Local man seeks success with invention
By June Woods
Midway Driller Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
A local inventor who has gotten a lot of attention lately because of a propulsion system he invented will be receiving delegates from Kenya in the next two weeks.
The inventions of Robert Cook, the CIP (Cook Inertial Propulsion) engine, a water purifier and power generator, have all caught the attention of the governments of Kenya and South Africa.
Due in part to the efforts of Dr. Godfrey Mbogori, Cook’s agent in Africa, South Africa and Kenya are working toward a joint business venture with Cook. Professor Mutuma Mubambi, vice chancellor of Kenya Methodist University, will likely be one of the six delegates; his backing is crucial according to Mbogori.
The purpose of the visit is to arrange for Cook and South African officials to meet with Kenya to work out the details of the venture. “Originally they wanted me to go to Nairobi, Kenya,” Cook said, “but with the civil unrest it’s kind of a dangerous place for white people.”
Cook and his associates in the venture expect success. “Kenya is not the richest country in the world,” he said, “but it still can deliver, in my case, up to $20 million. And if they bring in South Africa, which is a fairly wealthy nation, South African would probably put in anywhere between $50 and $100 million. The two nations are trying to combine to develop, not only my idea, but some of the other ideas that are coming on the scene.”
Cook’s pet invention, the CIP engine, converts centrifugal force into a linear motion. “The thing that makes it so different is that it’s reactionless,” he said. “There is no reaction while it is creating propulsion.” For those who cling to the laws of 17th Century scientist Sir Isaac Newton, not having an equal and opposite reaction for every action is unthinkable.
“When I first started years ago, back in 1968, the professors and scientists that I talked to about the prospects of making a reactionless drive told me that it was impossible,” he said, “because there are two major laws of motion that require reaction: Newton’s third law of action and reaction, and John Wallis’ conservation of angular momentum law.
“They thought that these laws were infallible and that they were proven for all time. The idea of breaking those laws was unthinkable.”
Despite the negative input, Cook continued with his vision of a reactionless drive. He built the models, had them tested by Hughes Aircraft engineers, Boeing Aircraft, United Airlines, the jet engine divisions of Rolls Royce and General Electric, and scientists from the jet propulsion lab at Rocketdyne. The tests proved that Cook’s engine worked.
“The problem is that the peers of all these engineers that have checked my ideas out refuse to believe that their associates have witnessed a demonstration of a working reactionless drive.”
David Stephens, project manager for Launch Systems Integration at Northrop Grumman Space Technology in Redondo Beach, was program director at Hughes Aircraft when Cook first met him.
Stephens said that the engine deserves the attention of the scientific community. “It appears to do some things it is intended to do,” he said. “The only way to prove it beyond a shadow of doubt is to cause it to levitate.” Causing the engine to levitate or fly, he said, would prove to those who argue against it that it is not under the influence of its surroundings.
He also noted that if it does work, it would have significant impact on the world. “It would solve all our energy problems overnight,” he said.
Stephens compares Cook’s plight to that of the Wright Brothers, whom the scientific community also doubted and disparaged prior to their invention achieving flight. “I certainly think it is worth putting funds into this to prove or disprove it absolutely,” he said.
Concerning his experiences with some engineers, Cook noted that many assumed he was wrong but they couldn’t bush it aside without testing.
“When I took the models there, they did not intend to prove that they worked,” he said, “they were out to disprove them. So all of the testing they did was biased against me, but they couldn’t disprove it.”
Despite the many “nay-sayers” Cook said he has run into over the years, he has many supporters among scientists and engineers who have run the simulation tests and have seen the engine work exactly as Cook claimed it does.
The principles of Cook’s invention put into practice would rid the world of the excessive need for fuel, especially the super hot fuel used in the space program.
To convert the fuel in a rocket to cause propulsion, the rocket has to generate three horsepower for every pound of thrust, Cook said.
“If you take my system and do the same thing, instead of three horsepower or four horsepower for a pound of thrust, this thing will give you more like 600 pounds [of thrust] per horsepower. So you end up with an incredibly powerful unit without having to use a lot of fuel.”
Although most of Cook’s prototypes have been run by electricity, the CIP engine will run on anything. “In deep space, for instance, you can use a solar panel,” he said. “You can reel out a huge solar battery and that way your spacecraft will be powered by the sun so that you don’t have to carry so much fuel.”
Cook said he’s excited about working with the two governments in Africa. “East Africa is under a terrible drought condition now. If the drought continues, they could lose several million people because of the famine it is eventually going to create. With my water purifier, Kenya could tap into the Indian Ocean.”
In an effort to explain the CIP engine, Cook compared it to a merry-go-round. The prototype is set up on a long arm and in the middle of the arm is a very fine bearing so the arm can rotate.
“On one end of the arm,” he said, “you have the machine that weighs about 900 pounds and on the opposite end you have a counter balance of 900 pounds.”
In spite of its massive size, it takes just four ounces to get it going and two ounces to keep it going. “The scientists told me this (putting it on the pendulum) was the ultimate test outside of taking it into deep space. They all predicted that it wouldn’t work, that on the pendulum all it would do is oscillate back and forth and not go anywhere. But I put the thing together and it never worked better.
“What Boeing wanted this for, and still wants it for,” he said, “is to maneuver the space shuttle.”
Cook has come a long way from the nascent curiosity of spin dynamics that developed during his youth.
“Since I was a little kid,” he said, “I’ve experimented with windmills and studied the workings of whirlpools in the river and whirlwinds, anything that spun fascinated me since I can remember.”
He came up with his theory while working on a printing press at a small weekly paper in Walnut Creek. He worked with a man whom he still considers the most brilliant mechanical engineer he has ever met.
“I worked with him for about seven years,” Cook said, “and he taught me just about everything he knew so what I got was probably the equivalent of a four year college education in advanced mechanics.”
Cook said, however, that he hadn’t learned the proper terminology (until about ten years ago), which also put him at a disadvantage.
“When I took my case to professors and scientists I had to explain my ideas in layman’s language, which got me nowhere. They’d throw the laws that were against me at me and I didn’t understand the equations they were referring to.”
That was when Cook went out and bought all the books he needed to learn the right mathematics and terminology. Late in 1993, after Cook thought he had the proper education, he made an appointment to meet with the heads of the physics department at Cal Poly. Cook laughs as he recalls that first experience. “After I finished my three-hour presentation, Dr. Foster asked me: ‘Dr. Cook, sir, can I ask what your credentials are?’ I told him: ‘I don’t have any, all I have is a high school diploma.’ Dr. Pauling fell off the chair.”
Cook said Foster asked where he learned physics. “Well, I’m self-educated,” Cook said.
“They used to laugh at me,” Cook said, “But they don’t laugh at me anymore because I can speak their language.”