(FREE) POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Claims of ‘free energy’ devices pepper the history of science. Investigating some of the wildest claims, where claims of scientific breakthroughs meet sinister suppression.
It is the future. You are rising in your home along with your family. None fights to get to the bathroom first because there is always hot water and everyone uses as much as they want. Over breakfast your kids explain how they are getting on with their cold fusion experiments at school. You send them off on the vehicle that will fly them to school, then receive a call from a salesman offering to sell you a power plant that’s even less expensive and more efficient than the one you already own. Your lifestyle only requires a modest 100 kilowatts of electricity. Your friends have got a 1 megawatt plant to power the hot geyser they’ve got in the garden, but you’re not the kind of person who needs toys like that, just your basic pollution-free flying car and a modest amount of endless, free electricity is fine for your needs. You refuse his offer.
There’s a problem, though. In that old chestnut of official science, “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” a slightly silly expression meaning that you cannot get out more energy than you put into a system, the inviolable truth that has prevailed ever since Newton’s laws of thermodynamics showed why the universe is gradually becoming colder and more disorganised as energy dissipates across spacetime, like waves in water. Concepts and inventions that allow for the generation of useful energy from ‘empty space,’ are therefore as scientifically heretical as the telescope, microbiology, and continental drift once were. ‘Free’, or zero-point (ZP) energy, ideas provoke hostile negative reactions from those trained to think it is impossible for a machine to produce energy without either tapping a fund of stored energy (such as a battery, spring, the sun, or radioactive isotopes) or which harnesses the combustible power of fossil fuels. Yet devices that drawn on energy ‘from nothing’ have seemingly been achieved many times over the past hundred years, and not always with the hint of the dreaded ‘perpetual motion’ which will send most scientists - even ZP energy advocates - running for cover. We are not talking about any of the ‘green’ energy ideas that have become part of the global-warming alternative solutions agenda, like solar or wind. This is better than that, much better. Energy that is constant, inexhaustible, available anywhere, anytime, forever. Energy from nothing.
Concepts and inventions that allow for the generation of useful energy from ‘empty space,’ are therefore as scientifically heretical as the telescope, microbiology, and continental drift once were.
Except that, scientifically, there is no such thing as ‘empty space.’ Experiments in 1925 found that even airless void has a very small electromagnetic ‘jitter’ everywhere in the universe. This is the zero-point energy field which, by configurations of magnets or water-to-hydrogen splitters, and other techniques (see cold fusion), radical inventors drawn on ZP energy in what they claim to be limitless amounts. Detractors say the ZP energy is too miniscule to be useful since measuring it is ‘like trying to measure a beaker of water at the bottom of the ocean.’ While the usefulness of ZP energy is extremely contentious, the accepted effects of it (what is called the Casimir Effect) are accounted for in nanotechnology where it can bend and break molecular components. ZP energy inventors are banking on this ‘free’ ZP energy to banish our dependancy on fossil-fuels, and even reduce world poverty, since a ‘free energy’ device could be located almost anywhere to power homes, factories, vehicles, clean up pollution, and provide the means to purify unlimited amounts of water to irrigate vast areas such as deserts for almost no cost.
Since the 1960s a Christian commune, the Methernitha Cooperative, claims to have taken all its power from an implausible-looking machine called the Testatika (or Thestatica) which works by converting static electricity to electric force. It was invented by Paul Baumann, a German engineer who also founded the community under the principle ‘One for all and all for one!’ He spent twenty years perfecting his machine, researching conventional methods of non-polluting power like wind and solar before creating a device based on the Pidgeon electrostatic machine from 1889. It works by a friction process, counter-rotating disks rubbing together produce an ‘electron cascade’ similar to a lightning strike, supplying around 300 volts, depending on humidity, with drier air being preferred. The process negatively ionises the air surrounding the machine making it cool and fresh (and may have positive health benefits.) In 1999 thirty technicians assembled in Linden, Switzerland to see the Testatika in action. Most were impressed. “One can hardly believe it, with this slow rotation,” one observer exclaimed, “In any case, this cannot be explained in terms of bare electrostatics.” The Testatika may look like a prop from an Ed Wood science fiction movie, or a 1930s art deco attempt at a gramophone with its shiny segmented aluminum disk and twin ‘speaker’ tubes connected by coloured wires, but six of these machines have reportedly enabled the Methernithans to be self-sufficient and autonomous, a model of off-the-grid living. There is also a rumour that a Testatika is in the possession of another group in South America.
The Linden commune is a rare, perhaps unique, example of successful ZP energy living. By keeping their discoveries to themselves, and not pursuing a commercial goal, they have avoided the torment and failure that is an all-too-familiar story in the history of this New Science. The widespread belief (taken for granted in New Science circles) is that ZP energy concepts threaten - not only the world’s oil and gas companies - but also governments and the entire economic foundation of our society. Sceptics counter that all ZP energy devices are based on erroneous scientific thinking and misinterpretation of results by confused idealists. However, tales abound of how breakthrough inventions with the potential to increase wealth and improve the quality of life for whole populations have been suppressed and concealed, their inventors harassed, ignored, or paid to keep silent. Former US Patent Examiner Thomas Valone claims the existence of a nine-member committee that screens patents for national security implications with a covert agenda of filtering energy-related patents which could threaten the power and fossil fuel companies. He says there is a secret vault with over 4000 unnumbered energy patents within the U.S. Patent Office which have been confiscated from the inventors who are threatened with 20 years in prison if they release the information.
Things could be worse. Dr. T. Henry Moray (image at left), an inventor from Utah, received death threats and his family was shot at as reward for inventing a device that produced energy for free. Dr. Moray was an unrecognized pioneer in semiconductors and transistors, years ahead of his time. In the 1920s he developed a valve that when ‘tuned in’ to cosmic ‘radiant energy’ could produce 50 kilowatts of power for several days, enough to maintain a small factory. Although the patent office repeatedly rejected his applications because they couldn’t see where its power derived from, none of the distinguished people who came to his demonstrations, politicians and professors from Bell Labs included, could perceive any fraud. A scientist noted how the device produced a whiter, more intense shine from the bulbs it powered. He wrote: "One is therefore forced to conclude that the electrical energy was received from some other source and difficult as it is to understand, with our present knowledge of electrical generation, no other conclusion can be drawn from the demonstration [...] than that the energy was received by and through the apparatus as claimed by Dr. Moray."
The U.S. government refused Dr. Moray’s offer to take the radiant energy device for free because they were “not running in competition with public utilities,” which looks like a conspiracy theory right there on a plate. The device used a cold cathode, which we would know in the form of a neon light, but was fantastical sorcery to the science of the day. While Dr. Moray fought to get his patents accepted mystery assailants in black cars fired bullets at his family and Bringhurst his research associate. Three times Dr. Moray was attacked at his laboratory. Felix Frazer, a man employed to work in Moray’s Lab by the federal government eventually smashed up the radiant energy device with an axe because the inventor had refused to turn over his laboratory notes to him. Dr. Moray’s credibility was attacked, and his son later found that his patent applications had vanished from patent office files. The family had spent millions on materials and equipment in a time of economic depression. All that remain now are a few indistinct black and white photographs of the active device and some incomplete plans which can be seen in The Energy Machine of T. Henry Moray by Moray B. King.
One of the most public cases of scientific persecution and suppression in the United States is that of Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957), a psychoanalyst whose medical work on orgone, another form of ZP energy, led to a medieval spasm of book-burning, denunciation, and confinement-hastened death in the 1950s. Adherents to Reich’s term orgone include ‘Bill WIlliams’ who recently developed the Joe cell, a fairly simple device which he claimed tapped this energy to power a car via electrically-charged water. This continued the work of controversial water fuel inventor Stanley Meyer who made a water-powered car that allegedly violated the first law of thermodynamics. In April 2006, following a period in which Williams had been disclosing his methods on the internet, he was confronted out on the road by two strangers. “The driver stated that they wanted me to stop working on all forms of alternative energy,” Bill explained. “He also stated that we know everything about me, my family, and all my projects past and present. At about that time the passenger reached and held up a file that was about two or so inches thick. He opened it up and showed me telephone transcripts, emails, messages from the groups that I had belonged to. They knew where my kids worked, the times they are at work; also my wife's working hours, my grandkids' school, etcetera. They knew everything. The driver said that if I did not stop working on this (he then opened up the left side of his jacket and showed his weapon that was holstered) that there would be other consequences. He also stated that he wanted me to post that I was no longer working in this field and to destroy all my work.” After thinking it over for several days, Bill destroyed his cell, documents, and shut down his website, declaring himself finished with “any form of alternative energy,” but not before inspiring others to replicate his work.
Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957)
The widespread belief (taken for granted in New Science circles) is that ZP energy concepts threaten - not only the world’s oil and gas companies - but also governments and the entire economic foundation of our society
T. Henry Moray (1892-1974)
with his radiant energy device
Detractors say the Zero-Point energy is too miniscule to be useful since measuring it is ‘like trying to measure a beaker of water at the bottom of the ocean.’
They knew everything. The driver said that if I did not stop working on this... that there would be other consequences. He also stated that he wanted me to post that I was no longer working in this field and to destroy all my work.
Dr. Moray’s credibility was attacked, and his son later found that his patent applications had vanished from patent office files.
Another inventor on the ZP energy frontier always running into trouble is Adam Trombly who claims that one of his inventions became a national security issue. Dennis Lee, ‘the P.T. Barnum of free power to the people’, was ordered by the State of California to go to prison for two years after he launched a national advertising campaign for his ZP energy invention.
And just when you think nothing that drastic could possibly happen to an inventor in Britain, the land that cherishes Doctor Who, there is the curious case of John Roy Robert Searl. From 1946, Searl was inspired by the numerical game of hopscotch to carry out experiments relating numbers to the structure of the atoms in the elements of the periodic table. He found how the structure of each atom of each element followed a defined numeric structure. This led to tables defining the structures of combinations of elements which he called The Law of the Squares, a configuration of numbers that might appeal to any suduko fanatic. First at his employers premises, then at his home in Haringey, London, Searl built his over-unity generator, essentially a triple concentric ring-shaped device of customised metals with magnetic cylinders that rolled around the outside of the rings. The rotating interplay of strong magnetic fluxes with Searls’ special alloy somehow tapped the ZP energy, drawing it off to be converted into significant amounts of useful electricity: “like dipping a waterwheel into a stream” as he noted. The generator runs by itself indefinitely but because the rollers will eventually incur wear (Searl thinks after fifty years) it is not perpetual motion. If this ‘Searl Effect’ wasn’t impossible enough, by impelling the rollers to rotate faster, he found that, not only did more free power issue from the generator, it also became a cold superconductor and lifted into the air. It was, therefore, an anti-gravity device too, another Holy Grail of modern physics.
With a small team of assistants Searl spent most of the 1960s and 70s perfecting his Inverse Gravity Vehicle, a number of flying saucers containing a SEG, going up to 30ft in diameter. BBC television came to film it in his back garden, footage that has been out of circulation for years, fuelling suspicion as to its veracity. From 1964 Warminster experienced a major UFO ‘flap’ with hundreds, if not thousands, of witnesses to flying disks. Searl explains these as sightings of his IGV, which “rippled the roof tiles” of houses as it was being tested. Astonishingly, this information has been overlooked in every analysis of the Warminster incidents to date; the closest anyone has come to explaining the disk sightings cites the military presence on nearby Salisbury Plain. Could it have been Searl’s doing all along? He further claims that US airforce specialists deemed the IGV ‘too dangerous’ for exerting a force of 25Gs on turning (an astronaut would not expect to experience more than about 5-7Gs on takeoff/landing.) The Queen ignored Searls’ free offer of an SEG, perhaps she already had one. Things really started going awry when the Electricity Board tore all the wiring out of Searl’s home, and confiscated the SEG he had been using to meet his electricity needs for years. He spent nine months in prison for abstracting (stealing) electricity. The Board refused to return his generator. His papers were burned, and his team were scared off. When he came out of prison he had nothing. So while he could get around Newton’s laws, apparently, there was no bucking the law of Murphy for John Searl.
With these disasters behind him, the 75 year-old Searl is at this time making a comeback with a new SEG in production. From his emails to me his purpose and good humour is strong, buoyed-up by the resurgence of interest in his work. Currently in ‘prototype’ model, the full version SEG is expected next year. His associate Dr. Terry Moore tells me, “The rebuild has been slowed down by the firm offers of assistance from Thailand, Israel and Italy and the provisional offers of help from Japan and Korea [...] Thailand is now almost ready to start... We are now building the revised magnetization equipment. The prototype work may now move from California to Thailand, where we can work full time on the prototype instead of just working in spare time! Final arrangements are being sorted at the moment. If all goes well, Thailand will complete the prototype and Italy will make additional prototypes. Israel are to work on a ‘Power Station’ sized version and Thailand will also start work on the IGV. There is interest from Taiwan, but no firm offer as yet.”
So with all this activity underway, is Searl a crackpot scientific Pied Piper or a gifted amateur, a genius even? One of his strongest critics, a reputable physicist, has refuted many things about Searl’s work and character personally to me, but will not publicly stand behind them since he is planning to expose scientific charlatanism - Searl included - in a ‘bombshell’ of a book. He despairs that genuine science is becoming regarded by many people as a ‘scam’, and that Searl can attract followers with nothing but his ‘idiot savaunt’ charisma while accredited scientists are expected to provided detailed proof as to why over-unity and ZP energy claims are unscientific: a topsy-turvey state of affairs that flourishes on the internet. Searl certainly isn’t shy about presenting himself as a man unencumbered by education, laying open his mind for all to see (his work including the highly idiosyncratic The Law of the Squares). Presently, the extraordinary claims for his SEG issue from him and his assistants, and scientists from the Russian Academy of Science who reproduced the SEG and observed gravitational effects they couldn’t explain within accepted theories.
Mystery goons who aren’t cool with energy tinkerers aren’t just confined to the United States. British engineer Dave Lawton had problems of his own when he tried to get local government funding for his own water-cell project. The method uses a small chamber of electrolyzed metal tubes to split water into its constituent oxygen and hydrogen gases, plus an exotic ‘cold electricity’ that does not shock. Lawton claims to have succeeded in getting such scientifically ‘impossible’ results - before trouble reared itself. “It wasn’t so much an intimidation,” he told me at his home in Wales, “It was like this: I tried to apply for some money, and the government’s trying to look for some ways to create fuels, so I applied to the WDA, the Welsh Development Agency. They were very pleasant, and they said ‘have your proposal worked up.’ And with a friend of mine, we put together a proposal. These two people arrived. (This sounds like a bit like a MIB story!) Black car, black suits, a man and a woman, bit like Mulder and Scully. I invited them in, said, "Would you like a cup of tea?" They were really deadpan, wouldn’t accept a cup of tea, no humour whatsoever. They sat down and I went through the process of the cell which they didn’t seem to understand, there was no feedback, no positive energy from them at all. They said, "We’ll take away the proposal and get back to you." They took away the proposal and this went on a couple of weeks, and I rang the WDA, and said "I haven’t heard anything yet," and a lady said, "I’ll get in touch with these people." Then she got back to me and said, "They sent it back to you." And I said ‘I haven’t had it back.’ She said ‘they sent it back to you. I waited a week, phoned them again. She said, "They told me they sent it back to you." This went on for a while so I got my friend - who trained as a barrister - and he got very heavy with them [...] The WDA eventually got back and said, "Oh no, it’s in the post now, special delivery," and I didn’t get it back special delivery.” Is this a case of ordinary bureaucratic insouciance or a half-cocked attempt at suppression?
Undeterred, Lawton got in touch with Ravi Raju, an Indian engineer who also built a hydrogen cell from plans developed by Meyer. Within hours of making email contact with Dave Lawton nine people, including six from the local tax office, showed up and searched his business premises, removing records. During their search Raju was told to cease all hydrogen research. Later when went down the tax office to straighten things out, officials there said they didn’t know who three of the men were, and admitted to receiving four calls and written instructions from a ‘higher authority’ to go immediately to his workshop. Their intimidation attempts obviously failed since as from August 2007 his work can be viewed. Ravi Raju confirms to me that he has received a subsequent threat. It is all especially peculiar since the Indian government has publicly committed to developing a hydrogen-powered transport fleet for their cities (in their ‘Automotive Mission Plan 2006-16’).
Within hours of making email contact with Dave Lawton nine people, including six from the local tax office, showed up and searched his business premises, removing records.
CGI impression of the SEG,
Searl Effect Generator
The Queen ignored Searls’ free offer of an SEG, perhaps she already had one.
Genuine science is becoming regarded by many people as a ‘scam’, and that Searl can attract followers with nothing but his ‘idiot savaunt’ charisma while accredited scientists are expected to provided detailed proof as to why over-unity and ZP energy claims are unscientific: a topsy-turvey state of affairs that flourishes on the internet.
The grand claims made for the SEG in no way harms the cause of orthodox science; if anything, it helps to keep proper scientists on their toes. Surely any curious scientist could spare a few hours to check out a lifetime’s work; it can hardly be too much to ask considering the urgent need for alternative energy research. One sometimes wonders if the purpose of science is to prevent dissent from its sacred beliefs, or to improve the quality of life by any possible means. Theories can be overturned by results, that has to be ultimately more important than what a textbook says, or else we are still living in the age of Galileo with ostracism instead of the stake as reward for our heretics. If all goes to plan we shall soon see if Searl’s best contribution to humanity is his crackpot optimism or his invention.
As Searl’s followers await his final results, there is already an ‘impossible’ energy invention that is beyond the prototype stage and, according to the company behind it, is actually being manufactured, with no sign of the Men In Black either. Meet the Energy By Motion machine, a hulking device that uses magnetic fields as fuel to produce more than 80% excess energy, and no noise or pollution. With the backing of several major corporations, and the Canadian government, work began in 1980 in laboratories in Toronto, Houston, London and Budapest under Dr. Leslie Szabó, a Hungarian physicist. The technology resembles a conventional generator with steel and copper windings being rotated in a magnetic field. It needs a small motor or engine to get it started and up to speed, then it runs by itself, taking enough of the excess power it produces to keep itself going. The rest is converted into electricity and heat. An EBM can now be ordered, with sizes ranging from 300 kilowatts (enough for domestic use) for 1 million Euros to 225 megawatts (for factories, railways, etc.) Ten of millions have been invested in researching over a hundred prototypes, and a manufacturing plant. The huge effort behind the EBM, involving dozens of scientists in four countries, flew right under the sights of ZP energy enthusiasts until GAMMA Manager KFT, the company making the machine, issued an open invitation in November 2006 to see different-sized EBMs perform their miracle at its Budapest plant. Scientists have endorsed it (called ‘rentacranks’ by my scientific adviser). The government of Ukraine has placed orders for EBMs to power its railways. Steorn, the Dublin company which also claims to have a self-running magnetic device despite failing to show anything much except utopian rhetoric and grand, mysterious gestures might take note.
Arthur C. Clarke said that “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible he is very probably wrong.” I’m in agreement with that, even if the conservation of energy principle is sacrosanct to most scientists; free energy a voodoo concept. Serious efforts to tap the ZP energy field conclude that it may be possible to draw on this energy, but it would take much more energy going in to get anything out, making it practically useless. But no amount of argument or intimidation will stop the New Science inventors from trying to get at that elusive ‘free lunch’ as they dream of a world that is cleaner, more sustainable, more equal.
And bound for the stars.
EBM, Energy By Motion machine