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There are videos on YouTube where it is shown that the presented set-up doesn’t work.
The rail-gun has magnets on both sides of the iron rod
To understand the working principle of a homopolar motor, first and foremost you have to understand that besides the electric current in a current-carrying wire there is also a magnetic current (which the contemporary science calls magnetic field). The two currents are inseparably bound to each other very similar to the water swirling current and the cavitation spiral current which an underwater propeller creates. The water swirling current corresponds to the electric current, whereas the cavitation spiral current corresponds to the magnetic current.
I remember there was a Canadian scientist who developed an modern conventional cannon that could launch projectiles into space.
The breakthrough was the precision manufacturing of the huge barrel.
It is hard to tell who commandeered the invention, and/or implemented the cone of silence.