Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Public Address founder "refutes" Word of the Year reports

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  • BenWilson, in reply to nzlemming,

    I didn't even vote because baby boomers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10361 posts Report Reply

  • Shane Le Brun,

    im just happy bigly made the list, its so irritating yet catchy when talking about cockwombles

    Since Mar 2015 • 37 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Slate picks 2016 as word of the year, notes other awards.

    Oxford Dictionaries chose post-truth. Dictionary.com selected xenophobia. The Cambridge Dictionary picked paranoid, and the Collins Dictionary Brexit. Merriam-Webster is coming later this week, but fascism is leading its pack.

    It’s “Word of the Year” season, when lexicographers and linguists name one word that best sums up the top cultural themes, online look-ups, or language patterns and innovations in the past 365 days.

    So far, the winning words, capturing the ascendant bigotry and factual relativism that marked so much of the year, aren’t trying to hide that 2016 was pretty bleak—which is why the 2016 word of the year shouldn’t be a word at all. It should be a number: 2016.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19264 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    There’s a US company called Brilliant Light Power that says it’s on the cusp of transforming the way the world produces and uses energy.

    BLP is developing a prototype ‘SunCell’ generator that it plans to field test in 2017. The discovery underpinning the device is said to consist of a means of catalytically generating a high energy plasma using previously unknown properties of hydrogen. The very large amounts of energy released by the plasma is harnessed by concentrator solar cells within the BLP device, which is about the size of your oven.

    The company’s detractors – a group that includes several winners of the Nobel Prize in physics – have noted that BLP’s theoretical claims are inconsistent with quantum mechanics. That said, many of BLP’s experimental results have been reproduced by physicists, engineers and other collaborators working with the company on agreed terms. Some of the verification reports and the CVs of those involved are published here. The company has also published a number of papers purporting to set out the spectroscopic and calorimetric evidence for the existence of the process it says it has pioneered.

    As one US professor of chemical engineering who has worked with the company wrote in 2012:

    "To summarise, when first hearing of the claims of BLP, it would be irrational not to be very skeptical, and prior to meeting [company founder] Randy Mills I was extremely skeptical. However, after having visited BLP, having participated in experimental design and execution, and having reviewed vast amounts of other data they have produced, I have found nothing that warrants rejection of their extraordinary claims. […] To be able to use hydrogen from water as a cheap and nonpolluting source of power would represent on of the most important technological breakthroughs in history."

    I’ve been following BLP for a long time but 2017 is scheduled to be a very important year for the company. We’ll soon see whether it can deliver on its extraordinary public commitments.

    Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to WH,

    WH, your comment has been reported as spam by another reader. But I know who you are and the formatting and language aren't consistent with spam.

    I'm just a bit puzzled as to why you chose to post this here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 21915 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Possibly move to the Tale of Two Iceblocks thread? – where WH has already posted a reference to the same emergent technology/scam (cross out whichever doesn’t apply, but until details of the proposed mechanism are supplied, the latter seems more likely: the report as cited implies catalysts can magically create energy, which -- if that is the actual claim -- is risible).

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1586 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    WH, your comment has been reported as spam by another reader. I’m just a bit puzzled as to why you chose to post this here.

    Hello and happy New Year.

    2016 was disappointing in so many different ways and I thought I'd highlight something in a quiet moment that you might hear more about in the next few years.

    the report as cited implies catalysts can magically create energy, which – if that is the actual claim – is risible)

    I'm not sure that it does and I think it's worth pushing beyond preconceptions and misunderstandings of this sort.

    It's widely recognised that an atom in an excited energy state emits photons - a.k.a. light - as it moves to lower energy states.

    Mills' claim is that the hydrogen atom can be catalytically induced to emit large amount of light as it falls below what is currently considered to be its ground energy state. He is saying that the 'brilliant light' you can see in his videos is being emitted by hydrogen by way of a novel process.

    Mills says that the spectroscopic profile of the light being emitted supports his view.

    While I understand your reflex, I provided a list of about fifteen people and organisations that have looked into this at length and most of those have doctorate level qualifications.

    Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Mills himself has a “doctorate level qualification”. It’s not in physics.
    Nor did any of the observers emerging with any enthusiasm for the company have relevant qualifications in quantum mechanics.
    Amongst other organisations, NASA looked into it, concluding the evidence was “not compelling” (which Park 2002 notes is admin-speak for not wanting to admit you wasted your research budget).
    Meanwhile, Mills' spectroscopic findings have been adequately explained as the product of already known processes; and no separate band has ever been observed in the hydrogen emission spectrum corresponding to Mills' claimed lower-energy "hydrino" state.

    … Ah. I see what you did here.
    Dammit, I’d managed to forget that post-truth was the winner.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1586 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    And as if on cue, here's a new BBC Radio 4 series, Nothing But The Truth, on the "post-truth" world.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1586 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell,

    It looks like "baffle them with bullshit" to me.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 406 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to John Farrell,

    Certainly that was Bob Park’s verdict in 2008 (when, familiarly enough, BLP was promising delivery of a working product “within 12-18 months”).

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1586 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    I’m not really inviting you to abandon quantum mechanics on the basis of something you’ve read on the internet. I’m not an engineer or a physicist.

    The Blacklight Power NASA Innovative Advanced Research Phase I study (2002) is here. The conclusions are listed at page 37.

    Meanwhile, Mills’ spectroscopic findings have been adequately explained as the product of already known processes; and no separate band has ever been observed in the hydrogen emission spectrum corresponding to Mills’ claimed lower-energy “hydrino” state.

    Well, it’s entirely possible that you’re right. I think it's interesting that so many engineers who have done the experiments say that there is something unusual happening.

    It looks like “baffle them with bullshit” to me.

    I don’t think that means what you think it means.

    Let’s just see what happens.

    Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to WH,

    Let’s just see what happens

    I don’t advise anyone to hold their breath: we’ve heard all of this before. Here’s Mills in 2002.

    "We’re almost completely done with the core science. We’re getting to the point where we’re not going to need a lot of money,” he explains. “Our focus is on scaling up for commercial applications."

    Followed by that Phase I report ... asking for more money.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1586 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    … Ah. I see what you did here. Dammit, I’d managed to forget that post-truth was the winner.

    I wouldn’t waste your time on purpose. It’s a really interesting subject and I couldn’t be more curious to see how it plays out. There’s a New Zealander who lectures in engineering at a local university (who I won’t name) following BLP’s progress as well.

    The SunCell Mills was showing off on CNN has a production schedule and is going into field trials later this year. The CTO of the engineering firm working on the device has said that:

    “This design fixes all of the outstanding engineering challenges required to manufacture the commercial product.”

    Call it a moonshot or something. I’m not asking for your money.

    Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell,

    Moonshot thinking? "Let's head off doubts about our product by associating it with a success, something that no one would question".

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 406 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I'd be interested to know of any modern instances where a benchtop experiment (as opposed to a high-energy accelerator or cosmological observation) has produced results that don't agree with accepted physics and it hasn't been shown to be experimental error or deliberate fraud. I can't think of any.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5449 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    shown to be experimental error or deliberate fraud. I can’t think of any.

    BLP reports that it can obtain megawatts of power from the plasmas under study. It’s difficult to imagine the kind of measurement error that could account for such results. It would be a remarkably elaborate fraud.

    To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you should suspend your disbelief or withhold your scepticism. It’s just something that might be worth keeping an eye on quietly.

    The SunCell will either go into production or it won’t.

    Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell,

    "BLP reports that it can obtain megawatts of power from the plasmas under study. It’s difficult to imagine the kind of measurement error that could account for such results. It would be a remarkably elaborate fraud".

    If there's money in it, frauds can be elaborate. I read a report of a "perpetual motion machine" promoter who gave remarkably convincing demonstrations. After he died, his workshop was found to be extensively plumbed for compressed air - all the piping was hidden. There was a large compressor in the basement.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 406 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    In one of those strange coincidences, one of Mills’ biggest supporters is… Emiritus Professor of Chemistry John Farrell of Franklin and Marshall College.

    Whatever else is going on, Randell Mills is an exceptionally smart chap:

    He attended Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania where he graduated Summa Cum Laude, B.A. in 1982. He was a member of the Black Pyramid Honor Society and the Phi Beta Kappa National Honour Society where he was the only Junior invited to join in that year. He received the Willig Pentathlon Prize in Chemistry, one of the oldest and most prestigious awards in chemistry first established in 1912 which is awarded to the senior major who scores the highest on an exam covering the General, Analytical, Organic, Inorganic, and Physical areas of Chemistry. The name of each recipient is placed on a plaque and the student receives the income from the endowment established by Herman Luther Willig.

    He also received the Michael A. Lewis Memorial Prize in Physics, the Isaac E. Roberts Biology Award, the Rawnsley Science Award, the Morgan D. Person Prize in Chemistry, the Fredrick C. Schiffman Award in Chemistry and the Theodore Alexander Saulnier Award in Chemistry.

    Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell,

    Smarter than the average mark....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 406 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    Mills completed a degree in Chemistry under Farrell at Franklin and Marshall, obtained his medical degree at Harvard and did engineering coursework at MIT in his spare time...

    Then he started a $100m company.

    Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    This is the company’s two hour presentation about its efforts and its pathway to commercialisation (12/2016).

    Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    It’s fascinating in its own right, but this 2007 New York Review of Books article by Professor Lee Smolin also discusses Albert Einstein’s view of quantum mechanics:

    By the time Newton died the Royal Society was filled with Newtonians. But after Einstein’s death in 1955, to be an Einsteinian was to be in a decidedly marginalized position in the physics world, if by Einsteinian one meant someone who agreed with Einstein’s strongest convictions and consequently approached physics in the same style he did. The big question that any assessment of Einstein’s later period then hinges on is whether Einstein’s later views were correct or not. The least that can be said is that there is an entire field now devoted to questions raised by the counterintuitive aspects of quantum mechanics called the foundations of quantum mechanics. Most experts agree that the questions raised by Einstein have not been resolved, and a fair fraction of them suspect that in the end Einstein’s view that quantum mechanics is just a step on the way to the right theory will turn out to have been correct.

    Nonetheless, for most of Einstein’s biographers, who have been either nonphysicists or, like Pais, particle physicists firmly in the dominant quantum theory camp, the question is closed. To them one of very greatest scientists in history was completely wrong about the truth of a theory whose development he initiated. Isaacson asks, “So what made Einstein cede the revolutionary road to younger radicals and spin into a defensive crouch?” The simple truth is that Einstein ceded nothing because he had well-thought-out and principled objections to the quantum theory.

    It’s probably worth re-iterating that I don’t have a scientific background.

    Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    As the element that makes up 75 percent of all the mass in the Universe, and more than 90 percent of all the atoms, we’re all pretty well acquainted with hydrogen.
    But the simplest and most abundant element in the Universe still has some tricks up its sleeve, because physicists have just created a never-before-seen form of hydrogen - negatively charged hydrogen clusters.*

    Anionic Hydrogen Cluster Ions as a New Form of Condensed Hydrogen
    http://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.117.273001
    ......

    *source

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7274 posts Report Reply

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