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Physics Fraud or Ground-Breaking Science?

Roblimo posted more than 14 years ago | from the beyond-the-leading-edge dept.

Science 426

N. D. Culver sent in an interesting Village Voice story. Here's a quote: "...Randell Mills, a Harvard-trained medical doctor who also studied biotechnology and electric engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says he's found the Holy Grail of physics: a unified theory of everything." And, the story says, Mills' company, BlackLight Power, has rounded up over $25 million in investment capital to exploit practical applications of Mills' work, which traditional physicists claim is nothing more than cold fusion rehashed. Is Mills a charlatan, or is this cutting-edge science? Read the story and decide for yourself.

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They should wait (3)

DanaL (66515) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451570)

I'm guessing his work hasn't been peer reviewed, as we haven't heard stories of other scientists verifying, or even testing, his theories.

From what I understood, Unified Theory investigation required massive particle accelerators to generate data and test ideas.

I'm not going to say this guy is a fraud, but I would wait for a few other researchers to go over his work before I start buying stock in his company!


a grand unified thieory, $25 Million, and... (1)

mistabobdobalina (29109) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451571)

they STILL cant whip out a decent website!

I was too lazy to read the article, but... (0)

blazer1024 (72405) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451572)

A unified theory of everything would certianly be a Good Thing(TM), but I really doubt anyone could discover that yet.

But still, if they got cold fusion to work, that would be cool. Nice, efficent, clean, virtually unlimited power. Mmmm. I'm hungry.

Re:They should wait (1)

Nickbot (15172) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451573)

> I'm not going to say this guy is a fraud

I am.


Holy crap! (3)

DanaL (66515) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451574)

(Ugh. Responding to my own post...)

I read the article and have decided that I should have jumped to conclusions instead of 'waiting for peer review'

Thanks to his Grand Unified Theory, he's almost generated limitless energy (cold fusion?) and revolutionized artifical intelligence. Wow, I wonder what other over-hyped topics his work also touches upon.


Re:They should wait (3)

GFD (57203) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451575)

I think if you go to the black light site you will find that they have independent labs verifying their work and have been doing so for a couple of years.

Re:They should wait (1)

bubbasatan (99237) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451576)

I am inclined to agree with you. I do not have the extensive knowledge of physics or any other field that would be effected by a unified theory to dismiss this matter out of hand, but like any scientist I am imbued with a very healthy level of skepticism about any matter until it has become accepted by virtue of consistent failure to disprove it. It would be really neat to think about all the nice toys and benefits that are mentioned in the article, but since when has life ever been that simple. No, let us allow this man and his company to pursue their ends, and when they are ready to subject this matter to proper review, we shall see what we shall see. Until then, I'm not ditching my cold fusion generator.

fruitcake alert (4)

dentin (2175) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451577)

This guy has been rehashed many times on usenet. His claims are bogus, and he is a well known fraudster.

You need only search for his name and his company on deja news.

-dennis towne

Application: flying saucer? (1)

Captain Zion (33522) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451578)

From the article:

"The craft Mills imagines would be made of hydrino compounds and powered by hydrino engines and batteries. There would be pods containing intersecting helium and electron beams under a negatively charged plate. The electrons in the beam would be deformed in such a way that they would oppose gravity and push up against that electric field of the negative plate, Mills theorizes. Anything attached to the plate would also experience lift."

As seen on TV... (5)

duras (34902) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451579)

Not only that, but for the low, low price of only 19.95 plus shipping and handling, you'll get a extra bottle of Hydrinos ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Look at the amazing things that NEW Hydrinos (scholarly review pending) can do!

* Turn water to rocket fuel
* Shrink water (stockpile more for that long Y2K weekend...)
* Replace that pesky lava-lamp with a clean, safe nuclear byproduct--ultraviolet light
* Use it as gasoline in your car
* It also polishes wood, plastic, and glass to a magnetic, semiconducting sheen!

Stay tuned, folks, and you'll see how YOU can make money off this revolutionary new crackpot idea... IPO!

Can it be a sham? (1)

mecca (20061) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451580)

25 million investment in a fraud? I don't think anyone could get 25 million peddling snake oil. I'm willing to give him the benifit of the doubt.

Re:Holy crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451581)

I have to agree here. And with a company name like "Black Light", you have to wonder what they been smoking in their pipes, eh?


The friendly first poster

Re:They should wait (3)

vesalius (52846) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451582)

If you read the information provided on BlackLightPower's website you'd see that the tests were carried out for validation at several other sites. It looks like the larger scale "water-bath" calorimetry tests weren't all that succesful.

Third Party Tests:

*************** quote ************************
The Company's proprietary compounds have been analyzed at 24 independent laboratories. The tests indicated were performed at the following laboratories: Lehigh University (XPS), University of Massachusetts, Amherst (proton NMR), Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Raman spectroscopy), National Research Counsel of Canada (proton NMR), Charles Evans & Associates East (TOF-SIMS, XPS, EDS, scanning electron microscopy--SEM), Charles Evans & Associates West (TOF-SIMS), Northeastern University (Mossbauer Spectroscopy), Spectral Data Services (proton and NMR), Surface Science Associates (FTIR), IC Laboratories (XRD), PerSeptive Biosystems (ESITOFMS), Franklin and Marshall College (XRD), Pennsylvania State University (plasma torch synthesis, Calvet calorimetry, XRD), INP (EUV), Galbraith Laboratories (elemental analysis), TA Instruments (TGA/DTA), M-Scan Inc. (fast atom bombardment magnetic sector mass spectroscopy--FABMSMS, electrospray ionization quadrapole mass spectroscopy--ESIMS, solids probe magnetic sector mass spectroscopy), Xerox Corporation (TOF-SIMS, XPS), Physical Electronics (TOF-SIMS), Ricerca, Inc. (liquid chromatography-ESITOFMS), BlackLight Power, Inc. (ToF-SIMS, XPS, liquid chromatography-ESITOFMS, UV and EUV spectroscopy, cryogenically cooled column gas chromatography, thermal decomposition/cryogenically cooled column gas chromatography, quadrapole mass spectroscopy of gasses, solids probe quadrapole mass spectroscopy, Calvet and heat loss calorimetry), Micromass (ESITOFMS), and Southwest Research Institute (solids probe magnetic sector mass spectroscopy, direct exposure probe magnetic sector mass spectroscopy).

*************** End Quote *********************


P.S. You're abusing commas.

uh, (0)

GetTragic (21640) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451583)

yer dumb.

Say what you reallly mean! (5)

seaportcasino (121045) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451584)

From the article: "If you could fuck around with the hydrogen atom, you could fuck around with the energy process in the sun. You could fuck around with life itself," claims Dr. Phillip Anderson, a Nobel laureate in physics at Princeton University. "Everything we know about everything would be a bunch of nonsense. That's why I'm so sure that it's a fraud."

Ok, this guy Dr. Anderson gets my vote as the coolest Nobel Laureate alive. Why don't you say what you really think, Dr. Anderson! :) I love people that don't beat around the bush and candy-coat what they really think, especially a brillant physics professor who obvious thinks this guy is a loon.

lol (1)

mistabobdobalina (29109) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451585) can get 25 million these days for ANYTHING. for instance, which is a javascript-driven method for providing free file upload and download and calculators!

Probobly not, but it figures (2)

Optical_Delusion (69376) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451586)

Great. Lovely.
*IF* this is indeed true, doesn't it just warm your heart to know that this great cheap, perhaps even free, energy source is in the patent process. Ahhhh, I love the system.


I should have listened in class. (1)

jued0001 (95852) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451587)

Cripes, where are all of the Slashdot scientists to give us some lay-men (sp?) explanation? I didn't stay awake long enough in chemistry (can't remember much physics either) to even begin to understand the website.


Mello like the Yello, but without the fizz.

Theory of Everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451588)

Virtual Chaos []

Sounded pretty good to me, anybody have comments?

Re:Can it be a sham? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451589)

Not everyone with 25 million to blow is intelligent.

More than one born every minute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451590)

This guy is half-full with shite. Everyone who believes him is 100% full.

I don't have the time or the interest to go through this article point by point, but it has all the obvious hallmarks of crank science well-lubed with snake oil.

My favorite point is the comparison of his funding with the current internet stock mania--the implication being, if his funding is modest in comparison to internet IPO's and whatnot, he must be on the level.

Stop hyperventilating. TANSTAAFL.

Re:Holy crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451591)

Cold fusion is as oxymoronic as black light.

In fact black light does exist; it's an ultraviolet bulb or something like that.

Black light inspires, for me, thoughts of 'thinking outside the box'.

End rant.

My money on the fraud argument (3)

Bronster (13157) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451592)

Look at it: The Scientfic Establishment thinks he's nuts.

Well, the scientific establishment is occasionally totally wrong, but usually they tend to have more of a clue about it than somebody who:

Mills says that with this new understanding he's produced clean and limitless energy and an entirely new class of materials and plasma that will reshape every industry in the coming decade. Mills also claims breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, cosmology, medicine, and perhaps even a form of gravitational jujitsu.

It looks like the sort of thing that people trying to set up a religious cult claim, rather than serious scientists who actually try to show some evidence. If his theory is that great and simple, why doesn't he have any working examples?

Though the topics he broaches could be coming from a B-movie mad scientist, Mills's cadences are more often like those of a motivational speaker.

Ahh, now this is sounding more like it. I think it's time for a gratitous link to today's userfriendly [] . Clearly the buzzword complience of his claims make him out to be in the marketing rather than technology end of the business.

Despite howls from the scientific establishment that Mills is a relic of the "cold fusion" trend quashed a decade ago, BlackLight Power Inc. has raised more than $25 million from about 150 investors.

Wow, ladies and gentlement, I believe we have a winner for the competition of where foolish investors will part with their money after the internet stocks die down.

Nothing new. (1)

Jeff_Uphoff (4498) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451593)

Every now and then someone pops out of a hole claiming to have a grand unified theory of some sort. The claims get some attention in the scientifically-clueless mass media, and occasionally even make the "lighter" science-related mainstream magazines. And then they're never heard from again....

Re:Can it be a sham? (1)

bubbasatan (99237) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451594)

Hmm, have you noticed what Bill Grates is worth? And he only sold an operating system that he claimed to work... Imagine what this guy could make selling a power source or ufo or whatever that is just a sham!

Robert Heinlein look out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451595)

Scientology has competition!

Where's the GUT? (2)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451596)

From reading this article, it looks like this company may have discovered an effect of quantum physics that has gone previously unexplored. Big deal, maybe, but hardly a grand unified theory.

The Kulturwehrmacht [] On the front lines of the Culture Wars

Re:They should wait (1)

seaportcasino (121045) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451597)

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.

It's amazing how often these old proverbs still apply today!

Ehydrino Laptop Casing (1)

Digitalia (127982) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451598)

I want an Ehydrino laptop case. The first person to mess with my laptop would get 120 volts of AC fun! Seriously, however, I think that the doctor may be on to something. His research sounds implausible to most physicists, and to me, but even what we accept today was once ridiculed. Also, if Hydrogen can be 'compressed' then what about the heavier elements? And what about the lab tests on the Ehydrino compounds? If the orbitals on a hydrogen atom are shrunk, then wouldn't bonding be more difficult with traditional atoms?

Scientific Theories (1)

dej05093 (7707) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451599)

A scientific theory has to be able to explain the results of experiments, both new ones and OLD
I doubt that he is able to explain any quantum
effect at all. But that doesn't matter if you
just want to get money to play around with that
nice electron.

Re:This is what I think (0)

bobalu (1921) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451600)

Why is this moderated as flamebait?

His astronomy, at least, is plain wrong (5)

pq (42856) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451601)

Well, much of the mumbo-jumbo is beneath us, and all the "classical quantum effects" I'm not qualified to comment on, but there's this one bit way down at the end of the article:

His theory predicted in clear language two recent astronomical discoveries-one, the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, and, two, there are stars that measure as older than the expansion of the universe itself.

As an astronomy grad, I feel qualified to comment on this: (a) The accelerating (not just expanding!) universe result is based on two very preliminary studies of supernovae in distant galaxies, where they try to use supernovae as "standard candles". Given the incredible diversity of stars, this is a highly controversial and speculative result, though it might ultimately prove correct. (b) Stars older than the Universe? Bah! This was a silly thing related to the current expansion rate of the Universe, and it is clearly incorrect given our current understanding of the data.

I could go on and critique the rest of the article, but I'll leave it to someone more qualified: if its on par with the astronomy bits, its garbage. I'd take odds his "Mill's cells" are producing some purely chemical energy, and the product materials will turn out to be novel chemical compounds rather than "new forms of matter". If they ever exist outside his lab.

To repeat from the article: "It's the American story," says Dr. Robert Park of the American Physical Society. "But he's still wrong."

Pinned the needle on my bogosity meter (3)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451602)

I went through the claims on the web site, and here's my tally:
  • Lots of claims of "patents pending".
  • Not one single patent number.
  • Not one single reference to a scientific paper.
  • A plug for a (non-peer-reviewed, probably over-priced) book.
If it looks like a scam and it smells like a scam, it's almost certainly a scam. If this guy doesn't deliver on his promises RSN, I hope he spends the next five years in prison, and the twenty after that slaving to pay back the people he scammed.

Reality vs. Hype (1)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451603)

It's interesting that I've never heard about this guy before, not to mention his hydrinos. I'm not a professional or academic scientist (I'm a programmer) but I do keep up with popular science (not the magazine, the topic) and something this earth-shaking seems like it would have been more well-known a long time ago.

We ought to wait for the results of some INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC TESTS before we assume that this is entirely bogus (although much of it does sound too good to be true) or that it's true.

Hmmm... (1)

Captain Sarcastic (109765) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451604)

This gentleman claims to have come up with something that violates various laws of physics?

There's a problem there. It's almost impossible to violate one law of physics, because the laws that we have discovered tend to be interconnected. As Larry Niven once wrote, "changing one law of physics is like eating one peanut."

Another problem I have is the question of rigorous scientific testing. I remember the cold fusion flap of the late 1980's, and I remember how nobody could duplicate the experiment. I guess that's why we have such things as "peer review" and "independent observation and confirmation."

However, there are companies that are shelling out big bucks to bankroll this guy, just on the off chance he's right. Still, that's not necessarily a bad thing for them -- simply because a venture capitalist loses some money in a scheme that doesn't pay out, his company is NOT going to drop-kick his butt out of his office.

I say we wait and see what happens. I think that Mills will reduce himself to absurdity soon enough.

Re:Theory of Everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451605)

Yeah. This page is one the best arguments I've seen in a long time in favor of banning mind-altering drugs.

"No application of quantum theory since the bomb.. (2)

rsidd (6328) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451606)

shows what the guy knows. All of electronics, magnetism,
superconductivity, even our understanding of normal
conduction, depend on quantum theory. The list is endless.

Anderson's quote sums it up. If we don't understand the
hydrogen atom, we don't understand *anything*. Obviously
most scientists would prefer to believe in the work of
the last 75 years, than that of some unrefereed weirdo --
until he writes up his theory, makes real predictions with
it, and they have the chance to test it out for
themselves. I wouldn't bet on such a theory.

Re:uh, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451607)

Gee. Is it me or is everyone in a darn pissy mood today? Like someone got a case of the "Mondays".


The friendly first poster.

How to make $25 Mill without really trying. (1)

Bucko (15043) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451608)

So he can explain "why is there gravity?"

The unification of magnitism with electricty in the 19th century explained magnitism. It didn't make radio possible. The discovery that signals could be transmitted through the air came before Maxwell's equations. It's the difference between science and engineering.

And Mills is a long way from making a discovery worth $25x10**6


Re:Say what you reallly mean! (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451609)

"If you could fuck around with the hydrogen atom, you could fuck around with the energy process in the sun. You could fuck around with life itself," claims Dr. Phillip Anderson, a Nobel laureate in physics at Princeton University. "Everything we know about everything would be a bunch of nonsense. That's why I'm so sure that it's a fraud."

Yep, most of us get pissed off now and then, and even resort to "strong" language. I look at people who use "motherfucker" for every other word as unintelligent (I am going to point to the prisoners from some NJ state pen that try to get gets to straighten out before they end up among their population and notice this fact). If he is really so smart, he should find other more useful words than "fuck".

Just my worthless .02

SciAm predicts an Unified Physics by 2050 (5)

Captain Zion (33522) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451610)

For a good introduction on the Unified Theory, check Steven Weinberg [] 's article A Unified Physics by 2050? [] in the December 1999 issue of Scientific American [] . According to the article, developing a unified theory would require "radically new ideas":
Einstein devoted the last 30 years of his life to an unsuccessful search for a "unified field theory," which would unite general relativity, his own theory of space-time and gravitation, with Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism. (...) At any rate, it seems likely that by 2050 we will understand the reason for the enormous ratio of energy scales encountered in nature.

egads (1)

Calamari Indigo (116437) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451611)

A unified theory of everything...

Bad science, and really bad physics.

Please moderate this topic, and everyone along with it, down to around -7.

That Logo Looks Vaguely Familiar (1)

great throwdini (118430) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451612)

Is it just me, or does the logo for BLP [] look a lot like the AOL logo [] ???

Hmm, that's close by... (1)

bobalu (1921) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451613)

...maybe I can actually stop by there and take a look! I'm afraid I'm not optimistic, especially after I heard the part about an AI machine with consciousness.

Wow. (1)

Raymond Luxury Yacht (112037) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451614)

Read this article...
And people call ME insane. This dude is a few files short of /

Now why don't the media do their research (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451615)

As an MIT alum, a quick search of the online directory....

no Randell Mills doing course 6 (EE) or 7 (biology)

in fact no Randell Mills at all.

[snicker] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451616)

25 million investment in a fraud? I don't think anyone could get 25 million peddling snake oil.

Hee hee! You sound like a Libertarian.

Re:I should have listened in class. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451617)

I'm a Ph.D. scientist. Here's my explanation, specially tailored to the vernacular of the common layman (Homo Slackus):

He's full of shit.

Hope you were able to stay awake through that!

He raised $25M??? (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451618)

How did the guy manage to get $25M in funding? Are investors that naive? or is there a fraud there. Regardless of whether or not what he says is true, what are the odds that a "breakthrough" like that is real. I'd guess one true story in about 1M "breakthrough" like this one.

I guess it comes down to this: Give hope to people and they'll believe anything. (same applies to cure for cancer, AIDS, ...)

Re:Robert Heinlein look out (1)

stardyne (113935) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451619)

uhhh ... I think you mean L. Ron Hubbard

Few things that bug me... (3)

GodHead (101109) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451620)

This is what I took from the article:

1) Man has Grand-Unified-Theory-Of-Everything(tm)
2) Man can make limitless energy, space ships, super duper A.I., and just about everything else.
3) Man is planning IPO.
4) Man will not say how because he wants to *patent* the technology.


And the quotes all seemed to say one of two things:

Average Joe Board Member "Gosh, I don't know but I think it would be great if it's true!!"

Average Physicist "It's a crock."

Simple test. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451621)

This is all very very suspect and reeks of being a sham. But it should be tested to show one way or the other. After all, mainstream physics has been wrong about things before.

Here's one "simple" test -- Unplug the "hyrdino" and see how long it runs.

Of course doing that with a fusion reactor doesn't work so well either, but we have enough confidence in that concept to figure we just need to get better at it.

Is this guy at best mistaken or at worst a charlatan? Very likely. But when a unified theory is found (if one can be found), it will likely shown most of what we think we know to be..well, at least little off. And some parts.. maybe WAY off.
Linux is Linux. GNU is Hurding itself.

Laws of Thermodynamics (2)

H3lldr0p (40304) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451622)

As explained to me by my physics prof:

1)You can't win
2)You can't try
3)You'll always loose.

What I read in the article does not just fly in the face of Thermo, but also thumbs it's nose at it as it does the flying. Look, I don't care if he says that it's suppose to work at the atomic or macro level, rules are rules, and this is why people have not been able to do things like produce repeatable demostrations of cold fusion.

With my opinion aside, the rhetoric of the article is good. The writer simply presents the ideas and arguments that were prsented to him, and lets the reader deside on thier own, with a slight hint twords the crazy people in this case. The rhetoric of the opins given, are quite different. Mills arguments apear to be mostly using techspeak with only limited understanding. This can in some sense be forgive, seeing as the background is more biological based and not in "pure" physics. The arguments give against Mills are better founded in who has given them. Most notably by people that have tried to debunk such people before. So, in the end, what time that is given to the detractors is much more effective and helps to bring a good balance to the article.
Read it, you'll be surprised, but take a bit of salt with you.

Can it be? (1)

dwezill (105530) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451623)

I think that this article is mixing a few scientific terms up. The grand unifying theory is a theory that describes the relationships between gravity quantum mechanics and particles (the main one being gravity). Mills does not seem to explain any of this. He simply talks about some magic box that seems to create "Hydrinos" (named after Neutrinos?) and these seem to be able to do any and everything. Either this person is a complete fraud and is trying to rip people off or he has discovered a neat little experiment where he has not finished his energy calculations. Maybe a start would be to explain how he discovered a lower orbital than the first shell already known to exist? (Something like this could shift the entire basis for Chemistry as well as Physics. Something a Nobel Prize would be good for). Surely this "new shell" would be unstable and hence would destroy the atom (Electron plus Proton). No no, I think there is an error in his calculations somewhere. Nice if it worked I think this is as useful as belly button lint

Two sides to this... (2)

seebs (15766) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451624)

I think people are a bit drastic in assuming that he *must* be a fraud, just because his results are weird or impossible. After the last ten or twenty years of QM, I'm ready to believe that impossible results will be commonplace.

Would I invest in his company? No. If I had some spending money, and I felt like risking it, I might speculate in his company, just because, if he *does* have anything, it could be worth a lot - even if it's not what he thinks it is.

It's like the guy who thinks water burns, because he's been able to make an engine burn a water/gas combo. He's wrong, but there could be applications for an internal-combustion-and-steam engine.

If he's got neat materials, I don't care if his physics is stupid; he's got neat materials.

On the other hand, he sure *sounds* like a kook.

"Unrefereed Wierdo" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451625)

Somehow I read that as

"Unreefer-ed wierdo"

Which seems substantially less accurate a description.

OK, I've changed my mind. (1)

Captain Sarcastic (109765) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451626)

This last quote changed my mind:

But then he [Mills] adds, "There are some questions science will never answer. That's where you have faith."

I thought that the purpose of science was to find out all of the answers! Maybe not now, but at least the idea is to keep looking until we eventually do!

It seems to me that he's wanting us to include his theories as things to take on faith, too... one of the warning signs that a fool and your money are going to be partners.

Theory of everything ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451627)

This is complete "cutting edge science for net idiots hype". The only current theory of everything is string theory. This is just chemistry set hacking. Calabi-Yau equations at 10 paces. Witten would kick his ass.

Re:I should have listened in class. (3)

lwood (89028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451628)

Cripes, where are all of the Slashdot scientists to give us some lay-men (sp?) explanation?

Heck, this guy supposedly IS giving you the layman's explanation -- that's why all those highbrow scientist guys are scoffing at him. It's a conspiracy, I tell you...

Seriously tho -- as a Slashdot physicist I can tell you that this guy is full of it, has been full of it for years now, and the fact that people have actually given him money just means that he's good at selling stuff to people who don't know any better. Despite the usual complaints about the peer-review process (no, it's not perfect), it has an important effect: it helps weed out frauds. Consider this -- when the typical physicist comes up with something new, he works on it in secret, then publishes all the results for the world to see. This guy works on something in private, then is willing to sell you one of his miracle cells for the low cost of $1000 each, or at least that's what they were offered for a few years ago when I got a mass-mailing from him -- the claim at that time was that it would convert dangerous chemicals into useful elements like copper...

BTW, if you're interested in alternatives to the standard peer-reviewed process, take a look at the e-print archive at [] . This has proven to be a wonderful way of getting useful information and ideas out into the scientific community even faster than the so-called "Rapid Communications" columns in the scientific journals...

Re:That Logo Looks Vaguely Familiar (1)

Fruan (105302) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451629)

Well, its obvious that both logos are a reference to the all seeing pyramid of the Illuminati.

I can levitate too!! (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451630)

Blacklight Power has been trying to recruit scientists in the Central NJ area. I went in for an interview - when I was there they were looking for help in trying to make conventional rechargable batteries for laptop computers, but had no clue as to who to hire, how to build the batteries and so on. I actually met this Mills guy at the interview.

He knows nothing, and as far as I can tell is a major con artist looking to make a fast buck by stealing technology from legitimate companies and then pedealling it under wildly inflated claims as something revolutionary, much like the fakirs that promote magnets as water purifiers and arthritis cures.

As far as I could tell Blacklight Power was a rented office in a industrial park.

Mills with a unified theory of the universe? He can barely zip up a fly, and has no clue how a battery works.

If he has $25 million in investment capital, he got it from his dad, or by holding up a bank.

I wouldn't trust this guy with a paper clip. Harvard Degree? MIT? Has anyone called to check to see if these credentials are real? I doubt it.

Put off by the conspiracy theory attitude. (2)

KahunaBurger (123991) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451631)

Basically, he seems to be saying that the reason this has not been confirmed by other reputable labs or examined in any mainstream news sources is that it's too close to "cold fusion" and therefore his work has been automaticly rejected by everyone as a political move, even when they are getting results that it works.

Sorry, conspiracy theories aren't going to make me relax my expectations of peer review. In fact, it increases them. This has too much of an X-Files-y "They don't want you to know" feel for me to take it seriously. In the real world, anything that he could be doing without any grants or backing (in an old factory, no less) could be easily tested.

And his overall story seems like a parody of the American Dream. Poor boy goofs off in school, has major life-changing event that turns him into super-brain, works outside the establishment which won't listen to his ideas, fights prejudice to bring hope to millions... Wait, I think they left out a part with him working a menial job at an energy plant and doing brillient work with the equiptment after everyone had gone home. Kinda a Tucker meets Good Will Hunting sort of thing.

-Kahuna Burger

long live "Hydrinos" (0)

reflector (62643) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451632)

Hahahaha. Are "Hydrinos" anything like neutrinos?
At least the article is good for a laugh. The very crux of what is being proposed by Mills is:

Under specific conditions, the potassium acts as a catalyst to collapse hydrogen's electron orbit. The energy once used to maintain the higher orbit is released as ultra-violet light, Mills says.

While I can see that IF there were electrons in an outer valence level of hydrogen AND these electrons were somehow dropped to a lower valence level by the presence of potassium (dubious, I've never heard of such a thing) THEN energy would be released and could be harnessed, sure. But hydrogen is periodic table element #1, it has only 2 electrons, and both are in the lowest possible electron shell already, so how could they be dropped any further?

Anyway, this is a mildly amusing piece of science fiction. Someone email me when BlackLight Power goes IPO so I can make some money shorting their stock.

Question: (1)

tweek (18111) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451633)

I don't know much about anything in this field. In fact I know next to nothing but all of this backlash from the scientific community: is this normal or is it jelousy that he might be on to something that they wish they had found first. I also wonder if it could be related to the fact that he started a company with the idea? The way I understood the business aspect was that Cold Fusion was the pariah of the scientific world jsut because of the cooks in Utah. Can someone please give me a little insight into this?

As a side note, I loved the one proffessors description of the situation that if this were true "you could fuck with everything".

Well isn't that special... (1)

softsign (120322) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451634)

This guy's just peddling a bunch of easy answers for feeble minds. I was just waiting for him to say that hydrinos when fed into a flux capacitor operating at 1.1 Jigawatts while travelling 85 miles per hour would facilitate time travel (my apologies to the diehard Back to the Future fans who have that all memorized as I'm surely misquoting).

Sir Isaac Newton said: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." This guy claims that he's seen further by developing a UFO. =)

Come on... this kind of sensationalistic tripe is what makes paupers out of the less informed folk. Not only that, but it detracts from legitimate work being done by credible, respected scientists and the ground-breaking work that has been done.

Black Light Power: IMHO the jury is still out. (4)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451635)

I've been watching this particular claim for a couple of years now, with a net result of... nothing significant.To wit, there are several completely independent groups who have offered to test Dr. Mills claims, even with him on site setting up his own equipment, but have not received so much as a speck of a reply.

For those not acquainted with the theory Dr. Mills proposes, it is this: Dr. Mills claims to have invented a method of causing the electrons in hydrogen atoms to drop to a lower energy state, i.e., move to a lower orbit around the nucleus, in the process giving off large amounts of energy. He also claims that this "lower energy hydrogen" is in fact the "black matter" required to unify the other theories in that the amount of matter/energy in the universe which other theories require in order to balance.

Having read all of the data provided on his site, I can say that he makes a compelling case -- however, he doesn't seem in a big hurry to have his claims validated. Which (combined with the lack of responsivenes previously mentioned) inclines me to be extremely skeptical of his claims.

Can't Anyone Keep A Secret? (1)

great throwdini (118430) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451636)

fnord [] .

Re:I should have listened in class. (1)

HippieChick (42869) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451637)

You wanna know why it doesn't make any sense to you? Because it doesn't make any sense. This guy is not talking about a significant advancement in physics. He's talking about rewriting it from the ground up. Orbit spheres do not exist. We have what are called energy orbits, but one of the fundamental concepts of chemistry is that you can't move them! They're not simply a distance from the nucleus as planetary orbits are. They're specific energy states that electons exist in. You can jump an electron from one energy state (orbit) to another, but you cannot just "shrink" the orbit. Especially not below that of the lowest energy state (which hydrogen atoms usually exist in). This is high school chemistry! He's either a fraud or an idiot. Even though he may have fantastic people skills, that doesn't mean he knows the first thing about physics. And did anyone think to wonder whether or not the $25 mil might be a fraud as well? Maybe he made that part up in order to convince people that he was legit. "He's already got $25mil invested, he can't be a complete crackpot." Right. This is worse than cold fusion. This is just stupid. I hope that whoever wrote the slashdot headline for this one was being facetious when he offered up "ground-breaking science" as a valid option.

Needs independent confirmation (2)

staplin (78853) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451638)

This is hardly a grand unified theory. But the existance of "hydrino" electron states is still an important theory.

After reading the article, I'm still pretty sceptical about all of it. As the article says, most of molecular/atomic physics and chemistry uses the ground state of the hydrogen electron as a fundamental law... I suppose it is possible that there are less enegertic stable electron states within the "probability cloud" that forms around the nucleus, but that would also mean that we have to reconsider all of the equations that support current electron wave mechanics and kinetics. (I think this is covered by a derivative of the Schroedinger wave equation?)

There's little/no independent confirmation of the results, even though it should be fairly easy to detect the hard UV emissions caused by the electron state changes as hydrinos are formed. Unless there's some other form of energy dispersion occuring (kinetic?), based on the quantum nature of electron states, there should be a discrete change in energy, resulting in a discrete band of photon emission.

This is exciting if it's for real, but I'm gonna wait until there's a good body of independent evidence to support it before I buy into it.

Re:Two sides to this... (1)

YAAC (124819) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451639)

He's wrong about the hydrinos. It's simply too easy for the claimed effect to happen; why isn't it happening on a grand scale in nature? The answer of course is because it isn't happening either in nature or in his lab, and he's either terribly deluded or a fraud.

Re:Can it be a sham? (4)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451640)

> 25 million investment in a fraud? I don't think anyone could get 25 million peddling snake oil.
> I'm willing to give him the benifit of the doubt.

$25M in a fraud is checkenfeed. If you were involved in the Canadian securities industry 2-3 years ago, perhaps you heard of Bre-X? A company that claimed, on the basis of falsified core samples, to have discovered the largest gold deposit on the face of the planet?

Try six billion dollars in market capitalization, and the entire thing was a fraud. Not one ounce of gold in the ground, and for at least a year, almost the entire community of securities analysts in the mining sector had been kept completely hoodwinked, to say nothing of the mutual fund managers and average-joes-on-the-street.

Believe me - there are plenty of people gullible enough that a sufficiently-skilled huckster can raise $25M for a fraud.

Re:That Logo Looks Vaguely Familiar (1)

wynlyndd (5732) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451641)

It looks like a cross between the AOL logo and the Motorola logo

Caution, Bubble is Big (1)

johnos (109351) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451642)

Well, the bubble gets the biggest just before it bursts. Not to put too fine a point on it, the people willing to put $25 million into this are the same kind of people that are throwing money at any company that can put "Linux" in a press release. Let's enjoy it while it lasts.

Brown and Smelly (4)

MetricT (128876) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451643)

I've got a physics background (working on my MS in General Relativity), and this guy is a very smart person. Honestly, he must be. How could an idiot get so much money with such an obviously stupid theory? The equation that describes the hydrogen atom is called the Schrodinger equation. Basically, it says that the kinetic energy + the potential energy equals the total energy. 2 -h 2 --- Del Psi + V(x,y,z) Psi = Energy*Psi 2m V is the electrodynamic potential. Yeah I know the equation looks weird, but that's what it means. And this equation describes about 99.99% of all the properties of the hydrogen atom. The stuff this equation misses, like spin (a relativistic effect) and the Lamb shift (a quantum field theory effect) are pretty small and take nice expensive machines to even notice they exist. Nothing of the "we'll cut the size of your atoms in half by 50%" exists. Think about this: if it were possible for hydrogen atoms to transition to a lower energy state, they would have already done so by now. Mother Nature likes to be in the lowest energy state possible. If she gould have squeezed more energy out of hydrogen atoms, she would have already done so.

nitpicking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451644)

>The unification of magnitism with electricty in the 19th century explained magnitism.

Explained electromagnetism.

Spontaneous bulk magnetism, such as that holding your "Hello World" printout from 2nd grade to your mom's fridge, requires quantum mechanics for a satisfactory explanation.

This Stuff Is Very Real (5)

GFD (57203) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451645)

I am really hesitant to post anything about this since it will most likely be flamed to a crisp.

However, Mills stuff is just the tip of the iceberg. There has been quite a bit of active research in this whole, particularly in Japan and Europe.

The most interesting work has not been in the original electolysis using heavy water and palladium although SRI and to a lesser extent Los Alamos have been doing work in this area and have essentially confirmed the *original* observations of Pons and Fleischman. The major problem with this type of experiment is that you need to get close to a 1:1 (.9 as I recall) ratio of hydrogen atoms for each atom of the palladium crystal matrix before you get results. If you have cracks or other impurities you will NOT achieve that level of packing. If you use bulk materials the stuff gets explosive. One SRI researcher died from this. Also this whole area is *very* close to weapons research so Los Alamos has become very quite in the last couple of years while SRI is still plugging along. Here is a link [] to a page that has a nice summary of the issues.

The most interesting area, in my opinion, has been in the area of light water electrolysis where some people have seen signs of transmutation - which of course goes from 'fradulence' to 'outright witch craft' as far as conventional science goes.

Mills work is actually kind of on the sidelines from the 'mainstream' research in this area. He does have a lot of backing by reasonably conservative investors (2 mid size power utilities). He does have a comprehensive theory and has done numerous experiments to validate various aspects of his theory that have allegedly been confirmed by independent labratories.

Here is a link [] to a reprint of a recent Wall Street Journal article on BlackLight and its recent work.

Here are some other 'Cold Fusion' sites:

Cold Fusion Times []
Infite Energy Online []
BlackLight Power []
Clean Energy Technologies [] a company that has done a lot with light water cold fusion and has recieved a number of patents in the area.
A Cold Fusion Bibliograph [] by Dieter Britz

A Closer Look (2)

JamesSharman (91225) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451646)

I had a really carefull read of this, then I read it again. Here are my thoughts. The primary point in interest in this whole thing is: (If you don't want to read all of this stuff just read the last paragraph, it's funny and explains it all).

"A central part of Mills's theory explains the basis of the traditional, and paradoxical, "duality" concept of the electron as both a particle and a wave with a model where electrons are charges that travel as two-dimensional disks and wrap around nuclei like fluctuating soap bubbles. He calls them 'orbitspheres.'"

I can take this and accept it as a maybe, there is nothing there I can imediatly find problem with without reading much more about his work, although the current electron model fits most cases it is known to be slightly wrong. It starts to get silly after that:

I quote the notes "produced clean and limitless energy" ok, this is obviously the line bringing out the 'cold fusion' comparisons, this line gives this away as marketing hype. Thermodynamics already tells us that energy can neither be created or destroyed, just changed from one form or another. If the guy had claimed to have found an efficent method of tapping the energy stored in matter it would have almost been believable, anything that requires scraping theries that have been around as long as thermodynamics needs to be backed with some serious grade proof, and I see none.

Another interesting line "Mills also claims breakthroughs in artificial intelligence" This one is curios, I remember reading the "Emporors New Mind" By Roger Penrose where he makes a pretty convincing argument that the brain uses processes of physics not understood and so could not be simulated with current techniques. If indeed Dr Mills has discoverd something fundamentaly new in physics (although I am doubting this) this particular claim may not be unreasnable. This sentance goes on to mention "cosmology, medicine, and perhaps even a form of gravitational jujitsu." which quite frankly has me checking the date to see if it was publiched April 1st.

We then move on to the clincher that explains it all. "Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. is considering a public offering of BlackLight Power stock in 2000". Everything the guy said is true, if he can convince the media then his IPO will be possesed of "limitless energy", he will gain curious new "Material" possesions, be able to afford the best "Medicine" and maybe finance his own space station to develop "gravitational jujitsu".

Re:Brown and Smelly (1)

MetricT (128876) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451647)

Um, guys, there seems to be a problem with some of the HTML formatting. TT (TeleType) command doesn't work.

Re:Laws of Thermodynamics (1)

kallisti (20737) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451648)

I thought the big three laws were:
1) You can't win
2) You can't even break even
3) You can't leave the game

Re:My money on the fraud argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451649)

You guys should really do some research before you start spouting off about things you don't know.

Mill's has been around for a long time, at least a couple of internet years.

If you look a little deeper, you will see that 2 independent University groups reproducded his test aparatus, and while they didn't get a whole shitload of energy, they did get some extra amount that they could not explain using traditional physics/chemistry.

And if you look even a little deeper, you will see that much of the investment is from power companies. Gee, wonder why they are so interested.

Occam's Razor (1)

Suit (106935) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451650)

Either Mills is the best scientist since Einstein, with the engineering abilities of Edison,


He is a bs artiste.

I know where my money is ! After all $25m is nowt for an Energy coy to put into venture capital. What bugs me is how easy it is to raise this sort of cash.

You forgot a few! (2)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451651)

* Add it to your pet's water! Double it's size in minutes! * Wash your clothes in it, to make them whiter than white AND bullet-proof! * Soak those Windows 2000 CD's in it! Guaranteed to kill all known bugs! * Fill your SuperSoakers with this! Turns your opponents invisible!

Layman's idea (3)

twit (60210) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451652)

What points to question this work is that most science (even back in the nineteenth century) is built off the back of other, older science. Even those scientists viewed as mavericks, such as Louis Pasteur, built off a considerable weight of work - they just took it in unexpected directions.

This science doesn't seem terribly indebted to other scientists, which makes me mistrust the theory. This doesn't mean that he is necessarily wrong, but that the effect of Mills cells is almost certainly caused by a different means (unsurprisingly, this is the explanation for cold fusion - energy created through a chemical reaction rather than a nuclear one).

I would be suspicious of Mills, and rightly so. The article doesn't touch on Mills' background for his entire working life - the twenty-odd years between graduation from Harvard Medical School and today are a blank. What has led him to this point? What research has he done in the interim? That he is very smart is without contest, but the very smart are apt to make mistakes of equal grandeur. Look at Ramanujan, who made important discoveries in modern mathematics but also made equally great errors in prime numbers. Like Ramanujan, Mills seems to have a great difficulty and impatience with the scientific method, and it is this that should make us most suspicious of his hypotheses.


Something about it is sure fishy... (1)

Rurik (113882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451653)

Just from reading the article. Not the actual details that he's trying to prove, but how the article is written, and how the information is presented. This, to me, does not seem like a valid article written by any journalist. Blatant profanity, and ego-hyping of the inventor, it seems as if the article was written by the man himself.
But, then again, maybe that's just the writer's style. Erik Baard, has also written many other articles on the uses of power and electricity.
Fraud or no, the whole thing just looks like a big game for the public to me.

Re:This Stuff Is Very Real (3)

Nickbot (15172) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451654)

Yeah you guys, be serious, this guy is on to some good stuff, and you stuffy nonbelieveing types with your darn requirements of proof and peer review are just jealous.

What has your precious peer review and scientific method ever done for mankind? (except for all known scientific discoveries)

Besides, I met Mr. Mills a few years ago, and I could tell he was a genius. He worked with me to develop my trans-hyper-superultraforce sheilding compound ('egg salad' to you laymen) that I can apply to anyone's head to block out the mind rays that are used by the Demons from Witchland.

I was just reading about this today... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451655)

...or at least something similar. It doesn't sound like this guy did came up with a Grand Unified Theory (he seems more salesman than physicist), but it does sound like he could have come up with a practical way of getting hydrogen into a superconductive state. Not sure.

I will need to read more on it, but the behavior he's describing sounds similar to that of superconductors. I'm intrigued. I hope /. will follow-up on this, because superconductors will indeed revolutionize just about every industry (including computers), once an effective way is found to put them to use.

One consideration though, is that if he figured out how and why what he's doing worked (not just trial and error), then maybe he could have done come up w/ the Grand Unified Theory, but I seriously doubt it.

I can't help but think some of those scientists who heard but had not seen sounded like the kind of people you hear about when talking about Galileo, Einstein and Newton. I'll wait and see what happens before I judge - he may be on to something, but there seems to be too much salesmanship here.

Re:I should have listened in class. (1)

reflector (62643) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451656)

That's ok if you didn't stay awake in chem. Apparently, neither did the guy that made this stuff up. From BlackLight Power's website FAQ:

More specifically, thermal energy is released as the electrons of hydrogen atoms are induced by a catalyst to transition to lower energy levels (i.e. drop to lower base orbits around each atom's nucleus) corresponding to fractional quantum numbers.

Apparently they don't understand the concept of QUANTUM.
"Fractional quantum numbers"? Gimme a break!

Re:Laws of Thermodynamics (1)

kevin805 (84623) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451657)

That's almost word for word how I learned it. I think this is at least as offical as Pathalogically Eclectic Rubbish Lister.

Nothing from Quantum Mechanics? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451658)

BlackLight Power boosters scoff that they've seen no practical application of quantum theory since the atomic bomb and nuclear power

Really? What about that PC you're reading this on?

Re:Say what you reallly mean! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451659)

Yeah? What the fuck do you know? I'd like to see you after he cracks you with that big-ass Nobel medal.

Re:Ehydrino Laptop Casing (3)

CrosseyedPainless (27978) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451660)

Carl Sagan:
"But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown."

Well said, Bro. Carl.

Re:long live "Hydrinos" (1)

softsign (120322) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451661)

But hydrogen is periodic table element #1, it has only 2 electrons, and both are in the lowest possible electron shell already

Dude, hydrogen has ONE rather promiscuous electron, that's why it's so reactive. Helium has two, which fills up the lowest valence orbital and makes it more conservative than Ross Perot and Margaret Thatcher's love child.

He's a fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451662)

Plain and simple, the guy is a quack.. His theorys have no basis in fact. i.e. he is full of crap and is trying to play salesman sells his warez to unsuspecting investors...


Brett Viren (296) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451663)

While looking for info about this ``ground breaking technology'' I ran across an amusing page:


Poor Mr. Mills quickly racks up the points.

After reading his claims that his work is ``past the scientific verification stage'' while it won't be until January that he ``will submit [his] findings to a premier [yet unamed] scholarly journal'' it makes me wonder how carefully he paid attention when he was attending Harvard and MIT (if he actually did). Peer review is at the heart of scientific verification.

Mr. Mills: just what grade did you get in your physics class?

Tag Team with Alex Chiu? (1)

Anarchitech (34776) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451664)

This guy should team up with my favorite scientist, Alex Chiu [] . Not only has Alex invented cheap, simple immortality with his Eternal Life Device, but he is also doing important work with Teleportation and Space Travel. With the added power of Hydrinos(tm), just imagine the possibilities.

With Mills and Chiu working together, maybe humanity could finally solve the awesome mysteries of Nature's Harmonic Simultaneous 4-Day Time Cube [] .

joe fusion

Re:This is what I think (0)

quadong (52475) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451665)

um, yes, that is a good question....

I love theses stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451666)

I love these stories. Every undergrad physics major (or wannabe) comes out of the wood work claiming to be an expert and goes on rambling about this and that. Fun to read!

Re:This is what I think (1)

quadong (52475) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451667)

and for that matter, why was the reply marked flamebait?

Re:Brown and Smelly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1451669)

TT (TeleType) command doesn't work.

yeah it does... check your browser. :)

Re:Laws of Thermodynamics (2)

jmv (93421) | more than 14 years ago | (#1451670)

You just don't understand... This theory also replaces thermodymanics, relativity, and multiplication. I guess this fits within the general theory of perpetual motion, and the special law of alchemy.
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