Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Save Us, O Great Perpetual Motion Machine

With energy getting more expensive it is not surprising that someone is trying to patent a perpetual motion machine. The company is Ireland-based Steorn. This is how they describe their technology:
Steorn’s technology produces free, clean and constant energy. This provides a significant range of benefits, from the convenience of never having to refuel your car or recharge your mobile phone, to a genuine solution to the need for zero emission energy production. It also provides a secure supply of energy, since the components of the technology are readily available.

The technology is in a constant state of development. The company has focused for the past three years on increasing power output and the development of test systems that allow detailed analysis to be performed.

Steorn’s technology appears to violate the ‘Principle of the Conservation of Energy’, considered by many to be the most fundamental principle in our current understanding of the universe. This principle is stated simply as ‘energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only change form’.

Steorn is making three claims for its technology:

The technology has a coefficient of performance greater than 100%.
The operation of the technology (i.e. the creation of energy) is not derived from the degradation of its component parts.
There is no identifiable environmental source of the energy (as might be witnessed by a cooling of ambient air temperature).
The sum of these claims is that our technology creates free energy.

Well, if you are going to defy the laws of Isaac Newton, you'd better have your shit straight. If you are cagey and making big promises and seeking investors, people will get annoyed.

Newton's laws are not eternal, Einstein showed that. And Einstein's theories are not the end either, as quantum mechanics and string theory show us virtual worlds beyond our imagining. But as for the way we live, and the way the “real” world works, I mean down here on earth anyway, where such things as money and food and clothing make a difference in our lives, then Newton still rules. Newton may not explain love and death and the afterlife, but for such issues as how to get to work on time, Newton is still king.

Mankind's problems in this age, on the cusp of catastrophic change, as our huge energy sources fail us one after another, will mainly be the scourges of war, famine and disease. Pretending that Newton was wrong, with such nutty ideas as corn-based bio-diesel, or hoping for perpetual motion machine solutions, can only be a fantasy. Newton showed us how the world worked 400 years ago, but we still haven't come to grips with the reality he showed us. At least we should be glad that it is simple, logical and fair. And when the shit hits the fan, we'll probably remember that exponential growth does not proceed indefinitely. Newton probably would have said “DUH”!

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