Now I really doubt that the Men In Black are flying around in their reverse-engineered flying saucers. But is it possible that significant breakthroughs in physics have occured that remain classified, just as virtually all research in nuclear physics was classified between 1939 and 1945? Or is this simply that the government looked into an “unlikely but revolutionary if true” possibility, the way it did with psychic research during roughly the same period?
Is it not usually the case that discoveries/inventions are often ripe for discovery? - that is to say that their discovery is provoked and made almost inevitable by some unexplained effect in some already existing technology, or just that the current level of technology more than enables their invention, but makes it obvious - ready to be plucked by anyone?
If so, and if control of gravity-like fields is possible, I don’t think its discovery could be contained or suppressed - if government scientists found it, others would too. That they haven’t, probably indicates that it isn’t there to be had.
One would think so, but the example I had in mind in the OP- the Manhattan Project- makes one wonder. We went from an obscure reaction discovered in 1938 to an atomic bomb seven years later. Although maybe that’s the extraordinary exception, and the most misleading, because it seems to have created the idea that you can do ANYTHING if you throw enough government money at it.
The US was one of several gov’ts working on the atomic bomb though, so I think the case of the Manhattan Project supports Mange’s idea that big innovations in technology usually occur to several people at more or less the same time, so that even if one group tries to keep it under wraps, it won’t stay secret for long.
I disagree. I think the idea that governments can’t keep secrets is based upon a possibly small number of projects that have been leaked. There’s no way to know how many things the US government (for example) is working on at any one time that remain successfully hidden.
A good example of a secret being successfully hidden for years was public key cryptography. It only came to light that the world’s intelligence communities had known about it for years before the commercial world cottoned on in 1997 (discovered in the early 1970’s).
The nuclear bomb wasn’t secret. Any physicist who paid attention during the late 30s could see that such a device was possible. What they could know was how expensive such a device would be, how large it would have to be, whether it could fit into a bomber, whether it would require more uranium than was realistically possible to purify, and so on. And once the atomic bomb was demonstrated at Hiroshima, the mere fact that it was done was enough to let the Soviet Union build one in only a few years.
This is not the case for gravity control. If the US government said that they had a working gravity control device, that wouldn’t help other interested parties in any way. In the case of the atomic bomb, a demonstration that the engineering details were solvable was enough. With antigravity it might as well be pixie dust, there’s not even a theoretical antigravity device anywhere in the public literature that could work if certain hard to achieve breakthroughs were made.
Here is the wikipedia entry on the Soviet atomic project. apparently the Soviets started working on it even before Hiroshima. And, they also surmised that the Americans were working on it (e.g., from the fact that the American scientists had gone so silent on publishing stuff about nuclear fission). And, there is some claimed role for espionage too.
This is not to disagree with your basic point at all…but just because your post got me curious about the Russian program.