Mad Teddy's Zero-point energy page

Mad Teddy's web-pages

Zero-point energy

It's easy to dismiss new ideas as "science fiction". Those who do so presumably think - and hope - that people who come up with such ideas will quietly back down and go away, taking that phrase as a reprimand.

Is it, though?

Science fiction is basically a story written about one or more "scientific" ideas (whatever "scientific" means). It's usually somewhat speculative, suggesting possibilities not yet realized.

What's fascinating is how often these possibilities are realized - and often quite soon after such a story is written. Science fiction is often science prediction.

Take some very obvious examples:

Until the early-to-middle 1900's, there were no such things as electronic computers. One of the first was used to crack the German ENIGMA code and thus lead to a much more rapid Allied victory over Nazi Germany than would have been possible otherwise, if at all. (Click here to read the Wikipedia article.) This, and other early computers, consisted of large, bulky pieces of interconnected equipment.

Computers (and robots, which act essentially as arms and legs for computers) existed in science fiction long before they became a reality. But now computers are everywhere; and the most amazing thing about them is their small size. In fact, they're now so ubiquitous, and so often replaced with newer models, that they've given rise to a problem foreseen by nobody: large quantities of toxic substances from junked electronic components in landfill. (Have a look at this page to get some extra perspective on this.)

Until the mid-1990's, few people had ever heard of the internet. Then, suddenly, there it was - and here you are now, reading something on your computer that I've written on mine, and that has found its way from my computer to yours via this amazing medium.

What is it that makes possible global communications (including, to an extent, the internet)? Satellites, of course! And who foresaw this quite some time before it existed? Arthur C. Clarke, one of the great science fiction writers, who realized the potential of satellites (and also foresaw the importance of the geostationary orbit, at least for the early part of the communications revolution).

There are many, many other examples of science fiction as prediction, including powered flight, the atomic bomb, "death rays", and even the most obvious one: space flight.

Then there are phenomena which at least look like science fiction. Classic examples are Nikola Tesla's invention of the commutator-less induction motor, and his championing of AC power against Edison's very wrong-headed insistence that DC was the way to go. (Tesla was also the true originator of radio, which was an amazing phenomenon in its time - although we now take it for granted.) Then there's radar (click here to read about Arthur C. Clarke's involvement with this), not to mention the totally unexpected, very surprising phenomena associated with electromagnetism itself.

"Science fiction? Bah! Fairy tales..."

Don't you believe it.

So what's my point?

On this web-page, you can read about the 1995 première of a TV documentary which featured Arthur C. Clarke explaining how there are four stages in the way scientists react to the development of anything of a revolutionary nature:

            a) "It's nonsense,"
            b) "It is not important,"
            c) "I always said it was a good idea," and
            d) "I thought of it first."

History shows that, all too often, major scientific discoveries are accompanied by howls of "science fiction" from the uneducated masses, and "pseudo-", "fringe" or "crackpot" science from the scientific establishment. (The media - both general and scientific - have a lot to answer for in this regard.)

Here's a classic example:

You may think (as I did, until comparitively recently) that the speed of light has only been known with any degree of accuracy for the last century or so. Names like Einstein, Maxwell, Lorentz, Michelson and Morley spring to mind as having had something to do with it. Along with the development of electromagnetic theory, X-rays, and the discovery of radio, somewhere along the line the speed of light made its grand entrance. Right?

Wrong. The fact that the speed of light is finite, rather than infinite (i.e. requiring light to take no time to travel from its source to an observer, as was once believed), has been known for close on three hundred years! Click on one or more of these links to read the story of Danish astronomer Olaus Roemer (1644-1710):

There are plenty of other pages on the WWW which tell this story. The following one also mentions how Roemer had to endure disbelief from his contemporaries, including the great Jean-Dominique Cassini (after whom the "Cassini division" in the rings of Saturn was named) - but how it was eventually proved that Roemer was right after all:

That last link also mentions the antagonism Michael Faraday experienced in regard to his belief that light was an electromagnetic phenomenon, and how eventually James Clerk Maxwell showed conclusively that Faraday was right after all. Truth must always emerge eventually!

You want a more recent example of alleged "crackpot-ism"? 1989, "cold fusion". (Yes, research into this phenomenon continues, quietly and out of the public spotlight, by people whose credibility - or more - will be on the line if they don't keep their heads down and their backs covered.) You'll find more about cold fusion further down in this page, along with a link to another of my pages which mentions it - as well as links to several pages on other websites which also address the issue.

Then, of course, there is the classic example of Galileo (1564-1642), who was forced by the Church (a very powerful institution at the time) to recant (on 22nd June, 1633) his scientific discovery that the Earth revolved around the sun, rather than vice versa - even though he knew with absolute certainty that he was right. (It wasn't until 1992 that the Church finally apologized for its error, but - as already mentioned - truth must always emerge eventually!)

So why is original thought so often derided, so seldom honoured?

Well, I'm convinced that - in recent times, at least - it's because of what I now call the "Three P's": pride, politics and power.


This is always some combination of "why didn't I think of that first?" and "how dare they - they didn't go through the Right Channels!". Either way, it's basically sour grapes. It's an all-too-human failing, and it would be nice to think that scientists - intelligent seekers after truth - could rise above it. Sadly, that's often not the case.

(In this connection, on the subject of "scientific method", I encourage you to visit this page, and read it very carefully. It's refreshing and gratifying to find that there are other people in the world who have reached the same conclusions on this issue as I have. If anything, the thoughts expressed in this article are perhaps too politely expressed; I tend to be somewhat more scathing about it all. If this author is a bit like Bono, I'm a lot more like Bob Geldof by comparison. (Also, just by the way, I must say that I find the author's somewhat dismissive remarks about "the ether" to be somewhat out of kilter with the rest of the article!) For more thoughts on these and other matters by someone who is not afraid to "stir the pot", visit this page.)


Somewhat akin to the "pride"-factor just mentioned, but usually involving people of less intelligence. In the interests of "national (in)security" and/or "the economy", governments don't like citizens getting up to tricks and finding out more than is good for them to know. "Can't have that!"


Again, obviously bits of the other two P's come in here - but this time, I'm referring to the more blatant, less obviously underhand activities of big business. (These days, of course, you're hard pressed to spot the difference between big business and government. If you haven't already, see my Why is Mad Teddy mad? page for more on this theme; also here.)

Anything that threatens "market share" is taboo. Big businesses will stop at nothing to kill stone-dead anything that renders their operations irrelevant. And, in the current political/economic environment, governments will back them to the hilt.

Originally, I had several updates here - added at various times
during 2006 - to the point where this page became too big and
unwieldy. So I've taken them out and put them in a page by
themselves. Click on the arrow if you'd like to read them.

Okay - so just what is Zero-Point Energy? Well, it's something that's been known about for approximately half a century and suspected for over a century.

It's something which exists in colossal amounts, everywhere. Not just here on Earth, but in space - so that it's entirely possible that it could even be harnessed to power spaceships.

It holds the promise of making possible an appropriately-sized, self-contained power-supply for every home, business, or industry in the world. After the initial outlay, the cost of running a device to turn ZPE into usable electricity would be insignificant (occasional maintenance may be necessary). It will certainly be a lot less than the regular power-bill for grid-supplied electricity which we all have to pay now.

Once the technology is developed, and once the price drops to an affordable level (as always happens with any new technology), it will make possible a cheap supply of energy everywhere - including developing countries - thus making possible a modern lifestyle for all the world's citizens.

Best of all, it won't involve the production of greenhouse gases, nuclear waste, or any other kind of pollution. Clean and green to the max - and it will never run out!

More detail about ZPE is given in the pages whose links appear below.

Ever since Rudolf Clausius (1822-1888) introduced the concept of "entropy", it's been all too easy to decry any reference to "free energy" as crackpot science. The Second Law of Thermodynamics (so the litany goes) makes impossible any such notion. Perpetual motion machines can't exist.

Well, maybe they can and maybe they can't - depending on your definition. Either way, that's not the point. Neither is the Second Law itself, really. The point is that there is a vast sea of energy just waiting to be tapped into. People who know and understand this don't need to justify their position in terms of the Second Law and entropy. If we can get at this zero-point energy (ZPE) at all, we can do it without needing to violate any existing thermodynamic principles. Even if we do need to "run the universe down" a bit to access this huge store of energy, it won't matter - the benefits will outweigh the costs by a (quite literally) astronomical factor. (Visit this web-page for more information about this, under the heading "FORWARD THOUGHT EXPERIMENT", about two-fifths of the way down the page.)

So just how much of this energy is there? Some sources say that the amount of ZPE in a volume the size of a coffee cup would be enough to boil the world's oceans, if we could get it all out (here is a link to one of many web-pages with more information; here's another). Let's hope nobody ever gives this a try, otherwise we would all really have cause to worry about "weapons of mass destruction".

In the chapter of Arthur C. Clarke's book "Greetings, Carbon-based Bipeds!" entitled "When Will the Real Space Age Begin?", Clarke reports that Nobel-laureate physicist Richard Feynman referred to the amount of ZPE in a cubic metre of space being enough to boil the world's oceans, rather than the amount in a volume the size of a coffee-cup. So perhaps there is a bit of uncertainty about this.

But does it really matter? Even though there is a difference of three orders of magnitude, this pales into insignificance in terms of the amount of energy being discussed - which is enormous, regardless of which of these two volumes is cited.

My old "39...Again?" coffee mug holds about 300 mls. Thus one cubic metre would hold about 3,333 mugfulls - a factor (by volume) of between 1,000 (103) and 10,000 (104), corresponding to a difference of three orders of magnitude.

Lest anyone should wish to quibble, it's a somewhat analogous situation to Olaus Roemer's demonstration that the speed of light is finite, as opposed to infinite. The actual figure implied by his experimental results is not as accurate as the currently accepted value - but so what? That's always been the way: science (at its best) will always strive to improve its technique and refine its results. It just takes time, and in no way detracts from the thrust of the underlying principle under investigation.

The point here is that, either way, there is vastly more ZPE available than we are ever likely to need.

On a related matter:

It's not necessary to know absolutely everything about a scientific phenomenon before putting it to work. A classic example is electricity itself. Until 1897, nobody was really sure what it actually was.

Since the 1750's, when Benjamin Franklin was performing his very risky experiment involving kite-flying during a thunderstorm , there had been a debate about the true nature of electricity. It was known that were two "types" of static electricity - positive and negative - but the debate centred around whether electricity was a fluid of some kind, or made up of particles.

A.K. Solomon, one of the early researchers into nuclear physics, in his book "Why Smash Atoms?" (Pelican Books, first published in 1940), takes up the story:

By the end of the nineteenth century the body of knowledge regarding electricity had become far more complete. Electricity could be described, could be generated, and even accurately measured, yet the question still remained: 'What was electricity?' Finally, in 1897, Professor J.J. Thomson, working at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England, gave the first definite answer. Electricity was particles.

J.J. Thomson achieved this by effectively building the first evacuated cathode-ray tubes, showing that cathode rays in a vacuum could be deflected both by an electric field and by a magnetic field. From this he was able to deduce that the cathode rays were made up of particles - which came to be called "electrons". (Visit this page to see a more detailed account.)

Note that this only happened in 1897 - significantly, a year after Nikola Tesla's Niagara Falls power station commenced operations, and two years after Launceston's Duck Reach power station did so!

(Also, note the practical importance of Thomson's experiments. As a direct result, starting in the early-to-middle 20th Century, we have had radar screens, televisions, oscilloscopes, computer monitors, and various medical diagnostic and imaging devices - ECG, CT, MRI etc. - all made possible by the invention of the cathode-ray tube.)

What has all this to do with zero-point energy?

Precisely this: we may not know the exact nature of ZPE, or even exactly how much of it there is - but we do know that it's there, lots of it, and that in principle it can be accessed and put to work. Certainly, more "R&D" needs to be done - but, ultimately, it's an engineering problem! So let's just get on with it!!!

I've made my point. I'm not interested in the exchange of childish mud-slinging to defend my position. If you're still reading this - if you haven't "switched off" and decided that I'm just another nut-case after all - may I invite you to visit the following web-pages and learn more, if you feel the need to do so:

(Nikola Tesla recognized the existence of something he called "radiant energy"...)

(A good introduction to the topic.)

(An article which describes the work of Dutch physicists Hendrik B. G. Casimir in 1948, and Marcus J. Sparnaay in 1958, which established the existence of zero-point energy beyond any doubt.)

(Yes, it's an ad for a book. No, I'm not getting paid anything to put a link to it on my website. Yes, I do think it's worth a look. Whether you buy the book is entirely up to you. I haven't read it so I can't either recommend it or fail to do so. We're all grown-ups here.)

(This page contains plenty of links. I haven't checked them all out. Just a word of warning: it's a "temperamental" site, and doesn't always "work". When it does, it appears to be one of those websites that need you to have Javascript turned on. )

(From a sceptic. Note the use of loaded expressions like "technological trappings - some seemingly of the backyard variety", "optimists", "pseudoscience that could leech funds from legitimate research", "contraption", "wishful thinking", "zeropoint-energy chauvinists", and "would-be utility moguls", along with such telling statements as "In fact, physicists quite often 'renormalize' equations to get rid of infinities, so that they can ascribe physical meaning to their numbers" and "...if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is".

Read the final paragraph on that page, and then ask yourself if lasers, radio, X-rays, MRI, heart pacemakers, affordable powerful computers, the internet, powered flight, the Apollo moon landings, Voyager II etc. - even the amazing phenomenon of electromagnetism itself - are all too good to be true.)

We need sceptics; be kind to them. They are to the scientific world what critics are to the artistic world. They're necessary, if only to remind us how much more difficult it is to be creative (and build things up) than it is to be destructive (and tear things down).

Just one more thing about that "sceptical" page:

Its author is pretty scathing about research by amateurs of the "backyard variety". Contrast this with the following comment by Dr. Hal Puthoff, one of several participants in an episode of "Equinox" - a British TV series - on the subject of alternative energy, reported in this link (already given above, in another context):

This is an area of physics that specially seems to draw amateurs and/or low-tech labs and so therefore they don't have a lot of money to spend on the apparatus ... the first things put together by some maverick in his garage are probably going to be pretty low-tech and pretty crude. But that's okay, I mean the first observations of radioactivity or whatever were really quite crude. Actually if you look (at) the history of invention most often breakthroughs were found by mavericks working outside the field.

Please - visit this page to read the inspirational words of Earl Bakken, inventor of the heart pacemaker (see link above), about how ordinary people with a bit of motivation can, and often do, make highly significant contributions.

Or, to put it another way - in the words of Bloody Mary's song "Happy Talk", from Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1949 musical "South Pacific":

"You got to have a dream, if you don't have a dream
How you gonna have a dream come true?"


"Maverick Teddy"?

More ZPE-specific links:

(A link within the "sceptical" page above. This one is very informative, packed with considerable detail - and not cynical or sarcastic at all. Highly recommended!)

(Too good to be true? Wotcha reckon?)

(Okay? Dr. Bearden has a patent on the device. The patent office takes pride in not granting patents for crackpot ideas.)

Here's a link to an article which summarizes the issue quite well:

- and a link within that article (another page in the Tom Bearden website):

Finally - a link to another page within this website, which deals with what I consider to be a most interesting aspect of the matter:

In late 2003, I found in a local bookshop (and promptly purchased) a book entitled "The Scientist, the Madman, the Thief and their Lightbulb", written by Keith Tutt (Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2001).

This book addresses the contribution of several researchers including Nikola Tesla, Thomas Henry Moray, Michael Faraday (the "N-machine"), Paul Baumann (the Thesta-Distatica), Randell Mills (Blacklight), and Kohei Minato (the permanent magnet motor), among others.

It contains a foreword by Arthur C. Clarke, whose credentials have already been established earlier in this page. He refers to the revolution in science initiated by the discovery of X-rays in the late 1800's, and says that another revolution is urgently needed. He is also quoted as describing the scorn shown to the discoverers of cold fusion as "one of the greatest scandals in the history of science".

(Thanks to the staff at Simon and Schuster for permission to include this scan of the book's front cover.)

There's no mention here of Tom Bearden and the Motionless Electromagnetic Generator; but then, the book had been published earlier under the title "The Search for Free Energy" - in 2001, the year before Dr. Bearden obtained the patent on the MEG - hence the omission is easily explained.

Interestingly, however, Dr. Eugene Mallove, a spokesman for cold fusion, does rate a mention. If you've visited my second page on electromagnetism, you may have followed this link which mentions Dr. Mallove's untimely demise under mysterious circumstances, and provides this further link which gives more detail. Also, click here to read a long but highly significant article by Dr. Mallove himself. Finally, click here to see a memo from Dr. Mallove to the White House in 2000 - which, incidentally, contains further highly relevant quotes from Arthur C. Clarke.

(At the time Keith Tutt's book was published, Dr. Mallove was still alive.)

So what does it all mean?

Well, you can admit (grudgingly) that ZPE does exist - lots of it - but take the point of view that it's not proper science and that therefore precious time, talent and resources shouldn't be wasted on it. Or you can take the point of view that we can't have the revolting peasants getting off the grid, not paying their hefty power bills, and thus not contributing as they should to "the economy" - much less having knowledge of what simply must remain military secrets. Or you can take the point of view that the oil industry, along with its associated pollution, wars and other atrocities, is here to stay - at least until the oil runs out - and that the punters had better just get used to it.

Or you can acknowledge the fact that the world is in crisis, and that there is a crying need for cheap (if not free) non-polluting energy. You can decide to do what you can to help give developing nations some natural justice. At the very least you can try to help raise awareness of the fact that, just below the surface, there is a vast ocean of energy just waiting to be tapped into. (That's what this page is for: it's my attempt to help give a wake-up call.) If you have the means - brains, money, or just plain human decency - you can get involved and do something to help, before this world goes up in flames and all the fantastic pioneering work of Oersted, Faraday, Henry, Hamilton, Maxwell, Tesla and others will have been for naught.

The choice, as the saying goes, is yours.

'Nuff said?

I don't have a working model of a MEG or other ZPE device - not yet, anyway. I may never have such a thing. It may all be BS and not worth a cracker (although, somehow, I don't think so). If I ever do succeed in making one, it will be posted on this website if I have anything to do with it.

UPDATE, Thursday 27th March 2008

On Tuesday 18th March (just over a week ago), Sir Arthur C. Clarke died, aged 90. This marks the end of an era: he was the last of the "Big Three" science-fiction writers of the 20th Century to have passed away, the other two being Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. (Click here to read a tribute to all three.)

To quote yet again from Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon": "We've all got to go sometime"; but it saddens me that Sir Arthur didn't live to see a world in which zero-point energy had begun to be taken seriously as the ultimate energy-source. If I ever do succeed in making a working "proof-of-concept" ZPE device, I think I'll dedicate it jointly to the memories of Arthur C. Clarke and Nikola Tesla. (I've got a few ideas running around in my head - stay tuned...)

If you have the necessary know-how and resources, why don't you build a MEG - or some other means of tapping into the ZPE? If you do, and put it on your own website - and if it's "fair dinkum", as we say in Australia - contact me and I'll be more than happy to include a link to your page.

To close, a quote from Nikola Tesla in a speech to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers:

Ere many generations pass, our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point in the universe.... it is a mere question of time when men will succeed in attaching their machinery to the very wheelwork of nature.

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