For hundreds of years, enterprising souls, including Leonardo da Vinci, have tried to create a perpetual motion machine: a device that creates energy with no external source. Since August of last year, there’s been a huge amount of buzz around the latest contender called Orbo, from an Irish company called Steorn. Orbo was introduced in a full-page ad in The Economist and the company was interviewed by the BBC and The Guardian, among others.
Here’s the basics from Steorn’s Web site:
Orbo produces free, clean and constant energy – that is our claim. By free we mean that the energy produced is done so without recourse to external source. By clean we mean that during operation the technology produces no emissions. By constant we mean that with the exception of mechanical failure the technology will continue to operate indefinitely.
The sum of these claims for our Orbo technology is a violation of the principle of conservation of energy, perhaps the most fundamental of scientific principles. The principle of the conservation of energy states that energy can neither be created or destroyed, it can only change form.
Because of the revolutionary nature of our claim, not only to the world of science but to the world in general, Steorn issued a challenge to the scientific community in August 2006 to test our technology and report their findings. The process of validation that has resulted from this challenge is currently underway, with results expected by the end of 2007.
Steorm announced that they would demo an Orbo prototype at the Kinetica Museum in London on July 4, 2007 but cancelled two days later when none of the three prototypes could be made to work. Naturally, there was a lot of cries of “snake oil” in the press and the blogosphere.
Steorm CEO Sean McCarthy said the group was pretty well aware they were setting themselves up for ridicule from the start. He also pointed out that prototypes are often finicky and subtle differences in the environment or handling for transport can cause problems. Call me a perpetual optimist — I think the jury’s still out.
Here’s the Slashdot debate. (Well, maybe it veers a wee bit off-topic…)
After Steorn’s open invitation to scientists and engineers to examine Orbo, they contracted with 22 applicants who will analyze the technology and who are required to publish the results of their analysis.
Can it be true? Time will tell — until it does, though, I’m going to continue to think it might be. ~ Ivy Wigmore