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Recently I heard about Searl effect. Allegedly, this generator produces "free" energy, and that John Searl was accused of stealing electricity, but in fact he provided the entire laboratory with energy from generators working using the Searl effect. This is all very similar to deception, but even though I do not know electrodynamics well enough and I do not know enough about magnetic phenomena (not at that level to judge engine performance), I know how the energy conservation law works, and that there is no free energy. Nevertheless, many people are trying to recreate the engine of Searl, some argue that Soviet engineers have recreated something similar. I have little faith in this, so I ask for help in this matter.

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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking us if a free energy device actually works, while knowing that free energy devices can't possibly work? $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Jun 21 '19 at 6:07
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    $\begingroup$ @John Dvorak I ask, not about this. Perhaps this engine works on some other principle, just illiterate people say the "free" energy. $\endgroup$ – Mouvre Jun 21 '19 at 6:12
  • $\begingroup$ Answered on Quora: quora.com/Is-The-Searl-Effect-fact-or-fake $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Jun 21 '19 at 6:13
  • $\begingroup$ Not to be confused with John Searle. ;) $\endgroup$ – PM 2Ring Jun 21 '19 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ See this topic on the Skeptic forum (note : not our own beloved Skeptics SE but an external website). $\endgroup$ – StephenG Jun 21 '19 at 10:28
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The "quick and dirty", "immediate" way to understand why that any proposed, particularly electromagnetic, "free energy" device or scheme won't work is this:

  • Virtually all of the electromagnetic phenomena you have access to in any combination of magnets, wires, coils and other elementary electronic components can be modeled using Maxwell's equations. Mathematically, you can prove that these equations both conserve energy and provide for no additional, "hidden" sources of "free" energy.

  • Where that Maxwell's equations fail, quantum electrodynamics is the needed theory. Again, it can be proven that this theory conserves energy, and offers no additional "hidden" sources. One caveat on the last part - this theory is technically the one from which the oft-heard term "zero-point energy" derives and pertains to. It is an elementary fact of the theory that the zero-point energy cannot be utilized as a "hidden" source of "free" energy because it is the lowest possible energy you can have by definition.

  • Finally, that both of these theories work exceptionally well in their relevant domains of applicability is to be understood by the fact that all modern electromagnetic technologies are built on them, from the power grid to your smartphone - devices of extreme complexity that bend electric currents and fields in a mind-boggling number of ways. If there were any loopholes, they would, with extremely high probability, have been noticed by now, in different settings, and not just by "troublesome" free energy garage tinkerers.

Now, if you want to know why a specific free energy scheme doesn't work, i.e. just how that these rules rule it out, you'd need to provide more details about it. However, from the above you can rest assured that without extraordinary evidence, none of these devices are of any use to helping us with our energy issues. Of course, philosophically, you can find all this a bit unsettling - this is all an appeal to best scientific understanding and it could be that maybe there is still some strange corner case where things in reality fall apart.

Yet, even if such a case existed, and it became known, it would not remain forever in the hands of a few Internet cranks and other fringey elements. And if you want to get into politics and assert the existence of a "conspiracy" of suppression that somehow keeps it there, then let me say that in a time that attention to climate change and other such energy-related problems is higher than ever, it would not remain hidden for long. We already see how much flak the oil and gas companies are getting for manipulating public opinion on climate change - that is, for the real "suppressive conspiracy" that actually does exist. If they were also hiding some sort of easy way to get energy that actually worked, you can bet your bottom dollar it too would have gone off like a political firebomb by now.

Sadly, there are no easy ways out of our energy predicament. We have to deal with, so far, the sources of energy we do know exist, and all the difficulties and challenges they entail and, more importantly, the limitations they impose as well.

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    $\begingroup$ Well said. Not to mention that most of these crackpots epically underestimate the scale of knowledge we have of these phenomena. What they know compared to a physics grad student is like a hair on a dog, and compared to collective knowledge and experimental evidence of all mankind, it's unimaginable. Thinking that a garage experiment that violates the most obvious physics laws would go unnoticed when we have 12-decimal-places matching theory by basically every electromagnetic experiment we do, it's just silly. $\endgroup$ – orion Jun 21 '19 at 7:07
  • $\begingroup$ @orion : Yes, most of these experiments generally (e.g. look at ElectroBOOM [Mehdi Sadaghdar]'s channel on YouTube for a reasoned critique) involve setups that, while exhibiting no true free energy behavior at all, subtly toy with measuring instruments in ways that can mislead an inexperienced and over-enthused tinkerer into thinking it is producing more energy than it actually is (e.g. one I remember somewhat is hidden, fast voltage spiking that can fool a multimeter into reporting a higher "steady" voltage but with little actual power due to the narrowness of the spikes). $\endgroup$ – The_Sympathizer Jun 21 '19 at 7:22
  • $\begingroup$ About your last paragraph: I would say "thankfully" instead of "sadly", because if free energy was available we would literally burn the planet in no time at all. $\endgroup$ – Stéphane Rollandin Jun 22 '19 at 22:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Stephane Rollandin : How would having free energy imply a literally instantaneous burn-up of the planet? $\endgroup$ – The_Sympathizer Jun 22 '19 at 23:05
  • $\begingroup$ Well, we already have global warming just by converting energy from one form to another. How much warming would we get if we had free energy sources to convert into heat? I guess the point I am making is that conservation of energy is a fundamental equilibrium in nature, hence my remark about the 'sadly' in your post. $\endgroup$ – Stéphane Rollandin Jun 23 '19 at 11:54
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John Searl claims to have invented an antigravity device too. There is no such thing as free energy. The "Searl Effect" is fradulent science.

Normally I'd provide references for this sort of thing, but I don't want to give this guy a search engine boost by linking to him.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for "don't want to give this guy a search engine boost by linking to him." $\endgroup$ – More Anonymous Jun 21 '19 at 7:18

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