Norman L. DEAN

Inertial Drive --- Dean family website
Norman DEAN ( II ) ~ Photos & Documentation

Norman L. Dean
[ Photo source: Wikipedia ]

Wikipedia Entry

John W. Campbell: "The Space Dive Problem"; Analog (June 1960)

Norman L. Dean: US Patent # 2,886,976 --- System for Converting Rotary Motion into Unidirectional Motion

N. Dean: US Patent # 3,182,517 --- Variable Oscillator System

William O. Davis: "The Fourth Law of Motion"; Analog  (May 1962)

G. Harry Stine: "Detesters, Phasers and Dean Drives"; Analog [ Date unknown ]

John W. Campbell: "Instrumentation for the Dean Drive"; Analog (November 1960)

Norman L. Dean --- The Dean Drive

Role of John W. Campbell

The Dean drive obtained a good deal of publicity in the 1950s and 1960s via the columns of John W. Campbell, the longtime editor of Astounding Science Fiction magazine. Campbell apparently believed that the device worked and claimed to have witnessed it operating on a bathroom scale. The weight reading on the scale appeared to decrease when the device was activated. He subsequently published photographs of the scale with the drive stopped and running. The June 1960 cover of Astounding magazine featured a painting of a United States submarine orbiting Mars, supposedly propelled there by a Dean drive.

Dean, who was trying to find potential buyers for his technology, was secretive about the details of how it was supposed to work, but it was said to contain asymmetrical rotating weights and to generate a great deal of vibration.

Dean and Campbell claimed that Newton’s laws of motion were only an approximation, and that Dean had discovered a fourth law of motion. This has been described as a nonlinear correction to one of Newton’s laws, which, if correct, would allegedly have rendered a reactionless drive feasible after all.

Skeptics maintain that there are many possibilities for illusory effects, involving interactions of vibration, friction, resonance with the springs of the scale, instantaneous photographs of an oscillating scale reading, and so forth. Some even go so far as to attribute the reported demonstrations to outright deception, either by Dean or by witnesses.

Further Developments

Purportedly, several groups (including Westinghouse and the U.S. military) became interested in buying the device, if it worked, for sums of half a million dollars or more. Dean’s paranoia and insistence upon cash before showing the device, kept interested parties from seeing the device, and Dean never did make any sales.

In 1999, Dean’s son, Norman Robert “Bob” Dean, appeared at an anti-gravity conference by invitation of a group of patent holders who had created differing versions of the reactionless drives that referred to N.L. Dean in their patents. He gave a presentation about his father’s device. The original drive models, as well as Dean’s well-kept and detailed notes, are apparently in the possession of the Dean Family.

The noted science-fiction writer and critic Damon Knight had this to say about the Dean drive in a chapter called “Campbell and His Decade” in his collection of essays about the science-fiction field In Search of Wonder:

    Oh, the Dean Machine, the Dean Machine,
    You put it right in a submarine,
    And it flies so high that it can’t be seen—
    The wonderful, wonderful Dean Machine!

Conceptual Issues

One major problem with the Dean patent is that the device simply does not work as described. Some claim that this discrepancy is due to intentional omissions in the technical details of the patent disclosure documents --- a subtle effort to prevent intellectual property theft. Others deny any possibility that this is the case and maintain that the patented device simply doesn't work.

One major argument against the possibility of physically realizing a reactionless drive like the Dean Drive is that such a device could not transfer momentum and thus violates Newtonian physics. New scientific theories such as stochastic electrodynamics might eventually provide an explanation for some mechanisms of momentum transfer not currently encompassed by Newtonian physics.

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