Local Inventor Demonstrates "Perpetual Motion Machine" (Updated)
Today’s online Toronto Star has a report on Thane Heins, an Ottawa area inventor who believes he has created a perpetual motion machine *(see below for correction). Unfortunately details on the design specifications, as part of the patent application, are not available.
Countless people have made claims of the development of a perpetual motion or free energy machine. The first documented claim dates back to 1159. Not a single such claim has stood up to careful scientific scrutiny. In more recent history Irish company Steorn made similar claims with their Orbo device. Steorn ‘postponed’ the first public demonstration of their device in July 2007 blaming the bright lights of the display gallery for breaking the Orbo. Most of these cases have turned out to be schemes to take money from gullible investors. All this provides reason enough to be skeptical.
Does this mean that such claims be dismissed automatically? While scientific knowledge is always growing, the overturning of a well established and tested law like the second law of thermodynamics would be a rare thing indeed. Heins, or anyone else claiming such a thing, should be prepared to produce very strong evidence which can be replicated independently.
Thankfully, Heins is showing his device to anyone who wants to see it including demonstrations to a number of universities. Time and good old-fashioned scientific peer review will see that the truth is found. In the meantime headlines such as the Star’s “Turning physics on its ear” should, at the very least, include a question mark at the end.
Read more about the history of such devices:
Perpetual Futility – A short history of the search for perpetual motion.
Update: Ottawa Skeptics has contacted Mr. Heins and he has informed us that he will be setting up his device this Friday at the University of Ottawa. It will unfortunately be closed to the public, and to us. He will make a video available, and said he would be willing to show us the device after that point. He has sent us a link to his site that already has some videos.
*Update 2: Mr. Heins has sent me an email to inform me that he has in fact never referred to his machine as a perpetual motion machine. I will concede this point and offer our apologies to Mr. Heins. We took the Star’s headline “Has college dropout done the impossible and created a perpetual motion machine?” as a claim, even though Heins did not say it himself.
On the other hand, the naming of his machine does raise some eyebrows, it is called the “Perepiteia” after all.
Also, my last update was erroneous. Mr. Heins has been showing his machine to many people over the past week since setting it up last Friday, that error was due to a miscommunication between us and Mr. Heins.
A couple members from Ottawa Skeptics were supposed to have seen his machine today, but Mr. Heins cancelled due to weather. Hopefully it will be rescheduled.
Link to forum thread.