When asked about the numerous failures that preceded his invention of the light bulb, Thomas Edison once famously joked that he hadn’t failed over a hundred times but instead had simply found a hundred different ways how not to make a light bulb. Could the same thing be said of anti-gravity and the hunt to defy physical laws?
Although not expressly stated by Mark Sokol, the 33-year-old, wide-eyed, curly-haired founder of New Jersey-based Falcon Space, (in Slavic languages, Sokol means Falcon), Edison’s light bulb analogy could easily sum up his company’s hands-on, trial and error approach when it comes to their wide array of very ambitious planned experiments.
The dividing lines between visionaries and madmen have historically proven to be thin. As Sokol pushes himself and his company headfirst into developing a ‘Warp Drive Detector’ and the world’s first anti-gravity aircraft, it makes you wonder on what side of that line he dwells.
“I think [that] where science really went wrong was when Einstein got his Nobel Prize for dreaming up theory, as opposed to experimental results.” Sokol told The Debrief, “[After that] I think the scientists sort of got addicted to sitting at home and coloring on white boards.”
The Toyota Prius May Have Influenced the Creation of a ‘Warp Drive Detector?’
Nearly ten years before his first gravity experiments, Sokol purchased a used Toyota Prius, only to learn that the already aging battery pack would soon have to be rebuilt. Unfortunately, with the hybrid market still new, the equipment to do the job wasn’t yet available. Undaunted, Sokol simply built his own tools, ultimately leading the then 23-year-old to start his own hybrid battery refurbishment business, a business he still owns and operates today.
“I built the equipment to refurbish the batteries myself because the equipment didn’t exist,” he said. Sokol is highly energetic, often speaking like a human machine gun, yet surprisingly articulate.
This mentally fast-paced, hands-on, problem-solving approach has translated over to Sokol’s current research, including designing a device to detect the warping of space-time, or more simply, a ‘Warp Drive Detector.’
“The ‘Warp Drive Detector’ was just something that was dreamed up between Jeremiah Popp [a fellow anti-gravity experimenter] and me,” said Sokol. “The idea is to figure out if a warp field is being created, to see if something is changing the speed of light in the vicinity of an experiment.”
Sokol explained that his theoretical device isn’t being built to detect ultra-top secret man-made spaceships traveling above the speed of light, much less alien ones, but instead to help the Falcon Space team with their gravity-related experiments.
“We have a lot of experiments going on in the lab,” said Sokol. “A lot of experiments we’ve completed, and we realized we don’t have the proper instrumentation to realize if anything was actually happening.”
In short, if they had any hope of testing whether or not their gravity experiments were achieving a warping of space-time as predicted by Albert Einstein, the duo realized that much like the tools to remake a Prius battery pack in 2011, they had to build a warp drive detector on their own.
Building The Impossible
Rather than diving straight into the lab, a move Sokol admits is almost always their first impulse, he and Popp checked out the current technology used to measure reactions to gravity. Ultimately, they landed on a laser set up designed to spot gravity-induced changes in light, like the one NASA’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) uses to detect gravitational waves in space. And although Sokol didn’t reveal the engineer’s name, he did indicate that he and Popp have consulted with one of the original designers of LIGO to make sure they were setting their experiments up correctly.
“Use a stable laser,” he said, explaining the theory behind their warp measurement tool. “It gets split into two beams. They bounce around the table, [then] come back to each other on the receiving end. You have the experiment affect one of the beams. If it affects it, the interference pattern will change, and you will be able to measure very minute details in the change of light.”
Sokol said that once these lasers are mounted on his recently purchased, ultra-heavy duty, composite, dielectric testbed (one he described as “tough as concrete”), they will be able to use the device to test anything from mundane objects to a complex, gravity-altering experiment, all to see if there is a warping effect.
“We’re going to be using a laser that has an extremely stable frequency output, and we’re going to put the laser, battery-powered, inside the experiment, and that’s going to shine on to a detector that will see if there is any frequency change in the laser’s output.”
And what would that frequency change indicate?
“A Doppler Effect,” said Sokol. “If there’s a blue shift, we’ll know if something happened.” In effect, this tool “will sort of be like a compass to tell us where interesting things are happening.”
At this point in the discussion, Sokol made sure to point out that this is merely their first experimental design. Even if successful, he is not confident their results would indicate whether gravity is causing the detected warp or if the warping of space-time is something else altogether.
“There’s a bit of a misnomer about warp fields and all of that stuff,” said Sokol. “I know Einstein’s theory is that gravity is ‘warped space.’ We don’t really have any true proof of that, other than light bends around gravity. There’s no proof that space itself is warping, and therefore, that’s why the light is curving. It could be that the light is curving because gravity is an electromagnetic effect, and that affects electromagnetism, which is light.”
With this theoretical distinction in mind, Sokol clarified his ‘Warp Drive Detector’ is more accurately just a ‘warp detector’ since it is housed in their lab and not in outer space where one assumes such a drive would be put to use.
“We don’t even know if warp drive really exists,” he said, “and I wouldn’t think that this conclusively proves warp drive. Even if we saw it bending, it only proves that whatever experiment I did bent light.”
Still, Sokol reiterated that if there is an actual warp of space/time occurring during their experiments, their custom-built testbed should find it. And, he says, that measuring capability will be particularly crucial when testing the concept Falcon Space was started on in the first place: Anti-Gravity.
The Quest to Defy Gravity
Now firmly on a mission to prove his ancient alien theory, and joined by a like-minded partner in Popp, Sokol dove headfirst into a field that he says is littered with frauds and misinformation: anti-gravity research. Fortunately, their laborious analysis of the scientific literature guided them to a set of previously published, anti-gravity experiments named for the man who first theorized the idea behind them back in 1981 when he worked for Boeing, then purportedly conducted tests in the 1990s, Frederick Alzofon.
“It’s a peer-reviewed paper that was written by a highly accredited scientist,” said Sokol about Alzofon’s heretofore unproven work, “and it has a very salient explanation on how these craft operate. And everything about the craft really made sense through this theory.”
In 2018, Dr. Alzofon’s son David wrote a book about the still-controversial theory wherein, according to Sokol, “he said that his father actually tried the experiment that he laid out in the paper in 1994, in the basement of some university.” Unsurprisingly, given the unusual nature of this type of inquiry, Sokol also said that Alzofon “had to borrow equipment because nobody would touch this science with a 10-foot pole.”
Nonetheless, Alzofon and his team performed the experiments anyway, and they had some rather eye-popping results.
“They set it all up, turned it on, and a sample lost like 80% of its weight within 1 second,” Sokol explained. However, these experiments didn’t convince other scientists, and one engineer, David Prutchi, has pointed out that the experiments were flawed and that Alzofon’s results were “invalid.”
Sokol is convinced that Alzofon was on to something, at least something he could try to verify in his lab, so he and Popp tried their own preliminary versions of the anti-gravity experiment. They claim they had some promising results. “One experiment showed 17.8% weight loss, but that was still within the ‘noise floor,’ [or margin of error] for this type of experiment.”
Hoping to improve upon that dubious yet still encouraging first try, Sokol said he plans to upgrade equipment, including a recently purchased Electro-power Magnetic Resonance generator that he says is like an MRI machine and one that can retail for as much as 60 thousand dollars. Using that newer, more powerful generator, he hopes to repeat their experiments with results “two to three times” above the noise floor.
When asked what happened to Alzofon’s work after the incredible results purportedly achieved by those 1994 tests, Sokol claims that “all the investors and everyone got super excited, and they started fighting over who owns what in this company that never existed, and the whole thing fell apart.”
Or, as Prutchi argues, “any physicist or engineer…would have immediately realized that the experimental data shows absolutely no effect on the gravitational pull experienced by the sample.”
Is Anti-Gravity Possible?
To explain exactly how the anti-gravity experiment he is planning to try next actually works, as well as the theory behind it, Sokol once again made sure to point out that he is not a formally trained theoretical or experimental physicist and that all of this is just someone else’s theory that he is simply trying to prove (or disprove) in a practical, hands-on way. He did, however, concede that he has his own guesses as to the possible underlying mechanisms.
“Well, the first question you should really ask is, why do we have inertial mass?” said Sokol, harkening back to the theoretical basis of Alzofon’s original anti-gravity work. “Where does inertial mass come from? And if you ask any Ph.D. physicist this question, they’ll get mad at you because they just spent six years in college, and they didn’t get an answer to that question.”
When asked to elaborate, Sokol offered his more mundane explanation of this inertial mass theory.
“When you take a baseball and throw it, you’re actually energizing the spins of the sub-atomic particles,” he said. “So, by moving an object through space-time, you are changing the spin of those subatomic particles in a way that energizes or slows down the momentum in one direction or another, and [according to his theory] that’s where the force that we call inertia comes from.”
If true, Sokol proposes that the mechanisms first suggested by Alzofon may indeed help him and his colleagues solve the anti-gravity riddle.
“According to Alzofon, all you’ve got to do is orient the subatomic particles,” he said. “Take them from being in a state of disorganized chaos, and bring them all to spin on the same axis and plane, and then the entire craft along its axis and its plane will become weightless.”
“The reason that perhaps most physicists may not be able to give an answer is that it requires a deep knowledge of the standard model of physics (particle physics), quantum mechanics, and nuclear chemistry,” said Cassibry, acknowledging at least part of Sokol’s premise. “These topics are probably not covered thoroughly in undergraduate courses, and may not be taught thoroughly in grad school other than at places that specialize in that subdiscipline.”
Nonetheless, Cassibry went on to explain the actual mechanics believed to be at work in the conventional theory, before reiterating that “there are probably only a handful of people in the world that might be able to walk through a discussion of how macroscopic forces manifest on a subatomic scale in a collection of complicated processes that appear to be a resistance to acceleration on a macro scale.”
Still, although Cassibry stipulated that he is an aerospace engineer without the formal physics training, and that “there is a kernel of truth in your source’s claim,” he says inertial mass is something that those properly trained physicists can confidently explain.
Screwing Around With Magnetic Fields and the World of Anti-Gravity
To run their own, updated version of the Alzofon experiment, Sokol explained that the team would place a test sample in a plastic, 3-D cage (which, according to a June email sent to The Debrief, will be printed using Falcon’s newly purchased, state-of-the-art 3D printer), then use a microwave generator to bombard that sample, all while measuring it for any loss of mass or warping effect.
“Your microwave oven is 2.4 Gigahertz,” said Sokol. “We’re not going to be running it that high. We have equipment to run it in the C-band, in the 6.2 gigahertz. And also on the X-band, from 9 to 12 gigahertz. So we have a couple of different pieces of equipment to run it at different frequencies.”
Sokol said that according to the literature, the most crucial component of this experiment is making sure that the generated magnetic field remains homogeneous throughout the sample.
“You don’t just want a tiny speck of the sample to be in tune, and everything else is out of tune,” he said. “You want most of the sample to be in tune so that your signal-to-noise ratio is higher.”
And once they run this experiment, how will they know if it worked?
“We’re going to put a piece of graphite in there that will get heated up by the microwaves, and we’ll look at it with an infrared camera and figure out at what point it is in resonance with the microwaves.”
If their experiment worked, then along with the reduction in mass, Sokol said that “you should see the actual microwave marks on the graphite. That’s what we’re hoping to see if this is all done correctly.”
Sokol did say that their experiment will only let them test the basic mechanism behind Alzofon, and not an actual craft. However, in an unnerving coincidence, Sokol said that in order to build his theoretical craft designed to operate as its own electromagnet, there is one particular design that works perfectly. “When you have an electromagnet, the field sort of pops out like a donut. If you want the homogenous field line, if you want to follow the field lines that are of equal strength, it would literally look like a flying saucer.”
Speaking of which…
And Then Came the UFOs.
Sokol’s entire project is highly theoretical, and more than once during our interviews, he proceeded down one particularly fringe, highly controversial path: UFOs.
“One interesting thing that kinda points in the Alzofon direction is, we’ve never seen a flying saucer do a barrel roll,” he said. “Go on YouTube, try to find videos of flying saucers. They do not do barrel rolls.”
When asked to elaborate, Sokol explained that they don’t use thrust to fly. “They don’t need much to move around because they are almost weightless. But to change their orientation, and the craft weighs, let say ten tons, they would need ten tons of acceleration, or the equivalent to move a ten-ton mass in order to shift its angle,” he theorized.
This, Sokol postulated, “could be why, when they do shift their angle, they do it very slowly, and then they shoot off along the axis, or along the plane, at insane speeds, because they’re weightless along that axis. Moving along its axis, all they need is a tiny amount of thrust. Frederick Alzofon said that you could get to the moon with a can of hairspray.”
Falling Down the Rabbit Hole
As the discussion got deeper and deeper, Sokol revealed that some of these anti-gravity theories are connected to Alien Reproduction Vehicles, or ARVs, described by Mark McCandlish, supposedly under development by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works since the 1960s. A common conspiracy in many UFO circles, there is a belief that aliens crash-landed on Earth in the 1940s, and the US Government has been working hard to reverse engineer that technology ever since.
Sokol admits that part of his desire to test Alzofon’s theory has to do with his interactions with Alzofon’s son, David.
“I showed that (ARV blueprint) to David Alzofon, who said he’d showed it to his dad, and his response was, ‘Its creating dynamic nuclear orientation by spinning the disc, which is made out of aluminum, and the coil on the outside is pulsing in order to create the same effect through a different mechanism.'”
To clarify, Sokol explained how this would work.
“You have a disc of aluminum spinning around, and you have a strong magnetic field that turns on and off, basically an oscillating magnetic field.” Sokol went on to say that “by creating a dynamic nuclear orientation in the center, it will affect the surrounding objects at a subatomic level.”
The object, according to Sokol and Alzofon’s theory, weighs next to nothing. Add a small thrust device, a “can of hairspray” (as Alzofon suggests), and off you go.
Once again, making sure to confine the discussion to things he can actually test in his lab instead of what he described as a “whole host of unproven theories,” Sokol said his goal is to examine if such an idea is even possible. He has no intentions of building a flying saucer. Yet.
The bizarre science (that may not actually be science) and blueprints from alleged flying saucers were an odd trip to take. However, in the anti-gravity science subculture, many dabble in UFO lore, if for no other reason than witness accounts often describe these craft as having no obvious means of lift or propulsion. Both Fred and Dave Alzofon were UFO enthusiasts who took an interest in the subject. Anti-gravity research and UFOs are simply glued together and are very common bedfellows.
Things had admittedly become a little weird, but taken in context of Sokol’s real world experimentation-based approach as opposed to formulas on a white board, the weirdness somehow seemed to make some sort of sense. And then there was more.
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It All Began With An Alien God
Sokol describes himself as an autodidact (he’s self-taught with no formal training in physics or engineering). Unlike many of his colleagues who came to study things like anti-gravity or warp drives through their love of science fiction or interest in UFOs, the committed trial-and-error experimenter credits his attraction to a personal journey that started many decades ago.
“This started as a hobby that came out of my research into religion, namely Judaism,” Sokol says. “After diving extremely deep into Judaism, spending 20+ years of my life studying just Judaism, I discovered that it was all alien worship.”
Before conducting his first experiment, it was during these many years of orthodox education that he studied the faith’s religious texts through and through, including the Talmud and Mishnah in their Aramaic form. And, he says, after reading them closely, “a couple of things stuck out to me.”
In particular, Sokol noted how in the original Hebrew texts, the description of Moses at Mount Sinai reads as more of a historical account than a literal one. “There is the supposed conversation between Moses and this God, named Jehovah, and in the original Torah, it reads like a historical document,” said Sokol. “Like this event really happened.”
After his personal revelation, he said, he just started connecting dots.
“If this really happened, it couldn’t be an all-powerful, infinite being because it would include the entire universe. God wouldn’t be on the mountain talking to Moses. He would be the mountain and be Moses. But the Torah doesn’t say he’s infinite. That was all added by Rabbi’s years later.”
So, who or what was perched at the top of Mount Sinai speaking to Moses?
“In the Torah, it was a guy named Jehovah,” said Sokol. “There was also a fire and cloud they would follow through the desert. And [from ancient textual descriptions] Jehovah’s mothership looked like a classic, cigar-shaped UFO.” When pressed further, Sokol was direct. “I would say that the god of the Old Testament, Jehovah, is an extraterrestrial.”
He was quick to point out that the popular, alternative history book Chariots of the Gods and the TV series Ancient Aliens have made similar observations, including the possibility of UFOs being featured in the Old Testament. But for Sokol personally, this new understanding from his own readings ultimately set him on his path to Falcon Space. That, and a few friendly nudges from those close to him.
“I started getting into anti-gravity research from people pushing me to prove to them this alien theory about Judaism,” Sokol said. “And the only way to do that is to do experiments. Whenever I started sharing this theory with friends of mine, the conversation always led back to the same place: ‘show me the technology.'”
This Anti-Gravity Stuff Can’t Be Real…Can It?
For Sokol, Popp, and the others assisting in the still-modest Falcon Space venture (the founder says they only recently added an apartment for out of town guests like Popp and others so they wouldn’t continue to sleep inside the lab), there are many tools left to build and many tests to run before reaching their ultimate goal of constructing an actual, bonafide, anti-gravity craft.
But, he said, there are steps within this process where he believes the proof needed to launch them toward that ultimate goal will appear.
“The next benchmark moment would be an experiment that shows weight loss that is two or three times the noise floor.”
When asked what barriers remain to do that experiment right now, he repeated his previous limitation on more rapid progress; “Competent engineers.” When pushed further, Sokol elaborated. “The main restraint is that we don’t have any competent engineers who are willing to come and work with us. We are looking for somebody local who can help us here in the lab.”
Surprisingly, especially for such a small start-up business that Sokol himself described as beginning a few years ago with dumpster diving for used equipment, when asked about any financial constraints to furthering their mission (constraints that almost always hamstring these more theoretical ventures), he was similarly blunt.
“Funding is not really a problem anymore,” he said.
There was a pause. Were people actually willing to invest in this? When once again asked to elaborate, Sokol was more forthcoming. “There was always a chicken or the egg problem. Everyone is offering you money once you have a proof of concept, but I convinced enough rich people to say, ‘Hey, you’re not going to get a proof of concept unless we’re funded properly. Now people came through, and we got that going.”
Sokol clarified that he isn’t presently funded at the levels needed to build a working anti-gravity craft. Once he and his cohorts can show more substantial, reproducible results with their current funding, that will not be a problem.
“If we find a sweet spot where the sample loses mass, as predicted by the theory that it should, we’ve actually got several billionaires who have offered tons of money to take this on,” said Sokol. “We’ve had lots of people offer lots of money to take this to the next stage, which would be building a full-sized craft.”
When pressed about who these potentially famous, would-be financiers might be, Sokol wasn’t willing to give up any names. However, any hopes of would-be celebrity rocketeers like Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, or Elon Musk taking a secret plunge into this controversial field were quickly dashed by his subsequent response.
“I don’t think you’ve ever heard of any of them.”
When asked what exactly Falcon Space will need to do to entice that large-scale funding, Sokol reiterated that achieving successful test results in his lab that are “at least two to three times above the noise floor” will make everything else fall into place. “It all depends first on having a working experiment before you go and dump, you know, a hundred million dollars into the R & D of building an actual craft based on this theory,” he said.
But if that experimental result is actually achieved?
“If everything came together as quickly as possible, we might have a prototype in a year or two,” said Sokol. “Not the proof of concept stuff. That can be done in a month. I’m talking [about] an actual craft, could probably be built within a year or two.”
Nothing Is Too Far Out
At the end of both interviews with The Debrief, Sokol reiterated that his primary desire is to add competent people in his local area willing to work on this type of anti-gravity and scientific research, even offering a personal message to pass along.
“For anyone that’s interested in helping us, we don’t care about your degree or all of that stuff. We actually prefer people who figure stuff out on their own. That is the mindset that leads to the biggest innovations. People who get indoctrinated in colleges tend to get stuck in a box.”
It undoubtedly all sounds pretty far out to say the least, and based on the mainstream scientific literature along with our own experts casting nothing but doubts on Alzofon’s theories, it feels like Sokol and his cohorts will almost surely end up like Thomas Edison, finding nothing but a hundred different ways how not to make an anti-gravity drive. Chasing the impossible, especially something like anti-gravity, can drive you insane. However, something is compelling about the underdog. Sokol is undaunted, and his mad dash towards anti-gravity speaks to some complicated aspect of the human spirit and our desire to forge our names and ideas into history.
In the end, Sokol emphasized that when considering the idea of such a monumental breakthrough being discovered using his type of hands-on, unbiased methodology, especially in a field he noted more than once is rife with “garbage science,” his team’s approach is precisely the way many discoveries are made. Maybe he’s right, and like that other famous trial-and-error experimenter Thomas Edison he does ultimately stumble on the one method that works. Or perhaps over 100 years of conventional physics is correct, and he is lost in his own dream to achieve what Alzofon could not.
Unsurprisingly, Sokol doesn’t care, and firmly believes in his approach, a trait common to both visionaries and madmen alike.
“[There is a] reason this type of research isn’t going on in universities,” concluded Sokol. “They’re afraid of their career, shaking the status quo, and we all know that doesn’t get us anywhere. It is the fringes of science that push the frontier. For me, no idea is too far out to at least think about.”
Follow and connect with author Christopher Plain on Twitter:@plain_fiction
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