Steorn challenge

Everyone with even a passing interest in science will have heard about the challenge to science published as a full-page ad in The Economist by Irish company Steorn. Steorn has developed a system it reckons challenges the First Law of Thermodynamics, one of the fundamental principles of science. Such a challenge offers the possibility of limitless clean energy and Steorn is keen to recruit twelve of the most sceptical scientists to test their technology.

The technology is essentially an all-magnet motor, with no electromagnetic components. Physicists would say that such a device should be impossible, even theoretically. Steorn CEO Sean McCarthy told Ireland’s RTE radio that, “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.” Cynics will recognise the hints of perpetual motion machinery in that description and conspiracy theorists will nod knowingly to learn many scientists asked to test the device simply hang-up.

The response of Martin Sevior, a physicist at Melbourne University is typical, “Oh, goodness, what can I say?” he told The Age, “It violates a very fundamental principle of physics, and flies in the face of 2000-years-plus of physics. It’s an incredibly big claim.” It certainly is, Steorn is claiming to have found either a way of either tapping into an unknown form of energy or else it is creating energy from nothing with its technology.Modern physics throws out countless theories that fly in the face of common sense, but this seems different. Even quantum physics doesn’t claim to create energy from nothing…oh wait a minute, what’s that about particle-anti-particle pairs spontaneously appearing in a vaccuum, you say? The scientific jury is yet to convene, but we will endeavour to keep you informed of the latest developments. Stern stuff indeed.

For more on the Steorn story, check out the site.

You can read their ad here (available as a pdf.