20 October 2005
The Scientist, The Madman, The Thief and Their Lightbulb : The Search for Free Energy
An (even-handed) history of the quest for free energy: energy that doesn't consume matter and doesn't produce waste. Much of the hope rides on electricity and magnetism and the research is as old as our modern study of electromagnetism.
[The theories] are not creating any new energy. The systems are doing at least one of two things: they have either found--as in the case of some cold fusion cells--a new way of accessing chemical, nuclear or other forms of energy locked up in the system's components parts; the other possibility is that they are getting their energy from the 'zero-point fluctuations of the vacuum'. This zero-point energy is the 'background' or 'ether' energy of the universe, and is also called vacuum energy, or the 'quantum fluctuations of the vacuum'.
So the hope is that we can tap into the larger machinery of the Earth and the universe itself and convert its fundamental processes into useful energy. There are many quack-y stories in here but some fascinating all the same. I was astounded that even in the earliest days of fossil fuel use, many scientists were warning that we shouldn't become dependent on it. In 1900, Nikola Tesla says:
In some countries, as in Great Britain, the hurtful effects of this squandering of fuel are beginning to be felt. The price of coal is constantly rising, and the poor are made to suffer more and more. Though we are still far from the dreaded 'exhaustion of the coal fields', ... it is our duty to coming generations to leave this store of energy intact for them, or at least not to touch it until we shall have perfected processes for burning coal more efficiently. Those who are to come after us will need fuel more than we do.
The Scientist, The Madman, The Thief and Their Lightbulb : The Search for Free Energy; Tutt, Keith
- A Visit from the Goon Squad; Jennifer Egan posted by sstrader on 13 May 2013 at 9:36:56 PM
- The Fractal Prince; Hannu Rajaniemi posted by sstrader on 28 November 2012 at 12:11:33 AM
- Three books on atheism posted by sstrader on 11 November 2012 at 2:15:21 PM
- Three recent books posted by sstrader on 15 August 2012 at 7:41:32 PM
- The Unfolding of Language; Guy Deutscher posted by sstrader on 26 April 2012 at 9:48:06 PM Other entries categorized in Language & Literature:
- The city posted by sstrader on 6 March 2016 at 9:43:27 PM
- The children of Infinite Jest posted by sstrader on 23 August 2015 at 3:48:24 PM
- Posthuman dystopia posted by sstrader on 22 March 2015 at 10:21:25 AM
- Poetry and apocalypse posted by sstrader on 22 November 2014 at 10:41:33 AM
- Roman Jakobson's functions of language posted by sstrader on 5 October 2014 at 10:36:23 AM