Irish firm issues free energy challenge to scientists

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Irish firm Steorn has placed an advertisement in The Economist magazine asking for 12 scientists to test their "free energy" invention.

The Dublin based firm, founded in 2000, says it has developed technology that takes a small amount of mechanical energy and returns a bigger amount, using magnetic fields. The company's Chief Executive, Sean McCarthy, said that they discovered the technology whilst working on generators for wind turbines used to power CCTV cameras.

The company has asked for 12 physicists to help them rigorously test their invention to prove, one way or the other, whether it works as they say it does. McCarthy claims that the vast majority of the scientists they've directly invited to test their device have refused, which is why they've resorted to the advertisement.

"Free energy" is a perennial claim of con artists and inventors, one that science has constantly battled with. The idea that a small amount of energy can return a bigger amount without drawing it from somewhere breaks the basic laws of physics, specifically the laws of thermodynamics. One common claim of the free energy 'inventor' is that the scientific community, the government, etc. needs to publicly verify the machine works before the inventor will sell it. The logic of this is flawed, as the device would be an instant cash cow. The inventor would be able to power his home, car, and be able to sell the energy produced to others at the market price. Devices that are claimed to exhibit this behaviour are known as perpetual motion machines. The average person's knowledge of science (or lack thereof) is a popular weak point to exploit for con men.

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