Steorn's "Free Lunch" is tested today

Starting today, Steorn is displaying a scaled down version of a mechanical “over unity” or perpetual motion machine at the Kinetica Museum in London England. Dubbed the “Orbo” this device is supposed to use permanent magnets to generate a rotating motion that can then be harnessed in a way that defies conventional understanding of thermodynamics.

I’ve spoken about the Steorn device before in my blog, and what I’ve said before still stands. I think that they are either self-deluded, or an out and out fraud. I don’t think their demonstration in the museum will amount to much – it will either be a low friction device with source of motive power that is either hidden or not very obvious, or it will use stored power in some way. If they get it going at all - there seems to be a bit of confusion about that.

From Steorn’s website:
Orbo is based upon the principle of time variant magneto-mechanical interactions. The core output from our Orbo technology is mechanical. This mechanical energy can be converted into electrical energy using standard generator technology either by integrating such technology directly with Orbo or by connecting the mechanical output from Orbo to the generation technology. The efficiency of such mechanical/electrical conversions is highly dependent on the components used and is also a function of size.

Orbo technology is subject to continuous development. This development is focused on improving the manufacturability of the technology, production costs and power density. Orbo was initially developed as using stop-start mechanisms (with a power density of 0.5 Watts per cm3), Steorn is currently finalizing the development of constant motion systems and a significant improvement in power density is anticipated
Steorn CEO Sean McCarthy is quoted at Silicon Republic as saying:
Orbo technology… was discovered accidentally (and) theoretically produces energy from nowhere using magnetics.

“The law of conservation of energy has been very reliable for 300 years, however it’s missing one variable from the equation, and that’s time,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy explained … that Orbo technology works on the basis that occurrences in magnetic fields do not happen instantaneously, and are therefore not subject to time in the way that, say, gravity is.

This time variance allows the Orbo platform to generate and consistently produce power, going against the law of conservation of energy which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed.

“This is as big a claim as you can possibly make in the world of technology and science,” said McCarthy.
Endgadget has a photo of the device that is supposed to be tested at the museum, (shown here) and has been keeping track of when the Orbo is supposed to be displayed via streaming video online. (link to streaming video site)

The Kinetica Museum website also said that the event would start at 6PM London local time, but that has already passed as I write this – the newest word from the Over Unity forums is that the demonstration will start at 6PM ET. 6PM ET is 11PM London local time, which seems like an odd hour to start the demonstration. I think that perhaps Steorn may have encountered some setup problems. Any engineer could tell you that the first demonstration of a prototype model is fraught with danger. Personally I like to have prototypes in place and running the day before a demonstration, and I test them obsessively.

My opinion is that Sean McCarthy is speaking in technobabble. I’ve seen no mathematics to back up his claims, and I think that his working prototypes will either be found to be faulty, or will never actually become widely available – depending on whether McCarthy is self-deluded or a fraud.

There have been hundreds of claims of perpetual motion or over-unity energy machines. The claimants have been, without fail, unsuccessful in getting their machines into the market place. Perhaps this is because the secret cabal of scientists and power-mongers who control the world’s energy supplies have actively suppressed these inventors. Perhaps it is because these inventors are self-deluded, poorly educated, or frauds bent on separating investors from their money.

Steorn’s website has this to say about the Orbo
Under the terms of a modified general public licence and for a nominal fee, Steorn's intellectual property will be made available concurrently to all interested parties, from individual enthusiasts to larger research organisations. Steorn is taking this bold move to accelerate the deployment and acceptance of its technology for both humanitarian and commercial products.
I predict that the total combined energy added to power grids or used to power vehicles by Steorn devices will be easily measurable in watt-hours, and that all such energy will be consistent with conventional methods of energy storage and conversion. I predict that Steorn devices will amount to nothing, and that if these devices are made publicly available, the average person will never use one as more than a toy - a toy that eventually “winds down”.

I think these are optimistic predictions. A pessimistic prediction is that Steorn will always be right on the edge of the distribution of a practical device, and will even patent it – but it will never, quite, be ready for sale to the public. Or perhaps they will sell devices to the public under a very specific license that limits device owners in the way that they publish research on these devices.

My safest prediction is that Steorn’s personal stock will increase while they never quite succeed in creating a practical application from their over-unity machines.

On a final note, I'd like to make the observation that the Steorn website is in constant flux, web pages disappear and links to the Steorn website are apt to become dead without notice. I find that to be a bit odd.

6PM PT - July 4th update.

Well, the Steorn web page that talked about the demonstration has gone MIA. The live web feed has been showing a continuous picture of what looks like Big Ben. Endgadget is reporting that the event has been postponed due to technical difficulties. The Steorn web site says:
Update 4/7/07 23:30

Due to slight technical difficulties we will now be publishing the live stream as of Thursday 5th July.
Giving Steorn the benefit of the doubt - I'll say they merely had problems setting up their prototype, and this isn't a fraudulent event. But I'll make another prediction - I'll predict that Steorn's future will be plagued with problems where their products are almost ready to demonstrate.

10 AM PT - July 5th update

It seems like Steorn might not be online at all today. Text on the live stream link says:
Important update on the Kinetica demo:

We are experiencing some technical difficulties with the demo unit in London. Our initial assessment indicates that this is probably due to the intense heat from the camera lighting. We have commenced a technical assessment and will provide an update later today. As a consequence, Kinetica will not be open to the public today (5th July). We apologise for this delay and appreciate your patience.
Great, that's all we need. An electrical generator that is so sensitive that it breaks down due to unchecked ambient energy. Lights, leakage from your microwave oven, maybe even energy from your CB radio will kill it?

On a side note, camera 3 from the live stream shows the sidewalk outside the Kinetica art museum's window, where it appears that a street market is doing business. Occasionally you see a curious shopper peeking into the window at the Steorn display, which as of right now is merely an empty transparent box.

Has Steorn violated any laws of Physics? Are they merely converting energy from a previously untapped source? Will "The Government" shut them down before they can prove their concept? Has the "Oil Cartel" already bought out Sean McCarthy?

Orac, over at Respectful Insolence has more on Steorn.


Anonymous said...

surely if it was fake then it would be working immediately!
fact that there are technical difficulties does lend credence to it being real :)

Calladus said...

And if it had worked immediately, that would have "lent credence" to Steorn being a legitimate company, and not just another perpetual motion failure.

Heads you win, tails I lose.

Calladus said...

What is it about Steorn that attracts anonymous comments?

Okay all, fair warning - further anonymous comments on this topic will be ignored.

Anonymous said...

I think that it's on the verge of being a joke...and I mean literally they are in on it. I say this mainly because of what their excuse was. "The perpetual motion machine failed because of the heat generated by the light [of scutiny]"

Of course if it works then I've decided that I'll shave my head the day someone other than these guys build and make one work well enough to either light a bulb or charge a phone

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Off topic, but...

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Scott Hatfield