Free Energy

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Ming Dynasty Astronaut"

Finding: BUSTED

Explanation: Sir Isaac Newton said that energy can't be created or destroyed, but he didn't establish any laws about paying for it. Countless scientists and inventors have since proposed free energy recipes, and MythBusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage cooked up a handful and took them for a test run.

Here's what they found:

1) A contraption called a G-strain amplifier was supposed to suck energy out of thin air. The MythBusters hooked the amplifier to a motor to see how long the device could provide power. But the free energy never materialized, and the motor quickly petered out.

2) A Minto wheel consists of two connected propane tanks floated in water to generate free rotational energy. When the water warms up, the propane vaporizes, condenses and rises to the top of the tanks. That gas movement turns the wheel — very slowly. The Minto wheel's snail's pace is simply too sluggish to produce any usable energy.

3) An unnamed device promised to convert radio waves into electricity. The 100-foot (30.5-meter) accompanying antennae did snag almost half a volt of energy, or enough to power the display on a digital watch. In that case, the pitiful amount of energy wouldn't even be worth the nonexistent price tag.

4) The Bendini motor is a perpetual motion machine that theoretically feeds itself free energy. A battery drives a motor, which spins a flywheel, which charges wire coils, which in turn recharge the battery. However, the motor in action drained more battery power than it replaced, bringing the perpetual motion to an inevitable halt.

Busted on all four counts, the free energy myth failed to serve up any viable solutions. The MythBusters instead confirmed that there's no such thing as a free ride when it comes to energy.

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