Now to one of my favourite blogging subjects, the broken American patent system. Every time I get comfortable and think that it could not get any sillier, a new patent comes along that is so mind-boggingly ludicrous that leaves me gasping for breath. Let me introduce U.S. patent 6,960,975, which protects a space vehicle propelled by the pressure of inflationary vacuum state. According to the abstract:
A space vehicle propelled by the pressure of inflationary vacuum state is provided comprising a hollow superconductive shield, an inner shield, a power source, a support structure, upper and lower means for generating an electromagnetic field, and a flux modulation controller. A cooled hollow superconductive shield is energized by an electromagnetic field resulting in the quantized vortices of lattice ions projecting a gravitomagnetic field that forms a spacetime curvature anomaly outside the space vehicle. The spacetime curvature imbalance, the spacetime curvature being the same as gravity, provides for the space vehicle's propulsion. The space vehicle, surrounded by the spacetime anomaly, may move at a speed approaching the light-speed characteristic for the modified locale.The purpose of this patent eludes me, but even if we could ascertain its utility, I am left aghast by the lack of geeky knowledge displayed by the USPTO examiners. Any geek worth his salt will immediately recognise that this patent is describing Star Trek's warp drive system. In fact, there is a theory that describes the workings of the drive, which sound very familiar to the abstract.
USPTO examiners have lost some major geek points.