Spin me baby one more time…

Being a scientist I generally like to be able to explain things. I also like things to be clear and understandable. Cooking is a great example of this. If the recipe calls for 46.8 grammes of flour, it will get 46.8 grammes of flour. I generally like to prepare as much as possible before even turning on the oven so that I can add things at the specific time points needed. What infuriates me however is when recipes call for “a pinch” of this or “a handful” of that. I nearly exploded recently when a recipe called for the mixture to have the firmness of “an earlobe!” What does a standard earlobe firmness feel like? Is my handful bigger than yours?

My old physics teacher, who was a great teacher and one of the reasons I went into science, always got annoyed when we answered calculations without units.

Teacher : So what is the circumference of the circle? Anyone?

Me: Eh, is it 14.3, sir?

Teacher: 14.3? 14.3 what? Bananas? Donkeys? Unnnnniiiitts, where are the units?

Me: Oh, right, eh, 14.3 centimetres?

He taught us the fundamentals of the universe. We learnt why you float in space, why the sky is blue, how heavy you would weigh on the moon, what temperature water boils at on the top of Everest etc. Fascinating stuff.

He also taught us that energy can never be created nor destroyed. Fundamentally this is a given. There is no argument and if it were proven to be incorrect under any circumstances, science as we know would be back to square one. Society would be fundamentally and unimaginably altered. Think of what you could do if you had a “free” source of energy. The oil companies would be out of business, there’d be no more need for nuclear energy, electricity would be limitless and clean, the implications go on and on.

So, it is with a heavy dose of skepticism that I tell you about Steorn, an Irish company that have just claimed to have produced free energy. Steorn claims, through spinning magnets, to get more energy out of their system than they put in. Unlike a lot of hoaxes however they have admirably opened the experiment up to scientists from around the world to investigate their claims. The results will be in soon and I think they might be in for a disappointment.

They have also offered to put the mechanism on show in the Kinetica museum in London for a few days so that the general public can view it. However at the last minute the exhibition was postponed “indefinitely?” They claim that lights in the museum were heating the apparatus up and affecting its performance. Veeeeerrrry fishy if you ask me. In general I think it’s just too good to be true and nobody screws with the laws of physics!

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3 responses to “Spin me baby one more time…

  1. It is unfortunate that he seems to be oblivious to the science behind the claim he has just made. He does seem to be totally engrossed the hype which is a pity.

    The old adage “If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.” comes well and truly into play here.

  2. I saw the ads in Economist, and I thought all the world’s troubles were over.

    Oh well…

  3. I’m nearly certain that Aileens friends Niamh works for Steorn in their marketing department. Nearly certain!

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