|By Jeanine DeNoma|
While the US Patent Office tries to avoid granting patents for perpetual motion machines, the allure of free energy draws both the quacks and the naive. And there is no limit to the schemes by which either plan to extract free energy or other people's money.
The Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking (PhACT)-the local skeptics organization-has been tracking free energy schemes for a number of years now. In fact, their president, Eric Krieg, has "become the main internet voice of skepticism concerning free energy claims." Eric's web site went up after seeing a free energy promotion three years ago in which Dennis Lee collected thousands of dollars selling rights for dealerships for his "200% efficient" electric motor.
Eric recently even hosted a skeptical radio show in Arizona. This after Norm Biss, who had been bilked in another free energy scam, found Eric's web site and contacted him. According to a report in PhACT's October 1999 newsletter, Biss's company sank thousands of dollars into a free energy device supposedly being built by Joe Newman. Just when the machine was to be independently tested, Biss said that Newman walked off with the machine. At that time Newman had a radio show in Arizona, so Biss bought thirteen weeks of radio time for a talk show to follow Newman's. Eric hosted it-promoting it as a talk show in the "Art Bell" genre, but bringing in skeptical viewpoints. Newman first threatened the radio station, then canceled his program after many of his callers began asking about the information supplied on Eric's program.
According to Tom Napier, another Philadelphia skeptic, Joe Newman had spent years promoting his electric motor, which he claimed put out more energy than went in.
"Newman has convinced himself that magnetic fields consist of particles which behave like tiny gyroscopes. From this concept, using spurious logic and without mathematical reasoning, he concludes that the intensity of a magnetic field depends, not on the current flowing in a coil, but on the mass of the copper. He then applies E=mc2 to this mass to compute the energy of the field and claims this energy can be released by his machine," writes Napier (Phactum, Oct. 1999).
Newman has been fighting the patent office since the 1970s over their refusal to grant him a patent for what appears to be a perpetual motion machine. According to Napier, Newman has fought back by complaining to congressmen, US Presidents and scientific journals. "He has even run for President. And from time to time he stages demonstrations to encourage investors to fund bigger and better versions of his device." Newman has promoted his ideas in a 590-page book in which he intermingles God (who he claims inspired him to build this machine), conspiracy theory, and pseudoscience. He even "claims to have been predicted by Nostradaumus!"
Last September, Dennis Lee-who first inspired the Philadelphia skeptics to examine free energy claims-took out a full-page ad in USA Today to announce his 45-city US tour to demonstrate his free energy machine. Lee is CEO of Better World Technologies. He emulates Newman from God to conspiracies, but now has Y2K fears to capitalize on as well. For $275 Lee will sign you up to join a "cooperative"-you're suppose to recruit another 49 people-and under a complicated financing scheme, you will be in line to have one of his 200% efficient motors installed so you can disconnect yourself from the power grid when the Y2K crisis causes mayhem around the country. It's a mission he claims God has sent him on and he is fulfilling, despite threats from the government and powerful interests in the energy business. In his four-hour lecture, he tells how the government plans to use Y2K to create a crisis so they can declare martial law and take away everyone's guns. Several hundred people turned out at most of Lee's stops to hear his antigovernment tirades. Many handed over their money.
To read more about Lee's free energy claims, visit Eric Krieg's web site at
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