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Yet Another Perpetual Motion Device

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the fun-never-ends dept.

Power 563

The Star reports on this inventor breaking all the laws of physics as far as free energy goes. It even provoked interest from "esteemed Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Markus Zahn". I would like to know how this seemingly backyard enthusiast's experimental set up has not been tried a million times over the years. It seems so simple and too good to be true. The article has links to a multi-part video demo of the device accelerating an electric motor under load for free!

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So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minutes. (2, Insightful)

erick99 (743982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360046)

I tried to find an instance (via googling) where his device was left at a lab where scientists spent some time on it but I cannot find such a thing. I would think they would be curious enough to at least try. I think that because his device does the "impossible" than there is no sense looking at it? It probably isn't a perpetual energy thingie but how does it do what it does? Remember when it was impossible for the human body to sit in anything that accelerated as fast as 60mph?

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (1)

DirtyHerring (635192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360104)

That remembers me of all those movies, where somebody meets an alien, zombie, whatever, and nobody believes them, because that is the kind of story, that you usually hear from nut jobs.

I'm not saying, that he has, what he claims. I just find the idea interesting, how hard it would be to convince people, that you actually have something like this.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (4, Funny)

Azul (12241) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360416)

I think, you shouldn't, use so, many commas, as it, makes it hard to, understand what you're, saying.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (3, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360496)

DirtyHerring (635192) == William Shatner.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22360474)

William, Shatner, is, that, you?!?

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (4, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360160)

It's really, really simple. He has a spinning magnet and metal bars with coils of wire wrapped around them around the magnet. What happens when it spins? That's right, you induce AC current. What happens when you induce a fluctuating magnetic field through a metal? That's right, hysteresis drag. So, he's basically built a magnetic brake. Then he shorts out his coils, and what happens? Sure enough, it accelerates; he's shorted out his brake!

Nothing to see here, move along.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (3, Funny)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360294)

I don't know what you just said, but it sounds good. Could you tell me how I can short out the brakes on my car?

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360412)

What happens when you induce a fluctuating magnetic field through a metal? That's right, hysteresis drag. So, he's basically built a magnetic brake. Then he shorts out his coils, and what happens? Sure enough, it accelerates; he's shorted out his brake!
Well, I think he's inducing magnets through a magnetic field--not a metal. And this doesn't act as a break but instead speeds it up. The interesting concept here is that he's using a property known as Lenz's Law [wikipedia.org] that creates something called back EMF through those coils of wire that used to have energy running through them. If you watch all four parts, it seems that once the generator reaches a certain speed, it does not slow down when he cuts power to the system. Instead the two coils are still generating electricity from the magnets flying by them due to Lenz's law. Which is then fed into the generator which then spins the magnets which then cause a current in the coils which then ... etc.

Nothing to see here, move along.
Although not a physicist, I do not agree with that statement. From what I've seen, from what the MIT scientists have seen, this merits further investigation. I have many questions: Does this scale up? How strong are his magnets? Do the magnets depolarize over time? If he speeds it up really fast, does it pass an equilibrium point and start to accelerate with the feedback energy? Can he produce energy from the closed system and charge a batter?

Wow, I'm almost cautiously excited. Call me stupid but I want to know more.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (3, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360590)

Perpetual motion I don't know about, but if this device can be kept going for a longer time without too much energy input, then it might have application in transportation.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (2, Insightful)

jedsen (939842) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360608)

>The interesting concept here is that he's using a property known as Lenz's Law that creates something called back EMF through those coils of wire that used to have energy running through them. Lenz's law simply states that, like Newton's law of an "equal and opposite reaction," there's an opposing force counter-acting the force in play. It's like the opposite reaction of an astronaut falling towards a planet: inertia. Neither force is created, nor destroyed. All energy is conserved. Idiot troll.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (5, Interesting)

mikers (137971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360664)

If you watch all four parts, it seems that once the generator reaches a certain speed, it does not slow down when he cuts power to the system. Instead the two coils are still generating electricity from the magnets flying by them

Actually, he never does cut power to the induction motor. He shorts or re-connects the electromagnet coils (that are part of the generator assembly).

What he demonstrates is that for the same or less power (Volts*Amps) of input to the motor driving the generator, he can cause the whole assembly to accelerate while using less power.

That is the interesting part (one more time): He can cause acceleration of the motor, while under a constant load, using less power.

Not a perpetual machine, but rather a really unusual way to get higher efficiency from a motor-generator assembly.

My concern is that in one of video parts (three I think), he shows a graph describing what he is doing in his experiments, and he shows a chart that has the constant speed/power line, a decelerating line (disconnected electromagnets) and the exponential acceleration line. He never tests it far enough -- and in the last part (or second last) he shows a plain split-phase induction motor and puts a small set of permanent magnets next to it. Notice that when he puts the small magnets next to the shaft of the motor it accelerates, but he keeps shutting the motor off to "prevent the shaft from getting magnetized". That may be the ultimate problem here, it might just be a short-lived affect from magnets. Once the whole assembly is magnetized, you don't gain any more from this effect.

typical slashdot (5, Interesting)

Great_Geek (237841) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360492)

Let's see, scholar.google.com shows Markus Zahn wrote a book "Electromagnetic Field Theory: A Problem Solving Approach" in 1979 (the first item in many publications); he is a professor at MIT - part of the Lab of Electromagnets and Electronic Systems. Gee, I wonder if he understands motors and magnetic brakes.

Clearly the professors (Markus Zahn and at least one other) have studied the invention and cannot explain the result. You, on the other hand, based on cursory information, understand every little detail. So typically slashdot: I took a course in university on the subject, so my opinion is better than the professors.

In fairness to the Slashdotters (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360602)

I remember sitting in those college classes and most of the future Slashdot types had that attitude before they took the course.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22360534)

I'm glad you've got it all figured out, not actually having seen the device yourself. Meanwhile, a professor (which is something you are not... correct me if I'm wrong...) has actually seen the device, and is apparently unable to come up with any explanation of what occured, at least not for the time being.

But hey, I'm sure the 30 seconds you spent thinking about it, combined with the high probability that you are actually completely unqualified to offer such an opinion, are more than sufficient for everyone to draw the correct conclusions. Maybe you should ring the professor and tell him how obvious the answer is - why, someone of your calibre and with your impeccable detail and indepth analysis must surely get a job at his college.

Ob quote (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360630)

apparently unable to come up with any explanation

"'Gentlemen, what we have here is a terrifying example of the reindeer effect.'" - Jack Handey

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360632)

There may be more to it than that. He seems to be using iron core coils, and channelling the magnetic flux through the drive motor. If it were as simple as you say, then it wouldn't make any difference whether the drive motor coupling was brass or iron.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (2, Insightful)

dpninerSLASH (969464) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360636)

Yes, but he's one upping the system. Rather than placing a label on his claim, he's (effectively) challenging the brightest minds to explain its behavior. A wise way to defeat the free energy stigma.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (1)

kitgerrits (1034262) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360638)


Indeed, but what is strange is that the 'mag brake' effect behaves differently wether or not there is a magnetic coupling between the motor and the generator...

(I.E. in his first video, the system oddly slowed down when he shorted the coils -- WTF?)

What I find odd, is that he says the system is under load.
Shorting out the generating coils means the current will take the path of least resistance (the short-circuit) and the 'load' is no longer under power.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360262)

Remember when it was impossible for the human body to sit in anything that accelerated as fast as 60mph?
MPH is Miles / Hour == d/t == Velocity. Not acceleration. Acceleration is d/(t^2)

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (1)

jcorno (889560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360434)

Remember when it was impossible for the human body to sit in anything that accelerated as fast as 60mph?
MPH is Miles / Hour == d/t == Velocity. Not acceleration. Acceleration is d/(t^2)


If we're being pedantic, it's a speed, not a velocity. Velocity is a vector, speed + direction.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360558)

You win.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (1)

Big Smirk (692056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360400)

Wow, slashdot good at computer but bad at physics?

1) you don't accelerate at "60mph" 60mph is a speed or velocity, not an acceleration.

2) If the system heats up at all, even a little (like from friction), it 'looses' energy to that heat. Since he claims it is perpetual motion, he is not adding any energy to the system (its not plugged in right?) therefor it must slow down.

3) One thing to watch on AC systems - voltage and current are not always in phase - so you need to consider the power factor when you calculate how much energy is going into a system and how much you are getting out.

4) To the idiot that said something about 'disconnection brakes', in this case the brakes were effectively electro-magnets. By shorting the coils, they became lumps of copper. No more electro-magnets, no more brakes.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (3, Informative)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360476)

4) To the idiot that said something about 'disconnection brakes', in this case the brakes were effectively electro-magnets. By shorting the coils, they became lumps of copper. No more electro-magnets, no more brakes.
A coil of wire (in the presence of a moving magnetic field) with no current flow through it is a lump of copper. When you allow current to flow from one end of the coil to the other, then it starts doing work. The less resistance you put across the coil, the more current flows and the more energy is extracted from the prime mover (I^2*R). Shorting the coils should induce the maximum drag on that motor.

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360530)

It doesn't do the impossible. It uses magnets to make something spin round. I thought of a similar machine when I was like 6 years old. The process works, but the energy you are getting out comes from the magnet, which will lose its charge over time, and would take more energy to recharge (if you can even do that) than you get out. No magic here, nothing to see, move along..

Re:So look at it, take it apart, spend a few minut (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360548)

Remember when it was impossible for the human body to sit in anything that accelerated as fast as 60mph?

No, I don't. Can you cite who is supposed to have said this and when? Sounds rather like an urban myth to me.

And even if there was someone who was foolish enough to have said that, so what? It's one thing to say something is fatal, a quite different thing to be impossible by the fundamental laws of physics.

Casimer Effect (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22360048)

The problem is the magnetic field degrades.

Just based on the article (4, Insightful)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360050)

The people involved are going out of their way to say it's not perpetual motion; rather, the experiment is not working as predicted. There are many explanations for that. The guy involved has basically wrecked his life over tinkering with it.

And the articles don't give enough details to judge much.

But so far, slashdot is the only article that talks about perpetual motion.

Re:Just based on the article (1)

computerchimp (994187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360208)

Perpetual motion should be replaced by "perpetual motion like" because no one is calling it perpetual motion:

As the parent says: the inventor is not calling it a perpetual motion machine. The magnets could be a source of energy, so could....?
Give the guy credit for letting it be scrutinized by a peer group.

- A lot of discoveries (most?) come from experiments that have unexplained results.
- The unexplained is a puzzle to solve
- When the puzzles reasoning/solution is found it sometimes adds to the worlds knowledge.

cc

Re:Just based on the article (0, Offtopic)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360388)

The issue I have with "naysayers" who instantly cry foul is that they apparently like the inefficient generation we have today. So much so that they refuse to accept that their might be a better way to generate motion (thus power) than burning millions of tons of coal and millions of gallons/liters of oil. I say, let the basement scientists crack their noggins on the fabled perpetual motion and maybe, just maybe, implement their designs for the reciprocation of lost energy into producing more efficient generators. Even if someone could create a device that harnessed Earth's gravity, it's still not perpetual motion and the naysayers would get hung up on that instead of thinking... "Hey, wait. We can generate cheaper and more environmental friendly power with this."

Re:Just based on the article (1)

Sanat (702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360654)

Obviously if a 60 watt light bulb is glowing from this machine and the machine still runs then there is a source of energy coming from someplace. What a neat thing to do as to find that source and understand it.

Gravity certainly could be one source... since no one understands what really causes gravity to begin with, but other sources could be the magnetic field around Earth, or a source that resides in a different dimension that is not obvious to us yet. The scientists are calling it dark energy in regards to "outer space" but most likely in is inter-dimensional energy and the magnets/magnetic fields permits access to this unknown energy.

I would personally like to design or copy such a device just to understand its workings if I could.

Science sometimes becomes bound by their rules not realizing that rules are guidelines only and not universal law.

Some individuals say that the structure between dimensions is getting thinner and so maybe these types of devices are now possible while in the past they were impossible.

Re:Just based on the article (1, Troll)

knewter (62953) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360324)

WTF is wrong with you? The linked article is has perpetual motion in its *title*. What idiot modded this crap informative?

Can't touch this! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22360054)

Hammertime! [thepounder.com]

Contrast (3, Funny)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360076)

Yet another Perpetual Motion Device, brought to you by Slashdot, the perfect Perpetual Immobility Device.

Re:Contrast (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360670)

Heck, why does he care how it works right yet?? If this guy is short on cash, why doesnt he start building motors and start selling them? Better yet, start making kits and sell them to slashdot people. Heck, I certainly would buy one just to play with it...

Connect the corpse of Beethoven... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22360078)

Connect the corpse of Beethoven up to a generator. Generator provides electricity for CD-player. CD-Player plays Britney Spears songs over and over. Beethoven spins in his grave providing mechanical energy to generator.

Re:Connect the corpse of Beethoven... (4, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360266)

That sounds a lot safer than the method I used. My last attempt resulted in a trip to the hospital (to get my scratches stitched), and a nasty visit from the SPCA. Trust me, cats do not like things, including hot buttered toast, duct taped to them.

P.S. If you must try this, make sure the cat is declawed.

Re:Connect the corpse of Beethoven... (4, Funny)

feepness (543479) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360438)

No need to go to all that trouble. The corpses of the US founding fathers have been doing about 500 rps (and increasing) for the last 50 years.

As usual... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22360082)

White paper or GTFO

Nobody's calling it "perpetual motion" (4, Informative)

A Friendly Troll (1017492) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360088)

FTFA:

There's no talk of perpetual motion. No whisper of broken scientific laws or free energy. Zahn would never go there - at least not yet. But he does see the potential for making electric motors more efficient, and this itself is no small feat.

Why the headline, Taco?

Re:Nobody's calling it "perpetual motion" (4, Informative)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360178)

Why the headline, Taco?

In the very first paragraph, TFA states "he'll demonstrate an invention that appears - though he doesn't dare say it - to operate as a perpetual motion machine."

As for why "nobody's calling it" that, TFA answers that as well, with:

It's for this reason the 46-year-old inventor has learned to walk on thin ice when dealing with academics and engineers, who he must win over to be taken seriously. Credibility, after all, can't be invented. It must be earned. "I have to be humble. If you say the wrong thing at the wrong time, you can lose support."

Seems straightforward enough. The guy believes (or wants others to believe) that he has made a perpetual motion machine, but calling it as much would result in his instant damning to the land of crackpots. So instead of claiming something widely considered impossible, he describes it as simply some sort of "very efficient" electric motor, a perfectly reasonable (if unlikely, given his background) idea.

Re:Nobody's calling it "perpetual motion" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22360330)

To be fair, from his description the idea involves taking energy from the environment - so not "perpetual motion". (Let's just ignore Casimer's Law and the fact that the environment is basically at entropy).

Zero bandwidth transmitter (3, Interesting)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360370)

I knew about a guy who had invented a "zero bandwidth transmitter" 40 years ago. When I saw it 20 years ago, he was very bitter that no one would even look at his invention. He could demonstrate voice communication over miles, with official FCC interference monitoring equipment showing "zero bandwidth". A friend of his showed me the basics of how it worked. It was actually a "spread spectrum" transmitter. He actually had a useful invention (same principle invented since by others). But he insisted on calling it "zero bandwidth", and mocked the experts who explained the mathematical impossibility of such a thing - because he had working prototypes, the experts were clearly deluded in his mind.

Re:Zero bandwidth transmitter (3, Informative)

ChromaticDragon (1034458) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360522)

Not to knock the possible independent invention of Spread Spectrum techniques by your friend...

Not to dismiss your remarks regarding that others may have also independently invented this sometime in the last 40 years (though I believe you're simply referring to civilian commercial use in the past few decades)...

But it would seem to take just a wee bit of effort of web research to demonstrate that various forms of this have been around a lot longer.

Goodness. Tesla patented a form of frequency hopping in 1900!!

Hedy Lamer is famous for being the woman who more or less invented and patented an early form of CDMA in 1940.

Granted, these things didn't have widespread civilian use and applications until the last few decades. But it seems strange to present your story the way you did. It would seem likely depending in his implementation that this chap couldn't have patented it in any case due to longstanding prior patents.

Furthermore, describing this as "zero bandwidth" really seems strange. I can certainly understand why engineers would have dismissed this. A more accurate description of spread spectrum would be "infinite bandwidth". That is why it's called SPREAD spectrum. It flattens out the wave in the frequency domain. Simply because the power in any given range drops to the noise floor isn't quite the same as it truly being zero bandwidth.

Re:Zero bandwidth transmitter (3, Interesting)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360596)

Yes, the point of the story was that his mocking attitude, and insistence on the term "zero bandwidth" (showing a lack of deep understanding of what he had invented), is what caused his rejection. And the inventor in TFA is wise to be humble and avoid any association with "perpetual motion".

Green Plug (1)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360432)

I have devices branded "Green Plug" for our refrigerator and washing machine. These devices modulate the AC waveform fed to the motor. The result is quieter operation, and measurably less power used. It works because the magnetic fields in the motor store energy, causing the power draw to vary over each cycle. The device feeds only the power needed. Without the device, the excess power is dissipated as noise and heat. These devices are no longer sold, because large motors now typically incorporate the technology internally.

Re:Nobody's calling it "perpetual motion" (1)

soulfury (1229120) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360296)

Yes, no whisper of broken scientific laws or free energy. They are merely tapping energy by exploiting a parallel universe adjacent to ours. This is scandalous! This must stop! But hey, we love Thane Heins. Heins knows more about "clean" design than anybody, right? So why does his contraption contain hazardous substances that other companies have abandoned? A cutting edge inventor shouldn't be cutting lives short by exposing children in China and India to dangerous chemicals. That's why we Slashdotters need to demand a new, cool product: a greener perpetual machine!

WQAT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22360090)

WQAT

I read the article... (4, Informative)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360106)

From another source [physorg.com] :

In Heins' machine, he explains that magnetic friction somehow gets turned into a magnetic boost. Working with an electric motor, he attached the drive shaft to a steel rotor with small round magnets lining its outer edges. In this set-up of a simple generator, the rotor would spin so that the magnets passed by a wire coil just in front of them, generating electrical energy.

Then Heins did an experiment: he overloaded the generator to get a current, which typically causes the wire coil to build up a large electromagnetic field. Usually, this kind of electromagnetic field creates an effect called "Back EMF" due to the so-called Lenz's law. The effect should repel the spinning magnets on the rotor, and slow them down until the motor stops completely, in accordance with the law of conservation.

But instead of stopping, the rotor began to accelerate. Heins recounts that the first time it happened, the magnets starting flying off and hitting the walls, as he ducked for cover.

The magnetic friction wasn't repelling the magnets and wire coil. Instead, as Heins explains, the steel rotor and driveshaft had conducted the magnetic resistance away from the coil and back into the electric motor. In effect, the Back EMF was boosting the magnetic fields used by the motor to generate electrical energy and cause acceleration.


He also says it's *NOT* a perpetual motion machine. He's asking experts to explain him why that happened, and if it could turn into a way to make electrical generators more efficient.

If it looks like a duck... (1)

bonkeydcow (1186443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360194)

He is obviously trying to avoid this tautology. Even still you use it against him. Obviously it is early and the project needs peer review. Heck, a project that basic, you could build one in your garage and see what happens. The video doesn't give enough info. The thing could be plugged into the wall for all we know. Or sucking juice out of the attached instruments. Anyway, whatever the truth is, it will come out. It either is a cool new thing, or it's not.

Re:If it looks like a duck... (0, Offtopic)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360488)

And since the oil won't run out, just get more "expensive" to extract, what's the big deal?

The problem is another altogether. The sheeple (even here on the great and "enlightened") slashdot, will clamor for shepherds because their small minds get upset every time something doesn't fit into their world view.

There are plenty of things that "don't make sense" and plenty of things that "don't make sense to a certain world view". Regardless of how we view it, someone else will view it differently. And the vast masses are too busy hating themselves to go outside and try something. This experiment, if slashdot was the haven for enlightened minds, should have been repeated at least a hundred times, and rather than see a flame fest, we should be seeing people comparing notes with the originator or with each other.

Fear not, however, as with any potentially new and potentially world changing (or potentially hoax) invention, if it truly IS what it claims to be or what others claim it to be, it will BECOME a hoax as soon as certain individuals have it proven or developed to the point where unwashed masses (and slashdotters) should not receive such a gift.

Personally, I'm starting to see their point more and more.

Re:I read the article... (5, Interesting)

Warbothong (905464) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360410)

It seems that his setup is using 'permanent' magnets to accelerate a motor instead of slow it down. What this would say to me is that the retardation effects are being shifted from the motor to the magnets. This would comply with current Physical knowledge, since 'permanent' magnets are not truly permanent, only in the sense that they can't be turned on and off like electromagnets.

If this is the case then expect the 'permanent' magnets to lose their magnetism over time, and if this magnetism was imparted to them from an industrial process (ie. they are not naturally magnetic) then the extra energy would be coming from the magnet factory's machinery.

It is still interesting, however, since such a method would be a way of storing energy, reducing the need for batteries. To be useful this technique would need to be measured in terms of extra energy imparted, magnet lifetime and whether the weight of the magnets would be better used to hold more batteries.

IAAPBIDHMTGO (I Am A Physicist But I Don't Have Much To Go On)

Re:I read the article... (2, Interesting)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360462)

But instead of stopping, the rotor began to accelerate. Heins recounts that the first time it happened, the magnets starting flying off and hitting the walls, as he ducked for cover.

So from all I could gather he's claiming this thing produces a net output (yeah he won't state it that way, but I don't see what else he could be saying). It sounds like he's saying there's a large amount of energy coming from somewhere in a short period of time; i.e., this is not some wimpy effect only measurable with careful, precise observation. If this is the case, it's not so hard to make the scientific community sit up and take notice. Either it has to have an external power source to produce this effect, or it doesn't. So if it:

  • requires external power: connect the shaft of the machine to a conventional generator, and use this generator to provide the input. Use a resistor bank to dissipate the "extra" energy that's coming from wherever it comes from.
  • doesn't require external power: connect the shaft of the machine to a mechanical brake and use that to dissipate the extra energy.

Mount the whole assembly on a Lucite stand so that it's clearly visible that there's no external power being piped in. Use a wattmeter or measure how much water the dissipation element can boil away to determine how much "extra" energy it produces. Start the machine, which could possibly involve feeding external power for some time, and measure the total input energy. Let it run until it stops and see how much total energy it generated. If energy out is greater than energy in plus any energy that might conceivably have been stored in the device, go directly to Nobel Prize. Show that it's a black box that can repeatedly give back more energy than it takes in. How hard is that, if the claims are true?

I suppose it's possible that all the overunity/perpetual motion talk was coerced or added by journalists wanting a snazzy headline; if that's the case then I feel sorry for the guy. Hell, I feel sorry for him anyway, considering that this has cost him his marriage and his kids already.

Re:I read the article... (1)

penguinbrat (711309) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360538)

I RTFA too, but admittedly I had to a few times. Heins *IS* saying/hoping it is a perpetual motion device - it's just he is merely a Chef with an idea, not an engineer with the education which is where Zahn is coming in.

"It sounds too good to be true," concedes Heins, who formed a company in 2005 called Potential Difference Inc. to develop and market his invention. "We get dismissed pretty quickly sometimes."
...
...
Deep down, Heins has high hopes. But he also realizes that merely using those controversial words - "perpetual motion" - usually brands a person as batty. In 2006, an Irish company called Steorn placed an advertisement in The Economist calling on all the world's scientists to validate its magnet-based "free energy" technology.

Steorn was met with intense skepticism and accused of being a scam or hoax. Seventeen months later the company has failed, despite worldwide attention, to prove anything under scrutiny. Well-educated people, from Leonardo da Vinci to Harvard-trained engineer Bruce De Palma (older brother of film director Brian De Palma), have made similar claims of perpetual motion only to be slammed down by the mainstream scientific community.

Heins has an even greater uphill battle. He isn't an engineer. He doesn't have a graduate degrees in physics. He never even finished his electronics program at Heritage College in Gatineau, Quebec. "I have mild dyslexia and don't do well in math, so I didn't do very well in school," he says.


Zahn is the one not going all the way to perpetual motion but admitting he is stumped and it could revolutionize things if proven.

It's now Jan. 28 - D Day. Heins has modified his test so the effects observed are difficult to deny. He holds a permanent magnet a few centimetres away from the driveshaft of an electric motor, and the magnetic field it creates causes the motor to accelerate. It went well.

Contacted by phone a few hours after the test, Zahn is genuinely stumped - and surprised. He said the magnet shouldn't cause acceleration. "It's an unusual phenomena I wouldn't have predicted in advance. But I saw it. It's real. Now I'm just trying to figure it out."

There's no talk of perpetual motion. No whisper of broken scientific laws or free energy. Zahn would never go there - at least not yet. But he does see the potential for making electric motors more efficient, and this itself is no small feat.

"To my mind this is unexpected and new, and it's worth exploring all the possible advantages once you're convinced it's a real effect," he added. "There are an infinite number of induction machines in people's homes and everywhere around the world. If you could make them more efficient, cumulatively, it could make a big difference."


Re:I read the article... (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360606)

if it could act as a PMM, why not use it as such. Why stop at making motors more efficient. The question here as to whether this is real is not whether or not it is politically accepted or not, or politically correct, but what the physical evidence shows. I am sick of the political correctness and dogma in science today, where scientists are ridiculed and ostracised if they even dare look for possible ways holy sacred cow scientific ways can be broken, which either can assert their validity or show they are not entirely complete. It also does make it look like at least there is a conspiracy to try to cover up free energy by reprimanding and attacking anyone who dares look, so scientists are too afraid to look or they may lose their careers, etx. With the oil companies likely as hell bent to maintain their power and control, it makes one wonder if there is such a conspiracy involving the scientific establishment, that is perhaps reinforced with research grants from these corporations, which could be pulled in an instant if you dare begin to take the forbidden fruit and go beyond the box of what is sanctioned by the corporate/political/mainstream establishment, even if it might lead to discoveries that lead to saving millions of lives or fixing global warming and the energy crisis. I wouild not put it past the powers of greed and arrogance to supress technologies that could save lives and alleviate the ever impending doom of environmental damage and depleation, peak oil and economic collapse that results from fossil fuels, in order to assure the profits of a few wealthy elite. Scientists need to ask themselves, what is more important, their sacred theories or finding the truth, corporate profits of a few wealthy elites or technologies which will provide cheap, free clean energy to all of humanity? That scientists would refuse to consider that this could be PMM and actively test to confirm or deny that shows how far so called scientists have come from real science. True there are theories such conservation of energy, but there is still an open possibilities that there may be certain circumstances where this may be able to be circumvented that remain unidentified. It is not proper scientific practice to assume a law is absolute and refuse to test and try to violate and break it. Such is rather the domain of religions. Instead of refusing to even consider PMM, if we had real scientists today they would be testing their theory and trying to find ways it might be broken. If the theory could be broken, great as well, I cant imagine someone not wanting to find a way to violate it, since it would solve all of the worlds energy problems, solve global warming, end poverty, etc. The question is whether it puts out more energy than is put into it. So following the spirit of science we would want to confirm that or rule it out. If it is confirmed, and replicated, then it is obvious the experimental evidence speaks louder than the theories, that there must be something wrong with the theories if they can be consistantly shown to be violated. Unfortunately it seems many scientists and many here, are interested in answering this question and feel afraid of violating their sacred scientific theories, and feel it is more important to protect them than to discover the truth. Many scientists just assume that these theories apply the same way in all cases, without even testing all cases. You cannot find PMM if it existed unless you are looking for it, and most scientists are not. But their notions that is impossible is not based on evidence, it is based on assumption. So we see that this is more of a religion than science, based on faith rather than evidence. There are billions of possible configuration of magnets that are untested, one cannot say free energy is impossible in those configurations until they have been tested. It is easy to prove a positive, that something is possible in a certain condition, but hard to prove a negative that is impossible under any circumstance, when all of the circumstances have not been tested. The attitude of many scientists today who refuse to even look at PMMs and automatically assume it is a scam shows there is something very wrong with science today. Sure, most, perhaps all to date are scams, but this does not mean that one may not come along that is the real deal. Science is about open mindedness inquiry and testing and retesting even the most highly regarded theories, not placing yourself in a box of arrogance and refusing to venture outside of it because it contradicts your beliefs.

Figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22360116)

There are never any numbers or real mathematic mentioned in TFAs about perpetual motion machines...that said...i want my zed pm (zpm) NOW!!!!!!

Public Education (1)

kyz (225372) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360118)

I really wish that, instead of running "person claims they can do the impossible" stories, newspapers would run exciting stories explaining the basics of thermodynamics, what energy is, and nuclear physics and the background behind Boyle's gas law.

These days, we're wondering when the oil's going to run out, and we need to look to how we get the most energy out of our Sun and gravity - the only real sources of energy on this planet, all other sources being derivatives.

Why can't we have a more intelligent public? It wouldn't hurt for them to have an understanding of the world around them, maybe they'd be less likely to fall for scams based on breaking the observed laws of physics.

It's important to understand.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22360154)

...that this inventor ISN'T American.

But if the invention ever gets anywhere, he will immediately be granted citizenship, because everyone knows that Americans are the best inventors in the world...

Re:It's important to understand.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22360362)

You'll all be Americans (or vassals) soon enough when we invade your countries and take your resources. Kneel down, bitches.

Have pity on the poor fellow (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22360174)

Heins has an even greater uphill battle. He isn't an engineer. He doesn't have a graduate degrees in physics. He never even finished his electronics program at Heritage College in Gatineau, Quebec. "I have mild dyslexia and don't do well in math, so I didn't do very well in school," he says.

I get the impression that this one is not a charlatan out for a buck, but simply confused. Don't be too hard on him.

Re:Have pity on the poor fellow (1)

Rasit (967850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360600)

I get the impression that this one is not a charlatan out for a buck, but simply confused. Don't be too hard on him.

There are two kinds of scientific progress: the methodical experimentation and categorization which gradually extend the boundaries of knowledge, and the revolutionary leap of genius which redefines and transcends those boundaries. Acknowledging our debt to the former, we yearn nonetheless for the latter.
Academician Prokhor Zakharov
"Address to the Faculty"
http://www.generationterrorists.com/quotes/smac.html [generationterrorists.com]
Sometimes we need a confused person to attempt something that everyone knows are impossible if we want to discover something new.

Total crap. (1)

Castletech (1236226) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360188)

At best he invented a high efficiency electric motor/generator.

Re:Total crap. (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360444)

So why isn't this news? If there's one thing we could probably use is more efficiency.

Re:Total crap. (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360490)

At best he invented a high efficiency electric motor/generator.
That's "total crap"? That will make him richer than a perpetual motion device will.

very simple what to do (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360212)

electric motors rely on rotating magnetic fields. if you have permanent magnets attached to any supposed "perpetual motion" device, there will be a source of rotating magnetic fields somewhere which require power (and yes, this makes any such thing a hoax).

Energy in == energy out with no known exceptions.

Re:very simple what to do (1)

captain_dope_pants (842414) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360270)

That's the thing - find the "unknown" exception(s) !

Re:very simple what to do (1)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360628)

That's the thing - find the "unknown" exception(s) !

Well, yes, but keep in mind that well-trained people have been trying to find such exceptions for 200 years, and have never found any.

As Sir Arthur Eddington wrote in 1915:

"If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations -- then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation -- well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

That said, it does annoy me how these kinds of articles imply "you can't question the laws of physics or the scientists will chastise/ostracize/tar-and-feather you." It's a cop-out appeal to authority, and they only do it because explaining the real scientific reasons is too much work, and they think the "average reader" won't understand anyway.

Re:very simple what to do (2, Interesting)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360314)

(and yes, this makes any such thing a hoax).
That's a little too harsh. There is always the remote change that one of these perpetual motion inventors stumbles across a new source of previously unusable energy.

That's doesn't make it a "perpetual motion" machine, but it could still be enormously useful.

Off the top of my head, I could imagine that the earth's magnetic field might be used as an energy source. Some unknown affect might convert subatomic particles to energy in special situations.

The bottom line is that this device should be easy to test. Either it puts out more energy than is (apparently) put into it, or not. If it does, then begin looking for non-apparent sources of energy.

Re:very simple what to do (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360482)

Energy in == energy out with no known exceptions.

Total energy, yes, but all machines whose purpose is anything other than producing heat waste some. For non-heaters, energy in energy out.

Re:very simple what to do (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360572)

You are correct! We know everything there is to know about science. There is nothing new to learn. WTF are all these scientist doing everyday?!

2nd law. (5, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360218)

Thermodynamics just says you can't win when you're talking about the whole Universe. Once you start to get into smaller sections of it you can increase organization locally but it is always at the expense of more global energies. Life here on Earth is an example of this - we're more organized but the Sun pumps out a lot of wasted energy to feed that organization. It's entirely possible that some kind of machine could be built to extract energy locally which ultimately has a global source but that does not mean its perpetual, the Universe will still wind down total energy wise in the global space.

Re:2nd law. (1)

neomunk (913773) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360320)

Thank you.

I've tried to explain exactly that to a few people, but the addition of your Sun/Earth model makes your explanation crisp and concise.

Oil law. (1)

baffled (1034554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360392)

This violates the Buy-our-oil law, and may result in spontaneous appearance of WMDs and/or Wait-for-Hydrogen-cell factors.

Re:2nd law. (1)

m4ximusprim3 (619388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360554)

Yep. What he's getting out of this is the energy it took to polarize those magnets. Lots of energy, to be sure, but all provided by the good ole earth.

Re:2nd law. (1)

gakguk (530867) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360612)

1. Build some kind of machine to extract energy locally which ultimately has a global source. 2. Make the green punk with horn ears on the other side of the global space pay the electric bill. 3. ... 4. Profit

the quote (0)

cool_arrow (881921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360228)

I'm skeptical that the prof. really said "But I saw it. It's real. Now I'm just trying to figure it out." If he did he's a jackass.

Re:the quote (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360346)

Why does that make him a jackass? He's saying that he saw it accelerate, and that as far as he could see there were no tricks etc.

Re:the quote (4, Interesting)

neomunk (913773) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360360)

Cuz we all know that REAL scientists dismiss out of hand anything they don't already understand and expect?

Cuz we all know that REAL scientists immediately understand something the moment they lay eyes on in?

Cuz you assume that the "prof." got scammed and is foolish for even entertaining the idea someone might have come up with something new?

Seriously, I don't get it, what part makes him a jackass?

Re:the quote (2, Insightful)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360364)

Hey, don't knock accidental discoveries. Both the slinky and silly putty were created by accident IIRC.

Re:the quote (2, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360580)

If the prof is a real scientist, his reaction is completely appropriate. Did he say anything about buying the idea that it's perpetual motion?

Sorry, but a jackass is someone who would dismiss an observed phenomenon out-of-hand without attempting to discover what's really going on. Remind you of anybody you saw in the mirror this morning?

Re:the quote (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360584)

I think you're the jackass here.

Let's look at the FULL quote:

It's now Jan. 28 - D Day. Heins has modified his test so the effects observed are difficult to deny. He holds a permanent magnet a few centimetres away from the driveshaft of an electric motor, and the magnetic field it creates causes the motor to accelerate. It went well.

Contacted by phone a few hours after the test, [MIT professor] Zahn is genuinely stumped - and surprised. He said the magnet shouldn't cause acceleration. "It's an unusual phenomena I wouldn't have predicted in advance. But I saw it. It's real. Now I'm just trying to figure it out."

There's no talk of perpetual motion. No whisper of broken scientific laws or free energy. Zahn would never go there - at least not yet. But he does see the potential for making electric motors more efficient, and this itself is no small feat.

"To my mind this is unexpected and new, and it's worth exploring all the possible advantages once you're convinced it's a real effect," he added. "There are an infinite number of induction machines in people's homes and everywhere around the world. If you could make them more efficient, cumulatively, it could make a big difference."


Seems like we have a respected scientist confronted with an unexpected phenomena that he wants to understand. What part of that makes him a jackass? He's not saying it's a perpetual motion machine - he's saying it's maybe an (unexpected) way to make a more efficient induction motor.

Videos (3, Informative)

chihowa (366380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360274)

He has a series of Youtube videos [youtube.com] where he shows it off and attempts to explain it.

a possible explanation (4, Informative)

marvinglenn (195135) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360290)

FTA...

It's now Jan. 28 - D Day. Heins has modified his test so the effects observed are difficult to deny. He holds a permanent magnet a few centimetres away from the driveshaft of an electric motor, and the magnetic field it creates causes the motor to accelerate. [...]

I will assume that the motor is a common DC motor with field on the stator, armature on the rotor. If the flux from the magnet he's holding near the shaft is canceling some of the flux from the field, then the motor will naturally speed up. The opposite effect is when you increase the flux from the field... the motor slows down.

Re:a possible explanation (2, Interesting)

salveque (1221584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360516)

I'm not sure I understand. A DC motor works through the simple mechanism of two electromagnets attracting and repelling a magnet. This causes the magnet to spin. After a half-turn the flow of electricity inverts causing it to go back the other way. Momentum causes it to go up the other side. However, it's the MAGNET that moves. If one supplies an outside magnet the internal magnet should try to align with it, slowing it down when it's moving away but speeding it up when it's coming towards. So unless he's alternating the filed some how (which wasn't in the article) this doesn't make sense.

Something to keep an eye on (0, Flamebait)

tuxgeek (872962) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360306)

Very interesting. Hope it works out for the inventor and BillyG doesn't try to steal his idea.

Re:Something to keep an eye on (2, Funny)

ScienceDada (1232890) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360358)

Yeah... then we will have Micro$oft Motors. I can see it now wile driving down the highway -- we will have to spontaneously close all the windows and restart the car to keep driving!

Re:Something to keep an eye on (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360620)

Perhaps someone's been watching Antitrust a few too many times...

Why post? (0, Troll)

vortex2.71 (802986) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360308)

So, if this is yet another crack pot with a perpetual motion machine then why post this to slashdot? Further, why did slashdot accept the article? Doesn't this just encourage news sources to print garbage science? I think we should be working to increase the scientific integrity of popular science articles rather than giving the bunk ones creedence.

Re:Why post? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22360414)

Pardon me, but you seem to have confused Slashdot with Physical Review.

Re:Why post? (1)

gotzero (1177159) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360478)

No one will remember if it does not work, and if it is some kind of new high efficiency motor, then you got the news here first. I think throwing out a few false positives makes this place "normal".

All this talk of flux... (1)

johnw (3725) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360322)

...clearly the remaining component which he needs to make it complete is a flux capacitor (and perhaps a deLorean).

The right start (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360348)

It's hard to tell exactly what's going on-- the first thing I'm wondering about is whether he's collecting stray fields (the modern world is full of electromagnetic fields)-- but I am, in fact, impressed with the fact that he's actually going to MIT and showing it to people asking for an opinion from people who have a good understanding of science. That's the right step; good move.

Am I Missing Something? (1)

NoMoreFood (783406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360418)

Does he ever disconnect the input to his induction motor? Just because the motor doesn't normally bring the system to an super-accelerated state, doesn't mean that it can't pull in extra energy to cancel the induced magnetic fields within the motor. He needs to have an amp meter on the input to the motor to see if he's pulling additional power into his system while it accelerates.

Re:Am I Missing Something? (2, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360502)

You need the input amps and volts of the motor, as well as the amps and volts of each coil to really see what is happening in terms of energy.

Perpetual Motion: My Hard Drive (0, Offtopic)

EnglishSteve (834757) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360424)

...While Vista is indexing. :/

Don't forget the earths magnetic field (1)

RichMan (8097) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360528)

Don't forget we live inside of one gigantic electric motor like device. The spin of the earths core generates a magnetic field which shields us from solar radiation. Someday we are going to tap directly into the power of the earths magnetic field.

That would not be "free energy". The consequences of totally sucking all energy out of the earths magnetic field make, aside from a really bad movie, global warming look like just another day. And while there is an awful lot there, there are no 6e9 or more of us on the planet who could go wild with consumption given "free energy".

A new look at the (Electromagnetic) force? (2, Interesting)

tcgibian (556047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360542)

This is not new. A Japanese inventor, whose name I cannot remember, developed a similar motor with magnets inside of it some two years ago after two decades of work. His design was able to develop the stated horsepower using one tenth of the electricity. Not perpetual motion exactly, but a considerable leap in efficiency. That makes two independent sources verifying the same phenomenon. The least we owe ourselves is to investigate these claims carefully. A large portion of our nation's electrical load is made up of motors.

Science and Inventors (1)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360562)

Why is it that Science is always trying to keep up with the inventors and then "explain" how it works when previously they (the scientists) said it was impossible and would violate all the known laws of "whatever"?

I have my own machine (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360634)

It's powered by the hopeless optimism of journalists when confronted with something that defies the laws of physics. So it's not exactly a perpetual motion machine, but I don't think the fuel supply will ever run down.

No such thing as a broken law of physics (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360642)

Only laws we have failed to properly describe. "Broken laws" are the domain of religion.

Nature (1)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22360672)

If perpetual motion or free energy was easy, nature would have found a way to exploit it in the billions of years this universe has existed.
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