Free Energy: Fact or Fiction?

Finding and tapping into an unlimited, inexhaustible source of energy to power our technology has been the holy grail of many scientists and some tinkerers since as far back as the 12th century, proving that ENERGY EFFICIENCY has been on the minds of great thinkers for quite a bit of time. Innovative thinkers, like Leonardo DaVinci, have conceptualized exotic machines that harness this energy which have taken the name “perpetual motion machines,” but none of these are workable solutions or have been demonstrably proven.

There are plausible reasons why so far scientists have failed to create any perpetual motion machines that harness “free energy,” one of those reasons is that it is the laws of physics mandate that any machine that outputs more energy than it consumes is an impossibility. Most scientists agree that a perpetual motion machines are not prohibited by physics, and that in a system without friction or other opposing forces, it is possible to create a machine that would run forever. Unfortunately, in an earth-bound environment, building such a machine remains elusive, and all critically examined perpetual motion machines have so far been found to rely on outside power sources to keep themselves going. The following are some examples of attempts at perpetual motion, their inevitable debunking, and the intriguing science behind it all.

The Inventor: Joseph Newman, a self-proclaimed “country boy” from Georgia claims to have invented and built a machine that produces more power than it consumes. According to Mr. Newman, his invention exploits an as of yet unexplored natural energy source derived from as of yet unexplored properties of physics. He has claimed since the mid 1980’s that his machine holds the key to pure, unlimited, and non-polluting energy for everyone.

The Claim: Newman’s most controversial assertion is that the energy conversion between different forms allow the machine’s mechanical rotor’s output to be greater than the proposed energy drained from the battery bank. Newman believes that Electromagnetic energy can be made useful by using methods other than atomic or chemical chain reactions, and that his device demonstrates this fact. Newman says his machine converts Electromagnetic energy into a useful state with a rotating permanent magnet spinning inside an electromagnetic pulsating conducting coil that utilizes the coil’s mass-energy turning that energy into torque. If that sounds incomprehensible, it’s because it is. Below is a video of Mr. Newman’s device in action.

The Criticism:

Unfortunately for Mr. Newman, and the world at large, his machine has been found through independent testing to consume much more energy than it outputs. Researchers at the National Engineering Laboratory which tested Newman’s machine said his device basically converts direct current into an alternating current at surprisingly low efficiencies. There are already commercially available devices that perform a similar function which operate at 90 percent efficiency or higher, more than double the efficiency of Newman’s machine. The consensus among scientists was that Mr. Newman’s claims violate the Laws of Thermodynamics because the electric motor windings are not a source of energy, which is in direct contrast to Mr. Newman’s claims. For these reasons, his patent application was wholly rejected by the US patent office. [1]

The Inventor: Thane Heins is a Canadian inventor and the creator of the “Parepiteia Machine,” a perpetual motion machine he believes exploits natural phenomenon to output more energy than is used by the machine’s operation.

The Claim: Mechanically the “Parepiteia Machine” is a basic induction motor with magnetic material inside its rotor core. Heins believes that the device’s potential may rest in its atypical manipulation of the back electromotive force (back EMF). Mr. Heins claims his device is able to harness this EMF, and return its energy back into the system, causing his motor to accelerate. Independent tests have confirmed the existence of strange acceleration patterns, but stopped short of verifying anything close to perpetual motion or free energy.

The Criticism: In 2008 Thane Heins demonstrated his device to Raidh Habash of the University of Ottawa, who was initially impressed with the device, but unable to confirm perpetual motion or free energy. Additional examinations were then made by the MIT professor Markus Zahn, who acknowledged the peculiar phenomena of the device, but hesitated to call it anything more than a “very efficient motor” in an interview with the Toronto Star. Later in 2008, the device was demonstrated for six members of the Ottawa Skeptics, all of whom had backgrounds in engineering and technology. They believe the system described by Heins demonstrates a change in the motor’s hysteresis drag, which increases the speed of the rotor, but does not product any additional energy. According to the Ottawa Skeptics, when the rotor accelerates after specific electrical short-outs, the device is simply more efficiently converting the input electricity to mechanical energy than the previous configuration. Below is an explanation and demonstration by Thane Heins himself. [2][3]

An Additionally Compelling Machine:

Perhaps the best proponents of machines made by Newman, Heins, and countless others, are the complexity of the concepts involved in both proving and debunking such devices. To the layperson, the machine may seem plausible, and it is only under scientific scrutiny do the devices fail to live up to their inventors claims. In fact, in recent years, a few inventors and scientists have created devices that successfully utilized minimal amounts of energy to provide sustained, long term movement that very closely resembles perpetual motion. One such device was created by Reidar Finsrud of Frogn, Norway, who developed a “moving sculpture” which contains a moving metal ball he believes can remain in motion for very prolonged periods of time without outside influence. Below is video of the machine in action.

Free energy and perpetual motion machines run the gamut from “crackpot invention” to “intriguing,” but not one has successfully demonstrated the ability of a machine to extract “free energy” from nothing. According to traditional understanding of the laws of thermodynamics, the total entropy of any system cannot decrease other than by increasing the entropy of some other system. Additionally, the increase in the internal energy of a system is equal to the amount of energy added by heating the system, minus the amount lost as a result of the work done by the system on its surroundings. These primary principles exclude the possibility of a real “free energy” or “perpetual motion” machine.

Interestingly enough, in 2007 scientists from The National Institute of Standards and Technology (the same institute that helped debunk Newman’s claims) in conjunction with the University of Maryland’s Joint Quantum Institute, verified a “proof of concept” and created perpetual motion for 10 seconds. The Joint Quantum Institute utilized an exotic type of matter known as a “Bose Einstein condensate,” or BEC. BEC is a “fifth state of matter” that occurs when you cool a material to a point where its atoms collapse to their lowest energy state. This allows exotic quantum effects to manifest themselves at macroscopic scales. Also known as “superfluids,” BEC’s do not obey the traditional laws of thermodynamics and have a number of bizarre properties including total lack of friction. These bizarre properties allowed for a plausible demonstration of perpetual motion. [4]

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