Missing Pieces

Leonard G. Cramp, MSIA, ARAeS, Piece for a Jigsaw. Somerton Publishing Co., 1966.
In the Foreword to his book the author says, “Over the last seventeen years or so I have become increasingly convinced that flying saucers, amongst other things, are extraterrestrial spaceships powered by a form of gravitational manipulation (g field) the fundamental concept of which was set out at length in Space, Gravity and the Flying Saucer.

“The dual purpose of this subsequent book is to reconsider the ‘G field theory’ in terms of more recent sightings and to offer evidence of a mechanical nature for the consideration of both the layman and the technician alike.

“To this I would hasten to add that those who might hope to find the know-how of ‘anti-gravity’ will not find it in these pages . . .”

Your reviewer can vouch for the truth of this statement as he has searched most diligently for some convincing evidence in the book that the manipulation of gravity for flight purposes is a genuine practical possibility. Unfortunately the requisite evidence has not been forthcoming and the idea appears to be little more than a pious hope supported by a belief that spaceships of extraterrestrial origin are visiting the Earth.

Broadly speaking, Mr Cramp’s not inconsiderable volume is divided into two sections. The first of these examines some physical considerations whilst the second consists of ten analyses of allegedly corroborative evidence. The book finishes with two chapters entitled respectively “The Bi-field Theory” and “Vindication of a Scout Ship”, which do not add much weight to the argument.

It is, of course, quite true to say that many ideas which at one time seemed preposterous have later become accepted as everyday matters of fact and are now firmly established in the ever-growing corpus of systematised knowledge which we call science. Nevertheless one must beware of a too uncritical acceptance of novel theories, even in this age of rapid discovery.

The main objection to the postulate of variable G, which is implicit in Mr Cramp’s theory (p. 116), is that it seems to have no rigorous mathematical or laboratory support and is indeed at variance with what is known about gravity. For example, the value of the constant of gravitation is determinable with fair accuracy in the laboratory (Cavendish and Boys) and is always positive, never negative and is constant within the limits of experimental error, irrespective of the nature of the materials used in the experiment.

When Einstein was developing his theory of gravitation, known as General Relativity, he found that at a certain juncture he had the option of choosing between a positive sign and a negative one. Whichever he chose automatically eliminated the other and he naturally chose to make gravity an attractive force, in accordance with the experimental evidence.

Later, Hoyle and Narlikar obtained similar equations to those of Einstein, but expressed in particulate form, and found that they had no choice at all of sign – gravity was always an attractive force. Analogies between gravity and magnetism are not very helpful since magnetism is well known in the laboratory as a bi-polar effect.

It is not sufficient to say, as Mr Cramp does on page 116, “So we assume our space vehicle can generate a field which does not cancel out the Earth’s field, but rather opposes it”, and “. . . we will start from the beginning with the premise that our space ship creates such a field in the space around it”. Verbal devices of this sort may suffice in the realms of science fiction, but are not science and cannot be considered as adequate premises for drawing valid conclusions about spaceship propulsion.

No field theory has yet been devised to encompass both magnetism and gravitation, despite frequent references in UFO literature to “Einstein’s Unified Field Theory” which imply that gravitation has been brought into the fold, as it were, of some all-embracing set of generalised field equations. In point of fact a unified field theory, as suggested by the author on page 116 of his book, and in this connection he apparently rejects Mach’s principle, though without going into any detailed discussion of this important aspect of gravitation theory.

Most relativistic cosmologies do satisfy Mach’s principle and hence imply that inertia and the value of the gravitational constant are not determined locally, but by matter at a considerable distance, such as that of the most distant meta-galaxies. If this view is correct it follows that the value of G cannot be significantly affected by purely local events such as are assumed by the postulate of gravity propulsion. In addition it follows that the implications regarding inertia do not encourage a belief in the possibility of isolating passengers from the effects of vehicular acceleration.

In fairness to Mr Cramp it must be said that cosmology is currently in such a low state of health that many of its more far-flung hypotheses are best regarded with extreme caution, not to say scepticism.

Turning now to the evidence it would seem reasonable to consider the matter of surface phenomena and in particular, the so-called ‘craters’, on account of their comparatively non-ephemeral nature (Chapters 12 and 17). I have no hesitation in saying that those craters for which adequate information is to hand were not caused by the activities of extraterrestrial spaceships, but by considerably more mundane events.

Specifically, the craters at Charlton, Sanquhar, Cockburnspath, Middle Moneynut and Flamborough Head were caused by lightning. The Niton and Berkshire holes were the result of subsidence and the Dufton Fell areas of disturbance were due to the outbreak of sub-surface water following a period of very heavy precipitation.

A great deal of nonsense has been talked about the Charlton occurrence but in point of fact this was a classic example of the type of ‘crater’ ascribable to the strike of lightning on open ground. It displays radiating surface marks, removal of material and a central hole. It was preceded by a violent thunderstorm accompanied by strong winds and was in a an area of considerable storm damage to crops. The lightning struck the ground where there was evidence of a local elevation of the water table and produced detectable magnetic effects in the magnetite-bearing soil, similar to those recorded at Cockburnspath in Scotland.

The strike occurred at a point on a previous field boundary where a large iron straining-post had once been embedded in the ground and secured by metal stays. The disappearance of plants was by no means complete, as had been alleged by one person, according to Mr Bealing, the Shaftesbury photographer whose photographs appeared widely in the Press at the time. Captain Rodgers, of the Army investigation team also reported the finding of plant remains at the site.

Regarding some of the other quoted examples of saucer visitations there is little reason to doubt that Captain Mantell died as a result of attempting to climb above the ceiling of his aircraft whilst chasing a large balloon engaged on upper atmosphere research (page 316). The Whidby Island ‘contact’ case describes an object which appears to have been nothing more mysterious than a small helicopter.

To summarise, then, Piece for a Jig-Saw is not a bad purchase for the price even if only to pass a few winter evenings in the realms of science fiction. The rather large amount of pseudo-science which it contains should not be taken too seriously in view of the flimsy nature of the supporting evidence. The style is quite interesting though rather repetitive, but one unfortunate feature of the book is the lack of a bibliography. The index should be considerably more comprehensive. There are plenty of black and white drawings and over thirty photographic plates to illustrate the text.

Mr Cramp has obviously worked hard at his somewhat unconvincing thesis, but although failing to convert your humble servant to his way of thinking, is nevertheless to be congratulated for provoking a re-assessment of some aspects of physics. -- Alan W. Sharp, BSc, BEng, FRAS, FGS From Merseyside UFO Bulletin.

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