This post was sparked by Dendric who has been arguing for various ideas as regards Free Energy, and maybe feels annoyed that we aren’t accepting the new theories that explain the way the universe works in a different way to the standard. Dendric has put up his own website with pointers to various theories and ideas at http://ufsolution.wix.com/unifiedfieldsolution for people to look at.
My problem is not with new ideas. When I was learning physics a long time ago I had to learn quite a few new ideas, some of which were mutually exclusive – they couldn’t both be correct but we had to accept them as such because they gave the right predictions as to what we actually measure when we do the experiments. Part of the drive for a Theory Of Everything is to try to get a mutually-consistent set of theories that don’t have those ugly mismatches at the edges. So far, no-one has succeeded is making such a theory that is understandable to most people. Although String Theory is supposed to get pretty close to being consistent, it’s said that there only half a dozen people in the world that actually understand it (and I’m not one of them). Still, as a mainstream theory, with 11 dimensions and 8 of them curled up so we can’t see them it certainly takes a lot of swallowing. Given that, the Aether theories look pretty tame by comparison and thus easy to believe that they might be right.
The problem, though, is when you come to predicting what we’ll measure in any particular experiment. If you predict that you will be able to utilise ZPE, then when you build a device that is designed to do just that then we should measure more energy out than in. So far, no-one has shown that actually working, so there must be a problem with the theory. We still have the logical problem of not being able to prove a negative, so although a failure to demonstrate ZPE is not in itself a demonstration that it is impossible, when enough people have tried and failed you should have a pretty good idea that the principle is wrong.
The common problem with all the OU devices either currently advertised or in the archives is that we can’t actually test one and show that it works. There is no Searl Generator that works. The one that was claimed to work flew away. Tom Beardon’s MEG has no extant working version. Bill Alek’s OU Auroratek transformer can’t be shown to work for longer than it takes the battery to run down, and the same applies to the battery-powered GAIA bubble-machine. There’s no working Perendev magnetic motor, there’s no working Keely motor, there’s no working John Rohner motor, there’s no…. Yep, it gets boring after a while, since no matter how clever the theory is there isn’t an actual working device you can go see and measure the output. Yep, you can point an FLIR camera at things and see where the heat is (and isn’t) but there is nothing you can take home with you and plug in a real load and it will just work. I have no doubt that my emergency generator works; I fill it with fuel and oil and pull the cord, after which it will give me a couple of kW until the fuel runs out. I have no doubt a UPS would keep my computer running – until the battery runs out. The point about an OU device (or other exotic energy ideas) is that I would get the same result without needing to either refill the fuel or recharge the battery. If I had to refill the fuel can, water would be a nice thing to use instead of an oil derivative, being a whole lot cheaper.
A public demonstration of an OU machine is quite acceptable to the authorities. Rosch did a pretty-public demo and convinced quite a few people, and there are a lot of examples from history where various OU devices have been openly advertised and demonstrated. Rossi has done a few too…. If the demo is well-staged, then a fair number of people have left convinced they’ve seen OU or exotic energy in action. Getting one to take home and use is another story though. You can order one and pay for it, but somehow the delivery-date keeps getting extended until it’s obvious to a blind man it isn’t going to happen. GDS are playing that game at the moment, hoping for enough people to pay before the game is up and Greg Potter has to depart to another country that hasn’t an extradition treaty. Should we give him a bit more time to deliver and avoid telling the world it’s a scam in case it isn’t? Do we need to keep such an open mind that we forgive the slight lapse of never showing it working over the last 4 years or so (that we know of) whilst still offering it for sale?
A freshly-minted science graduate will have a known set of things that are true and a known set that aren’t. With experience, though, and some time actually working at new ideas, that graduate should come to the realisation that our theories are only the best we know so far and that even well-respected ones can be overturned and can be shown to have a limited range of validity. They are fine for the normal situation, but if you go outside the known limits then you need to apply some more-complex maths or something totally new happens. However, what the theories really do for us is to predict what will happen when we do something, and what we will measure as a result.
What I ask for Dendric’s theories (or at least the ones he espouses) is a set of predictions. The predictions will be of the form: if you design something this way, and build a device to these specifications, you will measure this result. That result, of course, needs to be different to what the standard theories would predict for the same configuration and actions. I want a degree of specificity. Can we get antigravity or at least something that gives us a thrust without needing reaction-mass being ejected? Can we get an endless stream of work out of a device without needing to refuel? Can we get a miniature nuclear power reactor that is safe to use? Add in your own wish-list here….
In the absence of such specific results, it’s fine to discuss the ideas and think about a different explanation of the way the universe works but it should be realised that until there is some concrete testable result attainable then it can’t be proven. To show that the ideas have some validity, we’ll need to actually build something and get the measurements. Until that data is in and can be validated by other people, we might as well stick to the theories that work well-enough.
I can claim I have a unicorn in my field below the vines. I can produce a photo of her if needed (but note that the horn doesn’t show up on a digital camera and can only be seen by virgins anyway). Difficult to get a photo anyway, but I managed it. In order to prove that Réglisse isn’t a unicorn you have to come visit with a team of unicorn experts (and they must be all virgins) to test out my theory. I expect I can find reasons to dismiss your dismissal of my claims, by calling the sexual purity of your testers into question, so apart from the cost of the whole exercise you can’t stop me claiming that Réglisse actually exists and is a unicorn. Yep, gets a bit silly, doesn’t it? A logical response, since I’m doing the claiming, is to ask me to prove I’m correct and to assume I’m either mistaken or lying to get publicity and/or money. In the same way, someone with a claim for some new physics has to show me that it’s valid. It’s not up to me to prove that they are wrong, but it’s up to them to prove they are right or at least show that the claim is reasonable. A really good way to show that the claim is valid is to build a real device and to show that it works as specified.
In the end, it all boils down to Mark’s catchphrase of “Show me the data!”. Without the data from a working device, any theory, no mater how attractive, is just another theory among many. Prove it.