pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Sun Apr 7 00:17:58 EST 2002
Subject: Free Energy
Dear Colleagues -
2002 promises to be an eventful year for new forms of free energy.
Somewhere amidst the high-tech complexities of our curricula, do
let's try to still inoculate our students with enough basic science
and physical investigatory sense to help fight these increasingly
There are many more besides the ones below. Magnets attached to
water pipes for softening water, or to a car's fuel line for better
mileage. Some scams are squarely in the realm of electrical
engineering, like little boxes you plug into outlets, and then you
plug your appliance into the box, with promised major energy
savings. Scams, all of them, but the US government, state and local
agencies, and many consumers regularly get suckered into buying
These delusions are _not_ subtler than they were 20 years ago.
Rather they are more numerous and often even crasser, as if
nourished by a steady decline in the basic science and physical and
electrical reasoning "IQ." Is science and engineering education
recognizing its "civic duty"? Should we collect a bunch of these
examples and have a course in science reason and science delusion?
Date: 4/5/02 2:46 PM
From: What's New
WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 5 Apr 02 Washington, DC
FREE ENERGY: PERPETUAL MOTION SCAMS ARE AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH.
In 1999, I went to Columbus, Ohio for ABC News to witness Dennis
Lee demonstrate a permanent-magnet motor that was "more than 200%
efficient." Actually, he didn't really demonstrate it. He stuck
a magnet on the side of a steel file cabinet; turning to the
audience he asked, "How long do you think that magnet will stay
there?" He answered his own question, "Forever. That's infinite
energy." Don't laugh, this week, Patent 6,362,718 was issued for
a "Motionless Electromagnetic Generator" that "extracts energy
from a permanent magnet with energy-replenishing from the active
vacuum." Already in 2002 we've had the Jasker Power System (WN
25 Jan 02), Chukanov Quantum Energy (WN 8 Feb 02), Bubble Fusion
(WN 15 Mar 02), and now a permanent magnet motor.
These are the items referred to in previous "What's New"s:
IRISH VOODOO: REUTERS BITES ON THE LATEST FREE-ENERGY CLAIM.
I got a call this week from a Reuters correspondent in Dublin who
had witnessed a demonstration of the Jasker Power System, a motor
that is said to replenish its own energy source. All he could
tell me about it was that it's the "size of a dishwasher," and it
kept three 100-watt light bulbs lit for two hours without running
down the "starting batteries." To prevent the idea from being
stolen, everything else was secret. It was developed in Ireland
to keep the U.S. government from suppressing it. What did I
think? I think he was a damned fool for covering it. The first
warning sign of voodoo science is that it's pitched directly to
the media. Second, details of how it works are withheld. Third,
a powerful establishment is said to be attempting to suppress it.
THE GREAT SPAM SCAM: A "NEW GROUNDBREAKING SOURCE OF ENERGY."
You probably got the same SPAM this week, announcing discovery of
an "unlimited source of energy," having something to do with
"ball lightning." I don't know what the big deal is: new sources
of "infinite energy" are announced almost daily, and "ball
lightning" is invoked about as often as "zero point energy" or
"cold fusion." One thing is new; the most frequent warning sign
of voodoo science is that claims are pitched directly to the
media (WN 25 Jan 02). Chukanov Quantum Energy, has taken a
different road, e-mailing their pitch to thousands of scientists.
BUBBLE FUSION: IT'S NOTHING LIKE THE COLD FUSION FIASCO. But
it's getting there. The first warning sign that a scientific
claim is voodoo is that it's pitched directly to the media. That
didn't happen with the Taleyarkhan et al. bubble-fusion paper (WN
8 Mar 02). The authors went through all the hoops, submitting
their paper to a respected, peer-reviewed journal. It was Science
that seemed determined to sensationalize the work. In the course
of a year, various drafts went to 13 or 14 reviewers, which does
not inspire confidence. A number of reviewers reportedly advised
against publication and some complain that Science did not tell
them of Shapira and Saltmarsh's failure to confirm fusion claims.
The second warning sign of voodoo science is that any failure to
confirm is blamed on an "establishment" conspiracy. A Business
Week story says one author of the Taleyarkhan paper "hinted" that
Shapira and Saltmarsh were protecting "the fusion establishment."
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND and THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY
Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the
University or the American Physical Society, but they should be.
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