Friday, December 22, 2006


I just had to blog about this. A friend of mine at a Networking group I belong to actually went to this company, Steorn, to see if they are for real. Only time will tell because they have put out a challenge.

They claim to have built a magnetic generator that produces a net energy gain and does not degrade in any way. Short meaning. Free energy, no cost. In the First Law of Thermodynamics, which is one of the most important fundamental principles of physics, in any process the total energy of the universe remains constant. Energy is never created or destroyed, it just changes form. Matter, is frozen energy. When you blow up a Nuclear bomb, you are simply releasing the energy of matter. Since E=MC2 then Matter contains a large amount of energy.

The basic point is that energy goes somewhere, it does not disappear or get created from no where. In fact even on the quantum level (where virtual particles pop in and out of existence in the quantum foam, as it is called) in the vacuum of space, there is a conservation of the law in the fact that the "borrowed energy" to create the virtual particles is paid back when they once again meet and extinguish themselves back to nothing.

This concept makes its way into Steven Hawkins' theory about back holes. He says the quantum foam produces virtual particles even close to the event horizon of the black hole. Theoretically then one of these virtual particles can be inside and one outside the back hole's event horizon. that means one gets sucked into the black hole and the new one gets to exist for no cost with its "borrowed energy" from the universe thereby increasing the energy level of the universe slightly. Since this defies the first law of thermodynamics, Hawkins proposed that the virtual particle that gets gravitationally trapped into the black hole, meets another anti-particle and wham, they dissapear and so then there is still no net gain of energy (in the form of particle matter) in the universe. Problem solved. Except that this means that black holes loose a tiny bit of mass every time that happens. The timescale and loss of mass is so small that it would take longer than the universe has to exist for a black hole to degrade this way, but in theory, black holes lose mass, they shrink.

The Steorn company claims that they have created a system in which there is a net energy gain. No heat is lost or mass degraded in the process. The system produces a net energy gain. If true, throw out the first law of thermodynamics or put a disclaimer in there, like sometimes energy is equal or mostly, energy is not lost or created or in the natural universe energy is not lost or created.

In this case, what about the second and third laws. Basically together they say that since the big bang, entropy is increasing an eventually it will even out to equalibrium. When that happens, as the temperature approaches absolute zero (but thoretically can never be absolute zero) all entropy slows and all processes cease. Basically, it's like your coffee in the morning. When you get it, someone heated it up using energy. The energy tranfered heat from the coils to the water to the coffee. As time goes by, entropy cools your coffee down. the heat energy in the coffee is released into the universe until it reaches equalibrium with it's envoronment.

We can never see that complete absolute zero value on earth because the sun is working really hard to warm us up with all kinds of radiation. Even the sun, though long lasting to be sure, is degrading by fusing Hydrogen and Helium to produce energy. That heat and light (and other radiation) is lost. Slowly the sun looses energy. Luckily the sun is extremely massive and since matter converts to a lot energy, the sun will be around for a long time to come. (Eventully the nuclear process that drives the sun will deplete enough matter that the energetic process will no longer be able to "push" out against the gravitational force of the matter and the sun will collapse to a small dwarf sun. Poor sun.)

So they create energy for the universe and do not burn, consume or transfer energy from any other source. This is all new energy. Sounds to good to be true? Probably but they have some interesting stuff to say. The following is a direct quote from their website:

Our Technology and the Laws of Physics

Steorn’s technology produces free, clean and constant energy. This provides a significant range of benefits, from the convenience of never having to refuel your car or recharge your mobile phone, to a genuine solution to the need for zero emission energy production. It also provides a secure supply of energy, since the components of the technology are readily available.

The technology is in a constant state of development. The company has focused for the past three years on increasing power output and the development of test systems that allow detailed analysis to be performed.

Steorn’s technology appears to violate the ‘Principle of the Conservation of Energy’, considered by many to be the most fundamental principle in our current understanding of the universe. This principle is stated simply as ‘energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only change form’.

Steorn is making three claims for its technology:

  1. The technology has a coefficient of performance greater than 100%.
  2. The operation of the technology (i.e. the creation of energy) is not derived from the degradation of its component parts.
  3. There is no identifiable environmental source of the energy (as might be witnessed by a cooling of ambient air temperature).

The sum of these claims is that our technology creates free energy.

This represents a significant challenge to our current understanding of the universe and clearly such claims require independent validation from credible third parties. During 2005 Steorn embarked on a process of independent validation and approached a wide selection of academic institutions. The vast majority of these institutions refused to even look at the technology, however several did. Those who were prepared to complete testing have all confirmed our claims; however none will publicly go on record.

In early 2006 Steorn decided to seek validation from the scientific community in a more public forum, and as a result have published the challenge in The Economist. The company is seeking a jury of twelve qualified experimental physicists to define the tests required, the test centres to be used, monitor the analysis and then publish the results.

Steorn has decided to publish its challenge in The Economist because of the breadth of its readership. "We chose it over a purely scientific magazine simply because we want to make the general public aware that this process is about to commence and to generate public support, awareness, interest etc for what we are doing."

Check Steorn out, here.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

The British Are Coming! The British Are Coming!

OK. So they aren't really coming, but I went to them and guess what? They like me in jolly ole England. So much so that I write regularly for the British Science Fiction Writer's Association. They have a few magazines.

Check out my latest article here.

Subscribe to the magazine here.

See a picture of a Claudia Christian.

See a picture of me.

See me and Claudia Christian. (You have to do that yourself, I do.)


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Black Hole Eats Big Star. Sounds Dirty But It's Not.

Before the story remember to Click here to take my survey. Thanks!

NASA telescope sees Black Hole gulping remote star.

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A giant Black Hole displaying horrifying table manners has been caught in the act of guzzling a star in a galaxy 4 billion light-years away, scientists using an orbiting NASA telescope said on Tuesday.

To read the rest click here.

This is too cool. The amount of energy and power it takes for a Black Hole to rip apart and swallow a star is unimaginable. Think of an elephant being ripped apart and sucked down into a tiny pinprick and you get the idea. That is probably not really even a close analogy but I like it all the same.

For the uninitiated, a Black Hole is the remnant of a collapsed star of a certain, large, size. After the star swells it then collapses on itself. A few things can happen.

One, it can grow to a Red Giant and then puff off its outer layer leaving a charred cinder called a Brown Dwarf. It may glow for a while as a White Dwarf but eventually it dies a slow death, like the campfire burning out but not of fire but of nuclear energy fading. The ejected gas is a mixture of elements called a Nebula. Eventually the Nebula will feed a new star's material. This is how the universe was built when Hydrogen stars coalesced and then exploded over billions of years, each time the Gravity caused Hydrogen atoms to fuse into ever more complex molecules. Eventually the stuff of life was the result. (Or God make the whole shebang in seven days, whatever.) The Brown Dwarf is like a very, very large Jupiter that barley emits energy or light. Many think that Brown Dwarf stars may be part of the dark matter we can't find in the universe, along with Black Holes and other Baryonic stuff.

Another possibility is that in a larger star, the star explodes in a Supernova and then what's left collapses back on itself and compresses so tight that the electron-proton pairs become pushed together to form Neutrons. The Neutrons are strong enough to resist further condensing so the result is called a Neutron Star. This is the heaviest mass object in the universe. From the NASA website: According to astronomer and author Frank Shu, "A sugar cube of Neutron Star stuff on Earth would weigh as much as all of humanity!" The reason the star goes Supernova is that in the Neutron state the outer layer "bounces" off the hard surface and shoots back outward. The only thing that stops the star from continuing to collapse is that the Neutron material is strong enough to resist it's own Gravity. The resulting object is a mere few miles wide but incredibly dense! Neutron Stars are sometimes called Pulsars when they spin because they emit an Electromagnetic emission in a regular pulse.

The final result is a Black Hole. Really massive stars collapse and because the core is so heavy it can't resist it's own Gravity. (No will power I guess.) The result is that the matter continues to fall in on itself until everything is sucked into what's called a Singularity. A Singularity is a point in space where Gravity is infinite and the point has zero volume. And weird crap happens. Like the Gravity is so strong that light can't even go fast enough to escape so it is trapped in to an endless revolution around the Black Hole. Pretty much breaking the established laws of physics that light is the speed limit of the universe. The Black Hole is the end point of a star's life but also can be seen as an endpoint to reality as we know it to exist in our "normal" functioning universe. That's why the Black Hole is a wired object. It is something that is so small and dense it can't exist in our universe, yet, there it is! Contrary to popular belief, a Black Hole doesn't suck thinks into it. You can safely revolve around a Black Hole forever if you are far enough away. The point of no return is the Event Horizon or the radius from the center (if we could find the damn center since it is of zero volume!) called the Schwartzschild Radius. At this point the escape velocity is the speed of light and since nothing goes faster than light, well...

OK, so that's weird, right. Here’s the weirdest thing. Einstein's General Theory of Relativity predicted Black Holes and by God there they are. But since Time and Space are all dimensions affected by Gravity, a Black Hole will also cause time to slow down to a stop. In fact, any Gravity field will cause time to slow by a small amount but it takes a super-massive one to make time slow down significantly. Go live in the orbit of a Black Hole and you can watch the universe speed up around you. Since Einstein said we can't distinguish between a Gravity field and an accelerating object, the faster you go, time also will slow down until you get to the impossible-to-attain, speed of light. So in essence, photons, the carriers of the EM force (which light is a part of) have no sense of time since they are always flying around at the speed of themselves. Photons are not affected by time. Since they are massless, they can do that. To speed even a pebble of sand to the speed of light the mass would increase (to make up for time and space dilation) and the pebble would become infinitely massive and require infinite energy to push. Not happening anytime soon.

As related to this story above, a star that finds itself on a trajectory towards a Black Hole will eventually become trapped by the Black Hole's Gravity. It will become ripped apart literally from one end to the other and then if on an angular path, the resulting gas will accrete in a disk and become "swallowed" by the Black Hole. We can see this happening because as the "stuff" of the star breaks apart and speeds up in the gravitational pull it gets heated and emits energy in the X-Ray and Gamma-Ray spectrum of the EM scale. This is obviously before it crosses the event horizon where nothing can escape. Just like in a good detective story or piece of abstract art, it is what is not there that defines a Black Hole rather than what is there. But we know it is there from its effect on matter or how things act within its gravitational pull around it.