posted on Jul, 29 2007 @ 08:10 PM
Nah. There are some things in the patent that are really original.
But there is a lot of prior work that covers it too. Ionospheric heaters predate his patent, and so does using cyclotron resonance in the
magnetosphere to cause electron precipitation, which is another facet of his patent.
Way back when, the Army noticed that there were times when you could for some reason send radio very long distances, longer than you should have been
able to. This came and went. Sometimes it was just a few seconds.
Eventually, they sorted out one set of conditions caused by a temperature inversion in the upper troposphere, which is also called the "boundary
layer". This formed a "duct" in which radio waves would become trapped, and would be carried for thousands of miles. (edit: called tropospheric
Another set of conditions was caused when a meteor (or ionospheric shear, or whatever the theory is this week) enhanced the ionization of the
ionosphere in a small patch. This would allow you to "bounce" communications off the patch and over the horizon. Also radar. They only lasted a few
seconds on average. (edit: This effect is known as "sporadic E", since it comes and goes, and is confined to the E layer of the ionosphere. Very
advanced HAM radio enthusiasts occasionally use sporadic E to send data bursts to Europe...)
The military thought this would be just dandy if they could replicate it on demand, for several reasons. Then came Project Starfish, which showed us
that it's not nice to crack off nukes in the upper atmosphere or NEO. The military then started to wonder what you'd do if that happened for real.
Some time passed, some folks reasoned out that with the right sort of radio wave in the right place it might be possible to cause excess electrons to
rain out of the ionosphere, so Helliwell gave it a shot. Yep, that works, problem 2 down.
Next, how do we excite the ionosphere enough to make it opaque to high frequencies where we want, like a sporadic E on demand? Well, there were
several ionospheric heaters prior to Eastlund's patent that were doing just that. EISCAT is one. By exciting a patch of the ionosphere, you can
enhance its reflectivity, voila! a man-made sporadic E.
[edit on 29-7-2007 by Tom Bedlam]