APS News

Council: There is No Free Lunch

"The American Physical Society deplores attempts to mislead and defraud the public based on claims of perpetual motion machines or sources of unlimited useful energy, unsubstantiated by experimentally tested established physical principles."

With this brief statement, passed by Council at its April meeting, the APS reaffirmed the applicability of the established laws of physics, and issued a warning to the public to beware of unscrupulous and misguided attempts to sell schemes that cannot work.

"Unlike those passed by legislative bodies, the laws of physics cannot be violated," said Bob Park, APS Director of Public Information. "Unfortunately, there are still people out there who raise scads of money by claiming to violate the laws of thermodynamics."

Park anticipated that the Council statement will prove useful to prosecutors in cases involving claims of perpetual motion.

He cited the case of Dennis Lee (see What's New, October 4, 2002, accessible from the APS web site). The judge, in ruling against Lee, quoted verbatim from an earlier resolution on perpetual motion that had been passed by the APS Executive Board.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette