Produce and detect gravitational fields at will using magnetic fields, control them for studying them, work with them to produce new technologies -- it sounds daring, but Prof. André Füzfa of Namur University has proposed just that in an article published in the scientific journal Physical Review D. If followed, this proposal could transform physics and shake up Einstein's theory of general relativity.
At present, scientists study gravitational fields passively: they observe and try to understand existing gravitational fields produced by large inertial masses, such as stars or Earth, without being able to change them as is done, for example, with magnetic fields. It was this frustration that led Füzfa to attempt a revolutionary approach: creating gravitational fields at will from well-controlled magnetic fields and observing how these magnetic fields could bend space-time.
In his article, Füzfa has proposed, with supporting mathematical proof, a device with which to create detectable gravitational fields. This device is based on superconducting electromagnets and therefore relies on technologies routinely used, for example, at CERN or the ITER reactor.
Although this experiment would require major resources, if conducted, it could be used to test Einstein's theory of general relativity. If successful, it would certainly be a major step forward in physics: the ability to produce, detect and, ultimately, control gravitational fields. People could then produce gravitational interaction in the same way as the other three fundamental interactions (e.g. electromagnetic and strong and weak nuclear forces). That would usher gravitation into a new experimental and industrial era.
Until now, a scientific advance like this was a dream of science fiction, but it could open up many new applications tomorrow, for example in the field of telecommunications with gravitational waves: imagine calling the other side of the world without going through satellite or terrestrial relays!
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