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January 12, 2012 2:06 AM   Subscribe

The heir to the Proctor and Gamble fortune has dropped a load of cash on a movie: Thrive: What on Earth will it take? The premise: We are killing the world because an invisible elite is withholding the secret of free energy, to prevent us from thriving. Transition Culture thinks it's dangerous tosh. Huffington Post thinks it's a reactionary, libertarian agenda that stands in jarring contrast with the soothing tone of the presentation. An Archdruid thinks it's what a narrative of progress must produce when the narrative no longer describes observable reality. But it's bound to be popular with the Consumer class. (Warning: evidence of toroidal energy devices that some viewers may find disconcerting).
posted by falcon (80 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, for God's sakes. The free energy nuts now have a film. Let's hope it will go as well as "Battlefield Earth".
posted by Skeptic at 2:23 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The premise: We are killing the world because an invisible elite is withholding...

Ok, with you so far...

...the secret of free energy

Oh dear.
posted by atrazine at 2:24 AM on January 12, 2012 [31 favorites]


That archdruid's writeup is pretty good. (Now there's something I never imagined writing.)

"A brand of fiction commonly dismissed as sheer escapism, in other words, provides narratives more useful to the current state of the industrial world than the supposedly serious narrative of progress that still shapes every detail of contemporary public discourse. I’m not sure how far to take that point, though I have to admit that if Mabelrode the Faceless, Demon Lord of Chaos, were to be named as CEO of Citibank, I’m not sure I would be surprised."
posted by fraula at 2:28 AM on January 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Warning: evidence of toroidal energy devices that some viewers may find disconcerting

NSFPhysicists?
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:28 AM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know what truly stops the world from thriving?

People who want something for nothing. Free energy, wealth without work, services without taxes, "rules with no rules", in the words of the Thrive manifesto itself. I'm unsurprised to see them together in the same bunch.
posted by Skeptic at 2:33 AM on January 12, 2012 [30 favorites]


I am suddenly reminded of how much worse Wall Street 2 was than the original
posted by moorooka at 2:37 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know what truly stops the world from thriving?

Is it the inheritance of vast wealth by fuckwit offspring?
posted by Segundus at 2:39 AM on January 12, 2012 [22 favorites]


Is it the inheritance of vast wealth by fuckwit offspring?

Well, that too, although I suspect that whichever con artist has found his way to this particular fuckwit's trust is thriving alright...
posted by Skeptic at 2:43 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I want to build a robot that will violently point out to the whackjobs that the Laws of Thermodynamics say no, that doesn't work, and infinite energy=infinite mass=we're all in a singularity. Say, with flamethrowers

I'll call it "Heat Death Of The Universal Idiot."

actually, it woudn't have to do anything like that, but a robot with flamethrows is automatically cool, right?
posted by eriko at 2:47 AM on January 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


BTW, in my experience, "rules (for others) but no rules (for myself)" pretty much sums up the whole philosophy of this brand of "libertarian".
posted by Skeptic at 2:47 AM on January 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh, Deepak Chopra, is there any woo thou will not peddle?
posted by troll at 2:57 AM on January 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


I haven't had a good rant lately....

What is stopping the world from thriving? Lots of things, depending on your physical location.

But what is stopping the U.S. from thriving I consider, ultimately, to date back to when the tobacco companies realized that they could actually fight back against the huge body of research proclaiming their products as a deadly blight upon mankind by waging war against science itself, doing everything they could to make the studies seem disreputable.

Tobacco products kill, sure, but not everyone who uses them dies because of them. The real danger was created when other people who had suffered due to the widely-perceived legitimacy of science figured they could do the same thing, to invent controversies around global warming, environmental damage, evolution, whatever things research had determined that they found unfavorable to their interests.

Now the technique has expanded beyond fighting against the sciences, to cover inconvenient facts of all kinds. Anything true thing that a powerful monied interest would like swept under the rug will be quickly sent there through a barrage of news show appearances, talking points and supporting books authored by useful idiots. It has reached the point where the mere fact that some company could be harmed by some bit of information itself has become enough to make that fact controversial.

This culture of misinformation is the biggest challenge we face as a nation, because it has paralyzed us and made our national will unable, not just to fight, but to even identify the real problems that we face. Of course the intelligent (who haven't been co-opted, which is depressingly frequent) may be able to see through it, but they don't matter so much so long as the media continued to constantly seek an artificial middle ground. You only really need one prominent voice to speak out against anything to create a controversy -- when you hear a reporter state that "critics say..." or "many consider..." they are weaseling out of their civic responsibility, by failing to investigate the veracity of those claims themselves, or even make any definite statements as to how prevalent those objections may be.
posted by JHarris at 3:02 AM on January 12, 2012 [60 favorites]


Time to raise taxes on the rich again I see.
posted by humanfont at 3:32 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Somehow I knew all along that doughnuts wold be the answer. They power me, why not the world?
posted by tommyD at 3:41 AM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


@skeptic

being a skeptic youll appreciate what im trying to say when i say that i hear something like
People who want something for nothing. Free energy, wealth without work, services without taxes, "rules with no rules",

and expect the next one to be "handouts for the indolent poor"
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:42 AM on January 12, 2012


VWell there is an awful lot of energy out there (from our perspective anyway) that we're not using directly or very effectively. Geothermal, solar, fusion, unstable isotopes, hell even the rotational energy of the planet and its momentum round our star.

You don't have to break the laws of thermodynamics to posit that there are technologies we have yet to discover that allows us to tap such sources and give us more usable energy than we know what to do
with, at least compared to combustion of organic matter that's been under great pressure for millions of years.

What's dangerous is assuming we will develop such technologies before we run out of dino diesel, or before the combustion byproducts change our ecosystem beyond our ability to withstand the consequences.

Or of course actively trying to discredit the science because you don't like the results.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:49 AM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


It should be on a double bill with What the Bleep Do We Know!?

God, but we're a bunch of idiots.
posted by sonascope at 4:00 AM on January 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Exactly. Remember just what a nuclear power plant actually is: a giant steam engine.

Could there be a new bit of science that can convert algae directly into electricity? Maybe but it's probably very low yield. The goal of new solar tech is not universal energy but to increase the efficiency from like 9.2% way up to 10%. (made up figures but not too far off).

Personally I just loved the giant gyro methods of power storage, a 5000lb disc of super smooth balanced metal spinning at 50,000 rpm inches from your head, what could possibly go wrong?
posted by sammyo at 4:01 AM on January 12, 2012


If you are the heir to the P&G fortune I can see why you'd beleive in magical free energy solutions.
posted by humanfont at 4:01 AM on January 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Rich kids need a gap year some where
posted by infini at 4:19 AM on January 12, 2012


SKEPTIC: You know what truly stops the world from thriving? People who want something for nothing.

SEGUNDUS: [How about] the inheritance of vast wealth by fuckwit offspring?

SKEPTIC: Well, that too [...]


People who inherit vast wealth are people who GOT something for nothing, so isn't that the same thing?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:23 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Having just watched the trailer though; no, we do not have toroidal free energy solutions that limitlessly 'tap the energy of the universe' that's being witheld from us by the super-elite because that's just bollocks handwavium wishful thinking. Sigh.

I love how they interspersed it with images of solar panels though.
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:28 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I met some people from the Gamble family at a party. Most of them did not strike me as, let's say, deep thinkers. But one guy pigeonholed me, and wanted to talk forever about his revolutionary economic theories, I wonder if it is the same person?
posted by thelonius at 4:34 AM on January 12, 2012


being a skeptic youll appreciate what im trying to say when i say that i hear something like

People who want something for nothing. Free energy, wealth without work, services without taxes, "rules with no rules",

and expect the next one to be "handouts for the indolent poor"


Well, no I don't. I mentioned "wealth without work" and my scorn certainly extends to those who call for increased social services without considering how they are to be paid.

Apart from that, I've probably met many more indolent rich than indolent poor in my life, but then that may just reflect my circle of acquaintances.
posted by Skeptic at 4:44 AM on January 12, 2012


What makes it so worthwhile is that it has Deepak Chopra AND David Icke!

I can't wait to see it!
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 4:51 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, do you think anyone believes that the purple auras around those toroid devices are anything other than CGI?
posted by scruss at 4:58 AM on January 12, 2012


If you have an infinite energy source, you're going to need a heatsink with an infinite capacity.

Sadly, our only infinite resource appears to be stupidity.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:00 AM on January 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


Apparently, some P&G people are sniffing their own products.

All good dealers know this: Don't get high on your own supply.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:43 AM on January 12, 2012


Even if free energy were something possible, would that be a help or a hindrance to the world in the long run? Being able to power everything without using fossil fuels would change economy as we know it, but that doesn't mean that all our natural resources are suddenly going to be plentiful, and removing certain barriers to travel and harvest and build would make it easier and cheaper for us to deplete those natural resources faster.

Can you imagine how thrilled Wal*Mart would be if they didn't have to pay fuel surcharges? If anything, that speaks against the idea that the rich elite are hiding free energy from us.
posted by xingcat at 5:50 AM on January 12, 2012


Well, that too, although I suspect that whichever con artist has found his way to this particular fuckwit's trust is thriving alright...

Is there some kind of charity to which you could donate to support people who scam heirs and heiresses out of their money? It's not like the US is going to find the political will to raise taxes on these idiots any time soon, so we might as well seek out alternative redistributive solutions.

Oh! Maybe help them set up charities....
posted by indubitable at 6:02 AM on January 12, 2012


an invisible elite is withholding the secret of free energy

As usual, in such scenarios: yes, they would if they could, and, no, they can't.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:13 AM on January 12, 2012


On the bright side: I suspect this movie isn't in fact going to be popular with anybody.
posted by penduluum at 6:27 AM on January 12, 2012


And even if there was limitless free energy, eventually we'd have to deal with the waste heat accumulating in the atmosphere. We'd be better off learning how to live with a minimum of energy and let the world look after itself.
posted by sneebler at 6:27 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the bright side: I suspect this movie isn't in fact going to be popular with anybody.

You'd be surprised. I've met more than my fair share of crackpot inventors that believed the "oil companies are suppressing the secret of free energy" conspiracy theory. It's quite popular.

On the other hand, free energy crackpots are a very fractious lot. Each one has his own pet free energy theory. I can already hear them: "Toroidal energy devices? What bollocks! Everyone knows the secret is in Brown's gas/zero-point energy/whatever."
posted by Skeptic at 6:38 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unless he's been listening to John Galt again
posted by infini at 6:47 AM on January 12, 2012


Is it the inheritance of vast wealth by fuckwit offspring?

My grandmother had three bits of borrowed wisdom that I heard her repeat often:

"Fools' names and fools' faces are often found in public places," "Garbage in - garbage out" (usually this referred to our TV watching), and last:

"A fool and his money are soon parted."

The last seems appropriate here.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:54 AM on January 12, 2012


oil companies are suppressing the secret of free energy

There is a tiny grain of truth to this, I mean, not in the bad physics illuminati/Build-your-burger conspiracy bullshit type way, but by having such a cheap source of portable, powerful energy (hydrocarbons) at our fingertips we've been really fucking lazy at developing the actually free sources of energy (solar, wind, wave, gravitation...) that we do have.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:58 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


http://technologygateway.nasa.gov/media/CC/lenr/lenr.html

Released today, coincidentally.
posted by Brian B. at 7:27 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, that's because they're not really free. A solar panel, for instance, has a certain lifespan, over which it will produce a certain amount of power, and it costs a certain amount to build. The fact that the sun doesn't cost anything doesn't make the energy "free," because that's quite obviously not the only input. You don't have to invoke a conspiracy -- at least not a direct one -- to make it not economically feasible given extremely cheap fossil fuels.

The stunning thing is that petroleum, despite having to be extracted from ridiculously deep underground (at least today), is so unbelievably cheap on top of being so energy-dense, that it is literally cheaper than a "free" source of energy like solar -- or at least it was until fairly recently. Of course, it's only this cheap because there's no attempt made to include the externalities of its use in the retail price; a market failure that even the most rabid libertarian ought to be able to recognize.

To my knowledge, we have just recently reached the point where a number of alternative technologies can compete with petroleum on a watts-per-dollar basis; the remaining problem is mostly due to investors having a very short planning horizon.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:30 AM on January 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


I met some people from the Gamble family at a party. Most of them did not strike me as, let's say, deep thinkers. But one guy pigeonholed me, and wanted to talk forever about his revolutionary economic theories, I wonder if it is the same person?

An architecture firm I used to work for was working for one of the Gambles on a house that was pretty much going to be a copy of the famous Gamble house in Pasadena, expecting that it would become some sort of tourist attraction just like the original was. Supposedly, he was a bit of a drinker. Again, I wonder if it's the same guy.
posted by LionIndex at 7:34 AM on January 12, 2012


That archdruid's writeup is pretty good. (Now there's something I never imagined writing.)

Unless you outright reject every opinion, advice or finding by a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, etc, due to their religion, I don't see why you'd be surprised by an Archdruid talking sense. As I've said before, his blog comes highly recommended.
posted by Bangaioh at 7:59 AM on January 12, 2012


Well, that's because they're not really free. A solar panel, for instance, has a certain lifespan, over which it will produce a certain amount of power, and it costs a certain amount to build.

A car and road have similar lifespans and production costs.

I can burn a certain amount of fuel oil or natural gas which have had to have been extracted from the earth with all that entails, transported to my home, and sent through an extensive, manufactured, metal boiler system in order to raise the temperature of a room in my home a few degrees, or I can open the cheap curtains and let the sun shine through my comparatively cheap windows. Prior to our addiction to hydrocarbons humankind discovered the world powered by nothing but wind and manufactured the majority of necessities of daily life that couldn't be made by human or animal power in mills operated by the energy of falling water. All of which was accomplished without a constant outlay of money for energy or the spewing of pollutants.

I'm not suggesting we return to a pre-industrial age, but the (over)reliance on hydrocarbons has certainly made us forgetful and foolhearty if not lazy and ignorant. The cost of our addiction has been far greater than we're willing or able to calculate. Talking about hydrocarbons in terms of how cheap they are is like justifying crack addiction by pointing out the low per-rock price.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:10 AM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think this is a double-bluff conspiracy.

Don't Proctor and Gamble produce an emollient cream which is ideal for soothing a nasty outbreak of thrives?

I bet they've got warehouses full of the stuff ready to roll out and sell at inflated prices when this thrive epidemic strikes down credulous morons everywhere.
posted by Hugobaron at 8:22 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Warning: evidence of toroidal energy devices that some viewers may find disconcerting).

Oh, you mad rebel devil, you!
posted by benito.strauss at 8:43 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


There obviously is plenty of energy to go around and help humanity thrive if such a huge amount is wasted making this film and others like it. We don't need alien technology - all we need is people, industrialists or the government making efficient use of current technologies and even the poorest nations will be sustainable.
posted by JJ86 at 8:52 AM on January 12, 2012


CBS never should've cancelled "As the World Turns" (produced by Proctor & Gamble Productions as one of the earliest and longest-running sponsor-made TV shows). They obviously didn't lay off the writers who came up with all the Amnesia and Evil Twin plots over the years, and they came up with this.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:56 AM on January 12, 2012


That trailer is dangerous. I suspect the movie is dangerous.

It's easy to find the lulz in this stuff and mock it. Because you and I, we're critical thinkers, we understand that "free energy" is impossible and grand conspiracy theories that go from Ancient Egypt to Wall Street are nuts.

But there's a lot of gullible people in the world who believe this stuff. Who want to believe. Who want something to believe. And they mean entirely well. Some of them are going to see this slick video and think it's true and they're going to show up at political rallies demanding their free energy. At best it's a distraction. At worst it's a form of mania.

See also: Polywater, Vaccine controversies, Scientology, Heaven's Gate. Self-consistent ideas that have the air of reality and are told in emotionally compelling ways are the worst kind of intellectual virus.
posted by Nelson at 9:27 AM on January 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


There is a tiny grain of truth to this,

In Pennsylvania, oil and gas companies bought Gov'nor Tom Corbett, who then cut funds to the wind and solar energy programs the previous Governor (Ed Rendell) had going, and basically gave damn-near-free reign to shale gas drillers. You don't need much more conspiracy than that.
posted by tommyD at 9:35 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is obviously goofy hopeful utopianism but it's funny how stuff like this draws out the hippie hating trolls from out of the woodwork.

These types of theories do kind of of hit on the basic idea that the way energy is used and sold is definitely archaic. There is no reason that with a bit of drive and vision the world could produce and harness energy in a more efficient manner that for all intents and purpose would seem "limitless." They also make a good point that entrenched industries are actually slowing technological progress in order to protect their bottom line. That is something that's hurting humanity. Why cure a disease with one pill when you treat it with a daily pill for years to come and collect a massive profit etc.
posted by TheCoyote23 at 9:43 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know what truly stops the world from thriving?

Is it the inheritance of vast wealth by fuckwit offspring?


It is even trickier, it is the accumulation of wealth by ammoral, immortal entitities. There is no need to inherit because they never die.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 9:52 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


CBS never should've cancelled "As the World Turns" (produced by Proctor & Gamble Productions as one of the earliest and longest-running sponsor-made TV shows).

Clearly the cancellation was part of CBS's suppression of gravitational energy sources.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:55 AM on January 12, 2012


There is no reason that with a bit of drive and vision the world could produce and harness energy in a more efficient manner that for all intents and purpose would seem "limitless."

Nuclear fusion, maybe. But as pointed out up-thread, energy releases heat and at current rates of energy use the atmosphere will heat up to problem levels in about 300 years. So limitless cheap energy would just speed that process up dramatically, imagine the whole world living at developed world living standards. There is no way around it, you can't use energy without creating heat.
posted by stbalbach at 9:57 AM on January 12, 2012


@TheCoyote23: There is no reason that with a bit of drive and vision the world could produce and harness energy in a more efficient manner that for all intents and purpose would seem "limitless."

The math that might support or refute the statement that some combination of sunbeams and summer breezes could (after diverting the necessary fraction of summer breezes and sunbeams necessary to power the necessary industrial manufacturing system) be made to look like a limitless energy source to 9 billion hungry people is actually quite simple. Have you done it ?
posted by falcon at 9:57 AM on January 12, 2012


it's funny how stuff like this draws out the hippie hating trolls from out of the woodwork.

I object to the word "troll", but God, how I hate hippies.
posted by Skeptic at 10:02 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never built or engineered my own automobile but that doesn't mean my claim that a better one could be made is false.

Energy usage comes from both ends. It's not just how it's generated but how it is used. If the tools you use provide the same function for less energy your energy sources aren't taxed as hard.
posted by TheCoyote23 at 10:04 AM on January 12, 2012


But as pointed out up-thread, energy releases heat and at current rates of energy use the atmosphere will heat up to problem levels in about 300 years. So limitless cheap energy would just speed that process up dramatically, imagine the whole world living at developed world living standards. There is no way around it, you can't use energy without creating heat.

What if we made that heat in a giant ball of fusing gas 8 light-minutes away from the Earth to keep it from over heating and then we transmitted the energy through a big vacuum back to us to make sure that we didn't lose to much of it on the way?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:05 AM on January 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sneebler if I could favorite your post more than once, I would. Unfortunately the ONE thing modern people least want to hear is that we have to accept limits to growth, or "go back to the dark ages" as they always like to put it. But globally a much lower energy future than today is inevitable, and also happens to be the best thing for all life on this planet.
posted by maniabug at 10:08 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh no they got Amy Goodman! She's not on the floating UFO-powered Ark of the Covenant transporter platform with the sparkly mystical transparent doughnuts and the white people, but she is in the trailer, clear as day, asserting that "...there is a force that's more powerful, and that's the power of the people." We don't hear the beginning of that sentence, but just seeing her there amongst the hucksters and the fruitcakes is horribly depressing.
posted by jcrcarter at 10:09 AM on January 12, 2012


10th Regiment that's crazy, you might as well use that energy to grow food or something.
posted by maniabug at 10:09 AM on January 12, 2012


Something that produces as much energy as your hypothesized "Sun" is clearly impossible.
posted by TheCoyote23 at 10:11 AM on January 12, 2012


sammyo: "Personally I just loved the giant gyro methods of power storage, a 5000lb disc of super smooth balanced metal spinning at 50,000 rpm inches from your head, what could possibly go wrong?"

Like this?
posted by symbioid at 10:41 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is no reason that with a bit of drive and vision the world could produce and harness energy in a more efficient manner that for all intents and purpose would seem "limitless."

Do the Math's 30-odd posts are a good start to begginning to understand why that's either impossible or much, much harder than you think it is.

I don't believe there is a need for conspiracies because I bet very few people would support a massive transition to renewables if they realised what it would actually mean to the "normal" way of life. Just look at the 1980 US presidential election's results.
posted by Bangaioh at 10:44 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is no reason that with a bit of drive and vision the world could produce and harness energy in a more efficient manner that for all intents and purpose would seem "limitless."

ARGH! This is exactly why this kind of movie is so dangerous. Because it encourages soft-headed thinking that obscures the real and crucial issues of energy production and consumption.

There are plenty of real reasons why energy is hard to produce and harness. There's a lot of scientific reasons; Bangaioh's link may be good. There's also economic reasons energy is expensive, and political reasons, and yes maybe even a touch of conspiracy and backward thinking. These reasons for why energy is limited are all real. Hippies going on about ancient Egyptian wisdom from space are not giving us insight into energy. If a woo-woo video inspires people to get interested in energy production, awesome. But if it gives them the wrong foundation to look at energy, then it's actively harmful. This movie is a virus.
posted by Nelson at 11:00 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


About the use of the term "humanity" in many articles and comments throughout public discourse: humanity isn't just one thing. Given the lower-energy future that must—probably through hard limits, and definitely through wise policy if we can muster it—come to pass going forward, the size of the humanity is quite relevant to the thermodynamics. The 7 billion happened because of the recent fossil fuel bonanza, and it's unrealistic to assume so much humanity will be sustainable going forward.

When people talk about the world's energy needs, do they mean the Earth as a biological system (this much by definition), the amount consumed by the 7 billion humans today at current per-capita consumption levels, or the amount consumed by the 9 12 or 20 billion humans at projected per-capita consumption levels given trends of the last few centuries?
posted by maniabug at 11:01 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, it turns out that honest, hard working researchers never quite gave up on "cold fusion", took their time, and figured out what was really going on.

http://technologygateway.nasa.gov/media/CC/lenr/lenr.html

This is a NASA video talking about nickel/hydrogen fusion, which appears to be free of dangerous radiation, with copper as the product of the transmutation. The laws of physics aren't violated, but they are different at the nano-scale than we're used to thinking, so it's not something that was easy to figure out.

Free energy is a myth, but cheap energy might not be.

If you had a personal megawatt, you could do pretty much any industrial process you wanted in your garage... refine aluminum, make semiconductors, whatever... Or you could sell it back to the power grid for about $200/hour. ;-)
posted by MikeWarot at 12:18 PM on January 12, 2012


@TheCoyote: I've never built or engineered my own automobile but that doesn't mean my claim that a better one could be made is false

Building a "better" energy system is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition.

What is required is very much more specifiable than that: the mobilisation of that quantity of energy quadrupling global food production currently supplied (unsubstitutably) by oil, in the timescale imposed by the halving every 7 years of the oil supply, while sustaining the (energy intensive) industrial manufacturing system upon which the success of a technology-based solution is predicated.
posted by falcon at 12:34 PM on January 12, 2012


So just superbriefly glancing at this (because I don't want to waste three minutes of my life on this crap), are they handwaving around Polywell technology? Because, yeah, you could describe what is holding us back as "an invisible elite" but I think a more accurate description would be "this shit is hard!"

Similarly, looking at Nelsons list, the odd duck is polywater. Water really does forms all kind of complex structures like hydration spheres and clathrates and what not that are really interesting if you're the sort of person who thinks of entropy in terms of Joules per degree Kelvin. If you're the sort of person who thinks entropy equals disorder equals bad, just accept that you're unlikely to find a loophole in Maxwell's equations or the Carnot cycle and move on with your life.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:45 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


you might as well use that energy to grow food or something.

Bah, it's not like food just grows on trees or something!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:56 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bah, it's not like food just grows on trees or something!
The plant growth that we end up eating is only a small part of the picture. You need industrial quantities of fertilizer to get the yields required to keep everyone fed. Once the food is grown, you need to harvest and transport it to market.

If I recall correctly, every food calorie (which is 1000 physics calories, BTW), requires at least the same amount of energy to handle, when it's all done.

We effectively eat oil as it now stands. We need to make the whole process work much better, or we face a 5% per annum decrease in our food supply for the next few decades as the oil becomes harder to extract.
posted by MikeWarot at 2:39 PM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, it turns out that honest, hard working researchers never quite gave up on "cold fusion", took their time, and figured out what was really going on.

http://technologygateway.nasa.gov/media/CC/lenr/lenr.html

This is a NASA video talking about nickel/hydrogen fusion, which appears to be free of dangerous radiation, with copper as the product of the transmutation. The laws of physics aren't violated, but they are different at the nano-scale than we're used to thinking, so it's not something that was easy to figure out.


Not so fast. The term "LENR" ("Low Energy Nuclear Reaction") raises an immediate red flag, because it was specifically invented by Andrea Rossi. I've already discussed Mr. Rossi in MeFi before, and my personal impression is that his "e-cat" is a scam.

How Dr. Zawodny, who is a real NASA researcher, has become involved in this is a mistery, but it must be noted that his background is in earth observation and remote sensing, not nuclear physics...

The video is remarkably content-free, but Zawodny has also filed a US patent application. I'll leave it to physicist MeFites to judge about its content.
posted by Skeptic at 2:48 PM on January 12, 2012


Hehe, just got this in my inbox,

Join us and deepen the dialogue regarding this timely and controversial ideation presented by Foster Gamble and the Thrive Movement. You are invited to actively navigate its significance and its relevance as a community with the guidance of our host, Daniel Pinchbeck.

Please, someone, join in and "deepen the dialog".
posted by nTeleKy at 3:23 PM on January 12, 2012


Rossi is a scam artist, period. No need to equivocate there.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:28 PM on January 12, 2012


How Dr. Zawodny, who is a real NASA researcher, has become involved in this is a mistery,

Not really. And Rossi didn't invent the term LENR either.
posted by Brian B. at 4:07 PM on January 12, 2012


This is awesome. It's got UFOs, OWS, Deepak Chopra, David "Lizard Fighter" Icke, Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Food... it's got conspiracies wrapped in riddles and mysteries explained by doctors. And you have to pay to download it!
posted by cell divide at 5:02 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


What makes it so worthwhile is that it has Deepak Chopra AND David Icke!

Oh snap, Icke too? I had this fantastic six hour video of a seminar he gave, just him and a projector showing slides, and going on about the most SPECTACULAR nonsense. The sad part was that I could randomly jump to any point in the presentation, listen for about three seconds, and not only identify with familiarity exactly what he was talking about, but name with high accuracy the next several topics he would jump to. It was like a lunacy drinking game.

"I see a map of Washington DC. I am calling out: freemason architecture and the civic planning that lead to the mystic signs embedded in the road layout, with 'evidence' backed by the mystery story of the Great Seal's Eye of Providence motif (which actually predates Masonic usage, but who's got time to factcheck when there's conspiracies afoot!). BAM got it in one, now I have to take a shot. Skip ahead fifteen minutes, I see a picture of Ollie North, my money's on REX/NIGHT TRAIN 84 with a slight chance of MK ULTRA. Aaaaaand... I gotta take another shot."
posted by FatherDagon at 9:51 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


@Falcon

You seem to have awfully defensive about oils omnipotence. I call shenanigans.
posted by TheCoyote23 at 1:44 AM on January 13, 2012


"Be" defensive I meant to say. You seem to be taking oil criticism personally.
posted by TheCoyote23 at 1:52 AM on January 13, 2012


@TheCoyote23: You seem to be taking oil criticism personally

I do? How odd. That's a very complex deduction from a very short internet forum exchange. As a matter of interest, what shenanigans are you calling, exactly?
posted by falcon at 6:28 AM on January 13, 2012


Oil pretty much IS omnipotent, and so are the other hydrocarbons to a lesser extent. There's no getting around that it is an irreplaceable resource.

Even if we had free energy, the first thing we would try to do with it was find a way to synthesise liquid hydrocarbon fuels, because they hit the sweet spot of high energy density for both mass and volume, can be carried in a bucket, and are not much toxic compared to the alternatives.
That's the energy part, petroleum is also used as a chemical feedstock for almost everything, so even if we can find alternatives for making plastics, pharmaceuticals, etc, we still need to allocate extra land to grow whatever the substitutes would be.

If we were to stop food production completely and use all arable land to grow crops for biofuels, we would not replace even current petroleum consumption alone, let alone coal and gas. And don't forget that industrial agriculture is an energy sink, yields depend on vast inputs of petroleum/natural gas, with higher energy content than the resultant crops.
posted by Bangaioh at 7:43 AM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Free energy, wealth without work, services without taxes, "rules with no rules"

Also, games without frontiers & war without tears.
posted by scalefree at 5:33 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


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