Debunking Perpetual Motion Machines

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Q_Goest
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Posts on perpetual motion machines show up fairly regularly both in the Physics forums and in the Engineering forums. Generally, the OP has little or no knowledge of physics or engineering, and sometimes the posts turn into flame wars.

I'd like to propose a new forum be opened that all these perpetual motion machine posts can be put into. Something along the lines of a sub forum to the Skepticism and Debunking forum. Maybe call it "Debunking Perpetual Motion Machines".

The problem with keeping these posts in Engineering or Physics is similar to the problem of allowing posts regarding religion in the Philosophy forum, it detracts from the legitimacy of the board. If the board honestly wants to entertain these posts in the physics or engineering forum, it seems to indicate to the OP and also to others reading them, that perpetual motion machines are to be taken seriously - as if all that needs to be done is to be clever enough to overcome the physical problems of creating energy, and the problem will be solved.

By opening a new forum such as "Debunking PMM's" and placing all these posts in this forum, it indicates to the OP there is no way to create such a machine and it indicates to everyone that this board doesn't take such things seriously. Such posts immediately loose legitimacy! Sure, they're fun sometimes to try and figure out where the problem is, but it will always come down to being nothing more than the riddle, "why won't this work?"

A second reason for adding this separate sub-forum would be to expose fraudulent web sites. I'm sure we've all seen the web sites that ask for donations to develop technology or flat out try and sell plans or products that allegedly create energy. Often they won't disclose that they're really perpetual motion machines. Instead they'll try and convince the unsuspecting slob that they've found some new and unique way to use gravity or the sun's energy to create free energy. I think we'd all have a good laugh at exposing these sites, and we might actually do the public a small favor to boot. By exposing them, at least there's a chance that the 'unsuspecting slob' might have Googled the product, idea or web site before parting with their hard earned cash. If they do, they might also pick up on the "Debunking" board and find that fraudulent web site listed, along with some discussion on why that site is fraudulent.
 

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  • #2
ZapperZ
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Actually, as far as I know, such a discussion is NOT allowed on PF, even if it is meant for "debunking". I know that it isn't allowed in S&D, and we all tend to move such post to that forum before.

So no, they shouldn't appear on PF, and if you see one, report it.

Zz.
 
  • #3
Q_Goest
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Sounds like you've misunderstood the post. Perpetual motion machine posts are not uncommon, and are never locked except for flame wars, nor are they moved, or otherwise delt with. Here are two recent examples:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=151464
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=148606
There's a https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=151491"but I'd like to focus on these as they're typical. In both cases above, the OP obviously doesn't know how to do these calculations themselves and furthermore, each poster obviously believes PMM's can be created. Unfortunately, they don't even know how to recognize such a machine. I remember a much worse post about 6 months ago where someone was trying to get folks to visit a web site that tried to get money for PMM plans. I did mention that one to Russ and it was locked.

I fail to see any policy restricting perpetual motion machine posts.
 
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  • #4
Gokul43201
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Q, the policy is the one that prohibits any speculation outside mainstream physics. Also, the second of those two threads was in fact, locked withiin a day. Still, I agree that there's a plethora of PMM threads that go nowhere. I, however, think the solution is:

1. Include a line in the Guidelines specifically prohibiting discussion of PMMs (even if we already have rules against posting non-mainstream "ideas"), just to make it REALLY clear.

2. Have any PMM threads reported and summarily locked.
 
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  • #5
Moonbear
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1. Include a line in the Guidelines specifically prohibiting discussion of PMMs (even if we already have rules against posting non-mainstream "ideas"), just to make it REALLY clear.
I don't really see a need to start singling out specific crackpot theories in our rules. I also see no reason to create an entire forum just to debunk one set of theories. Since there is already a list of thoroughly debunked topics no longer permitted for further discussion in the S&D forum, this topic could be added to that list if Ivan agrees.

2. Have any PMM threads reported and summarily locked.
I think this is the best approach. For example, the second of the threads in Q's list of examples didn't start out as a thread clearly about perpetual motion. It could have just as easily turned out to be a student trying to understand basic concepts in their physics class. After some discussion, the intent was revealed, and now that it has been brought to moderator's attention, there has been intervention.

This forum has a LOT of threads and replies posted daily, so we do miss some that need moderation, or sometimes just take a while to get to it to see it, so when someone sees something that violates our posting guidelines, please report it. Perpetual motion/free energy are favorite topics of hoaxes, scams and crackpots, so we will see those topics appearing, and a specific rule prohibiting it doesn't really dissuade anyone from posting (our rule against non-mainstream topics doesn't stop people from trying to post any of their pet theories, but it means they've been forewarned there will be consequences if they do, such as deletion of those posts, infraction points or banning).
 
  • #6
ZapperZ
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Sounds like you've misunderstood the post. Perpetual motion machine posts are not uncommon, and are never locked except for flame wars, nor are they moved, or otherwise delt with. Here are two recent examples:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=151464
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=148606
There's a https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=151491"but I'd like to focus on these as they're typical. In both cases above, the OP obviously doesn't know how to do these calculations themselves and furthermore, each poster obviously believes PMM's can be created. Unfortunately, they don't even know how to recognize such a machine. I remember a much worse post about 6 months ago where someone was trying to get folks to visit a web site that tried to get money for PMM plans. I did mention that one to Russ and it was locked.

I fail to see any policy restricting perpetual motion machine posts.
While we do try to make sure such discussion doesn't get to that stage, we cannot monitor every single thread and every single post. As it is now, perpetual motion machine discussion, if it comes to that as in the first thread you cited, will be stopped.

It is up to you to report such a thing. Just because a few were left alone so that some form of an answer can be given doesn't mean we condone such discussion, and if it degenerate into a discussion that deals with a perpetual motion machine, then I certainly have no hesitation to lock or even delete the whole thing.

So no, there is no need to create a thread just for such a thing, and there is also no need to make new policy regarding such a thing. Our overly-speculative guideline covers this very well.

Zz.
 
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  • #7
vanesch
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A second reason for adding this separate sub-forum would be to expose fraudulent web sites. I'm sure we've all seen the web sites that ask for donations to develop technology or flat out try and sell plans or products that allegedly create energy. Often they won't disclose that they're really perpetual motion machines. Instead they'll try and convince the unsuspecting slob that they've found some new and unique way to use gravity or the sun's energy to create free energy.
I think it is not our purpose to destroy lucrative business on the back of the gullible :biggrin:

Hey, in my lab I have a technician (an electronician, quite good otherwise) who bought some set of high yield permanent magnets which he clamped onto the conduct which brings in the fuel from the tank to the engine of his car: it is supposed to "magnetize the fuel so as to extract zero-point field energy and make the fuel more efficient by releasing this energy during combustion". He asked me about it before buying, I told him it was rubbish, and even tried to explain him that thermodynamically, it didn't make any sense, but he went ahead anyways. He told me he has the impression that he consumes about 10-20% less now... :uhh:
 
  • #8
Ivan Seeking
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I think it is not our purpose to destroy lucrative business on the back of the gullible :biggrin:

Hey, in my lab I have a technician (an electronician, quite good otherwise) who bought some set of high yield permanent magnets which he clamped onto the conduct which brings in the fuel from the tank to the engine of his car: it is supposed to "magnetize the fuel so as to extract zero-point field energy and make the fuel more efficient by releasing this energy during combustion". He asked me about it before buying, I told him it was rubbish, and even tried to explain him that thermodynamically, it didn't make any sense, but he went ahead anyways. He told me he has the impression that he consumes about 10-20% less now... :uhh:
That scam is at least fifty years old.
 
  • #9
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i hate people who think they can get energey for free (perpetual motion).
 
  • #10
Danger
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i hate people who think they can get energey for free (perpetual motion).
Well, I have that sort of figured out; Metis are a free energy source. For a minimal outlay of resources (ie: 1/2 rent and utilities), my home and dishes and laundry appear to be self-cleaning. Since W is always either working or sleeping, I can only assume that she came equipped with some sort of Metis imp that takes care of domestic duties. There should be a study done about this.
 
  • #11
Ivan Seeking
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I don't really see a need to start singling out specific crackpot theories in our rules. I also see no reason to create an entire forum just to debunk one set of theories. Since there is already a list of thoroughly debunked topics no longer permitted for further discussion in the S&D forum, this topic could be added to that list if Ivan agrees.
Sorry, I had missed this. I'll go ahead and add that to the list as "perpetual motion" and "free energy" discussions.
 

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