Thursday, February 24, 2005

An Editorial Sidebar: On The Pogue Carburetor, Zero Point Energy, And Other Frauds

I don't always read every comment that appears in this blog, but mainly that's because the ones catching my eye tend to be those appearing in the most recently published stories. An older one came to my attention today while reading this very early post. Poster Steven asks about this book and in particular, what do I think about zero-point energy? Paraphrasing Leon from Blade Runner, let me tell you about zero-point energy...

I'm of two minds about it. On the one hand, it does seem to be a legitimate scientific pursuit. The existence of zero-point energy was first postulated by Max Planck; it seems that -- in theory -- there is some energy to be harvested from the vacuum, and infinite amounts of it, too. Why this is, I can't rightly say; I'm not a physicist by calling or inclination.

On the other hand, it seems that the nutjobs have chased the legitimate scientists out of the field, as witness this particular nutjob, this pseudo-university, this crank magnet, or any of a thousand other conspiracy theorists and loons, all searchable via the miracle of Google. If there is something there, it's not helping that transparent frauds are lining up, jaws agape, hoping to lure in a steady stream of the delusional.

There has never been anything remotely respectable, however, with the Pogue Carburetor, nor the dozen more where that came from. Conceived as a fraud, it languishes as a bait to lure suckers. Wherever there are technological grassy knolls, behind them will spring a dozen conspiracy buffs, each eager to "prove", with twisted logic, that the oil trusts or whomsoever is keeping this wonderful device out of the hands of the general public. Such ideas, romantic as they are, are also palpably false. Zero-point energy is detectable but only with the most sensitive of devices. We are not interested in infinite sources of energy that require our presence throughout the universe to harvest. Unless someone with legitimate credentials can step forward and demonstrate such a machine -- which, by the way, would make him immensely rich -- my inclination is to lump all such criers into the same intellectual dungeons occupied by the UFO mavens, the rabid believers in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and the flat-earthers.