| The Boeing Co.'s alleged research into antigravity experiments
appears to be a story that just keeps floating around without any solid
When the Journal reported July 30 about European press accounts of Boeing's supposed involvement in antigravity research conducted by controversial Russian scientist Yevgeny Podkletnov, we added that Boeing has denied funding any such project.
But the story keeps coming back, sometimes with variations.
No, we didn't miss anything last week, said David Phillips, Chicago-based spokesman for Boeing Phantom Works.
Phillips did say yesterday that some technical workers at Phantom Works have been following Podkletnov's research -- perhaps because they are personally fascinated by it, and because they want to keep up to date with technical journals.
But once again, Phillips said Boeing is not funding any such research nor is it attempting to duplicate the Russian scientist's 1992 experiment.
He attributed repetitions of the story to the way the subject fires people's imaginations -- gravity has been pretty widely viewed as immutable, he said.
To suggest it's not could be as revolutionary as Copernicus suggesting the Earth revolves around the sun -- or as bogus as saying Icarus' wings fell off when he flew too close to the sun.
A book on the topic, ``The Search for Zero Point'' by Nick Cook (the journalist who ``broke'' the non-story in the British aerospace news source Jane's Defence Weekly) is subtitled ``One man's journey to discover the biggest secret since the invention of the atom bomb.''
That subtitle reveals a conspiracy theory aspect of the story -- that the U.S. government has been covering up such research for years.
For example, Cook quoted an Australian journalist as saying: ``Listen, there are no facts in this field; the whole business, if you want to know, is riven with disinformation, much of it, in my opinion, deliberately orchestrated.''
So -- if Phantom Works were conducting this research, would Phillips tell us?
``I mentioned that'' to others at Boeing, Phillips said with a laugh yesterday. ``We can't even deny it and get away with it.''
Still, the subject is so fascinating, Boeing would have to acknowledge if there were a research program, Phillips said. After all, NASA has been completely open about its unsuccessful attempts to duplicate Podkletnov's work over the past several years.
Some Boeing engineers see a different conspiracy, suggesting the story has had wide play in the pro-Airbus European press because there's a hint of poking fun at the U.S. aerospace company -- as if Boeing is working on flying saucers.