A canna’ change the laws of physics

Scotty, The Naked Time, stardate 1704.3, Episode 7

Posts Tagged ‘Professor Stephen Smith’

My First Thirteen Months

Posted by apgaylard on October 5, 2008


What do I remember?

I’ve just come back from holiday and it’s dawned on me that I’ve been blogging for just over a year now; so I thought I’d indulge myself with a bit of a retrospective.

What got me going?  I had been lurking, and then commenting on Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science blog.  I had got drawn into the site via his weekly column in the Guardian.  I found that the use of basic scientific principles to expose nonsense in the media really got me thinking about science more generally again.  It also started to remind me how much of the physics I’d studied for my degree I had forgotten as my career had drifted into a narrow branch of engineering. 

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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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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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Promoting The Impossible

Posted by apgaylard on October 19, 2007

It would seem that it’s not just newspapers that are prepared to believe whatever wild claims are made by purveyors of whacky technology.  BBC One’s Breakfast News carried a piece about Ecowatts‘ “Thermal Energy Cell“.  It comprised an interview with Ecowatts’ CEO Paul Calver.

To say that this was gentle would be an understatement.  There was absolutely no testing of his claims or remotely challenging questions.  You can see the piece on Ecowatts’ website.

Just compare some of the following statements, made by Mr Calver with what was already in the public domain; thanks to some very credulous reporting in the Daily Mail two days previously and a better article in the Daily Telegraph in 2003.

“… we have had this very carefully checked by a number of key universities to ensure that our measurements are right and our observations are correct…”

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