A Review of “This Way to the Stars: How Quantum Physics Changes Current Space Propulsion Paradigms, Making Inter-Galactic Travel a Possibility” by Paul Kirsch

by rthieme on March 13, 2009

A Review of “This Way to the Stars: How Quantum Physics Changes Current Space Propulsion Paradigms, Making Inter-Galactic Travel a Possibility” (Timeless Voyager Press: 2008) 96 pages by Paul Kirsch.

by

Richard Thieme

www.themeworks.com

From Paul Hill’s posthumously published “Unconventional Flying Objects” to Nick Cook’s “Hunt for Zero Point,” a number of people have attempted to formulate a valid scientific model for understanding what is often reported by eyewitnesses to UFO events – anomalous vehicles with capabilities that suggest that our current understanding of physics is primitive.

Of course, “current understanding” is a moving target. Some of what was reported early on – like stealth technology – has now been developed, and when the Wall Street Journal reports on invisibility cloaking as they did on March 13, 2009, it seems that some attributes formerly thought “too strange to be real” are not so strange after all.

But that does not mean that everything that sounds strange or impossible is simply waiting for the right engineer. Some things really aren’t possible. Some things really can’t happen.

So while we should not at the outset cavalierly dismiss Paul Kirsch’s claim to reveal “How Quantum Physics Changes Current Space Propulsion Paradigms, Making Inter-Galactic Travel a Possibility,” as “This Way to the Stars” is subtitled, neither should we simply accept it as presented. Science requires more than earnestness, it also requires good science. We must not only trust, but verify. Fanciful narratives like Bob Lazar’s fable of reverse-engineering alien craft litter the messy floors of historical UFOlogy.

When we apply science to Kirsch’s lovingly illustrated picture book, a shift from physics to science fiction takes place.

Kirsch is not a physicist. He works in medical administration, has a longtime interest in UFOs, and became fascinated with the ideas of Larry D. Maurer and Michael E. Miller, principals at UNITEL, a Portland OR company formed in 1982 to research and develop practical applications of new theories in magnetism, electricity and quantum mechanical physics. According to information posted on the company’s web site, a patent entitled the “Acousto-Electromagnetic Hologistic Resonant System ” was awarded but there is no indication that commercial applications or proposed research have ever seen the light of day, not for that system or for any other.

Maurer had a UFO sighting in Portland in the early 1980s and he wanted to know “how it was done.” He and Miller developed plans for an interstellar spacecraft based on extrapolations from “fringe physics” and what he believed he had seen. The proposal was published as a book, “Quantum Electromagnetic Laser Propulsion,” and last year as a novel, “Debris.”

Kirsch attempts to render in pictures and brief commentary this complex project for a craft that would in effect become a single electron and tunnel through space-time. He creates some nice images to illustrate difficult ideas and reduces detailed arguments to bullet points and short paragraphs like those in a PowerPoint presentation. The project hinges, however, on arguments from quantum physics. Since I am no more a physicist than Kirsch, I looked for others more qualified to evaluate the claims.

Physicist Edward Halerewicz, Jr. conveniently took on that task and wrote an extensive review of “Quantum Electromagnetic Laser Propulsion.”  He also wrote a mathematical analysis of the specifications of the spacecraft, did a physical review of the vehicle and analyzed the magnetic field strength of the craft. He admires the audacity of a proposal for a vehicle that uses cutting-edge physics to make travel near the speed-of-light possible with present-day technology but notes that the book is essentially a promotional “gimmick” to fund the project and promote interest in UNITEL’s work.  Funding did not materialize, however, and efforts to convince investors and engineers have apparently not succeeded.

The review of quantum physics and mathematics necessary to understand Halerewicz’s argument is best done with the original documents which can be found at www.stealthskater.com. His conclusions, however, were unequivocal: “I am highly skeptical of most claims … and the equations are largely based on the assertions of UNITEL, not on ‘hard science.’”

In a letter to Maurer, Halerewicz said, “I don’t believe existing experiments prove that the propulsion concept would work.  If it were possible to “teleport” an apple from New York to Hawaii, you would have something.  But at present, there is only circumstantial evidence which backs the propulsion concept.  [Your proposal] …  reeks too much of perpetual motion.”

Because he was listed in a 2002 corporate document as a “technical consultant” of UNITEL, I also asked physicist Hal Puthoff, Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin, for his opinion. Puthoff did have some early conversations with UNITEL – he responded politely to questions, that is – but never served as a paid consultant or provided professional services.  Speaking to what he saw six or eight years ago, he characterized their ideas as highly speculative, far beyond what was known or could be practically applied. Because their theoretical ideas could not be extrapolated from current knowledge, the proposal depended entirely on the ability to build something workable. Puthoff is radically open to possibilities because “experiment trumps theoretical expectation every time,” but to date, nothing has been demonstrated, only asserted.

Another scientist (who asked to remain anonymous) was approached by UNITEL and also rejected official status as a consultant, although he too was listed as one. There were severe difficulties with the concept, he said, and he could not connect the materials science behind the plans (his specialization) to the goal of intergalactic travel. It was not science, he concluded, but science fiction.

There are more conversations like that to report, but you get the idea. “This Way to the Stars” has a “cool factor,” the short book is fun to read, but until a tighter weave of theoretical and/or experimental data supports the extreme claims, the book is best cataloged as fiction, more like the Bob Lazar narrative than the balanced reasonable work of Paul Hill. I suggest that anyone interested in scientifically grounded speculation about “how we might get there” begin with Hill’s “Unconventional Flying Objects” – and also take courses in physics so that every exotic idea does not sound equal to every other.

Richard Thieme (www.thiemeworks.com) is an author and professional speaker focused on the deeper implications of technology, religion, and science for twenty-first century life. He addresses the challenges posed by new technologies, how to reinvent ourselves (as individuals or organizations) to meet these challenges, and practical approaches to
creativity, Email rthieme@thiemeworks.com for details.

Originally published in MUFON: The Mutual UFO Network Journal

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