Unlimited Energy: Fact or Fiction?
Scientists and nerds have fantasized about the possibility of creating something from nothing. The number one priority for eco-friendly researchers is creating low-cost, sustainable energy. Is it possible?
According to conspiracy theorists, it might be. Allegedly, governments and powerful lobbies suppress any progress in the field of infinite energy. But why would someone want to stop such inventions from coming out? Is it because there would be massive losses in profit from conventional fuels and natural gas? Or are these are just exaggerated suspicions?
Let's look at some theories related to zero-cost energy.
The first is called perpetual motion. The theory is that after giving thrust to a special mechanism, it would bounce energy back and forth forever. It would thus be an everlasting power generator.
Things are not so simple though. Friction and other factors end up leading to energy loss and the energy loop has to come to an end over time.
Then you have the controversial tale of Stanley Meyer's water fuel cell. Meyer claimed he could power a dune buggy to cover the Los Angeles - New York route, using just 83 liters of water instead of gas. Spark plugs replaced injectors and propelled a hydrogen/oxygen combination into the engine cylinders. Or that's what Meyer claimed they did.
Most prominent scientists discredited Meyer's claims. Expert witness Michael Laughton was going to examine the controversial car, but Meyer cancelled. The aspiring inventor was later sued for fraud by his angel investors and had to give back $25,000.
In Meyer's simplistic approach, the water splits into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen burns, creating energy, and then combines with hydrogen to form water again. It covers all principles of perpetual movement.
Too bad it was never proven to be real.
In 1998, after dining with two Belgian investors, Meyer came out screaming "they poisoned me". He died shortly after. The coroner's report ruled that he died of cerebral aneurysm (a result of high blood pressure). However, his fans to this day believe he was executed because of his invention's significance.
Even more outrageous tales about free energy exist. Extra-terrestrial enthusiasts believe past "visitors" might have left technology for zero-point energy. The blueprints have since either fell in the wrong hands or were not deciphered.
Although infinite energy is based on rumors and pseudo-science, sustainable, environmentally friendly energy does exist. Solar (photo), wind and tidal power are only a few sources of renewable energy. These are crucial to our quality of life today and in the future.
To reduce the ecological impact by fossil fuels, we must produce clean energy on a higher scale than we do today. Energy use is higher than ever. In fact it is about 50% higher today than it was in the 1990s (see below). Consumer electronic devices have found a place in every household with even books going digital, and today we need more and more energy to maintain our lifestyles.
Whoever invents energy that's easy and cheap to produce in massive amounts will be an instant billionaire. Is this a possibility? Only time will tell.
Participate in the debate
That would be a wonderful debate, so let us keep out the garbage of the lead-in, like
- the possibility that human kind already has the necessary knowledge, but it is not used because of a conspiracy
- perpetual motion (here, down on planet earth) or Stanley Meyer, whose stuff would be in fact a variant of the perpetual motion machine.
As the debate-intro states: "sustainable, environmentally friendly energy does exist" - i would want to break down the initial question "Unlimited Energy, Fiction or Fact ?" like this:
A) What do our currently known scientific models of the universe generally say about "unlimited energy"
A-1) in all of the universe ?
A-2) down here on earth, with possible implications for practical use by mankind ?
and (more importantly):
B) Which of the currently researched ideas for "unlimited energy to be used by mankind here on earth" are the most promising?
I would like to make these distinctions as i do not think what we are looking for is indeed "unlimited" energy, but more like "a seemingly endless source of [clean and healthy] energy for humankind to use without destryoing the planet or ourselves (ecological or economical desasters)". I do not know enough about all the science which answers the category A questions, would be interested in expert contribution here ;-), but can only link to a very nice short story by Isac Asimov about it: "The Last Question" (https://filer.case.edu/dts8/thelastq.htm)
But i think that a discussion about B) is interesting and possible even without any professors of (astro)physics chiming in here. Because what we potentially got as energy sources "unlimited enough" for us to master the looming challenges could be sufficient:
- Atomic forces (fission, fusion) -Mastering the atomic forces is a process we started to learn just a few decades ago, a short time in historic dimensions, so we could be optimistic enough to get quite far with that, even if the short term results seem terrifying. Radioactivity has "not so many desirable effects" on life as we know it obviously, and we are not really experts yet in controlling it in our efforts to get energy from nuclear fission. Adding to the worries, all research on nuclear fission is too close to the military industrial complex, and sadly enough there are still enough nations who would like to be able to manufacture "the bomb".
- The sun -Nuclear fusion on the other hand, while it also has some (but less) problems handling radioactivity is still considered to be very promising in the scientific world. Problems here seem to be the handling and financing of the enormous complexity of a possibly feasible production facility, in a scenario with many contributors from all over the world (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fusions-missing-pieces-iter-problems/)
- The earth core -The sun beams more energy to our planet per minute than we would ever need, and in fact we would only need to discuss the various techiques and their applicabilities, so how we could make use of this energy for our various purposes. Strictly speaking, our use of fossile fuels is already an application to make use of the sun energy (the already received energy within the past).
For the earth core energy, it is basically the same. There is enough energy down there, more than we would need to overcome what we currently see as a challenge. We even do already have geothermal powerplants, but our economic systems currently make it very "costly" to make use of it. The progress in this area is disappointing. Drilling is expensive, and gets very difficult the deeper you go, so use of geothermal energy is only feasible where we can reach high temperatures at shallow depths, and according to what i have read, there are not so many places which have this advantage.
Wind, water, tidal waves, rain, biomass conversion, etc. are all bascially just variations of techniques to tap the same sources of energy: What we receive(d) from outer space and what we have already down here on (or in) earth.
It becomes quite clear by considering all of this, that you can answer the debate intro question "Unlimited Energy, Fact or Fiction ?" easily:
It is a FACT that the amount of energy we potentially could tap (if we would know how, without destroying us) is "unlimited enough" for what we consider the challenge here and now, and for the longterm future!
And for the lead-in: As an optimist, who is also aware of some properties of complexity, i do not believe some conspiracy is holding back the "ultimate answer" - as there is no ultimate answer. Different technologies and applications, engineering teams, institutions, states and conglomerates are working on all sorts of possible solutions. Sometimes there is a pooling of resources, sometimes not. All of it together is a complex process, out of which the answers we are looking for will emerge. We may experience one or the other "energy crisis" - but we will not run out of energy!
Sooner or later, fiction becomes a fact!
Apr 10, 2014
This is a geothermal powerplant in Iceland:
and this is how it works- isn't it all beautiful ? And the little black dots on the right are people swimming in a natural hot pool which has positive health effects... quite the opposite of Fukushima!
Fact. I have been reading up about sustainable / renewable energy because my country, Morocco, is really working hard on sustaining our energy needs. this is one of the useful things I found online.
"One major advantage with the use of renewable energy is that as it is renewable it is therefore sustainable and so will never run out."