a week ago, someone wrote:
> > > > Anyone notice that article disappeared from Buffalo.edu -- > > >the one that said someone created a wiring interconnect with negative > > >electrical resistance (which would throw a lot of physics out the window)...?
Pentagon Buys 'Perpetual Motion'
by Steve Brody and Andrew Kirkis
Although scientists continue to hunt for cold fusion, the US Department of Energy gave the fledgling technology the cold shoulder long ago. That does not mean, however, that the federal government is averse to funding far-fetched scientific research.
In the past three years, to the astonishment of many physicists, the Department of Defense has invested more than US$400,000 in Magnetic Power of Sebastopol, California. The company claims to have perfected a revolutionary material that conducts electricity with no resistance at room temperature.
For more on this, see Wired
Pentagon Buys 'Perpetual Motion' by Steve Brody and Andrew Kirkis 4:00am 22.Jul.98.PDT Although scientists continue to hunt for cold fusion, the US Department of Energy gave the fledgling technology the cold shoulder long ago. That does not mean, however, that the federal government is averse to funding far-fetched scientific research. In the past three years, to the astonishment of many physicists, the Department of Defense has invested more than US$400,000 in Magnetic Power of Sebastopol, California. The company claims to have perfected a revolutionary material that conducts electricity with no resistance at room temperature. Its so-called UltraConductors would allow ideal efficiency in every industrial application from electric motors to permanent electromagnets and would never need to be recharged. In short, Magnetic Power is in the business of perpetual motion.Goldes.
"Prior to the Wright brothers, no one believed
flying machines would ever be built," said CEO Mark
Standard superconductors conduct without resistance only at subzero temperatures and, owing to the cumbersome refrigeration requirements, they have never really left the lab. So why isn't the physics community interested in this radical new discovery?
"Quite frankly, no one believes it," said Los
Alamos National Laboratory superconductivity expert Martin Maley, whose sentiments were echoed by other physicists like Paul Grant at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, California. According to both Maley and Grant, after three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer revenue, nobody can even confirm that they've seen such a material, including the military. So-called room-temperature superconductors -- which arise periodically in the research community only to be quickly disproven -- usually provoke little more than chortles. But there's nothing funny about handing out government funds to a company promising cold fusion or room-temperature superconductors without at least some reasonable investigation of the claim. This sort of inquiry seems curiously absent in the case of Magnetic Power. According to information available on the Department of Defense and Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, or BMDO, Web sites, Magnetic Power received $287,000 from the US Air Force and $120,000 from the BMDO through Magnetic Power's wholly owned subsidiary, Room Temperature Superconductors Inc. (ROOTS). All funding was granted through the Small Business Innovative Research programs for the development of applications of room-temperature superconductors. In superconductivity circles, the history of Magnetic Power and its UltraConductors is alternately described by critics as "funny" and "appalling."
"In the nearly 20 years since this claim was first
made, there has not been one independent confirmation by a reputable research institute," said Maley. "Some samples of UltraConductor have been sent out, but never one large enough to perform a standard conductivity measurement. Until that happens, no one will really believe the technology exists." No one except the BMDO and the US Air Force, that is. Jeff Bond, a BMDO program manager, explained that companies are not required to prove their ability to produce the proposed technology for Phase 1 Small Business Innovative Research proposals. If granted, Bond said, the funding typically amounts to a $60,000 grant and the funds are intended to allow the company to "prove the concept." Yet Magnetic Power's proposals do not say the company will devise room-temperature superconductors. Rather, it intends to develop and improve on the materials that one grant proposal says
"have been invented." Nonetheless, Bond said he is
unaware of any samples of UltraConductor that have been received or tested by the military.
"We must have a good reason to believe that a given
company is proposing the development of a legitimate technology, before we grant a [Small Business Innovative Research proposal]," said Bond.
"However, with the sheer number of proposals that
we receive each year, it is certainly possible that a few inadequate Phase 1 proposals will slip by. The Phase 2 grants, which are much larger, have a much more stringent review process." That process added another $187,500 to Magnetic Power's budget in 1997, when the Air Force approved a Phase 2 proposal for the company. Magnetic Power's Goldes says that the BMDO has observed testing of its materials and has received samples, but that public announcement of the grants has been suppressed by the military because of the sensitive nature of the technology. In fact, abstracts for all three are readily available via a search on the defense department's Web-site database.
"We are well aware of who is funding what, and if
these companies keep reapplying for Phase 1 grants without producing results, they will be quickly weeded out of the process," said Bond. However, while being interviewed, Bond found that Magnetic Power's ROOTS had just been approved for a second Ballistic Missile Defense Organization Phase 1 proposal, submitted under a different topic listing from the first. Bond was also unfamiliar with the parent company Magnetic Power, the name used to apply for both Air Force grants. Goldes is CEO of both companies and said he has 10 employees. He also said that he is expecting to receive another $750,000 from the BMDO for a future Phase 2 proposal to build on his Phase 1 work, bringing the bounty to nearly $1.2 million dollars. On the bright side, one Air Force representative of the grant program pointed out, "At least we didn't fund cold fusion."