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Steorn's "Free Energy" Jury Comes Back To Bite Them 213

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-backpedal dept.
chiark writes "Remember Steorn? Free energy for all, coming soon, and a gauntleted slap in the face to the physics establishment: 'come be our jury, and prove us right or wrong.' Well, 2 years later, the jury's verdict is in, and it's not the validation Steorn was hoping for: 'Twenty-two independent scientists and engineers were selected by Steorn to form this jury. It has for the past two years examined evidence presented by the company. The unanimous verdict of the Jury is that Steorn's attempts to demonstrate the claim have not shown the production of energy. The jury is therefore ceasing work.' Steorn had the choice to either accept this and move on, or attempt to rebut. Guess which approach they took?"
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Steorn's "Free Energy" Jury Comes Back To Bite Them

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  • FP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CheShACat (999169) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @10:45AM (#28452393) Homepage Journal
    I just can't believe that anyone wasted 2 fucking years of their life trying to "disprove" it.
  • by Garbad Ropedink (1542973) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @10:58AM (#28452573)

    The fact that people take these free energy claims seriously is the prime example of how scientifically illiterate people are, and it's a real problem. It's what allows things like alt-meds to gain a foothold, UFO abduction proponents to have a voice, and free energy claims to waste everybody's time.

    Even somebody like myself with no scientific background whatsoever can understand basic scientific principles like thermodynamics. It's called scientific literacy, it's like regular literacy except you replace regular words with science words.

  • by sifi (170630) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @11:32AM (#28453093)

    Look, I admit that their claims sound unlikely, but you can't just dismiss all claims out of hand because "they break the laws of physics". The fact is that they break the current laws of physics.

    Hell, there could be all sorts of unlikely explanations that don't even break the current laws of physics (like perhaps some mass is being converted into energy)

    Real Science means conducting experiments and taking measurements. The 'laws' of physics are only as good as the experiments and measurements taken.

    The fact is that the experiments have been conducted, and it appears that it doesn't work. It doesn't mean that the Jury are 'idiots' for trying to test it - it means that they are scientists.

  • by Xaositecte (897197) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @11:40AM (#28453217) Journal

    Don't do that ** self-censoring shit. It makes you look like a retard.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @11:46AM (#28453307) Homepage

    I'd note that we get free energy all the time. We get more energy out of a gallon of gasoline than was put into making it. We get far more power from a pound of fuel in a nuclear reactor than we put into mining the uranium, refining it and turning it into nuclear fuel. Neither of those violates the first or second laws of thermodynamics. That's because those laws apply to closed systems, and we're not in a closed system. In the case of gasoline, the sun put energy into the system from outside. In the case of uranium, the supernova that created the uranium atoms put the energy into creating them. So it's entirely possible to have a source of energy that's simply tapping something outside our normal view of the system. Such a source would appear to be providing free energy.

    OTOH, Steorn seems to have failed the acid test: producing results. It'd've been much more convincing if they could've just dropped a unit down on the bench and told their jury "Here it is, here's how to turn it on and off, here's where the power comes out. Have fun with it.". A working prototype trumps all theoretical arguments, and Steorn couldn't produce a working prototype. Until they can, I'm inclined to believe they're either mistaken or running a scam.

  • How free? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @11:49AM (#28453363)

    Is this free as in beer?

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:06PM (#28453681) Homepage

    It doesn't mean that the Jury are 'idiots' for trying to test it - it means that they are scientists.

    No matter how irrational and unlikely the claim?

    My dick tastes like taffy. Go on, test it, or else I shall dub thee "Not a scientist."

  • Re:Fraud (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jeffasselin (566598) <cormacolinde@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:23PM (#28453945) Journal

    Religions really have the best take on this business method: claim the reward/product/proof will come after you're dead!

  • by mugnyte (203225) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:31PM (#28454111) Journal

    Except when the laws you're testing are already being constantly tested, by motors, wires, chargers, etc - continuously around you. I'll admit, the subtle effects of magnetic fields are indeed interesting and strange in the details, but at SOME point one has to rely on the 1000's of prior experiments. Plus, there's a lot of machinery working because of the laws of physics, around us every day. "Current" laws of physics wouldn't change, but perhaps a very specialized edge case (usually at extremes of energy) may arise. This company is nowhere near this level of sophistication. Instead, it's just the same smoke and mirrors.

      Would you rather test gravity, magnetic induction, inertia, conservation of energy and a slew of other physical concepts each day?

      The place for experiment is where the math behind the observations is doubted, or leaves an anomaly. If there are solid formulas born from prior experiments, one simply can do the experiment "on paper" using the new scenario and deduce what will happen.
      Then, if you're still interested, you can compare to a real-world experiment - that's real science.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @01:17PM (#28454909)

    That last bit is key.

    In order to think critically, you must be continuously re-evaluating your own ideas, as well as everything you hear. You don't write things off immediately, you take a stance of "sounds interesting, but I'm not ready to believe it yet" for just about everything. If evidence and experience verify what someone tells you, or what you have observed, you believe it. But when new evidence comes out, you must immediately re-evaluate your belief to see if the new data will change your belief.

    In this way, when someone comes up with a new "free energy" scheme, they should never be written off immediately. However, if their data falls into the realm of what has already been thoroughly disproven, you should definitely not jump on their bandwagon, so to speak, until they have thoroughly proven that this is new science.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @01:28PM (#28455101)

    Mod parent up!

    Critical thinking doesn't allow you to "know" anything. If you are a critical thinker, you simply believe X is true because all current evidence suggest it is true. The further away from "all" the current evidence is for a theory, the weaker a critical thinker's belief in something should be.

    For example, if there are three competing theories, with one of them looking like the more plausible, a critical thinker will pick the more plausible as best, but not with any amount of certainty. He will be completely willing to re-asses the theories when new data shows another as more favorable.

    When a new theory comes out that has 40 years of solid physics saying that it is impossible, it automatically goes in to the "do not believe this catagory". However, a critical thinker will be open to new evidence that proves 40 years of physics wrong. It's just going to have to be substantial to make the switch.

    A good critical thinker never thinks "this is the way things are, and the way they will always be". He thinks "This is almost certainly how it is, but who knows? Things change."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @01:48PM (#28455501)

    Steorn's extraordinary claims are outside of the realm of known physics, many others have made similar claims (Galileo, Newton, Einstein, etc). The difference is proof...

    Steorn needs to provide substantial proof to the world that their claims are legitimate, that the known laws of physics need revision.
    Proof would open up enormous possibilities for research and development, now that we know what to look for, and how to test it (think airplanes, transistors, etc).

    But Steorn has failed to provide any basic proof of any of their extraordinary claims. The scientists have not disproven anything, they have just shown that Steorn can not back up their extraordinary claims when tested properly.

    The scientists go back to work.

    Steorn goes back to "we fixed the little problem, it really works now, send us money, you can trust us..."

  • Re:I'm guessing (Score:1, Insightful)

    by jm007 (746228) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @02:01PM (#28455759)
    You're right... correct grammar and spelling are overrated with respect to effective communication.

    Just a bit of friendly sarcasm there, but really, you seem to make the reader's inability to decipher poor writing/typing as the reason the message was lost. I myself had to read over it multiple times with some trial and error as to what was intended and eventually I figured it out. God help anyone who doesn't speak English natively.

    More than a few sentences of that and screw it, I won't bother trying. That's unfortunate since the post was relevant and added to the conversation; but let's not downplay the GP's culpability in this mis-communication.
  • Sorted in seconds (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Linker3000 (626634) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @03:12PM (#28456853) Journal

    Just ask to see the company's quarterly electricity bill. If it's greater than 0.00EUR (0.00GBP/0.00USD) walk away.

  • But there comes a point where you ahve heard the same song and dance 100 times where you can take the , I'll believe it when it's in a quality paper or has something on the shelf.

    You do not take every ghost story, weird light, and free energy machines seriously unless they have some different data or proof you haven't seen 100 times.
    Unless of course your hired to do so.

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