A canna’ change the laws of physics

Scotty, The Naked Time, stardate 1704.3, Episode 7

Archive for the ‘Impossibe Machines’ Category

Devices that claim to break the Laws of Thermodynamics. Perpetual Motion.

Fantasy physics and energy medicine

Posted by apgaylard on May 6, 2011

I’ve heard it said that, unlike the medical world, there is no such beast as alternative physics.  Whilst it’s true that made up* nonsense hasn’t penetrated physics education and practice in the same way as it has medicine, there is no shortage of people indulging in fantasy physics.  Perpetual-motion dreamers are prone to do this, as are advocates of so-called ‘energy medicine’.  In the case of the former, they are looking for excuses to support their claims for so-called ‘over-unity’ devices that are claimed to produce more energy than they consume.  The latter are looking for ‘explanations’ for how homeopathy, reiki etc. ‘work’.  Of course, neither of these communities actually have meaningful effects that require explanation.  This is about having some superficially ‘sciency’ prose to sell their wares, or reassure their devotees.

I’ve recently been pointed** at a cracking example of ‘energy medicine’ advocates indulging in some fantasy physics.  It’s hosted on the PositiveHealthOnline website and is called, Spirals and Energy in Nature, attributed to Robert McCoy.   It’s worth a look as an exemplar of the desperate nonsense that elements of the ‘energy medicine’ community dabble in.  It’s so rich a vein of fantasy physics that I’m sure that I’ll end up overlooking some howlers.  If I do, please feel free to point them out in the comments.

From Academic to Quackademic

First, I’d like to start by looking at one of the key authorities cited in the article, one Dr Valerie Hunt.  She retired as Professor of Physiology at UCLA in 1980; to quote her web biography:

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Posted in bad physics, Fluid Mechanics, Impossibe Machines, physics | Tagged: , , , , | 32 Comments »

Homeopathic hubris and bird flu

Posted by apgaylard on March 7, 2009

black_rubber_pirate_duckPeople convincing themselves to use so-called complementary or alternative treatments often use the rationalisation: “what harm can it do”.  On face value this can seem reasonable: homeopaths commonly dilute their alleged therapeutic ingredients to the point where it’s vanishingly unlikely that there is any ‘medicine’ left in the ‘medicine’.  Other examples come to mind: aromatherapy, for instance, just exposes users to nice smells and reflexology is a harmless foot rub. 

So is it possible for an essentially inert intervention to do harm?  The fusion of homeopathy, quack technology and delusional beliefs advocated by Richard Kenchington RSHom illustrate the potential for harm even in the absence of a real physical effect. 

Kenchington was, at the time he promoted the views discussed here, Managing Director of Crossgates Farm Homeopathics and Managing Director of Global Energies; as well as a recent Director of the Society of Homeopaths and a homeopathic practitioner.  His panacea is a development of a classic quack machine: the e-Lybra.  Working with Global Bioenergetics, he has apparently integrated its use with another improbable device, a so-called ‘bio-emitter‘.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in homeopathy, Impossibe Machines, Pseudoscience, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

BBC Breakfast Promises to do Better (Updated)

Posted by apgaylard on May 8, 2008

Sian and Paul laugh in the face of the laws of thermodynamicsThe BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) has just published its final rulings on my objections to two items featured on BBC One’s Breakfast News last year. These were the credulous promotion of Ecowatt’s miraculous water heater and the ‘Sound’ Learning Centre’s advocacy of Lightwave Stimulation (LWS) therapy for the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

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Posted in Ecowatts' Thermal Energy Cell, Lightwave Stimulation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Will Little Green Men Save The World?

Posted by apgaylard on March 23, 2008

Little Green MenI’m becoming increasingly interested in how dwindling stocks of fossil fuel, the economic expansion of some of the world’s most populous countries and concerns over the environmental impact of man-made CO2 are making people vulnerable to wild claims about miraculous energy sources.  It’s not that these concerns aren’t valid; it’s that people would like a solution that allows ‘business as usual’.  Unfortunately, life isn’t like that.  Wishful thinking doesn’t make problems, or the laws of physics, go away. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Impossibe Machines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A Bad Day at the Office

Posted by apgaylard on February 14, 2008

The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) has upheld the main thrust of my complaint about the coverage of Ecowatts’ so-called Thermal Energy Cell by the Breakfast programme.   Just in case you have a life and have not been following this saga, here’s the story so far.

A small UK company called Ecowatts has been hawking around a magic water heater that they claim gives out more (heat) energy than it consumes (electricity). 

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Posted in Ecowatts' Thermal Energy Cell | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Bad Day at the Office

Energy by Motion

Posted by apgaylard on January 5, 2008

 I’ve just come across the concept of “Energy By Motion“.  A Hungarian company (Gamma Manager) is claiming that an electromagnetic motor they have designed produces more electricity than is required to run it.

In fact PESWiki reports that the company “…allegedly has a working 10 MW (continuous, self-sustaining, usable) prototype that is ready to go commercial…”.

They apparantly claim that 10MW of input will get you 15MW of electrical output.

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Posted in Impossibe Machines, Logical Fallacies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Something Else That Doesn’t Add Up

Posted by apgaylard on December 30, 2007

Ben Goldacre’s review of his 2007 ‘Bad Science’ stories prompted me to check up on Ecowatts and their preposterous Thermal Energy Cell (TEC).  The claims made for this device range from violating the first law of thermodynamics to tapping in to an unknown source of energy within hydrogen atoms.  Either way, if true, someone should be booking flights to Stockholm.

Checking their website they have a terse press release responding to the ‘Bad Science’ coverage.  In part it says “…In July 2007, the power input measurements of the technology which was the subject of the Mail on Sunday article and BBC report, were verified by the National Physical Laboratory funded under a grant from the then Department of Trade and Industry…”

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Posted in Impossibe Machines | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Something Else That Doesn’t Add Up

It’s a Kind of Magic

Posted by apgaylard on December 19, 2007

Part of the stock-in-trade of the pseudo-scientist is the invocation of esoteric scientific concepts to ‘explain’ how their particular delusion ‘works’.  ‘Quantum‘ has become very popular.  Here’s an example that uses a less well known entry in their wacky lexicon: neutrino

The device in question is apparently called the “Elemental Rod Generator“.  It’s a source of free electricity that ‘works’ 24/7.

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Posted in Impossibe Machines | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

You Just Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up … But Someone Has!

Posted by apgaylard on November 23, 2007

Check out this list of “10 Great Snake-Oil Gadgets” from the Wired blog.  They’ve listed recent classics: Steorn’s Orbo, Clarins’ Expertise e3P “ultra-sheer screen mist” and the contemptible Krugel.  Some were new to me.

The big surprise, for me, was not the listing of that old favorite: dowsing; it’s the sheer number of comments leaping to its defense!

Posted in dowsing, Impossibe Machines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on You Just Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up … But Someone Has!

The BBC Is Not as Good as the Newspapers – The BBC

Posted by apgaylard on October 30, 2007

I had a very polite reply from the BBC about my complaint concerning the blatant plugging of Ecowatts‘ “Thermal Energy Cell” on BBC One’s Breakfast News.   

This is a device that is sometimes described as breaking the first law of thermodynamics; at other times it’s just tapping into a new source of energy previously unknown to science.  Either way, if true, it would be time to break out the Nobel Prizes and redraft the text books.

You’d think that was unlikely?  Well, yes very; unless you are Ecowatts or the BBC.

In this post I provide a commentary on the salient points that I’ve sent to the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU).  The BBC’s reply to my initial complaint is shown in bold.

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Posted in Ecowatts' Thermal Energy Cell | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »