Blackett effect

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The Blackett effect, also called gravitational magnetism, is the hypothetical generation of a magnetic field by an uncharged, rotating body. This effect has never been observed.[citation needed]


Gravitational magnetism was proposed by the German-British physicist Arthur Schuster as an explanation for the magnetic field of the Earth,[1] but was found nonexistent in a 1923 experiment by H. A. Wilson.[2] The hypothesis was revived by the British physicist P. M. S. Blackett in 1947 when he proposed that a rotating body should generate a magnetic field proportional to its angular momentum.[3] This was never generally accepted, and by the 1950s even Blackett felt it had been refuted.[4], pp. 39–43

The Blackett effect was used by the science fiction writer James Blish in his series Cities in Flight (1955–1962) as the basis for his fictional stardrive, the spindizzy.[5]


  1. ^ A Critical Examination of the Possible Causes of Terrestrial Magnetism, A. Schuster, Proceedings of the Physical Society of London 24 (1911–1912), pp. 121–137.
  2. ^ An Experiment on the Origin of the Earth's Magnetic Field, H. A. Wilson, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series A 104, #727 (November 1, 1923), pp. 451–455.
  3. ^ The magnetic field of massive rotating bodies, P. M. S. Blackett, Nature 159, #4046 (May 17, 1947), pp. 658–666.
  4. ^ Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett, Baron Blackett, of Chelsea, 18 November 1897-13 July 1974, Bernard Lovell, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 21 (November 1975), pp. 1–115.
  5. ^ Cities in Flight, James Blish. New York: Avon, 1982. ISBN 0-380-00998-6.