Midweek Cuckoo: Steorn Ltd
The three laws of thermodynamics are roughly paraphrased as: you can’t get something for nothing, you can’t win, and you have to lose. Anyone who’s lived long enough to really experience the universe intuitively knows these things to be true. And yet there are people who believe that they can cheat these laws and obtain free energy, or create perpetual motion machines. It’s for no small reason that the US, UK and European Patent offices refuse to issue a patent for anything that even hints at being a perpetual motion machine or free energy device without there being a working prototype.
There have been recorded attempts at creating such devices since the 8th century, and there have been many histories and collections of such attempts, but this month there’s a new player on the scene: an Irish IT company that claims it has invented a free energy machine, and has challenged scientists to test it.
Six days ago, Steorn Ltd took out a full page ad in the Economist, calling on scientists to apply to be part of a 12-person expert panel to validate their free energy device. On the surface, this almost seems like a legitimate offer, but as soon as you look a little closer, you start to see cracks:
- Firstly, one columnist reckons that for the cost of a full page spread in the Economist, Steorn could have built about 10 working prototypes and convinced the US Patent office 10 times over. The expense doesn’t make sense.
- Their choice to take out a spread in a popular magazine rather than publish a letter to a scientific journal is immediately suspicious. They admit they’re trying to get public support, which screams marketing campaign, not technological breakthrough.
- They claim that scientists have already tested the device and have found it to work. But they won’t name these scientists, and none of the scientists have published any findings. Personally, I think it’s because there aren’t actually any such scientists.
- They want the final decision on which scientists do the testing. So it’s hardly an independent verification. They could be hand picking the scientists who’ve agreed to lie for money, for all we know.
- They want the testing to happen behind closed doors. Big red light, there.
- They claim the technology is patent pending, but in actual fact they have only filed for patents for parts of the device which do not constitute a perpetual motion device, citing the previously mentioned patent office restrictions. My question is, if they have a working prototype, as they claim to, why not just get the patent for the full device? According to their claims, they have already satisfied all requirements for patenting a perpetual motion device. Answer – they’re lying about having a prototype. People don’t just pass up the chance of patenting the greatest breakthrough in technology in centuries, and all the money that goes with it.
Really, how does a IT company that’s dabbled in e-commerce, project management and fraud detection suddenly develop the skills to revolutionise all of physics? According to their website, “Steorn has developed technology to help combat counterfeiting and fraud in the plastic card and optical disc industries.” Pity they haven’t applied that technology to the perpetual motion industry.
According to one theory, Steorn are retooling themselves as a marketing company and are using this free energy nonsense to show potential clients the value of viral marketing. I would certainly not be surprised to discover that it’s all a publicity stunt. But I prefer the idea that they’re quietly blowing spit bubbles into their Guinness over there in Dublin.
(hat tip to Andy M)