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Orbo Or Not Orbo

July 5th, 2007

Steorn said they’d demo the Orbo in July, and it seems like that will finally happen. The alleged perpetual-motion free-energy machine will go on display, according to reports, at the Kinetica Museum in London. It will repeatedly lift an object, for ten days, in a clear plastic case with no battery or other power source in evidence.


According to Steorn’s CEO:

“The law of conservation of energy has been very reliable for 300 years, however it’s missing one variable from the equation, and that’s time,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy explained to Silicon Republic that Orbo technology works on the basis that occurrences in magnetic fields do not happen instantaneously, and are therefore not subject to time in the way that, say, gravity is.

This time variance allows the Orbo platform to generate and consistently produce power, going against the law of conservation of energy which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed.

Should be interesting to see what comes of this. It sounds fake and it sounds real. One hopes for real.

Update:…or not, again. Steorn cancelled the event due to “technical difficulties.”

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  1. ykw
    July 5th, 2007 at 03:31 | #1

    If it stops after 10 days, it is not perpetual motion. Also, one can wind up a clock and have it tick for a while. My guess is this is something like that clock.

  2. Luis
    July 5th, 2007 at 09:07 | #2

    YKW: The idea is not that it would last 10 days, but that 10 days is how long the demo would go on for.

    Also, it is called “perpetual motion” as a theoretical quality related to the fact that it produces more energy than it consumes. True perpetual motion would require parts that would never wear out, for example.

  3. Tim Kane
    July 5th, 2007 at 10:45 | #3

    I love this kind of hucksterism.

    I suppose that’s truly an American trait. Other countries would have denounced P.T. Barnum and his “there’s a sucker born every minute” postulate. We celebrate it.

    The movie I ask Koreans to watch to get a better understanding of how Americans think and move through the world is “The Wizard of Oz” and, nicely placed in it, is the traveling fortune teller emulating the great snake oil salesman of a by-gone era – he wields it if only momentarily, when, as the wizard he gives a speech from the balloon.

    This is a natural outgrowth of our times. The demand for energy in our era is defining our times: The wars, the politics, the economics. If there’s a P.T. Barnum amongst us, he’d have to be drawn to this sort of things. A working perpetual motion machine would end all of that. In the 18th century, the most wealthy colonies of Europe were in the Caribbean, because of the demand and the value for sugar. Much of the wars of that century between France and England, as well as the century before, centered on the Caribbean. Then the Europeans found they could extract all the sugar from beets economically, and so the Caribbean quickly became a geopolitical backwater. The same thing would happen to the Middle East if a reasonable altnerative to the energy situation emerged. That’s just one reason why it’s fun to imagine this sort of thing.

    This functions to set are mind wondering, and thinking outside the box, and if nothing else gives us a good laugh.

    Occasionally I still like to toast a drink to the idea of “cold fusion”. Cheers!

  4. Paul
    July 5th, 2007 at 12:07 | #4




    A “perpetual motion” machine is kind of like “compassionate conservatism”- it sounds really neato, and if it were possible it’d be a good thing for the world.

    Unfortuately, not going to happen. Even if this thing did work, it’d be reducing the magnetic fields’ strength the same amount as the energy it was “producing” or work that it was accomplishing.

  5. Luis
    July 5th, 2007 at 12:21 | #5

    Again, I think we’re taking this a bit too literally. I don’t think that the real claim is that energy is being created out of nothing, nor that it’ll be a true perpetual motion machine that will never stop working. The way I see it, what is being put forward in terms of “violating the laws of thermodynamics” is simply what can be observed and explained as the mechanism is understood currently. When scientists a little more than a hundred years ago noticed that energy was radiating from certain materials, that energy also seemed to magically be coming out of nowhere, until radioactivity was understood and we gained a new insight on physics.

    Maybe this is hucksterism (if so, it’s a weird one with far less money-taking than would be expected), but the possibility that it’s real should not be discounted simply because there are hucksters out there. We tend to go on the premise that we know all the basic physics that there is to be known, and so discount the possibility of something fundamental and new being out there.

    Skepticism is absolutely called for, but outright dismissal before seeing the goods is not.

  6. ykw
    July 6th, 2007 at 05:25 | #6

    I think what happens here, in each “tick”, is that a weight at height H, drops a bit and converts that to a magnetic field (or flywheel rotates), which is then picked up with a coil that converts it back to electricity, which then pushes a weight upward to height H minus the loss from the friction (i.e. heat) and the loss from not capturing 100% of the magnetic field. This will slowly wind down, to the point where it is not moving. The decay rate might be several percent per day.

    A bearing on a flywheel, for example, will consume some energy, and if no one is putting energy back in, then it will eventually stop moving.

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