The physicist: Historical

From his matriculation at the École Polytechnique Maurice Allais never lost his interest in Physics. But only after 1950 did this interest transcend the level of personal research and reflection and lead to experimentation, lectures and publications.

Maurice Allais estimated that he had devoted at least a quarter of his time to Physics.

While his experimental research strictly speaking was limited to the period during which a laboratory was available to him (1953-1960), his theoretical research and analysis of previous experimentation continued until the end of his life.

Let us simply rehearse the main stages and outstanding events of this period.

1 – 1953-1960: The experiments of Maurice Allais [1]

The laboratories used by Allais had been placed at his disposal by private benefactors.

Their availability was a purely personal matter and no organization had ever commissioned Maurice Allais to conduct research in Physics.

▪  January – June 1953 :

  • Experiments aimed at detecting a possible influence of a powerful magnetic field on a non-magnetic pendulum (at the premises of the Compagnie Clémençon, in Paris).
  • The results permitted no real conclusion to be drawn (the magnetic field applied was in fact relatively weak) but apparently inexplicable anomalies were discovered in the motion of the pendulum, which seemed to Maurice Allais well worth more detailed study.

▪ October 1953 :

A laboratory at the IRSID (Institut de Recherche de la Sidérurgie – a French private research centre for the steel industry) at Saint-Germain, as well as two collaborators were placed at Maurice Allais’s disposition. The IRSID also had a highly competent mechanical workshop of which Allais was allowed to use the services.

 ▪  1954 :

  • First experiments using a pendulum designed by Maurice Allais (the “paraconic” pendulum).
  • In particular (9th June-9th July), first programme of continuous observations over a one-month period and first detection of lunisolar periodic components.
  • On the occasion of the solar eclipse of 30th June 1954, which happened to occur during this programme, an extremely sharp deviation of the pendulum’s plane of oscillation.

▪  1957 : First publications

Only after several programmes of continuous observation over a month period and after numerous experiments intended to analyse the action of the pendulum, did Maurice Allais undertake to make known the new phenomena he was now convinced he had discovered – first by simply communicating his findings to various personalities, then by lectures (among them his paper “Faut-il reconsidérer les lois de la gravitation ? Sur une nouvelle expérience en mécanique [Should the laws of gravitation be reconsidered? On a new experiment in mechanics]” delivered at the École Polytechnique on 22nd February 1958, as well as by publications (in particular ten in the Proceedings of the Académie des Sciences between 1957 and 1959).

His general approach consisted in stimulating as much debate as possible, and, in this context, providing as much information as possible to all who showed interest in his work (127 personalities visited his laboratory).

▪ 1958 :

  • Publication early 1958 in the École Polytechnique’s review “Perspective X” of a paper summarizing his research up to 1957, under the title “Doit-on reconsidérer les lois de la gravitation?” [Should the laws of gravitation be reconsidered?].
  • Lecture, 22nd February 1958, delivered at the École Polytechnique.
  • Complementary finance granted by the Comité Scientifique de la Défense Nationale, and then by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).
  • From 2nd July to 1st August, observations carried out simultaneously at Saint-Germain and, 6 km away, in an underground quarry at Bougival, using 2 identical pendulums.
    – Over the same period, optical observations at Saint-Germain (sightings on fixed sighting marks).
    – Highly remarkable consistency between the observations carried out using the two pendulums, as well as between the mechanical and optical observations.

▪ 1959 :

  • Discovery of a direction, variable with time, towards which the pendulum’s plane of oscillation tends to return (direction which Allais called the “direction of spatial anisotropy”) and monitoring of this direction over a month (20th November-15th December). Two pendulums had then been set in simultaneous operation at Saint-Germain, one using “anisotropic” suspension and the other “isotropic” suspension.
  • Observation of the Sun eclipse  of October 2nd (continuous observations from September 28th till October 4th).
  • New programme of optical observations (mark and collimator sightings, at the IGN).
  • Publication, in the American review “Aero/Space Engineering”, on the recommendation of Wernher von Braun, director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, of a translation of his 1958 paper, under the title “Should the laws of Gravitation be Reconsidered ?”.
  • The Galabert Prize of the Société Française d’Astronautique and the Prize of the Gravity Research Foundation are awarded to Maurice Allais.

▪ 1960 :

  • Final programme (16th March-16th April) of continuous observations of the pendulums over a month under the same conditions as in November-December 1959.
  • The Académie des Sciences refused to publish any new contribution from Maurice Allais, notwithstanding the very active backing he had within its ranks.
  • Despite the very promising results obtained, the rejection of requests for financing addressed to the CNRS, which was the only body able to take over in the long term from the IRSID and the Comité Scientifique de la Défense Nationale, since Allais’s research fell outside the scope of the activity of these organisations so that their involvement could only be justified in the initial stages.
  • For want of financing Maurice Allais takes the decision to close his laboratory at the IRSID and to cease all experimentation.

2 – 1961-1990 :

This period, which saw Allais awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize in Economics, gave rise to few publications.

Mention should be made of:

  • The 1962 publication (in the Bulletin de l’Institut International de Statistique) of “Généralisation du test de Schuster au cas de séries temporelles autocorrélées dans l’hypothèse d’un processus de perturbations aléatoires d’un système stable” [Generalization of Schuster’s test to the case of autocorrelated temporal series assuming a process of random perturbations of a stable system].
    This generalization of Schuster’s test had been used by Maurice Allais to confirm the reality of the periodic components detected in his observations.
  • The 1983 publication (in the Journal de la Société de Statistique de Paris) of his paper “Fréquence, Probabilité et Hasard” [Frequency, probability and chance], which was awarded the 1983 Robert Blanché Prize.
    Notable in this paper is Maurice Allais’s demonstration that under certain conditions, which are not very restrictive and are often encountered in nature, a sum of sine waves may simulate “noise” (the “T Theorem”). Hence what is commonly considered to be “noise” may turn out, upon suitable and sufficiently protracted analysis, to include concealed regularities.

3 – From 1990 onwards: Maurice Allais endeavours to spread awareness of his research work

Only from the 1990s onwards did Maurice Allais endeavour to make known the body of his research work in Physics. This undertaking led to a number of publications, chiefly in the École Polytechnique’s review (“la Jaune et la Rouge”), in works published by the Clément Juglar publishing house and in the Proceedings of the Académie des Sciences.

The following dates may be cited:

▪ 1996 :

  • Publication in “la Jaune et la Rouge” of Allais’s first article concerning the observations of Dayton Miller: “Les Expériences de Dayton C. Miller (1925-1926) et la théorie de la Relativité” [The experiments of Dayton C. Miller 1925-1926 and the theory of relativity]. This article, which gave rise to debate among the review’s readers, was followed by several others.

▪ 1997 :

  • The publication by the Clément Juglar publishing house of the first part (“Les données de l’experience” [The empirical data]) of the major work entitled “L’Anisotropie de l’espace” [The anisotropy of space] (sub-titled “La nécessaire révision de certains postulats des théories contemporaines” [Why certain postulates of contemporary theories must be revised]).
    The second part, “Compléments expérimentaux et théoriques” [Further experimental data and theoretical considerations], the outline of which is included in the first part, has unfortunately never been published.
  • Publication in the Proceedings of the Académie des Sciences of a first note relative to the observations of Dayton C. Miller. Two further notes on this subject were to follow, in 1999 and in 2000, the latter being the last note that Maurice Allais could place in the Proceedings of the Académie des Sciences.

▪ 1999 :

  • NASA took steps towards establishing a degree of coordination between different scientists in locations spread out over the path of the eclipse of 11th August 1999.
    It was on this occasion that the phenomenon discovered by Maurice Allais on the occasion of the 30th June 1954 eclipse came to be known as the “Allais Effect”.
  • Maurice Allais writes his paper “The Allais effect and my experiments with the paraconical pendulum: 1954-1960” for the benefit of NASA.

▪ 2001 :

  • A short article appears in the review “Fusion” under the title “Sur une liaison entre l’électromagnétisme et la gravitation. L’action d’un champ magnétique sur le mouvement d’un pendule” [On a link between electro-magnetism and gravitation – Action of a magnetic field on the movement of a pendulum]. This article very succinctly sets out the findings of the observations of January-June 1953.

▪ 2004 :

  • Publication by Clément Juglar of the book entitled “L’Effondrement de la Théorie de la Relativité” [The Collapse of the Theory of Relativity] (sub-titled “Implication irréfragable des données de l’expérience” [The irrefutable implication of the experimental data]).

▪ 2005 :

Publication (by Clément Juglar) of the following works:

  • “De très remarquables régularités dans les distributions des planètes et des satellites des planètes » [Highly remarkable regularities in the distributions of planets and of planet satellites];
  • “Albert Einstein, un extraordinaire paradoxe” [Albert Einstein, an extraordinary paradox].


[1] For further information about the events of this particularly fruitful period, see in particular L’Anisotropie de l’Espace” [The anisotropy of space], pp. 213-250 (chronology pp. 217-219)