PW: Your research into zero point energy took you into no-go areas for a high-profile defense reporter and editor—UFOs, the paranormal, "black" programs. What was your strategy for handling them?
NC: What I tried to do throughout the book was to make the reader aware of my own skepticism. I really needed to be convinced by some of that data. But this was where years of defense reporting helped. I determined, right from the outset, not to be put off by the subject's reputation (antigravity for a technical journalist is intensely taboo) and to treat it like I would any other story. When I did, I found that there was a solid trail of evidence that led to real programs underpinned by real funding. The scientists I talked to, and the data they provided, ultimately convinced me that they were on to something.
PW: As The Hunt for Zero Point makes clear, you used Jane's as cover for your research and for access to many of your sources. When and how did you tell Jane's what you were up to, and how did they react?
NC: In the latter stages of the research, I briefed my editor on the investigation and—when I had set out the facts to him—he was happy for me to continue with it. Jane's have known me for a long time and accepted that I would not have pursued a story like this quite so doggedly unless there really was something in it. Like me, my editor was intrigued by the data. It was a brave decision, nonetheless, and I am grateful to him for it.
PW: How did you manage to do the research and write the book with a full plate at Jane's?
NC: The research period of the book took place more or less over a decade, so combining it with my regular duties as Jane's aviation editor wasn't a problem. Every time I visited a place on the zero point route map in the course of my regular work, I'd do a little digging. At that stage, I had no idea I was going to write a book; I was simply following a tantalizing set of leads. I wrote the book in 2000—2001, by which time I'd negotiated a consultancy arrangement with Jane's precisely so I could undertake projects like Zero Point.
PW: In the book, you argue that in importing Nazi science and scientists, the U.S. also imported a culture of secrecy, fear and intimidation. Do you hope the book will work to change that?
NC:Zero Point's evaluation of the relationship between Nazi high technology and U.S. postwar aerospace development is a contentious one, but it is based on certain indisputable facts. The first is the well-documented program of recruitment of German scientists undertaken by the U.S. and its allies at the end of WWII. The second relates to the nature of America's $20-billion-a-year secret weapons industry pursued under ultra-classified auspices, a regime popularly known as the "black world." The latter is a sprawling machine, an industry within an industry, and is almost impossible for outsiders to penetrate. Over the past 40 years, the black world has unquestionably developed its own culture of fear and intimidation. Some of it, as depicted in the media, is overblown—to wit, what you see in The X-Files—but much of it is real and is graphically described by interviewees in the book. I don't know whether Zero Point will make any difference. I followed a set of clues, researched the subject and wrote the book because I myself wanted answers.
PW: The book ends with some truly astonishing and terrifying possibilities for the gravity effects you report: limitless free energy, infinitely destructive weaponry. Did you, or do you, find reason for optimism?
NC: The difficulty with the science at the heart of the book—zero point energy—is that it offers a potential solution to the world's energy needs as well as the prospect of awesome new weapons of mass destruction. Such technology, if you can call it that, unquestionably needs careful regulation. Am I hopeful for the future? In the period, even, since I completed the book, respected scientists have begun to talk openly about zero point energy, antigravity technology and other physical phenomena on the edge of our understanding. The book shows that we are on the verge of a breakthrough. I am ultimately excited about the future. But we are talking about manipulating hugely powerful forces of nature. We need to go forward with great care.