I recently came across the documentary Thrive. Among other things, it claims that free energy devices–machines that generate more energy out than they have coming in–exist and work, however they have been completely and successfully suppressed by powerful people who profit from fossil fuels.
I suppose to some people this is a very satisfying idea, that lines up with a certain world view. However I see many serious problems with the “free energy device” train of thought:
* Physics: the ideas they are proposing don’t work with our current understanding of physics. Granted, they could have found something new, but then they’d have to show it. I met a gentleman last year, a social entrepreneur, who had seen dozens of these machines over the years, and never found one that was actually creating energy. He said that the inventors were looking at the wrong numbers–possibly because they didn’t understand power readings–and so there was in fact no energy gain.
* Control of information in the internet era: so the most powerful government in the world seems helpless to stop very low level people, like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, from sharing extremely embarrassing government information. But somehow they are able to keep down this true “game changer” of a technology? Really?
* Power: Basically the empire that controls the most energy rules the world. If these energy creating machines existed, every government would be chasing after them with gusto. And energy supplies are a growing problem for the military around the world.
The US military and the German military have both released reports that show series concerns about energy supplies. http://www.resilience.org/stories/2010-10-01/military-reports-leading-charge-peak-oil-debate In fact it’s so bad, that the US military has been funding biofuels research! (Unfortunately biofuels are a net negative return on energy.) I’ve also heard of pretty amazing military solar technology. If these military folks could get energy producing machines, they’d do it in a heartbeat.
* Money: Think about the Sandhill Road VC types that you’ve met. Do they strike you as cooperative people who are willing to forgo profit? Heck no! They’re driving hard to make every dollar they can. I’d be shocked if any government could keep these rabid capitalists from making monster profits from an energy producing machine. They would step all over each other to be the first to get the machine, patent it, and make huge money. What happens instead is that they employ people, such as the gentleman I mentioned above, who check out these “free energy machines,” with their own measuring equipment, shake their heads, and say “I’ve seen this before, you’re confusing X with Y.”
* Academics: So you mean to tell me that there are a whole generation of physics researchers lusting after Nobel prizes, or heck even just tenure, who are purposely ignoring this “promising” field of free energy machines? Or that they have been “warned away” by the government, and it just doesn’t get talked about? Look, science has progressed far enough that now researchers are building machines to leverage the momentum of light. Which closet are the free energy machines going to be hidden in?!
* Human nature: Let’s face it: when the stakes are really high, people often don’t play nicely. And the higher the stakes, the more nasty things get. There are lots of stories of rivalries among the rich that tell me it’s far from one big happy group of co-conspirators. There’s always someone who believes that they are better off going it on their own, be it in academia, venture capital, government, military, or owners of professional sports teams . You’re telling me they’re going to agree to keep the free energy machine a secret–for decades–and have nobody break ranks? I honestly think the existence of a free energy machine is more likely than those “big people” being able to cooperatively keep it a secret. 🙂
So look–if free energy machines existed, I think we’d all find out about in a big hurry. Especially in the age of wanton profit seeking and unlimited information sharing, it seems very unlikely that a secret like this could be kept. And if it does exist, it’s not that hard to prove–think about it.