Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The wacky world of the Web

There's been a bit of a kerfuffle lately about Steorn's perpetual motion machine. On their Web site, they proudly proclaim:

"We have developed a technology that produces free, clean and constant energy.

This means never having to recharge your phone, never having to refuel your car. A world with an infinite supply of clean energy for all.

Our technology has been independently validated by engineers and scientists - always off the record, always proven to work."

They're obviously doing something right, to get all of this publicity, but exceptional claims call for exceptional evidence. If you want to write off a century and a half of thermodynamics, that calls for very exceptional evidence indeed. And their evidence? "independently validated by engineers and scientists - always off the record". In other words, none at all. I won't be holding my breath.

Reading about Steorn reminded me of another proponent of alternative energy sources, Gary Johnson. On the face of it, he seems like a sensible chap. His book "Wind Energy Systems" (on that page) is a pretty decent text. But scroll down to the bottom of the page to find his two treatises on a whole new energy source. The evidence for its existence? The gist of the argument seems to be:

1. All energy sources known to physics are running out.
2. God wouldn't let us run out of energy.
3. Therefore physics is incomplete.

It's logic, Jim, but not as we know it.

Browsing through The Daily WTF, I stumbled across a reference to Alex Chiu. Clearly an out-and-out fruitcake. Or is he? Maybe he's found some suckers to pay for his snake oil. Even a brutal interview on Slashot doesn't seem to have perturbed him.

For a real loony, how about Gene Ray? Or is he some experiment in artificial intelligence?

Usenet newsgroups seem to attract their fair share of nutters. From, there's Mike Corley (Just how incompetent do you think MI5 are? They've been trying to kill you for fifteen years?) And from sci.military.naval, there's Alan Yu, who has been persecuted for years by "invisible tiny (like small ant size)" government agents.