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59 MIN READ TIME

Free Energy: When the Web Is Freewheeling

SEBASTIEN POINT

In physics, free energy is a mathematical function that quantifies the work performed by a closed thermodynamic system during a reversible transformation at constant temperature. That is, in any case, the definition that you can find in a textbook of physics. On the web, though, the term free energy refers most often to a new source of energy that is largely ignored by the scientific community but on which the future of humanity depends in the current context of energy and environmental crisis. Is it reality or Internet myth?

Based on what the Internet says, it would seem that this free energy abounds around us and that “the evidence of this free energy source is demonstrated by tens or even hundreds of people” (Wikistrike 2015). It would be available for free and occupy the “vacuum” that surrounds us. To implement it, no one needs to be an engineer or physicist, as you just have to apply what is described in one of the available books dealing with how to design a machine that will “transform something that we do not know how to detect into something usable” (Newman 2011). But as Aristotle stated, “the definition makes known what is the thing.” So, what is that thing?

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About Skeptical Inquirer

A SKEPTIC'S GUIDE TO RACISM Critical Thinking Approaches to Confronting Racism Why Pseudoscience Should Be Taught in College A Cancer Nurse Examines Alternative Medicine

Other Articles in this Issue


Editor’s Letter
Racial issues continue to plague us. After every new incident
NEWS AND COMMENT
The 2017 Chapman University Survey of American Fears came out
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Although scientists understand that the record of Earth’s surface and
Bruno Latour, the French sociologist who was a prime provocateur
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COMMENTARY
The academic community doesn’t seem to take the spread of
INVESTIGATIVE FILES
Joe Nickell, PhD, author of numerous books, including Entities and
NOTES ON A STRANGE WORLD
Massimo Polidoro is an investigator of the paranormal, lecturer, and
THE SCIENCE OF SCIENCE COMMUNICATION
Why We Need a New Dialogue about Science, Inequality, and Society
BEHAVIOR & BELIEF
Stuart Vyse is a psychologist and author of Believing in
SCIENCE WATCH
Kenneth W. Krause is a contributing editor and “Science Watch”
SKEPTICAL INQUIREE
Benjamin Radford is a research fellow at the Committee for
INTERVIEW
“It’s the Equivalent of Murdering Somebody”
A SKEPTIC’S GUIDE TO RACISM
The racial divisiveness and tensions that erupted this past year
Racism is abhorrent. It is therefore easy for a movement
When my oldest child was in high school, the school
One of the defining characteristics of a pseudoscience is nonfalsifiability
Jennifer Eberhardt’s research shows subconscious connections in people’s minds between black faces and crime and how those links may pervert justice. Law enforcement officers across the country are taking note
FEATURES
Despite our strong scientific understanding of organic evolution, many introduce unfounded beliefs to create a hybrid view of evolution that is unscientific and should not be taught in science classrooms
Stuart Vyse’s (2017) article about Daryl Bem and p-hacking was
Are eating disorders on the rise? One widely cited statistic claims so but falters under scrutiny. Here is a case study of flawed information presented by a prominent eating disorder information organization
Two things that serve to maintain morale, focus, and motivation
Claims about “free energy” are all over the Internet. What’s it all about? Not real science
REVIEWS
Freud, the Making of an Illusion, by American literary critic
Pseudoscience and Science Fiction. By Andrew May. Springer, New York,
Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations. By
NEW AND NOTABLE
ALIENS: Past, Present, Future. Ron Miller. Author and illustrator Ron
FOLLOW UP
The following letter is from a longtime member of the
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Although I was one of the good guys in getting
Thanks for Maarten Boudry’s “Fallacy Fork” (September/October 2017). He’s right:
Glad to see James Randi’s unequivocal denunciation of the (so-called)
Reading Matthew Nisbet’s column “Evolution in the College classroom” (September/October
In Terence Hines’s review of Tony Wolf’s book about Rose
In the letters column of the September/October SI, reader Norman
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THE LAST LAUGH