Sustainable Does Not Mean "Free Energy"

I'm all for sustainable energy, but I paid attention in physics class when I went to high school, and I haven't forgotten the simple lesson that the world as presently constituted does not contain anything like "free energy." There are no "perpetual motion" machines. You cannot extract "free energy" from magnets. No one has ever built a machine to tap "zero point energy."

I'm not going to try and argue that none of this will ever be accomplished; I'm just saying none of it has ever been accomplished so far, here and now, on Planet Earth.

I bring this up because I recently ran across a web site,, promising free energy from magnets. Like all good hucksters selling "secrets," the site contains dark hints about power companies keeping this information hidden from you for many years. It's reminiscent of the talk, when I was a kid, of auto tires that would never wear out, and engines that could run on water instead of gasoline. I don't hear much of that talk anymore. It has been replaced by newer stories that make just as little sense because they violate the same laws of physics that the old stories did, the same laws that have been operating for as long as the Universe has existed, the same laws that the understanding of which brought humankind out from the Dark Ages and into the modern world.

Here is a useful web site that explains a few details of the actual, physical world that are routinely neglected by people trying to sell you some kind of "free energy" device:

It contains a simple summary of how the world works, in terms of moving a wire within a magnetic field, or putting a current through a wire in order to create a magnetic field. Briefly, it asserts that no "extra" power is ever generated by any of this activity. The most you can get out is the same energy you put in. Usually, there are losses to to friction and electrical resistance.

It's regrettable, but it's immutable: the laws of physics allow for no exceptions. You will not find an engineer, a scientist, or an educated person who will contradict these statements, because they have never been contradicted by any actual, physical system. Until someone actually builds a machine that engineers and scientists can test to prove it produces more energy than it consumes, stories of such machines are not to be believed.

If you need more convincing, take an engineer to lunch and let him or her explain to you the details. It's fascinating, and it'll save you a lot of time in the future because you'll be able to skip over stories of inventions that cannot work under the present set of physical laws.

If you want to have some fun, however, feel free to check out this site, which explains many such devices:

Afterwards, when you come back to reality, please continue to work for sustainable development. Just concentrate on projects that, when actually built, will work. Otherwise, you're not really a part of the solution (and if you remember the Sixties, you know what that means!)

What's your experience with people trying to tell you, or sell you, solutions that can't possibly work?

More later ...

Photo credit: NASA