Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Steorn Orbo

An Irish company Steorn has claimed creating a machine that produces clean, free energy:

"What we have developed is a way to construct magnetic fields so that when you travel round the magnetic fields, starting and stopping at the same position, you have gained energy... The energy isn't being converted from any other source such as the energy within the magnet. It's literally created. Once the technology operates it provides a constant stream of clean energy."

The company has tried to sound official by publishing a full page challenge to the scientific community in the Economist. I have not seen the ad myself, but I am really disappointed with the editors of the Economist if they actually published that ad… I mean, how fake can you get? No much faker than this. For any readers that are not familiar with Physics, this statement is in direct contradiction to the first law of thermodynamics. The first law reads:

“The increase in the internal energy of a thermodynamic system is equal to the amount of heat energy added to the system minus the work done by the system on the surroundings.”

Looked from another perspective, this means that a system can not gain energy without taking it from somewhere. Steorn claims that they have somehow found a way to do this, in other words, they claim to have created a perpetual motion machine. No patent office recognizes perpetual motion machines or anything else that violates the fundamental and well established laws of physics, and hence there is no patent for the full technology, although the company has claimed to have patented parts that make up the system.

The biggest reason this seems like a fake (other than the fact that they are claiming to have violated one of the fundamental laws of physics) is their finances:

In the period between 2002 and 2006 (dates for which they have all major expenses reported) they spent a total of 2,749,645 euro on research and development. Over the same time period, they spent 1,531,520 euro on management and marketing and 2,114,744 euro on administrative costs (total of 3,646,263 euro). In other words, they spent more money managing their pathetic little company than researching; a whopping 63.3% of their money was spent on managerial issues. Also, the 3 million euro budget is far too low to develop such a breathtaking technology so quickly. The company states that they are about 20 people, and if we do a quick calculation (assuming these guys don’t work for free, which is a safe assumption based on their capitalist intentions) taking that the average engineer of the caliber need to develop such an innovative idea is paid around 100k euro per year. We do a simple multiplication 100k * 20 people * 5 years = 10 million euro spent of just staff, while their total expenses are a mere 6,395,909 euro. To meet their spending, if they only paid their workers and did not pay for building rent or buying hardware or anything else to actual develop their technology, the average salary of the employees comes out to 63,959 euro a year.

To make matters worse, their team does not even look like scientists and has no credible people in it. The whole thing seems like a bad hoax and an embarrassment to anyone this company associates itself with. My first guess (from reading their “jury” deal) is that this company just wants to make some easy cash ripping off legitimate research facilities and stuff it up their capitalists asses, or pass it on to the IRA or some other crap like that. This is pathetic.

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Blogger Oli said...

Plus: In their videos, they are all style (albeit mediocre) and no substance - they spend about 2 seconds saying that they made something that using magnets to generate energy, and 4 minutes saying how the world needs energy (duh) and how they're breaking the laws of thermodynamics and so are up against science, etc.

And: They have flippin' joke SONGS. It's pathetic. And hilarious.

Bottom line: It's obvious that they are milkin' the controversy for all it's worth.

10:44 PM  
Blogger dino said...

This strongly reminds me of the Phantom Game Console. According to Gaming Steve the Phantom guys just took the invested capital they received and ran with it while never actually intending to release a product.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Bobby Xiao said...

The idea of a perpetual energy machine is almost as old as (or even older than!) the Laws of Thermodynamics. Simply walking around a magnet will achieve nothing -- you expend energy to walk around it, for a lesser gain than you would've had otherwise.

It's a scam, like the millions of other ideas out there.

10:35 AM  

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