|MadSci Network: Physics|
Your skepticism is correct; this device cannot work unless the current laws of physics are completely wrong. The "active vacuum" is something that does exist, but it obeys the ordinary laws of energy conservation and there is nothing to "extract". There are theories involving a lower-energy vacuum states but they are extremely theoretical and involve things like symmetry-breaking at the Big Bang, NOT magnets and batteries.
I read the beginning of the paper, and I suspect that the author quite flatly misunderstands the idea of gauge transformations. This is where he thinks he's getting "free energy". Read J.D.Jackson's "Electrodynamics" for the real story.
I must say, I'm rather upset (and surprised!) to see the DOE promoting these papers without any sort of disclaimer, disavowal, or anything. While our society must be open to new ideas - especially in the vitally important field of alternative energy - we have to distinguish bewteen science and pseudoscience. This author wants to overturn the laws of electrodynamics, thermodynamics, mechanics; he seems to provide no experimental or theoretical evidence that his ideas work. You can invent any wild new theory of physics you like; I'm always happy to hear of new and revolutionary ideas. But you have to ask it real questions - does this theory explain ordinary things like atoms, batteries, transistors, the photoelectric effect, and agree with observations? This theory, at least as much as I read, does not pass muster. Moreover, I'm always skeptical of someone who comes up with a theory, and immediately uses it to patent a "free energy" device before doing any fundamental experiments.
I've written email to the DOE complaining about this page. If they don't take it down altogether (because, who knows, it could be completely unofficial or unapproved) they should at least put up some sort of "this is nonstandard" disclaimer. Thanks for pointing it out! And good for you - your intuition was right on target on this.
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