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As long as there are potential investors to seperate from their cash, we'll continue to see this kind of nonsense.

There *is* a sucker born every minute, as whoever actually said that first said.


Nice article, as always.

An interesting test, that for some reason free energy machine makers are often reticent to perform, is as follows: Turn on the machine, and plug the output power into the input and remove the original power source. If it's truly >100% efficient, the machine will run indefinitely.

My, my... I posted about the very same thing myself today.

Can you say "publicity stunt"?

Give everyone a computer and connect all the computers. Opinions will then perpetually drive keyboards.

Sounds like a winner!

It does beg the question where was the Great Collider (accelerator) in the sky that produced the Big Bang plugged into, does it not???

Is the Universe or spacetime a classic example of perpetual motion albeit with possibly a finite life (you know a short 3 trillion years life span)

Great article - you've summarized (!) it nicely.

I'll introduce a mild counter-point: Keep an open mind.

We thought we had the universe doped out at one point. Everything circled the Earth. Done, simple. There were some inconsistancies around the edge but as a model for the universe it worked. Tools and insturments got better then we discovered that - lo - it was all backass and widdershins. Commotion ensued and we re-arranged our model of how the universe worked.

I'm simplyfying a few thousand years of progress of course.

There are no promises that this is the right model. We think so, we're pretty sure with nearly 100% certainty. But we could all be wrong - again.

Now, don't lump me into the camp of free energy guys and so on. I know the universe is not - and will not - be arranged for my convenience. I'm merely saying investigate with care and don't prejudge. Guy could be a nut, or he could be spot on.

Brian's "counterpoint" is, in fact, already addressed in the post. I was quite careful to make the point that physicists ARE keeping an open mind -- within reason. They continue to test, and retest the laws of thermodynamics, propose thought experiments, etc. The latter have resulted in interesting new innovations (eg the Brownian motor) even if the second law still stands.

For the record, I don't think this most recent guy is a nut; I think he's a crass opportunist, and he's playing on the tendency of scientists to "keep an open mind" to play them and thus lend credence to his "invention" in the media. We can keep an "open mind" and still strongly make the case that the odds are several trillion to one, at this point, that any such claim is viable. We NEED to strongly make the case to counter opportunists like McCarthy.

As bc pointed out earlier and Jen agreed, this guy sounds like P.T. Barnum's distant relative (that's who said there's a sucker born every minute). Of course, the creeping lack of interest in and knowledge of science contributes to this as Tim Radford points out in his column in today's Guardian:

"The paradox is that the nation that led prodigious advances in physics, chemistry, biology, geology, engineering, medicine and computing is populated by a very large number of people who either know but don't care, or don't know and don't want to know.",,1855040,00.html

How do you reach people who don't want to know? They're just asking to be suckered.

Brian's "counterpoint" is, in fact, already addressed in the post.

So it was - may I withdraw my comment

No need to withdraw the comment -- I write long posts and it's easy to miss the occasional point. This exchange draws attention to it, especially since you brought up Copernicus and the heliocentric solar system.... precisely the reaction that Steorn's _Economist_ ad was meant to evoke....

Slightly off topic - but by special request:

Jennifer - you may very well be a pig-fucker.

(there - I hope you are satisfied)


Okay, that last comment nearly made me spew my drink all over my keyboard. :) For the benefit of those not in on the joke, I expressed envy over on PZ Myers' blog, Pharyngula, because he got far more foul-mouthed and colorful hate mail that I did. My plea: "What's a girl gotta do to goad someone into calling her a "pig-******'?"

Briefly considered editing CHeeto's comment with asterisks (pig-******), mostly because my parents (among others) read this blog, but what the heck, its all in fun.... hopefully they'll skip the comments on this one.

Wonderful post, as usual -- thanks for such a thorough but entertaining review of the topic.

And also, thanks for the intro to the FSM -- at last, I've found the answers I've been seeking ...

And before I forget: HI MOM! HI DAD! :D (There -- got you covered now.)

Regarding the whole heliocentric - vs - Earth-centered thing being used as an example of change in scientific thought:

Keep in mind that the arguments used to support the claim for the Earth-centered solar system / universe were either outright religious or at best pseudo-scientific. As such I don't think it's the best choice for a metaphor about how scientific theories get refined/abandoned, because it realy represents a shift to sceintific thought from non-scientific thought.

It wasn't just that "instruments got better", which allowed us to develop the heliocentric model. It was that we CHOSE to refine those instruments - in other words the underlying shift to rationality (the Enlightenment) was the big change, not just the development of better tools.

Since you bring up FSM, it's kind of the equivalent of saying that scientists believed that the world was created in 7 days, but eventually "refined" their ideas...this ends up glossing over distinctions between science and religion, and between "bad" and "good" science.

A distinction I'm at pains to point out because I've become particularly sensitive to it during this peculiarly anti-intellectual phase in American history.....

Not so sure the impulse to think of Earth as the center of the universe should be laid off to religion. I think there's an excellent chance that viewing the physical totality from that perspective is a hard-wired characteristic of the human observer.
Also, Copernican theory survived as long as it did because it worked so well. You might say it was perfectly backward, and required the attention of a man who was a religious fanatic to finally disprove.
I'm talking about Newton, of course.
Not to say I'm counting on Steorn to come through with a winner here, but rigor is rigor.

OOps. Ptolemaic, not Copernican.

Anselpixel said:
"Not so sure the impulse to think of Earth as the center of the universe should be laid off to religion. I think there's an excellent chance that viewing the physical totality from that perspective is a hard-wired characteristic of the human observer.
Also, Copernican (oops Ptolemaic) theory survived as long as it did because it worked so well. You might say it was perfectly backward, and required the attention of a man who was a religious fanatic to finally disprove.
I'm talking about Newton, of course."

Of course all observers of the Universe from Earth are young earthlings (or terrans)
Of course all pixelated models of the Universe on Earth are hardwired to computers
Of course most mathematical theories of the Universe are Earth related theories 'conjured' up by earthlings - no one has seen beyond the cosmological event horizon. And Susskind's landscape could well be shown to be 'within' the Universe we inhabit. We'd need to travel to the cosmological event horizon, to be able to look further. As Martin Rees points out the Universe as we know it (or rather see it) has a rather wide diameter - and it is still only a fraction of the picture. Perhaps we should invest more time in travelling to these far flung galaxies to see for ourselves (or rather open the way for future 'generations' 500 years down the road) rather than speculating or blowing hot air about what may or may not lie beyond - after all it could all be a lie or a figment of someone's imagination. And current experiments, applied physics, particle physics or even gravitational lensing can barely scratch the surface of the visible as in within our cosmological event horizon, never mind any hocus pocus maths or even pseudo-science (all speculative) about what may lay beyond.

But hey it is the nature of man to speculate to theorize, and to debate, dream up or conjure up images of other worlds, existence in other forms - even life after death!

I don't understand the science puritans' hostility towards new ideas, what harm is it doing? What harm if physicists go and look at this thing and prove you right? Why the vendetta? Many in science are like religious fundamentalists in some ways, they look at these laws they have the way an evangelist looks at the gospel. The truth is, we know so little so it is in fact these scientists (and not Steorn) who could be genuinally accused of overconfidence.

Physicists would have us believe that the speed of light is constant and will never slow. Therefore photons are perpetual motion machines and light must not exist.

I remember first reading about the idea of entropy in the "Energy" book of the old Time|Life Science series. The chapter starts by describing how a bright child who knew a little about motors and generators would reason that you could drive a motor with a generator, drive the generator from the same motor, and the combination could run indefinitely. It went on to describe that the same child, either by experimenting or reading further, would find that this did not work [this was a bit of a disappointment to me, because this was exactly how I was planning to power my 3rd grade spaceship designs].

The chapter went on to describe the basic problem with perpetual motion devices, and described several classic examples (and the flaw with each design). There was a two page graphic, following the path from a hydroelectric generator through several steps to the home, showing how energy is lost, and heat created, at each step along the way. It drove the point home for me.

The books are a bit dated nowdays, but there is still worth in most of them. Well illustrated, which I think helped capture the imagination. Better than some of the more recent offerings by Time|Life publishing (books about ghosts and UFOs come to mind).

It is a new kind of of clean energy!!!
Clean the air? It is possible. Clean water? It is possible too.
Clean energy? It is possible as well.
My idea is very difficult for understanding. It is not difficult for engineer - mechanic, who knows very good the Pascal's law and even-arm lever.
Please open GOOgle and find metozor and next :
index of metozor.
Overthere is all about idea of main .
example : or
Too good to be true ???
I am inventor and owner of Metoz machine invention. Everyone can take absolutely and legitimate the METOZ invention and build the Metoz machine. I can help only. I can not build METOZ. I am moneyless.

I am afraid that this time you are wrong in your assumptions about Steorn. There is now a public demo planned for the first week of July in London where the public will be shown the world's first perpetual motion machine.

As for Park, he is a debunker of the first order and his strange alliance with James Randi beggars belief. I mean a magician for god's sakes. Don't make me laugh.

Orbo technology successfully operates just as Steorn describe, it will be fun to come back to this blog to see the huge climbdown that you will have to do.

"it will be fun to come back to this blog to see the huge climbdown that you will have to do."
It's even more fun to come to this post now following the complete and utter failure* of Mr McCarthy's "demonstration" and know that it is 007 who should be climbing down, eating crow with a side of humble pie etc and so on.


I don't see the point of all this discussion. Nobody is trying to say that energy is not conserved, it's just that people want to try to convert the constant supply of one type of energy into a directed motion of Brownian particles
if you want to do it properly here is a rather old and basic article about this by somebody (not me) who is in this business for a while

I'm not sure, but you may be being a bit harsh on Fludd. Going by the diagram, on the right, the water coming out under the wheel is vapourised by the fire and then condensed again at the top. The fire is putting in the necessary extra energy. No claim to perpetual motion is being made here.

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