At the risk of sounding crazy, or being labeled a “crack pot,” I have been asking some fundamental questions about Nature. My interest is in regenerating and stewarding planet earth, and in building a utopia that we human beings can be proud of – and my conviction that “energy” is the key to any future expansion and thriving of the human race.
For some time now, I have been astounded by our commitment to one of the oldest technologies known to man for our energy needs – burning with fire. And by energy, I am happy to use the accepted definition of “ability to do work,” the power to change things. Not only are fossil fuels a finite resource on our planet, but we now know for certain that their combustion is contributing to climate change, a phenomenon that could prove our ultimate demise.
I would like to investigate claims and assertions from what I have seen referred to as the “free-Tesla-energy-illuminati-have-betrayed-us” people. “Crazy people.” “Lunatics.” Should we dismiss out of hand all claims that we can tap into “free energy” or “energy from the vacuum” and disregard inventors who insist on having devices that do just that? Detractors almost uniformly refer to the inviolate “laws of physics” which preclude the possibility of energy being derived or extracted from anything other than what is already known. As though the laws of physics have never been expanded and improved by incorporating and ultimately explaining “anomalous” experimental results. Yes, the laws of physics are VERY useful in predicting outcomes from a set of known variables, but the very use of the word “law,” as though coming down from on-high or imposed upon vassals by a Lord, is totally wrong-headed. Science progresses by theory and experiment and by revising and improving upon theory wherever warranted by experimental results. The “laws of physics” are always provisional, subject to expansion and improvement. When we grasp the stakes that are at hand, closing the door to interesting theories or anomalous experimental results by invoking the “laws of physics” seems extremely parochial and close-minded.
The principles of thermodynamics were developed in the nineteenth century from investigations of the nature of heat and work while attempting to improve the efficiency of the steam engine – the most advanced technology of the time. The key to understanding these principles, for our purposes, is that they are valid only for isolated or closed systems. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_thermodynamics. It does appear to be true that energy is always conserved in a closed system, and entropy always increases in a closed system. These “laws” made sense in the nineteenth century in the context of understanding how closed mechanical systems operate.
Much has happened in the accepted understanding of Nature since the nineteenth century. At that time, the universe was thought to be static (i.e., a closed system). Eminent physicists of the time seemed to truly believe that “there is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” (attributed, perhaps inaccurately, to William Thompson, Lord Kelvin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Thomson,_1st_Baron_Kelvin). This was before the current cosmological model of an expanding, accelerating universe (i.e., an open system), before the theory of relativity and also before the development of quantum mechanics. Advancements in science, in other words, that might prompt us to think about expanding the laws of thermodynamics.
In fact, quantum physics has turned on its head the “common sense” understanding that “you can’t get something from nothing.” Scientists now believe that everything, starting with the “Big Bang,” has come from nothing. There is no such thing as nothing. In empty space, or the vacuum, there are incessant fluctuations of particles and anti-particles being formed and annihilated, which are believed to be the genesis of all energy and matter. Quantum fluctuations are also thought to be the source of the “dark energy” that is causing the accelerating expansion of the universe. And while there is a controversy over the amount of energy in the vacuum (See, S.V. Rugh, H.Zinkernagel, The Quantum Vacuum and the Cosmological Constant Problem, arXiv:hep-th/0012253), that energy can be calculated and observed to be a certain non-zero amount per unit volume. And if the volume (the universe) is indeed expanding, then the amount of energy in nothing is also expanding, and could be quite possibly infinite. And this vacuum energy is not just at the small, quantum level or the vast cosmological level, it is right here among us and in everything we can see and touch. The space between the quarks that make up a proton comprises over 90% of the proton. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo @ 20:57. And if you take into consideration the vast empty space between the electron and the proton nucleus of the simplest atom (Hydrogen), the atom is 99.9999999999996% empty space! http://education.jlab.org/qa/how-much-of-an-atom-is-empty-space.html. This means that each of us, and everything that exists, is essentially infinite vacuum energy.
If this is naïve or “crackpot” thinking, I hope I will be forgiven. I don’t think I need to remind the reader that, according to the most current accepted calculations, the “known” universe comprises less than 5% of what’s out there. http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2012/07/26/empty-space-has-more-energy-than-everything-in-the-universe-combined/
The balance is termed “dark matter” and “dark energy” – not because these names actually describe properties of Nature, but because physicists simply don’t know what it is. Most of Nature is still a mystery to our best minds.
My point is that we should not dismiss out of hand well-documented and explained devices that generate energy from obscure sources, or machines that operate at super-high efficiencies. I am not unaware of the history of fraud, deceit and mistake that covers the search for perpetual motion machines. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_motion
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. But the refusal to investigate credible claims because they might require revisions to the “laws of physics” is to my mind, truly “crackpot, lunatic” thinking. We are entering a very perilous time in human history. We can no longer allow dogmatic thinking to inhibit our ability, as a human race, to invent new ways to power the future.