Alternative Energy Institute: T.T. Brown (missing page found on

Townsend Brown checking a geophysical sensor strip recorder in Hawaii.
? Optical Multimedia (copyright)

One of the greatest energies in the universe is the force of gravitation. The power potential of this force exceeds atomic energy and produces no deadly gamma rays in the process. During this century, Thomas Townsend Brown probably came closest to tapping the potential of this free and boundless energy. Brown realized early on that mankind's use of power in jet- and rocket-propelled vehicles is a "sledge and hammer" approach to gaining high-speed, high-altitude flight. Engineers have increased vehicle thrust significantly, but the gain in speed and power is marginal when compared to the energy expended. Is brute rocket force the best way to reach the stars? Brown didn't think so (1).

T. Townsend Brown displayed unorthodox behavior early in life. Born in Zanesville, Ohio, on March 18, 1905, he made neighbors uneasy with his unusual innovations. According to his autobiography, when he was only 8 or 10 years old, he wired an umbrella so that he could walk around his neighborhood listening to the Victrola radio playing back in his house. He was able to pick up the radio broadcast one block from his home. He also built a clubhouse in the backyard that he rigged with various gadgets to impress his friends. He rigged up the light so when he opened the door and said, "light on," the lightbulb lit up.

It was reported that the discs buzzed with a soft hum, and in the dark they emanated strange lavender light.

During World War I he created a stir by installing a large antenna on the top of his house. With his custom-built radio and antennae, he was able to receive radio signals from Germany, America's enemy in that war. Authorities feared that his equipment was also capable of transmitting messages to Germany. Brown was ordered to dismantle the antennae. The following year he crafted a searchlight using an empty lard can that he began flashing into the night sky. Alarmed neighbors quickly called the police and once again the young teenager was forced to cease and desist his activities. On a trip to New York with his mother, he contacted Dr. Lee DeForest, inventor of the radio-telephone and vacuum tube. Townsend was only 16 years old when he bought one of DeForest's vacuum tubes and brought it back home with him, but he was able to construct a broadcasting station with it, the first such transmitter in Ohio. Even though he used only 10 watts of energy to power the transmitter, he received a postcard that he had been heard in California. Every Saturday night at the local college, he broadcasted music by an amateur orchestra called the "Green Imps." Although Dennison University turned off the lights at 10 p.m. when the school's generator was shut down, Brown devised an alternative system that carried the broadcast until 11 p.m. At that time there were only two other broadcasting stations in the country, WJZ of New York and KDKA of Pittsburgh.

While matriculating at the Institute of Technology (Caltech), Townsend failed his chemistry and physics courses. He was a bright and ambitious student but was discouraged because of the institution's policy limiting time spent on experiments in the laboratory. Brown felt that he was never given enough time to finish his experiments. He convinced his father Lewis to buy him enough equipment to outfit a large laboratory on the second floor of their new home in Pasadena, California. Although the expense was considerable, Brown Sr. was supportive of his son's inventive nature. During this period Brown made considerable progress in chemistry and physics. He devised an X-ray spectrometer for astronomical measurements - specifically of the sun - and began to cultivate the thesis that radiation (other than light) prevailed in the universe. He felt that this radiation might be gravitation. This theory called for gravitation to be a "push" and not a "pull." This seemed logical in that Nature abhors a vacuum. Brown realized that a mechanism for the transmission of gravitation was needed. When word of his new theory got out among his classmates and teachers, he was shunned and ridiculed. Dr. Robert Andrew Milikin, Director of Caltech, took him aside and explained in great detail why such an explanation of gravitation was utterly impossible and not to be considered. Dr. Milikin admonished Brown to complete his education before giving any thought to such ideas.

As a boy T. Townsend Brown had been fascinated with boats and also the U.S. Navy. Therefore it was only natural that he would later join the Navy as an Apprentice Seaman which he did in September 1930. Awarded Honor Recruit by his exemplary performance, he requested assignment to the Naval Radio School in San Diego. When the Navy realized Brown's intellectual potential, he was transferred to the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., instead of being assigned to a ship as would have been customary. Apprentice Seaman Brown selected to study under Dr. Edwin Hulbert, who headed the Heat and Light Division. The fledgling physicist was interested in Hulbert's work in radiation, especially cosmic radiation, which was the doctor's specialty. Brown continued his experiments that he had hypothesized at Caltech in 1923, efforts that seemed to prove his concept of Gravitation. Although Hulbert's assistant, Dr. Ross Gunn, remarked that "Brown's work wasn't worth the powder to blow it up," equipment was built and all manner of tests were conducted in an attempt to prove Brown's gravitational theory. Unfortunately, his preliminary results were considered controversial and the research went unnoticed.

During World War II Brown was assigned to the Acoustic and Magnetic Mines Sweeping section of the Navy. As the officer in charge of magnetic and acoustic minesweeping research and development, he devised a system to clear the English Channel of German magnetic mines. Brown invented a wire cable capable of conducting 300 amperes of power that ran inside a floatable coating. The energized cable was dragged behind a ship in order to explode the dangerous mine fields. Brown took out a patent on this idea, but it was immediately labeled classified by the government and he heard nothing more. The Nave utilized his basic idea, which is now accepted as the best method of minesweeping today.

T. Townsend Brown's experience with electricity and gravitation brought him in contact with Professor Paul Alfred Biefeld, Director of the Swazey Observatory at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. Brown joined Biefeld as a staff member in the astrophysics research laboratory. Dr. Biefeld, who was a colleague and close friend of Albert Einstein at the Polytechnium in Zurich before coming to the United States, had been interested in the subject of gravitation for many years. His enthusiasm coincided with Einstein's "Unified Field Theory" and the new concept of "Relativity" which was gaining recognition at that time. Einstein's complex Theory of Relativity changed the way scientists conceived of space and time. If spacetime is distorted, gravitation "loses its Newtonian interpretation as a tangible mechanical force and gains the rank of an apparent force, due to the condition of space itself." Dr. Biefeld stated, "I am constantly on the look-out for something that might represent an electrodynamic-gravitational coupling." Brown once asked Dr. Biefeld, "If a coupling did exist, what (physical) instrumentality might it resemble?" Dr. Biefeld replied unequivocally, "the capacitor."

As a physicist, Brown believed that the concrete body of the universe is nothing more than an assemblage of energy. To him it was self-evident that matter is connected with gravitation and it followed logically that electricity is similarly connected. He supposed that these two constituted the true backbone of the universe (2). Brown spent the last thirty years of his life working on his theory. Considered a scientific misfit in the United States, some of his research was conducted in France, under French Government sponsorship. Brown maintained that through the Biefeld-Brown Effect, a coupling between electricity and gravitation had been established, brought about and held by the simple means of an electrical condenser. An electrical condenser is a device that absorbs electrical energy as an "elastic stress." In its simplest form it can be just two metal plates. Placed between them is a piece of material through which an electric current cannot ordinarily pass. This in-between material, which can be glass, hard or soft rubber, air, ceramics, paper and various plastics, is known as a dielectric. Some dielectrics are capable of absorbing huge quantities of electrical energy if fed into them slowly at low potentials. Others, like lead-free glass, can be charged and discharged hundreds of thousands of times per second at extremely high potentials.

The electrokinetic apparatus at the Bahnson lab.
? Optical Multimedia (copyright)

The Biefield-Brown Effect suggests that an electrical condenser will move toward its positive pole, and remain in such a position until discharged. The movement does not nullify the scientific law that every action carries within it an equal and opposite reaction force. A reaction force is present, but, in the case of gravitation, it is not readily apparent. Using this technology, Brown built disk-shaped airfoils 24 inches in diameter, which allegedly attained speeds of 17 feet per second in his laboratory. The discs were a variation of the simple two-plate condenser, charged with 50,000 volts of direct electrical current. When tethered to a pole, they spun in a circular path. The energy input needed to keep them flying is reported to have been only 50 watts, which is just enough to light a small bulb. Brown also designed experimental discs three feet in diameter. When they were charged with 50 kilovolts, their speeds were reported to be so impressive that they were quickly classified by the military. It was reported that the discs buzzed with a soft hum, and in the dark they glowed and emanated strange lavender light. Many scientists and engineers witnessed Brown's flying discs, but few believed that the discs were propelled by the new principle Biefeld and Brown had discovered. The lack of professional and financial support forced him to France. In vacuum tests there, Brown said that the discs flew even more efficiently.

Thomas Townsend Brown died at Avalon, Catalina Island, California on October 22, 1985. His laboratory was dismantled and much of the equipment sold. Although most research on the Biefeld-Brown Effect ended with Brown's death, it may now be time to revitalize interest in this potentially powerful propulsion force. At the time of his death, Brown owned many patents on various Electrokinetic equipment (3). The force of gravity is one of the great mysteries confronting mankind today. If that mystery can be unraveled, Thomas Townsend Brown's lifelong work may finally be validated.


If you are following this narrative in a linear fashion, next is a discussion of the life and inventions of S. Marinov.


Here are the footnotes (in parentheses and red above) for this page. They are hyperlinked when possible.

(1) 1958 article "Another Step Toward Anti-Gravity" by Gaston Burridge. Explains basic principles of the Biefield-Brown Effect, which allegedly couples electricity and gravity in order to create anti-gravitational flying discs.

(2) 1923 article "How I Control Gravitation" by Thomas Townsend Brown. Published in "Science and Invention" August 1929. Discusses Brown's laboratory work with "gravitators" and his discovery of electro-gravitational interaction.

(3) [Note: This link is broken and will be updated in the near future.] A Who's Who website featuring a large selection of alternative energy inventors, experimenters, authors, scientists, organizations and critics. Includes a list of T. Townsend Brown's U.S. patents.