Burkhard Heim ([haɪm]; 9 February 1925 – 14 January 2001) was a German theoretical physicist. He devoted a large portion of his life to the pursuit of his unified field theory, Heim theory. One of his childhood ambitions was to develop a method of space travel, which contributed to his motivation to find such a theory.
During World War II, Heim was conscripted into the air force. However, a previous essay about explosives led to his working briefly in a chemical laboratory as an explosives technician, instead. An explosion in the laboratory caused by the mishandling of unstable compounds left him with debilitating handicaps. The accident left him without hands and mostly deaf and blind when he was 19, forcing him to use Krukenberg hands. Illobrand von Ludwiger claims this to be a terrorist assassination attempt, for which Heim saved the assassins life by "forgiving him". Neither name nor motivation of the claimed assassin nor details of the "forgiving" and how this saved his life are given.
His behavior subsequently became progressively eccentric and reclusive. Eventually, he retreated into almost total seclusion, concentrating on developing and refining his theory of everything.
Academic and work history
A large proportion of the 76 years of Heim's life was spent on theoretical physics and the formulation of his Heim theory.
In 1943 Heim met Heisenberg, who was involved in German atom bomb research at that time, and told him of his plan to use chemical implosion to facilitate an atomic explosion. This design was based on his idea he developed for a 'clean' hydrogen bomb when he was 18. Heisenberg was impressed by Heim's knowledge, but thought the approach would be impractical.
At that point Heim had to do military service in the German air force. He sent a paper on explosives to the Chemical-Technical 'Reichsanstalt' in Berlin, whereupon he was summoned to work there on the development of the proposed new explosives. It was here that he met with the accident that handicapped him for life.
In 1946, Heim registered at the University of Göttingen to study physics. He fulfilled his academic degree requirements with the help of companions. Afterwards, he continued to study a variety of topics including medicine, psychology, electronics, history and theology.
In 1952, during the third congressional session of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) in Stuttgart, Germany, Burkhard Heim presented his theory for interplanetary propulsion under the title of “Die dynamische Kontrabarie als Lösung des astronautischen Problems” (The Dynamic Kontrabarie as solution of the Astronautical Problem). It was the first time the idea of gravitational, electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces were treated as distortions of their proper Euclidean metrics in a higher-dimensional space. A brief description of Heim's lecture was recorded in the proceedings of the Society for Space Research.
In 1954 he began to study under Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker in Göttingen. He wrote his diploma thesis on physical processes in the Crab Nebula Supernova. After this, he began to work at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Göttingen. However, he soon found it extremely difficult to work in a team due to his handicaps. Von Weizsäcker also did not want to burden Heim with the development of a unified field theory. However, this was essentially his primary interest.
Also, his second IAF presentation was given in 1954, Innsbruck, Austria, during its fifth congress. News about his presentations may have been relayed to the United States by the American representatives, Frederick C. Durant III and Andrew G. Haley, who were serving as President and Vice President, respectively, of the IAF during its fifth congress.
During the 1955 holiday week of Thanksgiving Day, the New York Herald Tribune, and The Miami Herald carried announcements about the completion of contractual arrangements between Burkhard Heim and Glenn L. Martin Company. Heim was to assist them with their gravity control propulsion project. The news about Heim's contract was among several revelations that had been published during the period of intensified United States gravity control propulsion research (1955 - 1974).
In 1956, Heim completed a twenty-seven paged progress report. Copies of it and its English translation were archived at the Gravity Research Foundation. It had summarized his philosophy (syntrometry) and his theory (Principle of Dynamic Contrabarie) for coupling general relativity with quantum dynamics for propulsion applications. Sample calculations for an expedition from the surface of the Earth to the surface of the planet Mars appeared at the end of Heim's progress report. His six-dimensional meso-field-equations required only 285 kg of fuel to be expended to propel a manned vehicle, with the empty weight of fifty tons, on a round trip lasting only 336 hours. Those calculations allowed 111 hours for interplanetary travel, 100 hours to explore Mars, and fourteen hours to perform engine overhaul and launch preparations. His endothermic process required a maximum cooling rate of 1.2 GW.
In November 1957, Heim delivered a lecture about his propulsion theory to the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Raketentechnik und Raumfahrt (German Society for Rocket Technology and Space Travel), Frankfurt. Subsequently, Wernher von Braun sought his comments on various aerospace projects. According to von Ludwiger, an audiotape of Heim's presentation had been prepared for shipment to America.
In 1959, Heim completed his first publication in the obscure German journal Zeitschrift für Flugkörper (Magazine for Missiles). It carried a series of four articles about his theory. The series of papers carried claims and sample calculations that were similar to his 1956 progress report at the Gravity Research Foundation. Heim discussed "the principle of the dynamic Kontrabarie" in which he examined how a field drive would be more effective than the best chemical drive for rockets. These papers remained ambiguous on the fundamental concepts underlying his theory of the field drive, likely due to the necessity to complete the calculations on the extra fields of his field theory. These calculations were not performed until a few years later.
Heim was very mindful of keeping his work from others and worried about plagiarism. In particular, he saw some colleagues as possible plagiarists. One other reason for his distrust of others was due to a colleague who embezzled donations from a society he founded in 1959. (The Institut für Kraftfeldphysik e.V. was intended to develop test models of his propulsion concepts.)
Heim stopped work on the propulsion aspect of his theory in 1959. Neither failures nor flaws had made Heim discontinue his propulsion research – it was the unbridled interest of unsavory firms. The preface by Helmut Goeckel to Heim's first paper in the series of four articles published by Magazine for Missiles indicated various aerospace and ordnance companies had made several attempts to kidnap him. Subsequently, the remainder of his life was devoted to refining the unified field attributes of his theory.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s there were a number of reports on Heim in magazines and tabloids such as Le Figaro, Bunte Illustrierte, Quick and Stern. The magazine le Figaro remarked, on 15 January 1969, that he was an "inhuman robot". Also, the main German TV station, ARD, ran reports and interviews with Heim. It was speculated that Heim was likely to make a breakthrough, either in fundamental physics or propulsion theory.
On 17 November 1969 Heim reported the progress he had made towards developing his unified field theory to Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB). Pascual Jordan and Gebhard Lyra were among the small body of scientists who attended that colloquium. Jordan wrote Heim a letter on 22 December 1969 encouraging him to publish his theory.
Ludwig Bölkow encouraged Heim to enhance his theory. On 25 November 1976 Heim publicly introduced, for the first time, his completed unified field theory in a presentation to MBB engineers. It included the methodology for calculating the mass spectrum of elementary particles. Pursuant to recommendations by Werner Heisenberg’s successor, Hans-Peter Dürr, Heim published his unified field theory summary, the following year, in an article entitled Recommendations of a Way to a Unified Description of Elementary Particles in the Max Planck Institute journal Zeitschrift für Naturforschung. This was the first publication of his theory in a peer reviewed scientific journal.
In 1982 Heim's mass formula was programmed on a computer at the German Electron Synchrotron DESY in Hamburg with the assistance of some resident scientists. Up to that point, Heim had not yet confided in other theoretical physicists on the details of the mass formula derivation. Hence, the DESY results were not widely published and disseminated for academic scrutiny. That year Walter Dröscher, a theorist at the Vienna Patent Office, began to work with Heim. The first result of their collaboration cumulated into the second volume of Heim's major work, appearing in 1984.
In 1992, Hans Theodor Auerbach and Illobrand von Ludwiger presented a summary of Heim's unified field theory of elementary particles and their internal structures. It contained Heim's derivation of Sommerfeld's fine structure constant (α− = 1/137.0360085) – it was a close approximation of the 1987 measured value (α = 1/137.035989).
Heim died in Northeim in 2001 at age 75.
In 2004, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) awarded the winning paper in the nuclear and future flight field to a retired Austrian patent officer named Walter Dröscher and Jochem Häuser, a physicist and professor of computer science at the University of Applied Sciences in Salzgitter, Germany. They turned the theoretical framework of Burkhard Heim into a proposal for an experimental test for a propulsion device that is thought to theoretically be able to travel at rates faster than the speed of light. Hans Theodor Auerbach, a theoretical physicist and someone who has worked alongside Heim has stated that, "As far as I understand it, Heim theory is ingenious," and, "I think that physics will take this direction in the future".
In 2008, the AIAA Nuclear and Future Flight Propulsion Technical Committee published the following statement:
- Much research was conducted this year on the investigation of the experimental basis of the existence of gravity-like fields that cannot be described by conventional gravitation; that is, by the accumulation of mass. Investigations emphasized a geometrized approach termed Extended Heim Theory, which extends Einstein's idea of geometrization of physics by employing the additional concepts of Heim.
Life and health
Heim had to undergo a series of at least 50 operations  after a laboratory explosion resulted in the loss of his arms. He found that intense concentration on the study of Einstein's relativity theory helped him control the pain in his arms mentally and physically.
The loss of his hands and serious diminution of his eyesight apparently resulted in Heim acquiring an eidetic, acoustic memory. He was claimed to rarely forget a formula if he heard it recited, and was said to be able to learn a language in a matter of days. He married a former concert singer from Prague in 1950 named Gerda.
Heim theory and the physics community
Heim achieved some media renown in the 1950s and 1960s, but his ideas have never been well-accepted in the physics community. A significant portion of Heim's work has not been published in rigorously peer reviewed journals. Heim's theory also predicts the existence of two hypothetical neutrinos, which have been shown not to exist by experiments at the Large Electron–Positron Collider.