The big change since I last wrote is that I have a new post-doc (Dmitri) who is tasked with testing for QI thrust right here at Plymouth. I'm pleased with him. He has suggested that, since we are dealing with radical new physics, our testing methods should be as conventional as possible. I like to call it the Caesar approach - Julius Caesar was seen to be too flashy by his stolid Roman peers so he made his memoires deliberately dull. Anyway, Dmitri has comprehensively studied the field of small thrust measurement, looking at techniques from the UK's NPL and the US's NIST and other esteemed places and has suggested a torsion balance method, in a soft vacuum, with an electrostatic or electromagnetic force source and capacitor transducers. He has produced a beautiful design which will take five months to build. In the meantime, I have many other labs to keep me occupied and the goal now is to enhance the thrust so it is above the noise. One of my funders said something like:
"We'd like to see it floating over the desk, rather than just over the noise". That goes for everyone I guess.
Dmitri and I have also discussed setting up an more permanent thrust-test program here. I'd like to go further and set up an institute, not just for studying QI thrust, but to go all the way from lurch to launch. An Institute for Horizon Science and Engineering? (IfHSE) pronounced "Ifs". A good word for a testing centre? Or perhaps, alluding to Interstellar Possibilities, the Mayflower Institute as I have been discussing with my friend Bill Smith who visited me last week. Exactly how to do this is not clear yet.