Steorn perpetual motion machine, amazingly, may not work: independent jury resigns

June 23rd, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, perpetual motion | 20 Comments »

For those who care about follow-ups:

Jury Announcement

In August 2006 the Irish company Steorn published an advertisement in the Economist announcing the development of “a technology that produces free, clean and constant energy”. Qualified experts were sought to form a “jury” to validate these claims.

Twenty-two independent scientists and engineers were selected by Steorn to form this jury. It has for the past two years examined evidence presented by the company. The unanimous verdict of the Jury is that Steorn’s attempts to demonstrate the claim have not shown the production of energy. The jury is therefore ceasing work.

The jury consists of scientists and engineers in relevant fields from Europe and North America, from industry, universities and government laboratories. Information about individual members can be found at

Chairman, Steorn Jury

It would be nice if the jury could let us know what evidence they have been given. I suspect this will be bound up in dreary non-disclosure agreements forbidding any open discussion of evidence. If any of the jury would like to pass me some or all of Steorn’s unconvincing evidence, in the public interest I am, as ever, on

Meanwhile here is a weak response from the company:

Jury Report

Steorn today confirmed that the internet ‘blog’ had been posted on behalf of members of the Jury of scientists that Steorn had engaged to conduct an independent review of its Orbo Technology.

In a statement, Steorn CEO, Sean McCarthy said that “he was grateful to the Jury members for the time and effort that they had devoted to the process.”

McCarthy continued on to state that he “fully understood the frustration of the Jury members with respect to the time that the process was taking. Implementing Orbo in a reliable and consistent manner had remained a challenge for the organization, one that we had made no secret of. Due to these difficulties we had focused on providing the Jury with test data relating to the underlying magnetic effect behind Orbo. This work concluded at the end of 2008.”

McCarthy concluded by stating that “during 2009 the company had resolved the key technical problems related to the implementation of Orbo and is now focused on commercial launch towards the end of this year, at which time academic and engineering validation would be released concurrent with public demonstrations”.

Read more about Steorn:

And another free energy joker here:

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20 Responses

  1. Spiny said,

    June 23, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    We’ve had similar perpetual motion nutters on our blog, it makes an interesting read 🙂

  2. Slov01 said,

    June 23, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Don’t forget Steorn may or may not be a marketing company who want the oxygen of publicity…

  3. bazzargh said,

    June 23, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Ben, I notice on that last link there’s spam links in the article text (instead of just the comments). Something up with your WP install? I tried this:“without+prescription”

    And found that those links are appearing on lots of pages, but on most pages they’re using some style hack to hide the div with the links; view source or turn off styles and you’ll see the spam.

    I see you’re on 2.8 so I guess these are relics left from old attacks.

  4. Ben Goldacre said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    yeah spam attackers being killed as we speak

  5. NotACat said,

    June 23, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    I’m getting “Page not found” errors on all three of the earlier “Bad Science” articles linked from this article; to top that, I tried the “perpetual motion” category from the list and it came up empty.

    Coupled with the sudden appearance of the comment immediately above this one, I’m wondering whether this is a side-effect of your battle against link-spammers?

  6. Dead Badger said,

    June 23, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Yeah, I’m getting the 404s too; none of the category links work, nor do google search results. Assuming you care about such things as pagerank (and what proper geek wouldn’t?), this is something you’ll want to fix pronto.

    Goddamn spammers.

  7. SteveGJ said,

    June 23, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    So they couldn’t demonstrate it working to an independent jury’s satisfaction. Now there’s a surprise.

    Of course the real conspiracy theorists home in on zero point energy. There are any number of types out there who are convinced that it’s only not easily and freely available to them now because of a plot by oil companies/big government/Russians/Opec and any number of other types attempting to keep them in chains.

    Of course the single most dangerous thing that could possibly happen is that somebody did invent a small, cheap, device that could produce near unlimited energy. Quite small, cheap devices which are able to produce very large amounts of power over a very short period of time are commonly available and widely used. They are called bombs and having those easily accessible isn’t exactly a blessing.

  8. SubMoron said,

    June 23, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    I got through to the links without problems.

    I’m sure this is just another of those unsinkable rubber ducks so we’ll be hearing the same for years to come.

  9. SmartBlonde said,

    June 23, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Don’t know if this is just me but your RSS feed is doing some odd things. Has suddenly updated with about a dozen new posts, which all lead to “page not found” error screens and appear, when searching your site for the titles, all to be from a number of years ago. Another side effect from the spam battles?

  10. Filias Cupio said,

    June 24, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Watch this story sink without a trace. “Perpetual motion machine invented” is news. “Perpetual motion machine proved not to work” is not.

  11. Michael Gray said,

    June 24, 2009 at 3:20 am

    Surprise, surprise, surprise!

    Perhaps Tim Minchin should have not named his beat poem tirade against woo: “Storm”,
    but instead chosen “Steorn” as summarising perpetual poop?

  12. gnaddrig said,

    June 24, 2009 at 8:12 am

    The last paragraph of Steorn’s press release is typical of “free energy” companies – independent tests always fail due to technical problems, yet the companies are always on the brink of solving the remaining technical problems and expect to go to market with their product very soon.

  13. rgunning said,

    June 24, 2009 at 9:21 am


    I’d steer well clear of making any reference to this crowd. For every 100 or so people that hear about this thing, 1 person gets roped in to thinking there is something behind it.

    The guy behind it is no slouch in the whole “market it up and sell it off” department.

    The only thing that Steorn have proved is that there is no such thing as bad publicity in the area of “free energy”. For every expert that claims it’s all smoke and mirrors, you will get a blogger with no accountablity stating that the oil industry is behind some cover up. Steorn don’t have to even make statements refuting experts denying the claims, they just let their blog community do that – a community they set up themselves by offering themselves up as an “open-source” company, as it were; touting themselves as for the people.

    The scientific community here in Ireland is doing their best to fight this the only way possible – ignore completely.

  14. NotACat said,

    June 24, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    There’s a whole bunch of spam-links on the page about “What is the Mini-Blog” also.

    I’m noting it here since this is where I’ve seen comments about spam recently, and there’s no obvious other place for it: am I overlooking a really obvious “report spam” link?

  15. Ginger Yellow said,

    June 24, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    “a community they set up themselves by offering themselves up as an “open-source” company, as it were; touting themselves as for the people.”

    An open source company which doesn’t have a product (well, beside spin) and whose “source code” is confidential.

  16. andrewlightheart said,

    June 27, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Yeah – I’m getting the spam links in my RSS feed too.

    Also – your front page shows 4 comments – but this is comment 16.

    Time for the techies!

  17. chromodynamix said,

    June 29, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Geeks refer to these spam people as 404 Men. File not found.

  18. foofdawg said,

    June 30, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    As Engadget recently pointed out, Steorn now has at least one actual product for sale, and (big surprise) it’s a complete rip-off.

    Maybe they were using their own faulty meter to test their perpetual energy machine?

  19. songsforthedeaf said,

    July 4, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    Jury confirms that fundamental law of science is not broken….

    In other news the earth continues to turn…

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