Sunday, July 6, 2008

A blast from the past

As is typical as of late, I was feeling rather isolated and lonely in Los Angeles. My business partners and roommate had all left on vacation, leaving me with little else but to operate out of an empty office. Being the sentimental creature that I am, I'm rather used to spending the fourth of July with my family in the beautiful state of Montana; my separation from them was having a deleterious effect. Having noticed that I've been in a bit of a rut recently (understatement), my parents invited me home for the weekend -- an invitation that I gladly accepted.

Since I've been at home, I've had the opportunity to go through some not-quite-buried treasures. When I left home for my first place of work, I relieved myself of all those useless trinkets, toys, photographs, awards, and other memorabilia that one acquires as a child. The remaining portion of the physical artifacts of my life I sorted and placed inside of labeled banker boxes.

In high school, I had been very active in extracurricular science fairs and research projects; this activity afforded me a great deal of travel and exposure to conferences. My successes were, to some degree, achieved through my own curiosity, attention to detail, and talent as a clear communicator; however, I believe that I thrived primarily due to the combined efforts and guidance of my teachers, to whom I am forever grateful. Sentinel High School, like a blacksmiths' workshop, took the raw metals of my personality, and fired and then forged them, forming a young Junior who traveled to Arizona and participated in the International Science and Engineering Fair in 1996.

Having achieved more than I could have ever expected, I became somewhat complacent, but was still interested in finding another vein of research that caught my interest. One of my science teachers suggested that I attend the Canyon Ferry Limnological Institute (now Montana Science Institute) near Helena, MT. At that time, it was run by husband-and-wife team Gil and Marilyn Alexander. Being young, egocentric, socially awkward, filled with hormones, and somewhat emotionally unbalanced due to my family situation, I left the camp early and went home, but not before making several faux pas that I still feel ashamed of. The teenage mind is painted in bright, primary colors -- and the reds are impressively vibrant.

Before I had left, however, I had performed some research into hydrogen peroxide rocket fuel. More captivating, however, were the patents of a Mr Stanley Meyer regarding a "hydrogen fracturing" process. I had reviewed several patents that had been written in a disorganized, unclear, and esoteric manner, so as to obviously make comprehension of the disclosed invention difficult -- if not impossible. I had sent e-mail messages to a Mr Daniel Hamilton, presumably living in Texas, who had insinuated that the Meyer cell could produce more energy than it consumed -- thereby breaking the laws of thermodynamics. At that point, I became highly skeptical and filed Meyer's cryptic patents away into a large, black, metal binder where they sat, provoking occasional curiosity and maybe a bi-yearly web search on "hydrogen fracturing."

Today, I retrieved this binder from it's banker box, and curiosity struck. I performed a web search on Stanley Meyer, and discovered that he had suffered the sad fate of the huckster that he was. In late 1996, Meyer had been sued by several investors for fraud and was found guilty thereof. An expert witness, Michael Laughton, Professor of Electrical Engineering at Queen Mary, University of London (wikipedia), had determined that Meyer's cell operated no more efficiently than a standard electrolytic cell. Meyer later died in 1998 of a brain aneurysm.

Somehow, this seems a fitting end for a man who would have tricked a young high school student with free energy propaganda, but didn't.

The black binder has been cleared of its contents and is now patiently awaiting something far more useful.


Suzanne said...

Wow, your article is very cynical indeed. Stanley Meyer was issued several patents but since the U.S. Patent and Trademark office by policy does not issue patents on perpetual motion machines, how can you conclude he was a fraud?

Juries are not always right. For pete's sake, a jury found OJ not guilty despite overwhelming physical evidence.

Meyer may not have pleased his investors - not all research is marketable, and in the end they wanted their money back so they sued him.

How do you explain the fact that so many people and companies have now continued the research and are indeed producing H20-fracturing cars (ie hydrogen powered, using H20 as the storage medium)? There are quite a few videos on YouTube featuring Stanley Meyer himself. But current successes abound. Check out Genepax, Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies and HydranOx5000.

I am not connected with any of those, but I did write an article about what it could mean to be not only questioning the First Law of Thermodynamics, but succeeding in breaking it. With so many success stories out there now, that unalterable "rock" of science is on shaky ground.

Best wishes,


baitisj said...

Amanda said...

I've been meaning to call you, really! I've been busy with a few business-ish trips and looking for a new place to live, so I barely have time to do my laundry, let alone hang out with anyone. Glad to hear you got back to the ancestral homeland for a bit.