This might look the stuff of science fiction but it isn’t. A recent discovery (depending on who one reads) has shown there appears to be a perpetual motion machine that can be powered by light, yes light and nothing more! It also pertains to a scientific notion espoused in the film The First Men in the Moon where there’s a huge rotating crystal that provides energy to the Selenties, those inhabitants living on the moon, and this crystal is powered by nothing more than sunlight. Such things seem quite far fetched don’t they…? Except it seems we already have the technology – and in fact we have had this knowledge since 1962!
The scene from the First Men in the Moon where Professor Cavor and Katharine Callendar discover the Selenties’ huge perpetual motion machine – naturally powered by sunlight.
I couldn’t tell you whether the Selenties’ huge solar crystal is in fact made up of the same essential qualities as our mere earthling solar panels. Whether that matters or not is a different thing because the more important aspect of these is the fact both absorb sunlight and use it for power. But we earthlings do in fact have a machine that rotates and its powered by sunlight too – so far it can be found only in a model form merely for entertainment and educational purposes.
‘I think we can consider all other forms of power obsolete…’ says Professor Cavor when the huge perpetual machine is sighted for the first time.
Before we get onto the question of that perpetual motion machine let’s consider the fact we’ve always considered energy to be something that has to be produced from some other sources and up until now we have extracted the energy needed to power machines etc, in other words that has been wood and coal (for steam) petroleum for the internal combustion engine, jet engines and rocket fuel, gas for heating and propulsion and of course isotopes for nuclear energy. Extracting the necessary materials has been a long, fraught and often destructive process and leaves scars across our planet as well as pollutants in both the earth itself and in the earth’s atmosphere and oils spread right across the oceans causing untold damage to both sea life and waterfowl. That’s something we haven’t dealt with very well – in fact we’re dealing with it very badly because even now in these more environmental conscious days, we’re still thrashing the earth to a massive extent and no amount of getting rid of CO2 or being carbon neutural by 2030 or 2045 or 2050 whatever isn’t going to mitigate the damage we have done.
In terms of renewable energy (unlimited sources of energy in other words) we’re not managing those very well either are we? The universe is indeed throwing lots of free, renewable energy right in our faces but so far we’ve sort of seen it as a humdinger (or perhaps even an excuse to loll on a beach somewhere far away and get a lovely suntan) and some see wind powered turbines as an intrusion on the landscape and vast arrays of solar panels would no doubt face the same resistance.
Odysseus – a near perpetual motion machine that can stay in the air for months. Source: Aurora Flight Sciences
Of course we now know the Sun can power machinery and equipment, cars, trains, ships even aeroplanes – there’s been flights across Australia using nothing more than solar power to fly experimental planes across the continent and there’s also Odysseus, a high altitude flight craft that can stay in the air for months at a time. All of this is evidently exciting however to have machinery perpetually powered by the Sun – well that’s another thing – give or take the fact we spend half a day bathed in the night sky and the other half in the sunlit sky and we run around in a panic when the sun sets…. and our free energy disappears!
It seems in fact we could have machines that produce energies beyond the capabilities of what we currently have. It doesn’t mean int’ll happen tomorrow in the literal sense – but we do have a potential candidate – and its a bit like the Selenites’ perpetual machine….
The Mendocino Solar Magnetic Levitating motor
That very technology is already here in an infant form as I have briefly alluded, alas its here with little or no roadmap for how best we can develop the use of it. In fact one rather sober aspect of that is the concept in question was first dreamt up in 1962 as this Wikipedia article shows – which shows its been on the horizon for nearly sixty years!
Professor Simon Holland with his Mendocino motor. Source: Youtube
Compared to those sixty years on the horizon, this stuff only came into my awareness zone two days ago when I happened to watch a video by the exemplary Professor Simon and during that video presentation I immediately thought of the Selenites’ perpetual motion machine… and I wondered if what we were seeing was in fact a sibling form of the Selenites’ gigantic light driven turbine?
The application in question is a Solar Mendocino Magnetic Levitating motor. As some observers have said, the motor is useless, has no practical application but is a lot of fun to play with – at least it does work, if only to foster one’s amusement. The device has no bearings at all, its suspended in mid air by the use of powerful magnets and only needs a bit of light to kick it off. In fact its totally amazing a few packets of light particles invokes its motion!! There are some really interesting aspects to this motor and one of those is how light rotates it one way but when its shone in a different direction the machine rotates the opposite way instead.
What I wouldn’t suggest however is that, unlike the Selenties, we too work in reverse when the machine is forced by a change in light to work in the opposite rotation. Rather I’d hope we’d have the common sense to ensure its output is the same whichever direction the machine rotates!
Sunnytech Solar Magnetic Levitation Model Mendocino motor. Source: Amazon
The fact this machine rotates by the simple means of light being present comes as a surprise because we often think of light as being mass-less and hasn’t got much clout. Try hitting someone on the head with a light beam and you’ll know what I mean. Of course if light is packaged in a different way – such as a laser, infra-red beam (or a light saber when someone finally makes one) then yes you’ll no doubt feel its power.
Some proponents have suggested to get to the next stars effectively and cheaply spacecraft that use solar sails could be built. Some might scoff at the notion spaceships could sail through the cosmos on nothing less than a a wind of particle/waves propelling one on their way but there you are, its not a dream and it can work. There are also other ideas involving the use of particles to push objects but I wont go into these today. Solar sails will be fast and the craft won’t be a slouch compared to the fastest rockets we have, but it’ll still be slow in terms of light years for example. There’s no warp factor and its not as fast as we would like if we were to take a trip to the outer limits of our solar system or somewhere else in the galaxy.
The big problem in all of that is of course how do we actually get the energy to go faster than all of this. We go on about hyper drives, warp drives, Alcubierre drives and the rest of it but none of this is really substantial at the moment because there are a lot of givens that just cannot be validated. It just means we continue to dream of possible hyperspace travel without really knowing how we could do it and this is where I think the Mendocino motor (or something like it) could come in. We know light goes exceedingly fast and a machine could possibly be driven fast enough to generate quantities of energies (or force fields) that are so far unknown in quantity.
Speed testing the Mendocino – almost 4500rpm in an earth based light situation! Source: Youtube
The current thinking upon powering warp drives etc is to use nuclear energy but you know what, that’s just old fashioned! Nuclear energy – despite its ‘clean label’ – is anything but clean. Yes its fantastic that small amounts of isotopes can be used to create large quantities of energy but I don’t think it has enough clout for the needs we are seeking plus the fact its dirty – there’s the radiation and all that other messy stuff. Wouldn’t want a meltdown in deep space!
The Mendocino solar motor spins at about 3,000 to 4500 rotations per minute (see here) and that’s just with light (even if its normal room light) so imagine what its potential must be if it could do 30,000 or 45,000 rpm! It’s output must be incredible.
Some will say but we can’t build it bigger than model form but I dont agree. It just needs the right materials and a dedicated safe space to operate and then we’re on our way! We now have ultra strong ultra lightweight materials – graphene or metal nanocomposites and cellulose nanofibres (the latter from from renewable sources.) It means we can build big without compromising on weight and certainly solar panels can be built extremely thin and ultra lightweight. The only thing that might need powering would be the huge magnets but we could store energy and power these in order to leviate the machine – and once that is in motion, let the sun do the rest of the work.
This demonstration shows these motors could work at night powered by nothing less than candle light! Source: Youtube
You know in fact I think we could eventually have the power the Selenites use. These machines could be built in caverns in the ground powered by nothing more than sunlight and be shielded in a way to prevent any possible vibration or discernible hum (if any) escaping the chamber. The amount of electricity produced would be so vast it could be stored for those moments when its night time or when the Sun takes a dip behind the clouds. An excellent distribution system would ensure this excess energy is stored across the county in huge – what we’ll call for now batteries but rather the term should be electrical reservoirs – and the power used according to individual locations’ requirements.
We wouldn’t even need power stations, not even nuclear ones! These gigantic structures could finally be consigned to the dustbin (or preferably sent into the sun where they would be vapourised in an instant.)
Hold on! I’ve been given to understand there’s an announcement just arrived from the Moon – and its from no other than the Grand Lunar!
The Grand Lunar… ‘I am so very impressed the earthlings have discovered a perpetual motion machine, alas my fear is they will use it to conduct war with the Selenites and steal the Moon from us…. But before we know it we’ll be their slaves and there’ll be a McDonalds on every corner of our planet! That’s the natural human progress as we beings of other planets have observed for centuries!’
Oooh.. er… um… I think I’m beginning to have second thoughts about the potential any sort of gigantic Mendocino motor might have for us humans! A warning should tell us its ‘for educational purposes only.’
And we must never, ever, dream on….