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Japanese Inventor's Motor Uses 80% Less Power 1095

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the skeptical-eye-on-the-science-guy dept.
novakane007 writes "A Japanese inventor named Kohei Minato has created a new kind of motor. It uses magnetism to perpetuate the motor motion. As a result the motors uses 80% less energy than a conventional motor, while still maintaing the same horsepower. "Minato assures us that he hasn't transcended the laws of physics. The force supplying the unexplained extra power out is generated by the magnetic strength of the permanent magnets embedded in the rotor. 'I'm simply harnessing one of the four fundamental forces of nature,' he says." On top of the energy savings the motor runs cool to the touch and is significantly quieter than a tradtitionally powered fan. Sound to good to be true? Well he's already started selling the fan to a chain of convience stores in Japan. Hopefully soon the design will make it in to your home PC, allowing them to run much quieter."
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Japanese Inventor's Motor Uses 80% Less Power

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  • Just to be clear.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by TechyImmigrant (175943) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @03:49PM (#8873637) Journal
    "9.144 volts and 192mA output. 1.8 x 0.15 x 2 = 540mW input and 9.144 x 0.192 = 1.755W out. "

    So there's nothing real to be seen here. Move on.

  • Amazing idea (Score:1, Informative)

    by ifreakshow (613584) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @03:50PM (#8873654)
    This is perhaps one of the most amazing devices I have read about recently. If this turns out to be true it could revolutionize the amount of energy the world consumes. And if it scales electric cars may gain even more momentum. Below is the article text.

    The Techno Maestro's Amazing Machine
    Kohei Minato and the Japan Magnetic Fan Company

    A maverick inventor's breakthrough electric motor uses permanent magnets to make power -- and has investors salivating

    by John Dodd

    NEW! -- See video of motors working.

    When we first got the call from an excited colleague that he'd just seen the most amazing invention -- a magnetic motor that consumed almost no electricity -- we were so skeptical that we declined an invitation to go see it. If the technology was so good, we thought, how come they didn't have any customers yet?

    We forgot about the invitation and the company until several months later, when our friend called again.

    "OK," he said. "They've just sold 40,000 units to a major convenience store chain. Now will you see it?"

    In Japan, no one pays for 40,000 convenience store cooling fans without being reasonably sure that they are going to work.

    The maestro

    The streets of east Shinjuku are littered with the tailings of the many small factories and workshops still located there -- hardly one's image of the headquarters of a world-class technology company. But this is where we are first greeted outside Kohei Minato's workshop by Nobue Minato, the wife of the inventor and co-director of the family firm.

    The workshop itself is like a Hollywood set of an inventor's garage. Electrical machines, wires, measuring instruments and batteries are strewn everywhere. Along the diagram-covered walls are drill presses, racks of spare coils, Perspex plating and other paraphernalia. And seated in the back, head bowed in thought, is the 58-year-old techno maestro himself.

    Minato is no newcomer to the limelight. In fact, he has been an entertainer for most of his life, making music and producing his daughter's singing career in the US. He posseses an oversized presence, with a booming voice and a long ponytail. In short, you can easily imagine him onstage or in a convertible cruising down the coast of California -- not hunched over a mass of wires and coils in Tokyo's cramped backstreets.

    Joining us are a middle-aged banker and his entourage from Osaka and accounting and finance consultant Yukio Funai. The banker is doing a quick review for an investment, while the rest of us just want to see if Minato's magnetic motors really work. A prototype car air conditioner cooler sitting on a bench looks like it would fit into a Toyota Corolla and quickly catches our attention.

    Seeing is believing

    Nobue then takes us through the functions and operations of each of the machines, starting off with a simple explanation of the laws of magnetism and repulsion. She demonstrates the "Minato Wheel" by kicking a magnet-lined rotor into action with a magnetic wand.

    Looking carefully at the rotor, we see that it has over 16 magnets embedded on a slant -- apparently to make Minato's machines work, the positioning and angle of the magnets is critical. After she kicks the wheel into life, it keeps spinning, proving at least that the design doesn't suffer from magnetic lockup.

    She then moves us to the next device, a weighty machine connected to a tiny battery. Apparently the load on the machine is a 35kg rotor, which could easily be used in a washing machine. After she flicks the switch, the huge rotor spins at over 1,500 rpms effortlessly and silently. Meters show the power in and power out. Suddenly, a power source of 16 watt or so is driving a device that should be drawing at least 200 to 300 watts.

    Nobue explains to us that this and all the other devices only use electrical power for the two electromagnetic stators at either side of each rotor, which are used to kick the rotor past its lockup point then on to the next a
  • by CWCarlson (2884) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @03:52PM (#8873690)
    Certainly the fans already in your PC generate a magnetic field, no? That's how electric motors operate.
  • by raygundan (16760) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @03:52PM (#8873696) Homepage
    As opposed to what? Oh, wait, the ones that are in there are ALREADY magnetic. How do you think normal electric motors work?

  • by cmburns69 (169686) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @03:52PM (#8873709) Homepage Journal
    You think the fan that cools your motherboard is not magnetic? Think again.

    Even the motor in your hard drive is magnetic.

    You just don't have to worry, because the magnetic fields are not very strong.

  • If you (Score:4, Informative)

    by ColaMan (37550) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @03:53PM (#8873719) Homepage Journal
    Search for "over unity motor" on google , you'll find a heap of these.

    I always get suspicious when those sites say, "and my motor/generator at full load begins to get cold"
  • by n1ywb (555767) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @03:54PM (#8873730) Homepage Journal
    Right because the fans already in your PC don't use magnatism. Nor do the speakers nearby. Nor to the heads in your harddrive, the transformers in your PSU, you get the idea. Just because the fans use permanent magnets doesn't mean they're going to erase your hard drive.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2004 @03:56PM (#8873782)
    You dont have to worry because the magnetic field weakens by the cube of the distance. The HSF is plenty to seperate a magnet and your mobo.
  • by GigsVT (208848) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @03:57PM (#8873788) Journal
    To the contrary, the magnets in your hard disk are the most powerful types of permanant magnets, rare earth magnets. They are very strong. A single hard disk magnet can usually lift at least 10 pounds, maybe more.
  • Re:Conversely... (Score:4, Informative)

    by br0ck (237309) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @03:58PM (#8873804)
    The next few sentences after the one you posted cast even more doubt on the claim:

    Minato says that average efficiency on his motors is about 330 percent.

    Mention of Over Unity devices in many scientific circles will draw icy skepticism. But if you can accept the idea that Minato's device is able to create motion and torque through its unique, sustainable permanent magnet propulsion system, then it makes sense that he is able to get more out of the unit than he puts in in terms of elctrical power. Indeed, if the device can produce a surplus of power for longer periods, every household in the land will want one.
  • Prior art? ;-) (Score:2, Informative)

    by toesate (652111) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @03:59PM (#8873818) Homepage Journal
    This guy still has some way to go... ;-)

    The Classic Magnetic Shield Engine [], from The Museum of Unworkable Devices.

    Why do I have the feeling that this is yet another perpetual motion machine/free energy posting?

    Search google, perpetual+motion+magnet []

  • by raygundan (16760) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @03:59PM (#8873819) Homepage
    Is everybody here retarded? What did you think made your existing fan motors spin, Space Pixies? No, it's a freaking electromagnetic motor. Every single one of them. And there's that PC speaker up front with a big magnetic coil on the back that beeps everytime you turn your PC on, too.

    I though you were supposed to be nerds.
  • Re:Not for PCs (Score:1, Informative)

    by ThePlague (30616) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @03:59PM (#8873827)
    A fan that has no moving parts isn't so much a fan as a piece of curvy metal sculpture.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:01PM (#8873860)
    yes, electricity to generate a magnetic field, to push the similar charged magnet away.
  • by LBArrettAnderson (655246) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:02PM (#8873884)
    electricty + magnets = motor. go back to school.
  • by DanTheLewis (742271) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:02PM (#8873893) Homepage Journal

    of thermodynamics! You didn't finish the article, friend.

    Next we move to a unit with its motor connected to a generator. What we see is striking. The meters showed an input to the stator electromagnets of approximately 1.8 volts and 150mA input, and from the generator, 9.144 volts and 192mA output. 1.8 x 0.15 x 2 = 540mW input and 9.144 x 0.192 = 1.755W out.

    So far, so good, but...

    But according to the laws of physics, you can't get more out of a device than you put into it. We mention this to Kohei Minato while looking under the workbench to make sure there aren't any hidden wires.
    Minato assures us that he hasn't transcended the laws of physics. The force supplying the unexplained extra power out is generated by the magnetic strength of the permanent magnets embedded in the rotor. "I'm simply harnessing one of the four fundamental forces of nature," he says.
    Although we learned in school that magnets were always bipolar and so magnetically induced motion would always end in a locked state of equilibrium, Minato explains that he has fine-tuned the positioning of the magnets and the timing of pulses to the stators to the point where the repulsion between the rotor and the stator (the fixed outer magnetic ring) is transitory. This creates further motion -- rather than a lockup. (See the sidebar on page 41 for a full explanation).

    Sounds pretty neat-o to me.

  • Re:Amazing idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by BobTheLawyer (692026) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:03PM (#8873901)
    There are thousands of people sprinkled over the web who claim to do things with magnets that violate the laws of themodynamics; this guy is just one more.

    Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence: this guy provides none.
  • by Mad-Mage1 (235582) <> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:05PM (#8873937) Homepage
    Did you read the article, or just skim it for the part that you could grasp onto and then "debunk" this? The point of listing the electrical stats aws to show that a VERY small draw engine could move a re4latively large amount of mass efficiently. Based upon reading this and some small knowledge of what it is they are attempting, tell me why scieintifically this is impossible??
  • by Eagle5596 (575899) <slashUser AT 5596 DOT org> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:06PM (#8873958)
    I've seen this one before, and what the guy is doing does not violate the laws of thermodynamics, what he is doing is tapping into magnets and a sort of kinetic battery. Just as running a nuclear plant puts out more electricity than is required to run it, so does this device. They use an alternative form of fuel which is readily available. In this case, they use the force from the magnets to generate additional power, increasing the power of the generator beyond the normal amount provided from the wall socket.

    Over time the magnets degrade, and the device will cease functioning until new magnets are used. Thermodynamics are preserved. The energy isn't coming from no where, and this is not a perpetual motion device, just a new idea to efficiently transform the energy in magnets into something usable.
  • by bcolflesh (710514) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:12PM (#8874052) Homepage
    ... on April 5 []
  • by QuantumFTL (197300) * <`moc.liamg' `ta' `kciw.nitsuj'> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:14PM (#8874092)
    It's not violating any laws of thermodynamics, it's violating the law of conservation of energy.

    If you attended college, I'd ask for a refund. The first law of thermodynamics *IS* conservation of energy. Check out this [].

    That being said, this device definitately violates it.

  • by ron_ivi (607351) <[moc.secivedxelpmocpaehc] [ta] [ontods]> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:14PM (#8874093)
    Mod this guy up... This is a really strong magnet; and dead hard drives are an awesome source for refrigerator magnets.

    To your "how a drive ... can operate next to it"... I think this is the explanation.

    While a normal magnet


    has a field that falls off at something like 1/R^3 or 1/R^4, you can arrange more than one that falls off even faster. I think like this:


    And extend it to 3-dimensions and it'll fall off even faster than that.
    That way the field will be super-strong next to the magnet, but super-week even a short distance away.

  • by hpa (7948) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:15PM (#8874100) Homepage
    First of all...

    The use of permanent magnets in motors has been common practice for over 20 years, since high-strength permanent magnet alloys became good enough.

    A permanent magnet contains stored energy from when the magnet was made. An electomagnet uses electricity on the fly. Note that one of the two magnets in a motor *must* be an electromagnet (usually the stator, for convenience of wiring, but occationally the rotor, especially in DC motors) since the motion requires a varying magnetic field.

    Speaking of DC motors: ALL motors run on alternating current in some form. In a classical DC motor, the alternating current is produced by the motion of the motor itself by having the electromagnet be on the rotor, and have the brushes leading the current onto the rotor brush against a "commutator" -- two half-cylinders back to back -- instead of slip rings. Unfortunately, this requires brushes, which wear out and are generally unpleasant to deal with. As a result, especially higher-power motors have generally switched to using brushless AC motors using electronic commutators.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:15PM (#8874110)
    I thought /. was above this too...

    I saw this article over a month ago, and as soon as I saw the output was greater than the input, I rolled my eyes and said whatever.

    If you study physics, or math, you will learn a very particular property of what is called a 'gradient field'... Gravitational, magnetic, electrical. This very particular property guarantees that for example, no matter what the path you take in altitude around earth, your height unambiguously defines your potential energy. What that means is that it's no use looking upside down in a mirror, or sideways, the laws of gravity and energy conservation will always be the same.

    All this to say in the long shot that these magnets aren't moving (as compared to the casing), hence aren't producing any energy. Sure they're turning around, but they are stuck in the casing. Any push they send out in one direction, they have to counter it in the opposite. There can be no energy 'harnessing' from static objects...

    It's actually just so absurd, it's hard to explain...


    AC because I moderated

  • Re:That depends... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Jott42 (702470) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:16PM (#8874148)
    And how much energy is needed to keep something suspended above the floor?
    (Hint: how much current does an ordinary piece of string draw.)
    Elementary physics, again. Keep your force, energy, power and work apart!
  • by hey! (33014) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:18PM (#8874192) Homepage Journal
    You are correct in your dismissal, however your calculation is only correct for DC or pure resistive loads.

    disclaimer: IANAP (I am not a Physicist)

    In an AC circuit is quite possible to measure an AC voltage and amperage which if multiplied give greater than the power input. The trick is that power is not equal to the RMS voltage times the RMS current if the voltage and current are out of phase. For example the peak current happens during off peak voltage and vice versa.
  • Re:That depends... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Laur (673497) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:19PM (#8874212)
    If you levitate one on top of the other, the magnets are doing work in the form of a repulsion of the magnet on top (It's tendency will be to fall per gravity's attraction)- they're doing work at a rate sufficient to hold the magnet airborne a given distance.

    Wrong, you need to review your physics a bit more. Work is defined as force times distance, W = F * d. Since the levitating magnet is not moving, no work is being performed. A levitating magnet is simply a balance of forces, nothing more. It is exactly the same as putting the magnet on a table (gravity provides a downwards force, the table exerts an equal force upwards).

  • by BobTheLawyer (692026) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:21PM (#8874233)
    you need to read up some physics. There is no "energy in magnets".

    See _and_Magnets/Magnets/20020804060433.htm
  • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:21PM (#8874243) Journal
    You could do this for a finite amount of time, and then the fixed magnets would degrade as their energy was lost. I'm not an expert on magnetics by any means, but AFAIK the basic concept is they are a store of potential energy and run down like batteries (oversimplifying greatly since I don't know the technicalities myself).

    For a time you do get more energy out than you put in, just like a nuclear reactor, but then just like in the reactor you need to replace your fixed energy store.
  • by bobbis.u (703273) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:23PM (#8874270)
    The energy from a nuclear power plant comes from the release of binding energy when an atom is split.

    Can you provide a similar explanation for how the energy is coming from the magnets?

    And what is a kinetic battery?

  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:24PM (#8874285) Journal
    Your are entirely correct. Fortunately its not my calculation, its from the article.

  • Re:Quiet PCs? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:27PM (#8874342)
    Bullshit. My IDE Barracudas are near silent, they're 7200 RPM--and I've got pretty damn good hearing.

    My Quantum Fireball drives, on the other hand, sound like turbo-prop airplanes taking off... But the Seagates are faster!

    If you're willing to spend $10 more, you can get a quality drive.
  • Judge for yourself (Score:5, Informative)

    by Martin Blank (154261) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:28PM (#8874353) Journal
    US Patent 4,751,486 []

    US Patent 5,594,289 []

    Note that I'm not speaking for or against his claims, but if you want to see how it works, there you go.
  • by timmi (769795) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:31PM (#8874396)
    Have you ever tried to erase a floppy with a magnet? I have tried on several occasions and it is harder than you might think.

    to "Randomize" the magnetic "markings" on the disk, you need a Degausser. (Gauss being the pioneering physicist on the subject of magnatism.

    A Degausser is an electromagnet that creates a magnetic field that is constantly changing. that is what you need to "Randomize" the magnetic alignment of the particles on the disk in order to erase it entirely.

    For the record, I took a full, height, five-and-a-quarter hard drive apart, (I think it was on the order of 1 GB) and there were two extremely strong magnets in the head actuator mechanism. they were so strong that you couldn't pull them apart, you had to slide them, so they were kind of offset and twist them.

    I still use them to re-magnitize screwdrivers and bits

  • Re:Quiet PCs? (Score:5, Informative)

    by w3weasel (656289) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:33PM (#8874434) Homepage
    or so I could pull data off the iPod and put it into a computer
    1.)connect your iPod
    2.)In terminal (on OSX) type "cd /Volumes"
    3.)type "ls" (your ipod (whatever you named it) will show in the list).
    4.)type "cd <your iPod's name>"
    5.)type "ls -a"
    6.)explore the folders whose names begin with "." (dot).

    all your music is in there. use "mv" as needed.

    I'm sure on windows, the command line, or at the very least, Cygwin can accomplish the same task
  • Mu Metal Shielding. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Svartalf (2997) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:34PM (#8874459) Homepage
    Something with extremely high permeability that soaks all the force lines into itself. Commonly called Mu Metal, it's a nickle-iron alloy with some copper and molybdenum in the mix. It's magnetically "soft" meaning it the force lines like/want to be in the metal and stay there. Mu metal will stop fields just short of .1 Tesla in strength dead in their tracks.
  • Calculation errors (Score:2, Informative)

    by 7Ghent (115876) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:35PM (#8874470) Homepage
    This is reposted from Dan's Data

    Shock news: journalists gullible!

    I was giving this magnetic motor (reached via Gizmodo) the skeptical benefit of the doubt, until I got to the "more power out than in" claim. And the fact that the Japan Patent Office wasn't willing to grant a patent until the US PTO did (given some of the goofy patents awarded in the US, that's not a good sign).

    However, it may be possible this guy genuinely has a more efficient motor, and the super-unity power claim is the result of measurement/calculation confusion (simple multiplication of peak values vs. the area under the curve). I could believe the reporter might make this mistake; the fact that the inventor goes along with it is not encouraging.


    I only read the Gizmodo precis about that when it was mentioned there the other day, and assumed that when they said it used 20% of the power of a conventional motor they just had the wrong end of the stick, and should have said it was 20% more efficient than some existing not-too-efficient maintenance free long service motor design, or something. Since motors with better than 85% efficiency are common already, a motor that draws a fifth as much power to do the same work will, as you say, be one of those fabled "over-unity devices", a.k.a. perpetual motion machines.

    On reading the actual article, it seems clear to me (and others...) that this is just another fraudulent "magnetic motor", with the usual explanation that the mystic energy of permanent magnets is somehow making up the shortfall (some such motors are supposed to slowly use up their magnets, the lost mass being somehow converted to energy to keep the thing running).

    If this guy actually has orders for his products, from people assuming they do what this article says they do, he will soon end up fleeing angry buyers. I suspect the orders haven't actually been placed, though (or are conditional on working products being delivered, with no payment having yet been made...), since these sorts of scammers are usually in it to fleece small investors, who're the only people who believe their claims. No company with an engineering department will buy this line of bull; it's been tried far too many times before.

    A reader kindly found what looks to be the appropriate patent for me. The patent clearly states that it's for a a way in which "rotational energy can be efficiently obtained from permanent magnets", which I would have thought would have triggered the USPTO's perpetual-motion-device radar, but apparently not. Maybe they're getting sloppy about more than software patents these days.

    It should be noted that, generally speaking, patent offices do not require proof that a device works in order to grant a patent. They often make exceptions in the case of perpetual motion machines, but if you disguise your over-unity patent application as an ultra-high-efficiency motor or something (which Minato has pretty much done in his US patent application), your local patent office would probably be happy to grant you a patent.

    As I've observed on previous occasions, (one involving another magic magnetic motor...) the patent office's job is to sell you legal protection for your idea, not to guarantee that the idea is worth protecting.
  • Links (Score:2, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) * <{tepples} {at} {}> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:36PM (#8874483) Homepage Journal


  • by laigle (614390) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:38PM (#8874515)
    From what they said about the energy transfer of the system, it sounds to me like a bit of handwaving about transient and steady-state operation. Seems like he used permanent magnets to provide a sort of momentum to the motor which must be overcome at startup, but which will keep the sucker turning on seemingly very little energy. The same effect could be achieved by simply adding a great deal of mass to the system. As long as the journalists aren't paying attention during the transient phase (and when do they ever) it would seem like magic once it finally gets up to speed.

    Sort of like how if you carry a big heavy rock to the top of the hill, you can then input a small amount of energy to push it over and watch the huge kinetic energy output. But you have to carry it up first.
  • by raygundan (16760) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:38PM (#8874521) Homepage
    I'm guessing this was a troll, but i'm going to pretend it isn't and answer it anyway.

    The PSU, my misguided friend, is the Power Supply Unit. The "Power Supply" you referred to. I can assure you that you're using one, unless you have replaced it with a series of very large 12v and 5v batteries carefully wired into the rails.

    Now, for the 8th-grade lesson you seem to have missed-- your power supply works using a large transformer to convert the voltage coming out of the wall into the 12v and 5v voltages required by your PC. How does a transformer work? at its simplest, it's a pair of coils of wire placed next to eachother. The coils are magnetically coupled-- the first coil gets the power from the wall and generates a HUGE magnetic field. The second coil does what coils do when placed in big magnetic fields-- it makes electrical current. The number of turns of wire on each coil determine the ratio of the input to output voltages.

    That's how things worked in the 1980s. Now, today's power supplies aren't that simple. Computer power supplies today are switching power supplies, and use a frequency step-up before feeding into the transformers to reduce the size of the transformer needed. But you will note, as this nice article [] says and clearly shows in pictures, there are still multiple transformers in a switching power supply. And yes, the way they work is by shunting all the power you're using through a big ol' magnetic field between two coils with different numbers of turns of wire.

    So, yes, your power supply is producing a gigantic magnetic field. One large enough to transfer all the hundreds of watts your PC needs through the air as a magnetic field.
  • by headGasket (119022) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:42PM (#8874590)
  • by ThosLives (686517) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:43PM (#8874598) Journal
    That's an insufficent link. There is no such thing as a "permanent" magnet, just "really high magnetization strength" magnets. For any material, if you apply a large enough external magnetic field, you can demagnetize that magnet.

    Also, try telling everyone who works with inductive circuits that they're not storing energy in magnetic fields.

    If you have more questions take a look here [] for more information. This is a great site about all sorts of physics concepts.

  • by mattlamb (150678) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:44PM (#8874611) Homepage
    All Minato's power calculations appear to be wrong (apparently it's a common mistake many scientists make); you can't measure input power using a multimeter when the current drain isn't constant. You can see his workshop in his videos - all his calculations are done using common multimeters and a desktop calculator.

    Minato motors use an optical sensor to "switch on" the "stator" (electromagnet) for a fraction of each RPM, so he'd need an oscilloscope and some funky math to figure out how much current the motors are really sucking up (or a stopwatch; and wait for the driving battery to go dead, then estimate based on the battery capacity).
    It's still a super neat idea though - which seems to boil down to "drive motors from the outside using aligned permanent magnets and momentary pulses from the stator" instead of the traditional "sick the stator in the middle" idea.
  • by djh101010 (656795) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:46PM (#8874645) Homepage Journal
    The permanent magnet motors in your hard drive have a DC magnetic field, called B0 (B-Zero). It's strong, but it's not changing.

    To change data on magnetic media, a DC field isn't going to do it. You need to get the particles moving first, using an AC magnetic field at a bias frequency. That allows the particles to go into a state where they can be set by the record signal, another AC signal which has the actual signal to be recorded. In the analog world, a bias frequency might be, say, 40KHz, that gets the particles moving, and then the signal which is your audio information, which sets the particles in place. A DC field won't change much without a biasing signal going on.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:48PM (#8874674)
    Not exactly... If your magnetic field/force is used to accelerate a mass through a distance, a=F/m, work has been done. The problem arizes from getting continuous work out of the system.
  • Re:Possibly not... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Aardpig (622459) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @05:02PM (#8874823)

    Oh, and before accusing someone of talking out of one's arse, you should be very, very certain you're not the one actually doing it.

    I am certain, and you are talking out of your arse. Energy cannot be extracted from the quantum zero point, merely borrowed. And the Casimir effect is only tangentially related to the zero point; in fact, it was first observed between ships which lie parallel to one another, a decidedly non-quantum system.

    Let's look at the case of the solar system, which you claimed could be condensed out of the zero point energy contained in a single cubic centimeter. Assume the solar system is made from just the Sun; then, with a mass m = 2e30 kg, we have a rest-mass energy E = m c^2 of 1.8e47 J.

    If we want to borrow this much energy from the vacumm, the uncertainty principle indicates that we have to give it back after a time t = h/(4 pi E), where h = 6.64e-34 J s is Planck's constant.

    Solving for t, we find that we can borrow a solar system's worth of energy for t = 4.42e-83 s. This is around forty orders of magnitude shorter than the Planck time, the shortest timescale of the universe. Therefore, your original claim about condensing the solar system is ridiculous. As are similar claims made by crackpots who want to tap the 'limitless' energy of the vacuum.

  • Re:Quiet PCs? (Score:3, Informative)

    by AmigaAvenger (210519) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @05:11PM (#8874928) Journal
    maxtor diamondmax series 7200 rpm drives with fluid bearings. they are almost impossible to hear the spinning, head chatter is audible, barely. (I run one in my replaytv 5040, you can't hear the whine even with your ear pressed to the box!!)
  • Re:Quiet PCs? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Explodo (743412) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @05:11PM (#8874929)
    The hard drive is definitely the loudest thing on my Koolance water-cooled case. plug plug. I wish they'd give me free stuff for this.
  • by bMuZal (526544) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @05:12PM (#8874939)
    Apparently they did teach you a bunch of lies at your university. In AC applications V and I are vectors and thus require vector multiplication.

    Preal = abs(V)*abs(I)*Cos(angle difference between V and I)
    Pimaginary = abs(V)*abs(I)*Sin(angle difference between V and I)
    PF = Cos(angle difference between V and I)

    The "imaginary" power is used during half of the AC cycle and then given back during the other half of the AC cycle.
    Residential electricity users are only charged for Preal while very large industrial users are often charged extra for using too much Pimaginary.

    BTW: I am an engineer for a power meter manufacturer.
  • Re:Quiet PCs? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rexz (724700) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @05:18PM (#8875015)
    In Windows you just need to set Explorer to show hidden files and you can drag-and-drop music from your iPod to anywhere else.

    There also exist many third party utilities [] for extracting music from iPods. These can be used to generate filenames, which the iPod often discards as it exclusively uses ID3 tags to populate its database.

  • You're bang on. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Annirak (181684) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @05:26PM (#8875100)
    Actually, you're right. Simply put, (and I am oversimplifying this) the shrouds you always find around the *pairs* of magnets effectively contain the magnetic field.

    Try taking the two halves of the magnetic assembly in the hard drive and putting them together like how they are when mounted in the drive. Now bring your favorite piece of non-magnetized ferromagnetic material near the magnet pair. You should notice that there's virtually no attraction.

    Now, put your ferromagnetic material *in the gap* between the magnets--you know, where the head positioning coil goes--and you've got a *huge* attraction.

    The field exists almost exclusively between the magnets because of that magnetically conductive shroud around the outside of both the magnets.
  • by Lehk228 (705449) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @05:29PM (#8875130) Journal
    Actually any type of structured organization is energy, the alignment of field lines being organized, as they disorganize into randomness they will give off energy. the problem is that it isn't very much energy and it is not free (demagnatizes magnet in the process)
  • by DarkMan (32280) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @05:34PM (#8875191) Journal
    Magnets, particulalry permenant magnets, are indeed a reservoir of magnetic potential energy.

    This energy is small. Like, really small. I'm involved with calculations on magnetic materials, and we typically use units of meV (milli electron Volts) for a magnetic interaction coefficent. That's 1.602 x 10^-22 Joules. Values are typically between around 2 up to maybe 30. Might be higher with the special rare-earths, dunno.

    Iron has 8 interactions per atom. Thus, a magnetic energy of the order of 2 * 10^-20 J per atom. One mole of iron will therefore have of the order of 2 * 10^-20 * Avagadro's number = 2 * 10^-20 * 6 * 10^23 = 12 * 10^3 J. That's 12 kJ of magnetic energy, in 55g of the stuff. [0]

    So, a post about says that the moter has a discrepancy of 1.2 W (can't get to the article myself). With 55g of iron permenant magnets then, that's enough to run that system for 10 000 seconds. Might sound a lot, but that's 2.7 hours. If I'm within an order of magnitude, that's a runtime of the system of around a day at most, assuming 100% conversion of the magnetic energy into rotational energy. [1]

    No. There is not enough magnetic energy in the parmenant magnets.

    [0] In fact, I think that you could only get 1/2 of that out. Still, I'm ignoring that, cos I think that this is only within an order of magnitude.

    [1] Which I doubt. A lot. In fact, I've never seen any suggested method for doing that.
  • by microwave_EE (768395) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @05:34PM (#8875194)
    When you are using inductive devices, such as an electrical motor, the device does not simply present a real resistive load to the network, but rather a complex load, mainly inductive. As can be demonstrated by just about any circuit theory text, (in AC, of course) the voltage and current through a complex load will be out of phase with each other. Zcap = 1/(j*C*radial freq) Zind = j*L*radial freq where j = sqrt(-1)
  • Plausability. (Score:2, Informative)

    by CyberVenom (697959) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @05:36PM (#8875214)
    The only way you will ever get more energy out of a system than you put in is if there is a pre-existing source of energy in the system that someone else stored there. E.g. I flip the switch on a flashlight, and more energy comes out as light than I put into flipping the switch, but that energy is being removed from the batteries (a pre-existing component in the system), where it was stored by someone else. In the case of a magnetic motor, energy may be drawn from several sources: electrical input to electromagnets, existing momentum of the rotating shaft (flywheel), or most improbably it might come from the "energy in the permanent magnets". Most of the perpetual motion claims I have seen focus on this "permanent magnet" energy. Unfortunately, if an easy way were found to liberate this stored energy, it would have the side effect of demagnetizing the permanent magnet itself, essentially making the "p-m generator" nothing more than a battery harnessing the stored potential energy in the magnet... And before someone claims that permanent magnets hold an infinite amount of energy that could be thus released, remember that the exact amount of potential energy stored in a permanent magnet could be calculated by measuring the energy required to magnetize it, and this quantity is definitely finite. The only thing that violates the Laws of Conservation of Mass and Energy, is the Law of Conservation of Mass-Energy, which simply states that mass and energy are the same thing, so even in fusion, you still do not have a perpetual energy source.
  • Re:Possibly not... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2004 @05:38PM (#8875242)
    Yes, the Casimir effect is real. The energy from the two plates approaching each other is identical to what you'd get just looking at the Van der Waals forces between the atoms which make up the plates. You can get energy out (once!) but then the plates are together, and you have to pump energy back INTO the system to separate them and let them hit again. It's not going to power a motor.
  • Re:Quiet PCs? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sprintkayak (582245) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @05:49PM (#8875370)
    From []

    JOEL JOHNSON -- After reading the story about Kohei Minato's super-efficient motor, reader Chris Drake wrote in with this explanation:

    All Minato's power calculations appear to be wrong (apparently it's a common mistake many scientists make); you can't measure input power using a multimeter when the current drain isn't constant. You can see his workshop in his videos - all his calculations are done using common multimeters and a desktop calculator. Minato motors use an optical sensor to "switch on" the "stator" (electromagnet) for a fraction of each RPM, so he'd need an oscilloscope and some funky math to figure out how much current the motors are really sucking up (or a stopwatch; and wait for the driving battery to go dead, then estimate based on the battery capacity). It's still a super neat idea though - which seems to boil down to "drive motors from the outside using aligned permanent magnets and momentary pulses from the stator" instead of the traditional "sick the stator in the middle" idea.
  • by mark-t (151149) <[markt] [at] []> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @06:13PM (#8875601) Journal
    When you make a permanent magnet do work, you deplete its field... as the field is drained it will be capable of performing less and less work over a given amount of time until you are left with a piece of metal that has barely the strength of a flexible fridge magnet.


  • by Viv (54519) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @06:14PM (#8875611)
    Not quite right -- in an AC circuit, if you take ALL power into account, you'll always get equal power in and out. The key is that when the current and voltage are out of phase (as in an inductive or capacitive circuit), some of the power is "real" and some of it is "reactive". The real is measured in watts and the reactive is measured in "VAR"s. You can't use the VARs directly because they're the power that gets stored in the inductance and/or capacitance in the operation of the circuit.

    If you get a higher output power than input or a higher input power than output, it means that you forgot to check the reactive power :)

    Four laws of electrical science; there are no exceptions to these, ever:
    1. Voltage is equal to current times impedance
    2. The algebraic sum of all voltages in a loop is zero.
    3. The algebraic sum of all currents in a branch is zero.
    4. The algebraic sum of powers in a circuit is zero. (aka, power in = power out).

    If your measurements ever violate any of these laws, you either f*cked up, or you need to file a patent because you just found a way to violate a _law_ of electrical science. That's a big deal, like violating gravity :)
  • by stienman (51024) <adavis.ubasics@com> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @06:19PM (#8875640) Homepage Journal
    This energy is being provided on a constant basis, and you will probably die long before the disk falls to the ground.

    I suspect you and I are essentially understanding the same principles, but speaking about them in a different way. However, the statement you make above worries me that you do not truly understand.

    When I levitate a magnet in a gravitational field, neither gravity nor the magnet are imparting 'energy' They are static fields. Once you levitate a magnet is enters a state of equilibrium where the force pulling it down is equal to the force pushing it up. However, these forces do not impart 'energy' any more than a book resting on a table imparts energy.

    HOWEVER, they do 'store' energy, in the same way an untapped battery stores energy.

    What I am indicating is that if he is using the energy that is stored in a magnet, then that energy has to 1) have come from somewhere (the magnetization process) and 2) has to decay at a rate equal to or greater than its usage.

    The motor is claimed to have an output greater than one watt, with an input less than one watt. Therefore, according to your own postings, the difference is coming from the magnets. This energy must be lost from the magnet. The motor must cease functioning.

    However, I don't believe a motor that takes energy from its own magnets will last for very long, especially at the rate that the magnets must lose energy in order to make up for that 1 watt or more difference in output.

    So, go back to your textbooks and calculate the energy required to impart a given field to a magnet. Then calculate how much energy these magnets must impart to the motor to give it an output advantage of 1 watt over its input. Then calculate the time it takes to reduce the magnetic field to zero. Then repeat to yourself, "This motor must die quickly, because even in a perfect conversion, even magnetically dense small magnets do not hold kilowatts of power, regardless of the method used to extract that power."

    But, as I said above, it appears as though you have a sound understanding of static and dynamic forces, and the barrier is likely to be the words and phrases we are using to discuss the same principles. It may simply be more a matter of magnitude - it seems as though you believe he is extracting a very small amount of energy from the magnets, while I'm claiming that it must be large to get the differential he is claiming.

  • by Thanatopsis (29786) <> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @06:19PM (#8875643) Homepage
    "The claim that the extra energy is coming 'from permanent magnets' is risible. It's like claiming to extract energy from the gravitational field of the earth."

    You can it's call hydro-electric power.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2004 @06:23PM (#8875687)
    This is an example of why you shouldn't post if you don't know what you are talking about.

    Force != Energy

    Levitating something in place requires no energy. Energy is the integral of force over some distance. Or else the ground is expending huge amounts of energy holding me up.
  • by Technician (215283) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @06:24PM (#8875708)
    You are comparing a high frequency motor with a 50 or 60 cycle motor which needs a lot of iron to provide enough reactance. Simply changing the frequency changes the amount of iron needed. A great example is take an old fashioned power supply with a 60 cycle transformer of about 100 watts. The transformer will weigh several pounds.
    Now compare it to a modern switch mode power supply typicaly used in a laptop computer's power supply. They typical also use a iron core (powdered iron) and copper wire just like it's 60 cycle counterpart. It still provides the 100 Watts of power but due to the 50 thousand cycles it runs, the amound of iron needed to provide reactance is much less. Because the core is smaller, the windings can be shorter to reach around a smaller core. Shorter wire means less wire IR squared losses. Now a 100 watt transformer is smaller than a golf ball and makes less heat. This is the simple reason 60 cycle power is not used on airplanes. 400 cycle power is typical. Motors and transformers are much smaller for the same power.

    Comparing a 60 cycle AC 50 horse motor with the high frequency ac motor used in the new Toyota Prius will show a huge size and weight diffrence even though the horsepower is close to the same.

    Taking a 2 phase DC fan motor and going from 4 pole to say 32 pole at high frequency will increase the effeciency of the motor simply because less iron and wire are needed in the windings.

    Large electric motors typicaly have effeciencies of over 80% Don't expect the breakthrough to triple the output of an 80% effecient motor. It can't. Small inefecient motors can see vast improvents in effeciency however. Good examples of low effeciency small motors are vaccuum cleaners, electric drills, skill saws and such that get hot.

  • by lastninja (237588) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @06:27PM (#8875752)
    Car companies are very conservative, they don`t want to ship new cool things because if things don`t work as advertised or an accident occurs they get sued for large amounts of money. All the car companies want their competitors to try out new and potentially dangerous components. If you have a new technology and you think that a car manufacturer will be interested in it prepare to wait 10 years for evaluations( that you will more than likely have to fund yourself).
  • Re:Quiet PCs? (Score:0, Informative)

    by UniverseIsADoughnut (170909) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @06:29PM (#8875781)
    Sorry this is completely wrong. GM spent 1 billion dollars on the EV1 and leased about 500 of them in 2-3 states. THe reality is EVs are not practical. They are ok for when you cannot have any emissions out of a vehicle, and good for short trips. But they are not practical in the big picture. Your idea of who needs what is wrong. For one the numbers arn't right, and too who are you to say what people need.

    Now to the more important issue. EVs are not the answer. Like I said they are fine if you can't have any emissions from the vehicle, like inside a manufacturing plant, or in a dense urban environment. Not that the later matters since emmisions from else where will just drift in. What so many people miss is the power generation and so forth. From a well to wheels model (the greet model) that factors in all energy use from start to finish to move a vehicle such as makeing fuels and electricity and so forth EVs come out poorly. Infact Diesel engine vehicles come out on tops since the fuel takes very little energy to produce and few emissions plus the engine is very efficent. EVs are oen of the dirtiest forms of vehicles. Furthermore many think that a central power plant is cleaner, well aside from a nuclear plant or other no emissions plants this is not true. Most our power comes from fossil fuels. Powerplants are not high efficency do to safety. Also they simple are not very clean. The modern internal combustion engine is one of the most efficent forms of power generation we have. It's also one of the cleanest. If you own a LEV (low emmissions vehicle) in Los Angles the air coming out the exhaust is cleaner then the air that went into the engine. Our cars are now cleaning the air in highly poluted cities. There was also far less losses involved.

    EVs have their place but it is limited. The EV1 was only leased for liability issue. GM wanted to make sure things like the battery pack were properly handled. Also think of it this way. The EV1 had a range of 60-100 miles from it's 1200 lbs battery pack. A car like a ford focus that is much bigger can go 100 miles on 21lbs of gas ( ~3 gallons). The energy wasted to haul that battery pack is insane. Lithium ions help but don't make it practical. A pack that would have the storage of the EV1s battery pack ~90 Amp hours or so (trying to remember off hand) would cost roughly 75,000 bucks in lithium ion. This is based on a smaller battery pack for a hybrid vehicle I work on, compaired to the EV1 we have for a seperate project. GM gave the EV1s to universities after they were recalled, they were recalled do to a fire issue. EVs are not practical as full purpose vehicles. It is not an issue of conspiracy. People need to get over this. If the car companys had high mileage cars people would want they would sell them in a heart beat since they would make a ton of money.

    If you want EVs to happen. Invent a box roughly 1ftx1ftx2ft that holds as much energy as a gasoline tank the same size and weighs the same or less. Then they will be more possible. Also get fusion power working so we have a clean abundant energy source for EVs.

    And on a slightly differant note, when you come off as you did, no one will listen, because you sound like a crack pot. You have to have a open and logical mind for people to even listen. There is a small market for EVs, and it's pretty well used right now. Auto makers make EVs, but there is little market because there isn't many applications where they truely work. All EV pickups and minivans the big 3 made the last few years are out of production. I think the EV Rav4 may still be out there.
  • bunk. (Score:2, Informative)

    by mindstrm (20013) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @06:49PM (#8876002)
    The moment you claim 330% efficiency, and in the same breath say you haven't violated the laws of physics is the moment it becomes total bullshit.

    If it were 330% efficient, that would mean, for instance, it draines 100W, and puts out 330W.

    Throw in a generator in a closed loop, and the device could power itself forever, while producing excess power. The world's energy problems would be solved, forver.

    "Harnessing one of hte basic forces...".. bullshit.

    You don't harness a force, you use it.

    If you push two similar magnetic poles together, you build up potential energy.. when you stop pushing, that energy is used up moving the poles apart.

    In order for gravity to work on something, it first has to be raised up in the gravitational field... (it has to go up to come down). This takes energy.. and ideally, the same amount of energy.

    Now, although it's possible this guy has invented something that branches out into totall unexplored areas of physics.. it is quite unlikely... more likely he has created a nice, efficient, quiet motor, and is measuring things the wrong way.

    Nothing has over 100% efficiency, sorry.

  • Re:Not neccesarily. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alsee (515537) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @06:56PM (#8876054) Homepage
    Based on a quick Google, electric motors already seem to run anywhere from 77% to over 96% efficency. Claims of running on '80% less power' push even a crummy 77% efficency motor up to 385% efficency. Anything over 100% makes it a perpetual motion machine.

    I had to hit the Google cache to read the story itself, but it does claim that "1.8 volts and 150mA input, and from the generator, 9.144 volts and 192mA output. 1.8 x 0.15 x 2 = 540mW input and 9.144 x 0.192 = 1.755W out". X energy in, 3.25*X energy out. Chain them together and you get infinite free energy out.

    Much of the rest of the story is spent on the usual con artist routine - an entire laundry list of reasons for delaying commercial applications while baiting in more investors. He blames everything from the various patent offices to 9/11 :D

    It may be an interesting motor. It may even be a patentable motor. But the claims surrounding the motor are patently false (pun intended).

  • Hmmm, no wonder it sounds familiar. Oh, wait, it's a crock of shit. SUPRISE! []

    Ever build one yourself? Did those storage batteries last as long as you thought they would? And what math do you speak of?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:08PM (#8876168)
    The requirement for an overunity COP EM power machine is that it must not symmetrically regauge itself, but instead must asymmetrically regauge itself. In that latter case, it takes on excess free regauging energy from the active vacuum environment.

    Gauge freedom assures us (check it out in physics) that one can freely change the potentials of the equations describing a system, and at will, without requiring any work to be done. That means that we can freely change the potentials of an actual system, and thus the amount of potential energy it has, absolutely for free and at will. There is only a relatively small amount of information that has been published on the thermodynamics of regauging, gauge freedom, and regauged systems, but that thermodynamics is quite formidable, once one examines things such as source of the excess input energy, form of the excess input energy, and overall permissible COP of the regauged system.

    Putting it in thermodynamic terms: The simple transmission/transfer of energy (energy flow) does not require work. And all that is required to increase the magnitude of a potential (and the potential energy of that system being described by the equations) is to transfer in some additional energy in that same potential energy form. Work is only done when the FORM of the input energy must be changed.

    Hence wherever there is an energy flow ongoing, a system can have this energy flow simply pour in the excess energy it needs to cover its losses and to be dissipated in (i.e., to power) its loads. If we do it asymmetrically, that is all that happens.

    Thermodynamically this is now a system far from equilibrium in its energy exchange with its active environment, and such systems are permitted to perform five "magic" functions. Such a system can (1) self-order, (2) self-oscillate or self-rotate, (3) output more energy (as powered loads, etc.) than what the operator alone inputs (the excess energy input obviously comes directly from the active environment, in that free energy transfer), (4) power itself and its load (all the energy comes directly from the active environment, and the operator need not pay for any extra energy input), and (5) exhibit negative entropy.

    So obviously the trick is to (1) have an active environment that is exchanging energy with the system, and (2) have the system receive and accept extra energy from that environment. An extreme example is a windmill, which has a COP (useful work out divided by the energy input by the operator only) of COP = infinity even though its efficiency (useful work out divided by total energy input from all sources) is usually less than 50% and it wastes half or more of the total energy input that it receives from all sources. An electrical example is a common solar cell array, which may have an efficiency of only 20% and waste 80% of all its input solar energy, but it has a COP = infinity because the operator inputs zero energy and the external solar radiation environment inputs it all.

    So no working machine will have efficiency greater than 100%, but if it receives excess energy from the environment, it can readily have COP>1.0 and thus output more real, useful work than the amount of energy input furnished by (and paid for by) the operator. The common home heat pump is a good example. Its overall efficiency is usually about 50%, and so again it wastes half of all the energy input to it, from all sources (operator and the atmospheric environment). But it receives so much energy from the atmosphere that it can still output (nominal conditions) from 3.0 to 4.0 times as much heat energy as the electrical energy input that the operator furnishes and pays for. So its COP = 3.0 to 4.0, while its efficiency is only about 50%.

    That said, let us look for active environment and energy exchange with it, by such machines as the several magnetic power systems in question.

    Every charge (either electrical, or magnetic - in which latter case we call it a "pole") in the universe continuously absorbs EM energy
  • by Ayanami Rei (621112) * <rayanami@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:34PM (#8876398) Journal
    Of particular merit is the one that shows Minato on CNN... and you can clearly see his arm doing the "work" of keeping that wheel moving.
  • by GPS Pilot (3683) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:56PM (#8876571)
    Lt Col Tom Bearden (US Army, retired) has been predicting this since 1995 [].

    It's fascinating to read Bearden's views. He claims that what we know as Maxwell's Equations are actually gross oversimplifications, made by Heaviside, of the real Maxwell's Equations -- and that a lot of amazing physics would be possible if we would go back and exploit all the possibilities in the real Maxwell's Equations. Heaviside's "arbitrary crippling" of Maxwell is basically the reason we haven't yet colonized Alpha Centauri.

    There is a lot of overlap between Kohei Minato's research and Bearden's []. Bearden made quite recent comments about Minato's motor [].

    By the way, Minato's invention is called the "MagMotor." Does anybody know whether this is related to the Magmotor Corp. of Massachusetts []?
  • by DarkMan (32280) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @08:57PM (#8876984) Journal
    Yes, those magnets are exerting a force on each other.

    No, that force doesn't 'come from nowhere' any more that the between my desk and my monitor 'comes from nowhere'

    Yes, a permentant magnet will lose the observed properties (the macroscopic dipole). Eventually the magnetic domains will end up cancelling each other out. It's a relativly slow process (years typically to noticability, at room temperature), even in the situation you give (opposed magnets).

    The fallacy in your logic is to assume that a static force and a force with motion are the same thing. They are not.

    Consider the monitor on my desk (or yours, if that's simpler). There is a force from the desk on the monitor holding it up (other wise, it would fall to the earth, due to gravity). Work done is force * distance [0, and thus, as the monitor is not moving, no work is being done. Now, if you move that monitor, work is being done.

    Thus it is with magnets - In this case, if the magnets are permentant, there is as much total force forward as backwards, during a full rotation. If the elecromagnets are use to push the ring round, then that is the source of energy.

    [0] for a constant force.
  • by Rich0 (548339) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @08:57PM (#8876985) Homepage
    An object held above the ground is pulled downwards continuously by a constant force (gravity).

    How do you propose to get energy from that? Sure, you can let go, but that is a once-and-done transfer of energy. You can't get it back out without putting energy back in to lift the object.

    A field does contain stored energy, but it isn't much - which is what the parent was trying to explain.

    Remember - a force is NOT energy. Energy is equivalent to work - which is a force moving something along some distance. A book sitting on a table is exerting a downwards force on the table (and the table is exerting an equal force upwards). However, no energy is gained or lost, since nothing is moving.

    So the constant force of a magnet does nothing in this case - unless something is moving.
  • Re:Quiet PCs? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kris_J (10111) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @09:01PM (#8877008) Journal
    I'd love to switch to a solid-state hard drive, but the number of write cycles before it dies is way too small. I guess you might be able to get away with it if you had a few Gig of RAM so you didn't need swap and you had room for a RAMdisk-based temp/tmp folder, but just putting a Flash-drive in place of your system's hard drive will cause it to fail within a few months.
  • by Yobgod Ababua (68687) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @09:19PM (#8877099)
    "Potential energy is not real energy (otherwise every single metal thing in the universe would have all of this energy corresponding to every magnet in existence)."

    Actually, every ferrous object in the universe does have a (usually very small) force being applied to it from every magnet in the universe.

    Similarly, every mass in the universe is *right now* exerting a gravitational pull on every other mass. Most of them are so small as to be insignificant, of course.

    In both cases, because of those forces, the "potential energy" (in this case it's perhaps more accurate to say "positional energy") of your object can be lowered by moving it closer to the magnet or large mass. That change in energy can be used to do work, like acceleration.

    All energy is real.

    "I have a magnet which I had when I was little, and it is now much weaker."

    This is a completely different effect, related more to entropy than to the expenditure of energy. (See below.)

    "Magnetism is an effect of small electric currents within the magnet; doesn't it stand to reason that when the magnet is used, it could lose power by disturbing some of those currents?"

    Not really. In the case of most permanent magnets the 'current' is really just a single electron circling it's atom. A noticeable magnetic effect comes when all the spinning electrons line up and all their infitessimal little contributions add together instead of canceling each other out. Naturally magnetic materials have the spins 'locked down' through various low-level physical and chemical mechanisms.

    This is why you can 'magnetize' a nail or needle by rubbing it on a magnet... the magnetic field will (temporarily) align the spins within the needle. Eventually, however, without some mechanism to lock those atoms in place relative to each other, the spins will wander off alignment and the magnetism of the needle will fade.
  • Re:Quiet PCs? (Score:5, Informative)

    by srleffler (721400) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:54AM (#8878303)
    As long as he's using a constant voltage supply, the average input power can be calculated from the average current, which is what a standard multimeter will show if the current is fluctuating quickly and periodically

    This statement is wrong several ways. First, you probably mean RMS ("root mean square") current, not "average current". The average current in an AC signal is of course typically zero. AC multimeters display RMS current and voltage.

    Second, you cannot in general calculate average power from RMS (or average) voltage and current, even if the voltage happens to be constant and the current is somehow time-varying. The familiar P=VI formula is for instantaneous power, i.e. P(t)=V(t)*I(t). It happens that if the current and voltage are in phase (i.e. the load is purely resistive) then the average power is the product of the RMS voltage and current. This is a special case.

    Third, it is not that hard to get even a good multimeter to read a time-varying current incorrectly. They are designed for low frequency signals. If your current is time varying with even moderately high frequency (e.g. >1000 Hz) most multimeters will not correctly read even the RMS current. A poor multimeter might not even give an accurate RMS current for a low-frequency but non-sinusoidal signal.

    This is not the first time someone has produced a free energy device scam based on the faulty assumptions that P=VI holds for average values and a multimter always gives an accurate 'average' voltage or current, regardless of how complicated the waveform of the signal is.

  • Re:Quiet PCs? (Score:2, Informative)

    by srleffler (721400) on Friday April 16, 2004 @02:03AM (#8878598)
    It doesn't matter. If the current is pulsed, it is not a constant current, and the average power will not in general be equal to the product of voltage times average current. If you don't know the actual waveform of the current and voltage in a circuit, there is no way to calculate the average power. We are so used to dealing with cases where the waveform is known--either because it's constant or because it's sinusoidal--that we forget this (or are never taught it).

    Besides this, an ordinary multimeter will not give any useful information about a signal consisting of brief current pulses. It is just not designed for that. The output will not be any kind of "average" current.

    The fact that this guy does not understand these issues pretty much invalidates his claims. He does not know how to measure the power consumed by his motors, and there is every reason to believe (based on thermodynamics) that the actual power consumed is greater than he claims. Until he can produce a correct power measurement, there is no reason to give his claims any further attention.

  • Re:Quiet PCs? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dave420 (699308) on Friday April 16, 2004 @04:29AM (#8879012)
    I wrote a PHP script to do just that. It sits on my iPod and works on windows, linux and macs. It parses the iTunesDB file on the iPod to find the location of the songs (and their associated metadata). It then copies the files that match your query (artist/track/album/whatever) to your PC, re-tagging them to ID3v2 using their iTunesDB entry, so you can drop them back on a mac or ipod and they'll have all the right info in the tags.

    From my experience (I've had an ipod since they first came out), PCs have been in front of macs with regards to getting music off the iPod. XPlay, the de-facto iPod software on windows for a while supported the dragging-and-dropping of music off the ipod onto your computer from an early version. Apple don't want to do this, as it actively encourages people to do silly things with copyrighted music. That's why iTunes doesn't have this functionality, and we won't see iPod->iPod transfers (without a computer in between)

  • Re:Quiet PCs? (Score:2, Informative)

    by stecoop (759508) on Friday April 16, 2004 @07:43AM (#8879607) Journal
    Go get a hard Drive led for your desktop...
    Here is one of a dozen for windows:

    The software puts an Icon in your task bar a lights up as if it was the led in front of the case.
  • I think you're wrong: if you need 1.6J of electric energy to produce 1 Joule of motion energy the consumption (or the "waste") is 1.6 - 1 = 0.6J .If you reduce that by 80%, you'll be able to produce the same 1J of motion energy using just 1.12J - possible in theory, and it doesn't mean you designed a perpetuum mobile.

The test of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Aldo Leopold