What do you get if you put dozens of working scientists from places like NASA and DARPA in a virtual room with a bunch of Star Trek nerds and fringe hobbyists? Well, if you’re lucky, you get to fly.
It may sound like the set-up to a conspiracy theory, but it’s true: last November saw the first-ever meeting of the Alternative Propulsion Energy Conference. The theme: how to defeat the laws of gravity.
Among the invitees were physicists and engineers from MIT, Harvard, and CalTech, members of NASA, SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, and the United States Army Research Laboratory – as well as infamous hobbyists like Mark Sokol and Jeremiah Popp.
“The Alternative Propulsion Engineering Conference (APEC) is a fully online, Zoom-based conference on emerging propulsion research including gravity-modification, inertial propulsion, warp-drives, and field-effect propulsion,” reads the conference website. “Our participants range from theoretical physicists publishing peer-review[ed] papers on quantum & relativity theory to gravity-hackers trying to reverse-engineer UFOs in their garage.”
If you’re finding it hard to believe that so many respectable scientists would really be chasing the dream of anti-gravity – well, that’s exactly why you didn’t know they were doing it, according to those interviewed for The Debrief's deep dive on the conference. See, when researchers fear their pet project will get them laughed out of a lecture hall, it doesn’t mean they stop thinking about it – they just keep it quiet. Like UFOs before it, antigravity is a guilty pleasure of academic researchers, and a whole “invisible college” has built up around the field.
“In this community, there’s a couple of different email lists that go around. It’s kind of like a WhatsApp conversation, only via email,” Sokol, who founded APEC, told The Debrief. “So I combined a couple different email lists for the first conference … it turned out like half of NASA was in one of them.”
That wasn’t all, according to The Debrief. Out of 71 verified invitees, they found 16 who were current or former NASA employees, and another 14 affiliated with major universities like MIT and Harvard. A handful worked for companies with DARPA contracts, and a handful more came from major aerospace engineering entities. In fact, the only verified attendees who didn’t fit into those broad templates were 11 hobbyists and three members of the media.
The “Woodstock of gravity modification research,” as one attendee review put it, was a success. Since then, 23 APEC conferences have taken place – it’s now a bi-weekly event – and the guest list just keeps on growing. The membership roster now runs to over 500 people, according to APEC host Tim Ventura, ranging from flying saucer enthusiasts to redesigners of Relativity.
“The biggest change that I’ve seen over the course of the conference is the growing importance of UFOs,” Ventura told The Debrief. “In the past, everyone had an awareness of UFOs, but they weren’t highly relevant because they aren’t well understood. However, the emerging UAP story in mainstream news makes this a topic that can’t be ignored, and we are exploring them from a scientific perspective more frequently than in the past.”
Anybody who wants to attend one of these conferences needs just two things: an interest in defying gravity, and the online sign-up sheet. After all, as Sokol told The Debrief, “We always need more engineers.”
“Not everybody at APEC plays with Star Trek dolls,” added Ventura. “Just most of them.”