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Irish Company Claims Free Energy 1125

Posted by samzenpus
from the and-a-robot-in-every-house dept.
raghus writes "An Irish company has thrown down the gauntlet to the worldwide scientific community to test a technology it has developed that it claims produces free energy. The company, Steorn, says its discovery is based on the interaction of magnetic fields and allows the production of clean, free and constant energy — a concept that challenges one of the basic rules of physics." I can't wait until I can use this free energy to power my flying car and heat my aquarium of mermaids.
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Irish Company Claims Free Energy

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  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:21PM (#15950452) Homepage Journal

    They talk in circles and can't provide any definite explanations as to how something like this would work.

    About 7 years ago I worked with a fellow who absolutely was buying into some black box he would just plug things into and it would harvest energy from the earth's magnetic field. Sounds about the same thing. If there was enough density of magnetic fields to run a toaster, odds are you'd be suffering some serious and potentially fatal side effects.

    "What we have developed is a way to construct magnetic fields so that when you travel round the magnetic fields, starting and stopping at the same position, you have gained energy," McCarthy said.

    Moving around in circles to gather energy, what a neat idea! Um, where do we get the energy to run around in circles? Sounds like that net forces thing, the sum of all forces acting upon my car at the moment are zero, but if I could just remove those coming from one direction, it should move in that direction, right? Hey, how about something that runs on gravity, since there's an unending supply of that, eh?

    I'm also of the opinion if we started using something which was naturally in abundance, like earth's magnetic fields, it would cumulatively and ultimately affect something we'd regret later.

    • by snowgirl (978879) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:26PM (#15950501) Journal
      "What we have developed is a way to construct magnetic fields so that when you travel round the magnetic fields, starting and stopping at the same position, you have gained energy," McCarthy said.

      I have to agree with you here. To me it just sounds like electromagnetic induction. Move a wire through a magnetic field, and boom! It makes electricity.
      • Ya know, our (yours, mine, /. in general) skepticism is unquestionably well placed - free energy would collapse some economies, invigorate others, bring about new business opportunities, advance the living conditions of people stuck in third world countries - the actual ramifications are impossible to really get a grasp on.

        My thoughts are twofold:

        1) Man, if it's true, how awesome would that BE?! I'm the kind of person that - as skeptical as I am - always holds out hope for discoveries like this. There is more clean energy in this universe than we'll ever need - harvesting it is the difficulty. If someone discovered a way to do it - man alive that'd be sweet.

        2) If it's true, someone will patent it and it won't be free - on the contrary, it will still somehow cost me as much as energy does now, as greed seems to outpace progress these days.

        Since it's probably BS, I don't really have to worry about either one of those two thoughts, but seriously - #1 - how cool would that BE??
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by susano_otter (123650)
          Actually, people think of more efficient ways to do work all the time, with the result being that things are constantly getting cheaper, and the savings are being passed on to you, because of human greed.
          • Why the hostility? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Forge (2456) <kevinforge@NOSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:53PM (#15951226) Homepage Journal
            I don't see why the hostility.

            These guys claim to be doing exactly what a layman should do when he thinks he has discovered technology which challenges a fundamental scientific principle.

            Invite as many credible scientific experts as you can find to test it and report the results of such testing in peer reviewed scientific publications and on the Internet.

            Free energy is one of the biggest discoveries that people are seriously searching for. That and intelligent extraterrestrial life.

            And yes, apart from free energy there is the promise of virtually free energy. I.e. If you could create a small (as in portable) device that can separate Water molecules into the atomic components and burn the resulting Hydrogen for energy, cool. If the energy generated in that process is significantly greater (1.5X to 2X) than what is required to run the machine, viola. Virtually free energy.

            Bonus points if it runs on watter too impure to drink and still maintains a positive balance even with the purification process.

            So let them be. If it's bogus that will come out in the testing. This has happened before, without the invitations. If it's legit. Whoopee. countries like mine which produce mineral raw materials (bauxite) but import all our energy needs could see a an economic bump.

            A bump our politicians will work feverishly to squander, but that's a different story.

            • by flibuste (523578) on Monday August 21, 2006 @05:18PM (#15951380)

              There is no such thing as "free" energy. What you get is what you've spent somewhere else. The FA says their thing generates "energy" (electricity) when you move something around a magnetic field. The energy carried by the electricity generated by magnetic induction (moving a conducting object within a magnetic field induces an electric field in your object) is the energy you spent moving the object around the magnetic field. No gain, no loss.

              What seems strange is that, without naming it, the FA says they've found something that seems to break the conservation of energy. I bet you scientific scrutinity will unveil a source unaccounted for in the first place.

            • by The_Wilschon (782534) on Monday August 21, 2006 @05:30PM (#15951469) Homepage
              viola. Virtually free energy.
              Ack! I hope we don't have to get free energy from violas! Those things sound awful!
            • by Angostura (703910) on Monday August 21, 2006 @05:38PM (#15951534)
              Except the guys aren't doing that: They aren't inviting as many credible scientific experts as possible to test it - they are asking people to apply, from which they will select 12. What a layman should do (other than attempt to publish in a peer-reviewed journal) is supply the information needed for anyone to try to duplicate the machine and its results.

              Personally, I think this is more likely to be viral marketing for a game or something daft like that.
              • by BlueCoder (223005) on Monday August 21, 2006 @07:55PM (#15952403)
                You said it. From which they will select twelve, their 12. Not famous nobel winning scientists with something to lose. Hence their tech will be confirmed and enough people out of the people that register to recieve the results will be duped into developing the tech. Classic fud.
            • by DaoudaW (533025) on Monday August 21, 2006 @05:48PM (#15951618)
              I don't see why the hostility.

              What hostility? All I'm reading is a healthy dose of skepticism. Those of us who have been observing the world for awhile, I'm 50, get tired of discrediting hoaxes. This is a hoax and it's unconscionable to encourage scientists to interrupt research which could decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. This is nothing more than a publicity stunt to attract investors.

              According to TFA, (1)Steorn will pay for the research, (2)publish the research themselves and (3) develop products based on the research. Here's a translation: (1) We aren't applying for grant money. We know our "research" wouldn't stand up to the scrutiny required. (2) By publishing the research ourselves, we have complete control over it. (3) Okay, there won't be any products developed but if we can keep the research going for a couple of years, we'll get more victims^h^h^h^h^h^h^h investors.

              This is so predictable... when will Slashdot quit falling for these stories.
            • by eric76 (679787) on Monday August 21, 2006 @07:36PM (#15952301)
              Free energy is one of the biggest discoveries that people are seriously searching for.

              What most of us are searching for are two women at once. With that, we can generate our own energy.

        • 2) If it's true, someone will patent it and it won't be free - on the contrary, it will still somehow cost me as much as energy does now, as greed seems to outpace progress these days.


          If "it" is a natural phenomena, it is not subject to patent in the United States. Manual of Patent Examination Procedure - Section 2106 [bitlaw.com] If "it" is a machine that converts a natural phenomena into traditional energy like electricity, then that machine could be patented but nothing stops you from developing improvements to it or an entirely different machine. Regardless, the patent for that machine would expire 20 years from its filing date and would then become public domain.

          If you have a computer system on your desk, there are probably at least 100 different patented products on your desk. That hasn't barred you from owning and enjoying the technology, however. There would be an incredible demand for "free" energy, and therefore market forces would provide ample incentive for competing scientists to develop non-patented devices to harness that energy. Sure, there might be some nasty legal battles, but in the end the original inventor will be able to patent at best what he has contributed to the technology.

        • If it's true, someone will patent it and it won't be free - on the contrary, it will still somehow cost me as much as energy does now, as greed seems to outpace progress these days.

          Right; because damned if human greed hasn't kept the price of those computer chips right up where they always have been, $60 per 1000 transistors [1], keeping all the profits for themselves. Corporate bastards.

          [1] Intel 8080 retailed for around $360 IIRC and had 6,000 transistors. http://www.intel.com/pressroom/kits/quickreffam.ht m#i486 [intel.com]
      • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:55PM (#15950779)
        From the article:

        "For the first six months that we looked at it we literally didn't believe it ourselves. Over the last three years it had been rigorously tested in our own laboratories, in independent laboratories and so on," he said.

        Roughly translated:

        We can't *believe* how fscking stupid our neighbors are...we ran a power cord from their external outlet 3 years ago, and they haven't even noticed!

        Dude....free energy!


    • by nizo (81281) * on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:28PM (#15950511) Homepage Journal
      From this article [pesn.com]:



      In order for such a revolutionary technology to have the public support needed for it to become used widely, McCarthy says that confirmation from the academic community will be crucial. "That is our focus at this point," he said.

      McCarthy declined to specify how many prototypes they have built, or how long they have run, how much power they produce, and other details of the design.

      All of this documentation will be presented in full to the jury of twelve scientists that are soon to be selected to analyze the technology. As of the time of this writing, 1,300 people have expressed interest in serving on the jury of scientists; and 15,516 people have signed up to be notified of the results.

      The selection of the jury will screen out anyone who has past involvement or other indications that might be construed as showing support of the technology in some form or other. "We want cynics," said McCarthy.

      "We are not seeking validation from the court of public opinion. What we need is validation from the academic world," he said. Once that has been achieved, then the public can know.


      It really sounds to me like they want outside verification, and are willing to pay for it themselves. Shouldn't we let that take place before we fry them in oil?

      • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:31PM (#15950553)
        No. It sounds like they are looking to do some advertising, so they can rope in some not-too-smart-but-greedy venture captial investors.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by nizo (81281) *
          After further rummaging through their website, I think you are correct. Sadly I won't be able to use my flying car for free :-(
        • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:38PM (#15950610) Journal
          "Don't worry, we're going to give the energy away for free but we'll make up for it in volume."

          They would have to be even more "not-too-smart" then the average greedy venture capitalist investor.
        • Fry them now (Score:5, Insightful)

          by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@NospaM.yahoo.com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:39PM (#15950627) Journal
          Exactly. Make it look like they are actually serious. How much VC cash do you think they will rake in between now and the test? After the scientific community announces that this is bullshit, they will claim to need more money to "fix" the issues that the scientists raised. The VC fools, not wanting to admit to themselves that they have been swindled with one of the oldest cons in the book, will happily throw more money at them. They will continue with this cycle until enough people wise up and the lawsuits pour in, then they will disappear to the Cayman Islands.

          No, we need to bitch-slap these peckerwoods now, before they fleece too many dumb but wealt- Wait, you know, I think their ideas just might work. Send cash just in case.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by IAmTheDave (746256)
            Man, can you BELIEVE this bullshit? This guy really wants us to believe that the Earth revolves around the SUN. It's unbelievable - I can practially watch the Sun go around the Earth, not to mention the pure and simple blasphemy that his statements bring with them.

            Excommunicate this bastard NOW. Make it quick, painful, and public. We don't need a whole rash of people believing in this hogwash, undoing years of education about the creation of this planet and the Sun's role in God's plan for mankind.

            Stomp
            • Re:Fry them now (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Xerxes1729 (770990) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:56PM (#15950788)
              It would be nice to give everyone a fair hearing, but at a certain point, you have to just say, "Enough is enough." There are millions of crackpots all over the world who think that they're the next Einstein or Galileo or whoever. If you spend all your time fairly evaluating each of their claims, that's all you're going to be doing.
            • Re:Fry them now (Score:5, Insightful)

              by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@NospaM.yahoo.com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:02PM (#15950844) Journal
              No, first round verification does not mean a world wide ad campaign to find a panel of scientists to verify this. There are proper channels. Look at their site for God's sake, this is a scam and that should be made painfully obvious to everyone. If it turns out it isn't, we can apologize later, after the world-wide fucking revolution this kind of technology would cause.
          • by snowgirl (978879) on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:01PM (#15950840) Journal
            The VC fools, not wanting to admit to themselves that they have been swindled with one of the oldest cons in the book, will happily throw more money at them.

            The magnets have no clothes! They're naked!!! *averts her eyes out of embarassment*
      • Shouldn't we let that take place before we fry them in oil?

        That depends. How much energy is required to fry them in oil? Is this energy free?
      • No they don't (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Silent sound (960334) on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:15PM (#15950954)
        It really sounds to me like they want outside verification, and are willing to pay for it themselves.

        Uh... no, if they wanted outside verification, they'd just plain go out and get some. This "jury" thing, on the other hand, is proof they DON'T want outside verification, because the whole thing is clearly designed specifically with the intent of presenting the appearance of allowing outside review of their technology while minimizing or eliminating the chance anyone will actually get a chance to see what it is. Seriously, they're inviting the world to come join a lottery in which the winners get to be told what their invention is after a long dramatic pause of unspecified length while public hype builds? And you think this is a form of public review?

        What this "jury" thing actually DOES do is allow them to handpick people to give a dog and pony show to, afterward leave the world still unsure what their supposed invention actually is, and beforehand allow them to generate a gigantic mailing list of people to pitch to later on. The most important element is that "jury" thing allows them to brag-- as they do in a huge box on the front page of their site, as they do in your blockquote-- about the large number of people who have signed up to be on the jury, thus presenting the impression of great public interest in their invention. It's a hype-generating trick, and you have fallen for it hook line and sinker.

        And did you not notice this piece of garbage on their website?

        During 2005 Steorn embarked on a process of independent validation and approached a wide selection of academic institutions. The vast majority of these institutions refused to even look at the technology, however several did. Those who were prepared to complete testing have all confirmed our claims; however none will publicly go on record.

        How can you possibly take seriously someone who writes a paragraph like that? If you look at archive.org you'll see that Steorn didn't even have an active web page in 2005.

        Shouldn't we let that take place before we fry them in oil?

        Shouldn't THEY let it (the academic verification) take place before they expect us to do anything OTHER than fry them in oil? Seriously, giving these people the time of day makes about as much sense as halting, before you delete your spam, to wonder whether maybe that e-mail really WAS sent by a Nigerian prince. The perpetual motion machine is after all one of the few scams that's been around even longer than the Spanish Prisoner [snopes.com].
        • Re:No they don't (Score:5, Insightful)

          by shess (31691) on Monday August 21, 2006 @05:05PM (#15951294) Homepage
          Uh... no, if they wanted outside verification, they'd just plain go out and get some.

          Or, you know, just hook up to the grid and start selling power. Admittedly, it would be easier to get tens of millions of dollars and jumpstart things, but ... you hook it up to the grid, and start generating revenue at a couple cents per kilowatthour, round the clock. Since it's "free", your revenue is operating profit, and should add up FAST. After a couple months you build another unit, and another, and pretty soon you've bootstrapped yourself into a real company.

          Well, unless your current prototype doesn't, you know, really provide free power. It will only do _that_ after you've built the $10M version, of course.

          -scott
    • by uradu (10768) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:29PM (#15950528)
      Ah, magnets...the never-ending source of fascination for crackpots in need of remedial highschool science. If you just arrange them in the right configuration that no-one before has tried, align them just right... After all, you can push pins and stuff around with a magnet THROUGH a table top, there has GOT to be magic in there.
    • The process (assuming it work as described based on their publicised info) appears to have a simple energy source, magnetic fields.

      Of course, any first year electronics or physics student should be able to tell you that when you pull/use energy from a magnetic field, it still comes from somewhere else rather than being created from nothingness.

      In an electrical transformer, that source is the current passing through the wires and creating the magnetic field. In a rare earth magnet, the energy has been used to properly line up the atomic structure and gradually demagnitizes the source as it's used up. In the case of the very weak Earth's magnetic field, the main source is the Earth's rotation and the magnetic contents that are thus flowing/rotating inside. The Earth's magnetic field has decayed about 10-15% over the last 150 years, so I wouldn't count on that as a long-term source of free energy anyway.
    • Technically, the company is correct. Generators produce electricity by moving metal through a magnetic field. The trick is making the metal move through the magnetic field.

      Personally, I'm going to use my perpetual motion device to run my Pentium IV Extreme computer powered by Windows Vista while I play Duke Nukem Forever on the Phantom Labs produced graphics card.
    • by Rakshasa Taisab (244699) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:36PM (#15950597) Homepage
      "I'm also of the opinion if we started using something which was naturally in abundance, like earth's magnetic fields, it would cumulatively and ultimately affect something we'd regret later."

      If we were to start tapping into the magnetic field at such a scale it would devastate the field of magnotherapy. When traditional medicine fails you, where will you turn if the magnetic fields were practically gone due excessive exploitation?
    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:15PM (#15950950) Homepage Journal
      where do we get the energy to run around in circles?

      Gerbils dude. Lots and lots of gerbils.
    • I'm as skeptical as the next nerd, but it's still essential for respected scientists to conduct the tests, do the math, and come up with an answer, even if just to debunk it formally.

      Anything less is a negation of what science is supposed to be about, and reduces scientists to the level of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, condemning a theory without testing it.

    • by spoco2 (322835) on Monday August 21, 2006 @06:56PM (#15952096)
      Yeah, heaven forbid that the challenge be published in a SCIENCE journal, even a POPULAR one like, oh, I don't know, Scientific American or Discover.

      "Steorn has decided to publish its challenge in The Economist because of the breadth of its readership. "We chose it over a purely scientific magazine simply because we want to make the general public aware that this process is about to commence and to generate public support, awareness, interest etc for what we are doing."

      Oh, because the Economist has a broad, far reaching readership, not limited to only those interested in MONEY... unlike the science magazines who have a readership that actually may be interested, and, heaven forbid, know something about energy.

      My god what a load of shite.
  • don't think so... (Score:5, Informative)

    by professorhojo (686761) * on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:22PM (#15950460)
    This is ridiculous that anybody is taking this seriously. Look at the team bios or company history - they provide no information that lets you actually look into the history of the company or any individual's work history. Every single person was "at an Irish technology company" or "at a big 4 accounting firm", but never enough to actually do a Google search on them.

    However, they did leave some clues. If I look up the domain registration, the two addresses on the domain registration actually exist. One appears on a patent application from 6 years ago for credit card systems. The application was rejected for failing the "nonobvious" criteria and being too vague. This fits with their story of being a (apparently failed) technology company doing transactions.

    (The other address, by the way, is now the Gay HIV clinic in Dublin - I suspect that the CEO just used to work out of there, and it is now used for another purpose).

    So I'm with this either being a wacky publicity stunt. The names are too perfectly chosen so that nobody can actually research them, and the people look too much like actors...
    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:35PM (#15950587)
      Seriously, could someone explain to me the slashdot editors' obsession with junk science, specifically perpetual motion and free energy machines, and the like? This is not news. This is not for nerds, except to laugh at. This certainly doesn't matter, since variations on this crap have come around every few months for millennia.

      This is for idiots.

      • by Cheap Imitation (575717) on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:21PM (#15951003)
        Free energy is the scientific community's equivalent to the "winning the lottery" dream. The odds against it actually happening (to you) are insanely long.

        But the payoff is so huge that the speculation is fun. How would our lives change? What would we do with it all? What COULD we do with it all?

        Sure, it'll probably never happen. But I'll read the articles for the same reason I occasionally buy a 1$ ticket. It's cheap admission for the chance to dream big for a little while.

        • Wrong dream. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by abb3w (696381) on Monday August 21, 2006 @07:25PM (#15952246) Journal

          Free energy is the scientific community's equivalent to the "winning the lottery" dream.

          No. It's the equivalent to the "getting superpowers by being bitten by a radioactive spider" dream. Which is also cool, and great fun to hear about, and if it's going to be told well even qualifies as news for nerds... but doesn't deserve anything but ridicule when brought out in public.

          If they were serious, everyone they were telling about it would be forced to sign some serious blood-oath NDAs. They wouldn't leak this much until they had a small-scale pilot facility ready to run their lab for a while... or perhaps after they had set it up and been selling power to the utilities in the US for a few years. This looks like just another variant on lost treasure maps, forgotten gold mines, wildcat oil wells, and Florida "real" estate.

      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:37PM (#15951124) Journal
        1) It's funny. Laugh.

        2) If we let it fester, you might never know how quickly an infection of belief growst. Look at ID.

        3) It gives everyone posting righteous indignance a sense of mental superiority that fuels the nerd ego-drive. That, my friend, is a source of 'free' energy.

        And, given your nick 'Mr. Underbridge,' perhaps your grumpiness is due to the fact that you've been out-trolled by the editors, a cut to your own ego-drive?
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:22PM (#15950465) Journal
    I read about this many days ago and tried to register on their site as an academic tester. I never received log in information so I could not partake in reading their white papers. They had posted the challenge in the Economist and on their website, they claim three accomplishments which define their "free energy":
    1. The technology has a coefficient of performance greater than 100%.
    2. The operation of the technology (i.e. the creation of energy) is not derived from the degradation of its component parts.
    3. There is no identifiable environmental source of the energy (as might be witnessed by a cooling of ambient air temperature).
    I hope the coefficient is greater than 0.0001% over 100%. Although all their technology page says is that this alleged free energy solution has to do with magnets. Not much else.

    Furthermore, they claim they approached universities and educational institutions about validating their findings and recieved little or no support from them. Why wouldn't a university be eager to attach their name to it? Is it because of the patent?

    If you're interested in reading their patent, here is the application [freeenergynews.com] (pdf warning). If you just want to get the gist of it, visit the Pure Energy Systems Wiki [peswiki.com] complete with diagram. It looks like a way to block and unblock a strip holding magnets, thus creating magnetic flux around a piece of metal (driving the current I believe).
    • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:35PM (#15950589) Homepage Journal
      Most car AC units have an energy coefficiency of somewhere around 400% - for every one watt of power used four watts of heat are removed. So having greater than 100% isn't impossible.

      Actually, my physics teacher demonstrated hos to get energy out of magnets. We took a low-power LED bulb, two magnets, and a stabilizing platform to hold the magnets. We set the magnet's south poles facing each other, and wrapped the whole thing in ultra-thin cooper bell wire, which was atached to the LED and a diode. By simply pushing the magnets together the LED bulb would every now and then try to light up, it would flash but we could never keep the light on.

      Don't discount it. Remember it onyl takes a tiny weak spark to get massive amounts of power out of gasoline. It just depends on what form that 'spark' comes in, and what form of 'gasoline' you're using.
      • Re:Coefficiency (Score:5, Informative)

        by Otto (17870) on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:11PM (#15950920) Homepage Journal
        Most car AC units have an energy coefficiency of somewhere around 400% - for every one watt of power used four watts of heat are removed. So having greater than 100% isn't impossible.

        No, AC units (heat pumps) are not more than 100% efficent. This sort of incorrect statement is a mistake of terminology.

        A heating unit has a "Coefficent of Performance" (aka COP), which describes the ratio of heat output to the energy input. A resistive heater (say, your toaster) has a COP of exactly 1. Every bit of power going into it comes out of it as heat.

        Your heat pump (a car AC unit is just a heat pump, pumping heat out of the car) has a COP of 3 or 4, thus leading to the "400% efficent" terminology. It's not 400% efficent, it's just 4 times better as producing heat (or rather, moving heat from one area to another) than a resistive heater would be. The reason is can do this is that moving heat around requires a lot less work than producing it does.

        My point is that the terminology is not comparable. This sort of thing is claiming to produce energy without doing work, or at least, to produce more energy than the amount of work actually put into it. Not really the same thing at all.
    • From a quick shifty of that patent, it looks like it's based around the "If I just block the magnets, I create energy!". Just like the idea that one of the guys in my secondary school got excited about when he's invented a perpetual motion machine. If they are so confident, and having been spending the last 3 years on this project, why haven't they built a big one that outputs a reasonable amount of power, and powered something of a reasonable size. I expect they have been "tweaking" the design, and it's "
  • Big deal... (Score:5, Funny)

    by rthille (8526) <web-slashdot@rangat . o rg> on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:23PM (#15950472) Homepage Journal

    Years ago, I harnessed the energy from the monkeys flying out of my ass, and I haven't paid an electric bill since...
  • by Distinguished Hero (618385) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:24PM (#15950478) Homepage
    Crackpots and Opportunists say Crazy Crap (perhaps in hopes of securing some cash investments); Film at 11 on You Tube. Why is this on Slashdot?
  • by X_Bones (93097) <danorz13NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:25PM (#15950484) Homepage Journal
    more than a few people think that the whole site is part of another viral marketing campaign by Microsoft and Bungie, this time for Halo 3. Don't take it as gospel quite yet, but it would explain the total lack of engineering and scientific detail that a company of this nature should be showing to the world.
  • by adamy (78406) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:25PM (#15950491) Homepage Journal
    Lisa, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics.
  • Is it marketing (Score:3, Informative)

    by amliebsch (724858) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:26PM (#15950496) Journal
    Could this be a viral marketing gimmick? I couldn't help but notice that the "o" in the company logo (that is also the website icon) looks rather familiar in shape and color to the Xbox 360 spiral [wargamer.com].
  • Good grief (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <.gro.uaeb. .ta. .sirromj.> on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:26PM (#15950499)
    Is it now the policy of slashdot to give headline coverage to every crackpot perpetual motion machine? It might have been mildly amusing had it been filed under humor, but as news? Even the snarky wisecrack from the editor doesn't make up for the misfiling.

    But even as humor it should not have been posted since there was a similar one only a week or so ago and I really doubt anyone has a new joke to make about these assclowns that didn't get used then.

    Listen up you primitive screwheads at /., there is no "Free Energy", no Free lunch, no tooth fairy and there ain't ever going to be flying cars. (We will eventually solve the tech for a flying car but the liability is insoluble.)
  • by Ckwop (707653) * <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:28PM (#15950517) Homepage

    When Noether proved in 1918 that every conservation law must have a paired symmetry, physics was transformed for-ever. From then on whenever you saw a conserved quantity it implied there was a symmetry that could be seen in space-time.

    A lot of physics courses focus on the conserved quality and not the symmetry. Perhaps it's because the maths is a lot neater with conserved quantities than with symmetries. But I argue that the real understanding of the physics is to be had in making sense of the symmetries.

    Conservation of energy implies that the laws of physics are constant over time. This is why breaking the law of energy conservation is important. If even one pico-joule of energy is created from nothing in the universe, it destroys the constancy of physical law.

    The theory of electromagnetism has been verified to factor of 10**-20. I find it highly unlikely they've found something new in theory to allow this.

    The fact they've issued a press release rather than a research paper suggests they're cranks. Nothing to see here, move along.

    Simon

  • by Otter (3800) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:29PM (#15950527) Journal
    I can't wait until I can use this free energy to power my flying car and heat my aquarium of mermaids.

    For the typical nerd, the outcomes in decreasing order of likelihood are:

    • Perpetual motion
    • A human female
    • A mermaid
    • Multiple mermaids
  • by ElboRuum (946542) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:30PM (#15950537)
    I already have the patent on several "free" energy sources, but they aren't strictly free. There's the Feline Buttered Bread Commutator for example. It operates by strapping a piece of buttered bread buttered face up to a cat's back, then dropping it from a height. Since a cat always lands on its feet and buttered bread always lands butter side down, the whole apparatus simply hovers and spins in midair. By adding a wire coil to the cat and by putting a strong magnet in close proximity, voila! Free energy. Of course, it's not that there isn't any loss. For example, the cat needs to be fed and the bread gets stale. The cat tends to vomit occasionally, so there is some clean up involved.
    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@NospaM.yahoo.com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @06:12PM (#15951778) Journal
      My patented free energy device is the "Founding Fathers-Vanishing Freedoms" Commutator. Everyone knows that our Founding Fathers spin in their graves when our freedoms are taken away, so we just add a wire coil and a magnet. Every so often we have to reinstate our freedoms or the whole thing will cease to work. I'm currently investgating other ways to piss off the founding fathers so we won't have any down time.
  • by RyoShin (610051) <tukaro&gmail,com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:32PM (#15950570) Homepage Journal
    I've alerted the authorities, and the Science Police will soon arrest them for breaking the Laws of Thermodynamics.
  • by lbmouse (473316) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:35PM (#15950590) Homepage
    Maybe these guys are related to the scientists that lived in Ireland before Michael McCloud invented a new type of beverage in his basement [devilducky.com].
  • Pshaw (Score:4, Funny)

    by srussell (39342) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:44PM (#15950675) Homepage Journal
    I can't wait until I can use this free energy to power my flying car and heat my aquarium of mermaids.
    Duh! Everybody knows there's no such things as flying cars.

    --- SER

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:45PM (#15950691)
    http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/archives/2006/08/ste orn_and_free_1.html [chron.com]

    Quote: "Recall that Steorn is a former e-business company that saw its market vanish during the dot.com bust. It stands to reason that Steorn has re-tooled as a Web marketing company, and is using the "free energy" promotion as a platform to show future clients how it can leverage print advertising and a slick Web site to promote their products and ideas. If so, it's a pretty brilliant strategy."

    1. Pretend to invent an impossible technology that nobody will believe in.
    2. Promote the heck out of it on the internet.
    3. ???
    4. Profit.

    Well, the infamous missing step three is "Demonstrate to your web-marketting customers that you can market even such a preposterous idea as free energy successfully and they will flock to your doors".
  • by Xerxes1729 (770990) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:51PM (#15950737)
    ...without having to know anything about physics.

    During 2005 Steorn embarked on a process of independent validation and approached a wide selection of academic institutions. The vast majority of these institutions refused to even look at the technology, however several did. Those who were prepared to complete testing have all confirmed our claims; however none will publicly go on record.

    Please. Any physicist who figured out how this miraculous technology worked would be more revolutionary than Einstein or Newton. Showing how to violate conservation of energy would be an instant Nobel Prize. If their data really support this, why won't they go on record and become famous? They could win at least $2,000,000 (from the Nobel committee and from James Randi).

    "What we have developed is a way to construct magnetic fields so that when you travel round the magnetic fields, starting and stopping at the same position, you have gained energy," McCarthy said.

    To me, this sounds a lot like a generator. You know, rotating a wire loop through a magnetic field to generate an electic current. That's only been around for, what, 180 years?

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:54PM (#15950772) Homepage

    What Steom is actually claiming is quite possible, but uninteresting. Steorn is making three claims for its technology: [steorn.net]

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

    The coefficient of performance [wikipedia.org] is not efficiency. It's the reciprocal of efficiency. Most refrigerators and heat pumps have a coefficient of performance greater than 100%. 200-350% is typical. The coefficient of performance of an ideal heat pump, and the efficiency of an ideal heat engine, both working between the same temperature difference, will have a product of 1.

    So Steom can meet its claims with any off-the-shelf heat pump.

    Since they talk about "magnetics" so much, they're probably fooling around with something exotic like a magneto-caloric heat pump [nrel.gov]. This is a cute idea that's been around for a while, requires very strong magnetic fields, is sometimes used for cyrogenic cooling, and has been considered for auto air conditioners. There are buzzword friendly papers like "Preparation of Superferromagnetic Lanthanide Nanoparticulate Magnetic Refrigerants" on the subject. If they've made that work, they may have something with product potential. Maybe. But it's not "free energy".

  • by Flying pig (925874) on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:02PM (#15950852)
    basically a set of permanent magnets that are rotated inside a wire framework. When the magnets complete one full revolution, no less than 6 rectified pulses are produced. Just by turning it at a few thousand RPM, I get 45 amps out at 14 volts - that's nearly a horsepower.

    What's more, it's easy to operate. I just have it on a bracket on my car engine and spin it up with a simple little rubber belt. Mind you, the Mk 1 has a few problems to iron out - I need to find a way of enabling it to keep running when the engine stops, at the moment it stops when the engine does and I think this might be the braking effect of the drive belt. Anyone got any ideas, or know where to get in touch with Mr. Bosch whose name is on the side of it?

  • They're in the tech industry claiming revolutionary results and their, "About" page contains no less than five pictures of the CEO, three of the marketing manager, two each of their finance and operations managers, and NONE of their tech people.
  • by drgroove (631550) on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:25PM (#15951039)
    requires drinking approx 6 pints of Guinness, at which point the core concepts of thermodynamics begin to blur a bit with the game of darts you're playing at the pub.
  • Announced April 1st? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zildy (32593) on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:26PM (#15951047)
    http://www.steorn.net/en/coverage.html [steorn.net]

    Press Coverage
    Steorn Announce "Free Energy" Technology

    Irish company Steorn have announced a revoloutionary free energy technology. More
    The Guardian | 1 April 2006
  • by popo (107611) on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:32PM (#15951092) Homepage
    ... involves the opposing forces of:

    (a) Smoke, and
    (b) Some mirrors.

    Oh, and I'll also actually need (c) A curtain.

    Please send all VC monies to my address in the Caymans.

    Thank you.
  • by shoolz (752000) on Monday August 21, 2006 @05:16PM (#15951362) Homepage
    If the device really worked, there would be no need for scientific verification. They'd just hook 50 of them up to the grid and make millions generating and selling electricity to the power companies.

    If it works, why does it need to be proven? Just go out and make billions with the device.
  • Not impossible (Score:4, Informative)

    by elgatozorbas (783538) on Monday August 21, 2006 @06:47PM (#15952041)
    "What we have developed is a way to construct magnetic fields so that when you travel round the magnetic fields, starting and stopping at the same position, you have gained energy," McCarthy said.

    This is quite possible, since the magnetic field is not conservative (=the energy energy is only determined by the position). Example of a conservative field: gravitation, because if a mass goes up and down a hill it has a net energy gain of zero.

    Not so for movement in a magnetic field. You can compare this to a whirlpool: if you drop something in it will spin round and round faster and faster, so clearly its energy is not detemined by the position alone.n In fact this is more or less how electromotors/dynamos work (or could work).

    "The energy isn't being converted from any other source such as the energy within the magnet. It's literally created. Once the technology operates it provides a constant stream of clean energy,"

    This, however is bollocks: classical mechanics and electromagnetism form a pretty closed system. I'm not saying the conservation of energy principle cannot ever be broken (though this would be surprising) but in any way it can never be broken withing the classical system, i.e. using only mechanics and electromagnetism.

  • Prove or Profit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OverflowingBitBucket (464177) on Monday August 21, 2006 @09:50PM (#15952931) Homepage Journal
    Don't know about you, but I'm thinking one of:

    - Prove it. Publish your results and get it peer reviewed. None of this nonsense "people won't even take my claims seriously" nonsense. There is probably a reason.
    - Profit from it. Free energy? Make a big bank of these things. Sell the power. There are plenty of buyers.

    And if neither of these things are happening, I'm thinking one of:

    - Crackpot.
    - Investor scam.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday August 21, 2006 @10:32PM (#15953089) Homepage
    Their patent application number is 20060066428, which you can look up at the USPTO site. The title is "Low energy magnetic actuator"

    "A low energy magnet actuator allows magnetic fields to be turned on and off using a small amount of energy. The magnetic actuator according to the invention generally includes a base suitable for the support of a plurality of magnets. An actuatable shield is positioned in relation to the plurality of magnets so that it effectively blocks the magnetic field when it is positioned over at least one of the magnets. The magnetic fields of the plurality of magnets interact in a manner that allows low energy actuation of the shield."

    It's just a thing for shielding a magnet with another piece of metal. The patent application does not claim an energy gain.

    I was really hoping they'd claimed an energy gain, which might trigger the USPTO's answer to perpetual motion machines. The USPTO has the right to ask for a working model, but they very seldom exercise it. Except for perpetual motion machines and antigravity machines.

    The application has been assigned to an examiner, and is in routine processing.

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