Norman L. DEAN
Analog 66 (3): 95-99 (November 1960)
Instrumentation for the Dean Drive
John W. Campbell
The photographs on the preceding pages show some of Norman Dean’s original instrumentation for his research on the Dean drive system
It is freely agreed by all concerned that bathroom scales are an inadequate form of instrumentation; it was never considered that they were proper scientific devices. The instrument setup shown is what Dean himself built and used in his research, a number of strain-gauge systems are incorporated into its structure, and associated strain-gauge amplifiers were used to produce the oscillogram shown.
For the information of those who ‘explained away’ Dean’s results in terms of nonlinear response of bathroom scales --- the explanation doesn’t hold. Strain gauges show the effect. But strain gauge readings are meaningful only when you have, yourself, studied the precise method of installation, and have, yourself, calibrated them in situ.
What Dean was seeking, and never succeeded in getting any government bureau to do, was to give his device a test on their strain gauge setups. The sole point of the bathroom scale was to give a rough indication that there was something there worth taking the trouble to test for properly. The glitter of yellowish particles with metallic luster in a piece of quartz rock doesn’t prove you’ve found a gold mine --- but it does suggest it would be worth your while to make a proper test.
None of the government agencies, up to the time of the issuance of the patent, had even bothered to study Dean’s own strain gauge records.
The quality of workmanship in Dean’s instrumentation suggests that his work of measurement was not sloppy or ill-considered.
This instrument setup was designed and built solely as a test instrument, to explore the essential principle of the Dean System.
There have been complaints that I did not adequately discuss the Dean device, but talked only about its rejection. There’s a reason --- a good one. The Dean gadget is, mechanically, a very simple contraption. But the theoretical structure underlying it is decidedly not simple; I was fully aware that it was completely impossible to discuss the thing at all adequately in anything less than a full-scale thesis, and therefore skipped the thing entirely.
Put it this way; if I had stated, in 1935, that nuclear energy could be released very simply by just dissolving some uranium sulfate or nitrate in water, you can imagine the reception that statement would have gotten. Yet that statement is precisely and literally correct! That’s a literal description of the Los Alamos Water Boiler Reactor. It’s true that you need U-235-enriched uranium sulfate, and, or heavy water… but the statement is an exactly correct description of the simple way in which nuclear energy can be released.
I could, also, have stated, ‘You need only pile up some blocks of graphite and lumps of ordinary uranium metal, or uranium oxide, and you will release atomic power’. That, too, is an exact and literal description of a true nuclear reactor --- the famous original Stagg Field reactor.
Each of those devices was mechanically an extremely simple thing… but there was a tremendous background of highly sophisticated research and design underlying them.
When I first hearth of the atomic pile, my reaction was, ‘Why… someone might have stumbled on that thing accidentally!’
No, no once would stumble on it accidentally. It’s true that naturally-occurring uranium can be used in the Fermi type moderated reactor… but only very, very specially hyper-purified uranium, and the graphite must be a very, very special hyper-purified graphite. It’d never happen that way by accident. Vanadium is one of the worst neutron-absorbing impurities,,, and vanadium is normally heavily laced into uranium ores. Most of the pre-WWII production of uranium in this country was the by-product of mining vanadium ores. In addition, graphite is commonly produced from petroleum residues… and vanadium is a common contaminant.
Again, a transistor is an extremely simple device. It consists simply of a tiny wafer sliced from a lightly impure germanium or silicon crystal, with three wires soldered to it.
Now let’s see you go home and make one!
‘Why, if it could be done as simply as that, someone would have done it years ago!’
It is absolutely true that all you need to do to release atomic power is to dissolve a few pounds of uranium nitrate in water.
Dean’s device is only mechanically simple.
Since my last report on the progress of Dean’s gadget, one of the very large corporations that tackled the thing has made a complete theoretical analysis of the concepts. They find that Dean’s mathematical structure is perfectly valid; their math-physics department agrees, after giving it a full run-through on a large computer, that he definitely can get force and energy output as he states. The one problem they can’t nail down is how to show that he can feed force and energy into it; that problem arises because they have no satisfactory criteria for determining what frame of reference should be used in discussing the problem.
I’ve seen a short --- and admittedly rough --- mathematical analysis of the problem done by an engineer friend that, in essence, comes up with this answer: The centrifugal force generated in one sector of the rotation in an upward direction comes out exactly equal and opposite to the force exerted, in the rest of the cycle, in the downward direction. This, in other words, complies in full with Newton’s equal-and-opposite law. If you break off the analysis at that point, you have a mathematical proof that Dean’s device does not produce a drive.
The fault in the ‘proof’ is that while the two forces are equal and opposite, they do not have equal duration. The forces are equal and opposite…but the impulses are not. If that inequality is as small as one percent, then if you generate a centrifugal force of 100 G --- which is easy to do! --- you have a 10 G net.
Of the oscillogram, Norman Dean says: ‘Please disregard the top light line caused by exterior interference. The top heavy line is zero force exerted by the oscillator in its free condition in each cycle. The next line down represents the cyclical re-setting force or reaction. The distance from the zero line to the bottom line is the amount of positive thrust exerted in each cycle. The two lower lines are of exactly the same time duration in each cycle, in this case 55 degrees of rotation. We therefore find that the net thrust in each cycle was the difference between the two lower lines. The picture is a time exposure of about ten cycles’.