Saturday, October 15, 2016

Energy - the new buzz word for peddling scam

The concept of Energy is somewhat difficult to grasp. Unfortunately many people  consider energy to be some sort of magical substance that floats in the air. So we end up with all kind of pseudoscience: Chi energy, pranic chakras, positive energy, and so on forth.

A curious and very important idea on energy is the law of conservation of energy. According to the law of conservation of energy,” Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. One form of energy can be transferred to another”.  Scientists often have difficulty in explaining this idea. Here is an attempt by the famous physicists Richard Feynman

"There is a fact, or if you wish, a law, governing all natural phenomena that are known to date. There is no known exception to this law—it is exact so far as we know. The law is called the conservation of energy. It states that there is a certain quantity, which we call energy, that does not change in manifold changes which nature undergoes. That is a most abstract idea, because it is a mathematical principle; it says that there is a numerical quantity which does not change when something happens. It is not a description of a mechanism, or anything concrete; it is just a strange fact that we can calculate some number and when we finish watching nature go through her tricks and calculate the number again, it is the same" (The Feynman Lectures on Physics).

 I think I confused you more.

 Let me give an example that would hopefully clarify this.

 When I was around 15 years old, I ran a thought experiment. See the picture on the right-hand side.
Hypothetical energy generation

 Imagine a large reservoir with a turbine installed at the bottom. The water flows through the turbine which will produce electricity. Now I take this water to a tank and using the electricity produced from the turbine, I pump this water back to the reservoir. 

First how does the turbine rotate? i.e. where does it get is energy from? It comes from the column of water above the turbine. The water column is stationary but it still has a potential to produce energy- this we call it a potential energy (that is an energy trapped in a static mode). In this case, the source of the potential energy is gravity. The turbine rotates, thus transferring the potential energy to a kinetic energy (kinetic means something moving – non static). If I attach a motor (a copper coil and a magnetic core) to the rotating turbine this will start producing electricity. At this point, we have effectively converted the hydraulic (water) energy to electrical energy. We did not create the electrical energy, we simply transformed the potential hydraulic energy that existed.

 Let us say, I now take the water flowing out of the turbine into a tank and use a pump to pump the water back to the reservoir.

 Question 1:  Can I use the electricity produced by the turbine to pump water back to the reservoir? If I could do that then the system will run indefinitely forming a cycle.

 Think about this for a few minutes.

 Now if you concluded that this system will work, then my second question is this. Now I put a branch pipe out of the pump and feed the water tank in my house.

 Q2:  will the system still run? If so, I have got an infinite source of water supply to my tank without spending any money on electricity (the turbine produces electricity and the pump tops up the water to keep it going)- Do I now have a self-sustaining pumping system?

 If you have answered my first question correctly, then you will take even shorter time to answer the second questions.

 Unfortunately, the answer to both questions is a “no”. Our life will be very simple if either of them was the case, we don’t really need to worry about energy needs of current or the future.

 The problem with transforming energy is that whenever you transform an energy, some numerical amount of the energy will transform into other unusable form of energy, commonly referred as “energy loss” (which confuses even more). In the case of the turbine, some of the potential hydraulic energy will convert to friction/heat and noise(the form of energy that is not useful for us), and the remaining energy is transformed as electrical energy. Suppose we say the potential kinetic energy as E1 (don’t worry about the units) and the electrical energy as E2 then,

E1 = E2 + E_loss; where E_loss = heat, friction, sound etc.…
The ratio of E2/E1 is called the efficiency of the system. You cannot build any equipment to provide 100% efficiency.  Nature has decided to take back some!

In the same way when the electrical energy is converted back to a hydraulic energy at the pump, this energy (E3) will be less than E2. If we assume 90% efficiency for the turbine and 90% efficiency for the pump, then the net hydraulic energy available at the pump E3 will be only 81% of E1. So the first question is a no.

 If you understand this, you will know that the answer to the  second question is a "no". As there is going to be some energy required to fill up my tank, the mathematics won’t add up.

So as you can see all we do is transform energy from one form to another form and in that process we loose a portion of the original energy form into unusable forms (usually sound, light, friction, etc.). Nature provides us a range of energy sources that we can utilize such as wind, flowing rivers(hydraulic), sun (solar), waves, gravity, heat energy by burning coal, fossil fuels, chemical reactions, etc.

But the important thing to note is that the energy transformation needs to be facilitated by a device or equipment (turbine, solar panel etc.).

So what are things like Pranic energy, Chi energy, positive energy, karmic energy, etc.? So far we have no scientific evidence to suggest that such forms of energy exist.
  And even if we assume they exist, we still need to invent a device to transform (convert) it from the pranic natural occurring energy into something that we can use to heal your disease.  You cannot simply transform this pranic energy through magic into something else.

 Fist we need some evidence to see if it exists, second we need to figure out a way to measure the magnitude of this, then we need a device to covert it.

 So the idea that someone can heal you through thoughts does not come into even the slightest realm of science.
It is wishful thinking.


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About Me

I am an Engineer by profession. Spritual and Anit-guru advice is my part time job!