bulk. What has changed is the implementation of the experimental protocol which expresses
the equation in nuts and bolts so to speak.
What one seeks to do is to simulate the "magic brick" protocol experimentally, and it goes like
Imagine you're floating in deep space, so that there is no friction, and negligible gravitational
field, with a bungee cord tied around your wrist, to the other end of which is tied a brick, which
you begin by holding. We'll also imagine that there's a giant ruler extending behind and in front
of you, and sharing your inertial frame, for the purpose of knowing where you are. You throw
the brick backwards. Newton's 3rd law dictates that you accelerate briefly in a forward direction
to conserve local momentum. As the bungee cord separating you from the brick stretches, it
begins to pull you back; at some later time the brick will have boomeranged back into your hand.
Conservation of energy and momentum says that you will come to a full stop relative to the ruler
and with zero velocity - with precisely the same position and velocity (zero) that you had when
you started. That is a mundane brick. Now we make the brick magic. We make it heavier when
we throw it and when we catch it, and we arrange to make it lighter when the bungee cord is at
full stretch. Thus we get a strong initial push forwards, a light tug backwards, and another
strong push forwards when we catch it. Clearly, we will not remain where we started now; we
will end up with a finite forward velocity. And if we
repeat the cycle, we will experience increasing
forward velocity. Thus the net effect is that of a
unidirectional thrust, and that is the consequence
of the W-E. Note that we must carefully time the
mass fluctuations of our magic brick with respect to
the stretching and throwing and catching times,
otherwise we won't get anywhere. So the
prerequisites are:

a push/pull forcing mechanism

a W-E-induced mass fluctuation
appropriate time-phasing of these two

Machs Principle: How to create a net

propulsive effect with piezo-transducers.

The old way of doing this was to push/pull using

mechanical action. For this purpose a piezoelectric
stack was used to accelerate a capacitor, whose peak voltage instants were appropriately phased
relative to the peak movement instants of the stack (my own implementation combined the
capacitor and the piezo into one device). The problem with this scheme is that the mechanical
perturbations are propagating through the device at the local speed of sound, whereas the
capacitor voltage changes (energy) are propagating at the speed of light. One cannot, without a
good deal of extra design precautions, maintain a constant phase relationship throughout the
extent of the active device between two waves which propagate at different velocities, and so this
approach was fraught with difficulty from the start. It took some time to recognise this fact.

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The new way is expressed as the MLT ("Mach-Lorentz Thruster"). In this implementation, the
mechanical action of the piezo is substituted for the electromagnetic action of a magnetic field
on a moving charge - the familiar Lorentz force, which we learn in school under the various
names of Farady induction, Lenz's law, the Motor Rule and so on, and this usually involves
holding up two fingers and a thumb to figure out, given any two of Field, Motion and Current,
which way the third one will point (I invariably use the wrong hand). Here, you can see that now
the push/pull mechanism propagates throughout the device at the same speed as do changes to
the device energy (capacitor voltage), and so we can expect to accurately specify, and stably
maintain, the desired phase relationship between action and energy. Results obtained to date
appear to bear this out; this is another experimental step forward. More improvements are of
course to be expected, and only imagination is the limiting factor. There are many ways to build
this thing, and most of them haven't been thought of yet.


The term Machs Principle was originally coined by Einstein in 1918, and suggests
that inertia is determined in relation to the sum of all mass in the universe. However, Woodward
seems to have revised this description with the concept of FOAM, or Far Off Active-Mass. Can
you describe this concept for us a bit?

Palfreyman: This simply refers to the aggregate of all the mass in the known universe,
referred to in older texts as the mass of the fixed stars. One thing to keep in mind about FOAM is
that its gravitational potential dwarfs that of the Earth upon which we stand by many orders of
magnitude. Note this is not the same as the gravitational field. The W-E operates on the
potential, which is why FOAM's presence is key to the theory - and of course key to Mach's
The reason for the "A" (active) denotation here is to indicate that this distant matter is not to be
regarded as passive, but to actively take part in inertial force generation locally. The question
immediately arises as to how matter out to 14 billion light years distance can participate in the
force you feel when you push on a heavy object - its inertial reaction force? That's where
theoretical matters become speculative; Prof. Woodward has adopted the concept of WheelerFeynman radiation to explain this apparent conundrum, as has Prof. Cramer in his transactional
interpretation of quantum mechanics. I'd advise the interested reader to delve deeper by simply
reading through Woodward's published papers. Suffice it to say that these waves come in two
flavours - the mundane "retarded" wave of everyday experience, and the "advanced" wave,
which is the solution to the wave equation with the sign of the time variable reversed. Thus
waves from the future co-exist with waves from the past, and when one does the maths, it
actually works out to produce the forces with which we're familiar, via cancellation at the sink.
Although typically applied to electromagnetic radiation, in the case of the FOAM we're talking
about something we refer to as "gravinertial flux", and the waves represent positive- and
negative-time solutions to the gravitational wave equation. All very mysterious, and definitely a
stretch (rather like quantum mechanics, which is also a stretch when first encountered). My own
opinion is that Wheeler-Feynman radiation is but one possible mechanism for describing the
FOAM-to-local interaction, and that there is room for an alternative explanation here; perhaps
some new physics.

AAG: As I understand things, the MLT produces more thrust at higher operating frequencies
with the expectation that net thrust is related to the square or cube of the frequency. Can you
describe this a bit for us?

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Frequency scaling obtains for the MLT; power is linear in frequency, and
its rate of change multiplies in an extra frequency term, so we are at frequency-squared due to
the dP/dt term in the field equation. When we eliminate the displacement current in the
capacitor using the familiar expression for capacitative reactance, we get yet another frequency
term. So we end up with a cube law for frequency for an MLT.
Measurements appear to confirm that cube-law scaling of voltage obtains experimentally, and
this is the unmistakeable signature of a Mach-effect device. Generally, improvements in device
performance will come chiefly from higher energies and higher frequencies, and perhaps later
from economies of scale - e.g. going down to the nano-scale.

AAG: The data that Woodward & March are presenting at STAIF is reported to demonstrate
a reactionless thrust in the milligram range, but as I understand things, youre already working
on the next step: a larger-scale device that may produce kilograms of thrust. This is a stunning
prediction with serious implications for advanced propulsion technology. Can you share with us
your actual thrust-prediction for the latest prototype?


Sixty kilograms-weight of thrust at 108 MHz using a couple of hundred

watts of RF power, and assuming a decent Q-factor of around 10 in the matching circuits.
Because of the many as yet unknown variables related to the materials science aspects of the
problem, this is of course only a mathematical prediction. There is additionally the issue that
the domain of operation of this device is well into the non-linear wormhole region, where all
bets are off in any case. This prediction assumes a
linear solution, and so is not something I'd hang
my hat on. I will be happy with one gram :)

AAG: It appears that the big breakthrough

has already been made, so my hope is that well be
seeing bigger and better devices come forward as
you all refine your devices for higher-performance.
What can we expect to see from MLT research in
the next couple of years?

That very much depends on

Piezo Drive: An early attempt at Machs
incremental performance gains actually obtained,
Principle Thrust by Jim Woodward.
and on funding levels. The answer might be
"floating above your head", it might be "still doing milligram-weight-regime thrust levels", or,
most likely, somewhere in between. Just to get a consistent and repeatable one-gram-weight
unidirectional thruster would be a major step forward. It might not sound like much, but a few
such solar-powered MLT's could do propellantless station-keeping for the ISS. And they could
be located inside the ISS to do that; no space-worthiness (i.e. vacuum operation) qualification
would be required.

Andrew Palfreyman is an independent experimenter & engineer from the San Francisco Bay
Area. His comprehensive research includes a number of promising AG & BPP systems, which he
approaches from a rigorous experimental perspective with a focus on results. You can learn
more about the Mach-Lorentz Thruster online at: or

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