October 12, 2004
X Prize Foundation To Offer New Round Of Prizes

Hot on the heels of the successful flights of the Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize the X Prize Foundation and the World Technology Network have banded together to announce a series of X Prizes to accomplish things down on Earth.

According to the X Prize Foundation and the World Technology Network, examples of privately-funded solutions in scientific and social fields might include the following:

1. Transportation: Demonstration of a 4-seat vehicle able to achieve 200 miles per gallon in a cross country race

2. Nanotechnology: Construction of a pre-determined molecule by an assembler

3. Aging deceleration: Extension of mammal life, or demonstrated evidence of aging reversal

4. Education: Demonstration of a self-sufficient education facility able to operate independently and educate villagers anywhere on the planet

Note item 3 above. The Methuselah Foundation Methuselah Mouse Prize aims to provide a large cash award to the first scientific team to double the life of an ordinary lab mouse. That prize needs volunteers and donors.

The WTN X Prize team is accepting suggestions from the public for prize ideas. Go click on the WTN X Prize link and you will be presented with a form for submitting suggestions. What say we kick around some ideas for prizes in the comments of this post? Anyone have any ideas?

The X Prize success demonstrates that prize money can be a very effective tool for accelerating the advance of science and technology. I favor aging research prizes aimed at the development of effective rejuvenation treatments most of all. But another class of prizes that deserves support are prizes for achievements in developing new energy technologies. What would be useful milestones in the development of better energy technologies? Keep in mind that ideal milestones should be achievable by fairly small teams of engineers and scientists.

Dave Gobel of the Methuselah Foundation alerts me to the existence of a poorly publicized prize for a cheap DNA sequencer which is being offered by Craig Venter of Celera DNA sequencing fame. Venter is offering a half million dollars to the first team to produce a sequencer that can sequence an entire human genome for $1000 or less.

ROCKVILLE, MD (September 23, 2003). The J. Craig Venter Science Foundation announced today a $500,000 Genomic Technology Prize. The prize, to be awarded one time only, is aimed at stimulating the scientific and technology research community to significantly advance automated DNA sequencing so that a human genome can be sequenced for $1,000 or less as soon as possible. The prize was announced during New Frontiers in Sequencing Technology session at the 15th annual Genome Sequencing and Analysis Conference (GSAC) in Savannah, Georgia.

Over the last decade there have been significant advances in the field of genomics. More than 150 genomes, including the human genome, have been sequenced. Despite this progress we need substantial improvement in technology so that genomics can be fully integrated into all of our lives. One such area is DNA sequencing, said J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., president and founder of The J. Craig Venter Science Foundation. By continuing to reduce the cost and increase the accuracy and speed of DNA sequencing we will enable genomics to be more fully integrated into areas such as clinical medicine. It is the hope of the Venter Science Foundation that providing this challenge to the scientific community will enable us to reach the $1,000 genome sooner.

While sequencing costs continue to decline (currently costs are approximately $300,000-$500,000 to sequence the gene and regulatory regions of a human genome) and on the order of $25 million for a 5X coverage of the genome, it is necessary that these cost decrease significantly toward the $1,000 mark. Once this threshold has been reached it will be feasible for the majority of individuals to have their genome sequenced and encoded as part of their medical record.

Dave also says that it has always been the plan for the Methuselah Foundation to offer more prizes for more goals related to rejuvenation and anti-aging therapies. Their obstacle is the need to raise the funds. They accept contributions on a web page.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2004 October 12 01:28 PM  Worthy Causes

SuedeShoes said at October 12, 2004 3:22 PM:


I would like to suggest an idea. How about offering a research prize to the first research team to come up with a method of sequencing DNA that would drop the cost of sequencing a human's SNPs (correct me if I'm wrong, but SNPs are the parts of the genome where humans differ, right?) to $1000. As Craig Ventor demonstrated with the Human Genome project, individuals and research teams can make a big difference in this area. Once the price of sequencing an individual's SNPs became this inexpensive, genomics would revolutionize medicine and the social sciences. People could take preventative measures to safeguard themselves against diseases to which they are genetically disposed. Moreover, once social scientists understand what is genetic, they can get a better grasp on what is environmental.

What do people think?


PS I just wanted to add that FuturePundit and ParaPundit are my two favorite blogs on the web. Mr. Parker, I really enjoy your insightful commentary, and your writings have influenced my views quite a bit. Thanks for blogging, and keep up the good work.

Randall Parker said at October 12, 2004 4:19 PM:


My take on that idea is that it is better to offer prizes for some intermediate steps for better sequencing methods that are short of that final step.

Also, the cost-based measure for the prize doesn't work well for motivating academic researchers. The academic researchers are going to develop new techniques but companies are going to commercialize the research.

SNP testing and sequencing already have a number of commercial companies chasing the market to develop cheaper approaches. But I wonder if some sort of technical benchmarks could be developed for measuring progress in sequencing and SNP testing techiques. I'm not sure what those benchmarks could be.

Prizes ought to be for endpoints that some group could look at and say "Hey, we could get there in 5 years with the resources we have available".

Also, the benchmarks should be pretty easy to judge and shouldn't require a lot of subjective judgement on whether a team really did achieve a goal. A company could introduce some really cheap DNA sequencing service several months in advance of having their costs that low, claim they have only limited capacity to conduct the test (in order to limit their losses) and thereby beat another company that has lower production costs at the moment the prize is awarded.

PS Thanks for the praise. I have no idea what the vast bulk of my readers think of my blogs.

Brock said at October 12, 2004 6:06 PM:

I already submitted the "WTN X-Prize for Eternal Youth" idea. I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

Randall, you can give yourself a pat on the back for my submission. Depite my regular trawling of technological developments, I only heard of aging reversal (other than in sci-fi) here at Futurepundit.

That self-sufficient educator is really out there. A young lady's primer indeed.

I thought something on the energy front would be a good idea for a prize. I also suggested advances leading to a Space Elevator, as that dovetails nicely with their first prize.

Hans Gerwitz said at October 12, 2004 6:12 PM:

How could the development of alternative energy sources be turned into an appropriate prize? Keep in mind that the X Prize is basically a giant publicity stunt put to good use; the contest needs to be something the public cares to follow.

Maybe a cross-country trip in a vehicle below a specified weight, carrying two people, without refueling?

PS I just this morning was singing your praises, having noted than a large percentage of feed items marked for further reading or sharing are from your blogs. I feel like you're my personal clipping service, scouring a world of journals for the things I would have found noteworthy.

Randall Parker said at October 12, 2004 6:37 PM:


I think alternative energy research needs to have prizes split up into different categories of energy sources. For example, as I've posted previously, there should be a prize for each percentage point increase in max conversion efficiency of photovoltaic cells. One can imagine battery prizes where, for example, there is a prize for achieving a new record on Wh/kg (watt-hours per kilogram) for batteries that can recharge at least X times (where X would be a number of recharges makes the battery useful for cars perhaps).

I think the cross-country vehicles would tend not to push the envelope on the right kinds of technologies. It would be easy to make a really light vehicle that you would not want to be in case of an accident. The contest goal needs to be something that has toe be achieved in a way that does nos sacrifice some necessary quality. But measuring accident-worthiness for a vehicle design is very expensive. Also, to develop such a design requires too many different skills in addition to skills involved in using energy more efficiently.

Again, I think the focus of the prize goals has to be easily measured, clearly an advance if they are achieved, and small enough for small teams to go after.

Randall Parker said at October 12, 2004 6:49 PM:


It is great you made an eternal youth submission. But think up some smaller goals that are in the direction of rejuvenation as topics for prizes. A goal as grand as total rejuvenation is going to take thousands of labs decades developing many different treatments. We need to find goals that will motivate individual labs in the shorter term to shift their directions.

For example, I think a prize should be rewarded for each gene from mitochondrial DNA that gets moved into the nucleus in mice to successfully replace the corresponding mtDNA gene. It is a nice discrete step in the right direction toward Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) and is clearly measurable. The mitochondrial DNA genes are an easier target for prizes than some of the other SENS treatments. So I think they should be rewarded with their own prizes.

Another prize idea: A reward for the development of a technique that can reliably extract embryonic stem cells from the blood of pregnant women. Dr. Diane Bianchi of Tufts University has found that fetuses give their mothers stem cell therapy. Well, such a technique would be a great way to get around the opposition to embryonic stem cell research.

Michael Vassar said at October 13, 2004 7:23 AM:

Randall, it may be that moving MT genes into the neucleus isn't necessary. Rafal Schmidgowski has an experimental technique for whole mitochondrial replacement that could work just as well, at least until the cells became cluttered with mitochondria (centuries? never?)

David Gobel said at October 13, 2004 9:59 AM:

Hi Randall - thanks for the continuing support for the mouse prize. Your readers may have missed the fact that there is already a 1/2 million prize for a $1,000 genome sequencer offered by the Ventor Foundation. Very little effort seems to be expended on publicizing it however. Also - FYI, it's always been the Methuselah Foundation's goal to add additional prizes to pursue anti-aging strategies. But we have to go at a rate that's credible in a business sense.

Randall Parker said at October 13, 2004 10:39 AM:


Aubrey de Grey thinks that mitochondrial DNA mutations that knock out much of oxidative phosphorylation will give those mitochondria an advantage in replication within a cell. Therefore the "bad" mitochondria will outcompete the "good" mitochondria. Sticking a good mitochondrion in a cell will therefore not help if Aubrey's theory is correct.

Also, I think it would be very problematic to insert mitochondria into all the cells of the body. Delivering genes is already hard enough. But something the size of a whole organelle is going to be much tougher.

Fly said at October 14, 2004 7:55 AM:

Michael Vasser, do you have a link for the “whole mitochondrial replacement” method? (I didn’t find anything using Google.)

Knowledge about the molecular biology of mitochondria is advancing.

Mitochondria findings may help beat wide range of disease

“New findings explaining the complicated process by which the "energy substations" of human cells split apart and recombine may lay the groundwork for new treatment approaches to a wide range of diseases, including some cancers and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.”

Fly said at October 14, 2004 8:14 AM:

“Also, I think it would be very problematic to insert mitochondria into all the cells of the body. Delivering genes is already hard enough. But something the size of a whole organelle is going to be much tougher.”

No doubt it will be tougher since targeted gene engineering with viral vectors is already being successfully applied.

However, some of the body’s cells already have the ability to envaginate bacteria. Possibly that mechanism could be harnessed without the new mitochondria being destroyed inside the cell.

Also various bacteria have the ability to enter human cells without destroying the cell or the bacteria. Perhaps such bacteria could be used as a vector.

As is done with bacteria and yeast cultures, the desired mitochondria might be given a selective advantage in the presence of a drug. The drug would slowly “kill” the old mitochondria while leaving the new unharmed. Gradually the new mitochondria would replace the old. (Similar techniques could be used to replace old stem cells with enhanced stem cells.)

Divus Masterei said at October 14, 2004 10:47 AM:

My 2 cents on prizes related to aging:

From a few articles I've read it seems there are a few gene expression changes that take place only during short-term CR, and others that only become active during long-term CR. The vast majority of changes are indeed shared... Another thing that I've read and has intrigued me, is that CR-mimetic overdose, entirely nullifies the CR-miming effect obtained. Now these may have been misunderstandings by a few authors that have been passed along several high-profile news sites, or they may be correct.(If someone knows it'd be nice to know, thanks in advance divus).

It'd be interesting to see if this process of obviating excess CR-mimetics, if it's correct and not a misunderstanding, can be modified. If it can be, maybe even more substantial gains in lifespan could be achieved.

Fly said at October 14, 2004 12:52 PM:

NHGRI seeks next generation of sequencing technologies

“has awarded more than $38 million in grants to spur the development of innovative technologies designed to dramatically reduce the cost of DNA sequencing”

“In the first set of grants, 11 teams will work to develop "near term" technologies that, within five years, are expected to provide the power to sequence a mammalian-sized genome for about $100,000. In the second set, seven groups will take on the longer-term challenge of developing revolutionary technologies to realize the vision of sequencing a human genome for $1,000 or less. The approaches pursued by both sets of grants have many complementary elements that integrate biochemistry, chemistry and physics with engineering to enhance the whole effort to develop the next generation of DNA sequencing and analysis technologies.”

The grant process and the marketplace may already be more effective than an X-prize for DNA sequencing. I suspect the same is true for energy research.

Dave said at October 17, 2004 9:59 AM:

Fly, the best of all worlds would be gov't, individual, VC and corporate support for research for "push" and a prize (and open purchase orders) to create enormous "pull". One of the greatest problems with a "push" only strategy is that the push/thrust dies out (think how effectively pushing on a string works) as soon as things become profitable or takes too long - well before the grand problems are solved.

Prizes keep things focused and accelerating toward the ultimate end point(s). Thus, a prize for energy independence is a very worthwhile project. You can always tell when it's a good idea to start a prize...it's when huge moneys have been already been salvoed toward a problem year after year - but almost no progress appears. I argue that cancer and energy are two examples of logjams that prizes can untangle.

As an aside, 70% of mice (Mus musculus) specified for the Methuselah Mouse Prize would normally die from cancer - our choice of mouse model is not accidental in this regard.

Brandy H said at October 20, 2004 11:34 AM:

All of this sounds really interesting but, I think things get a little hairy when people begin to play God. Doubling the life of a lab rat. How does that work? How will they know that they really extended the animals life.

Tom Bearden said at February 18, 2006 4:57 PM:

Dear Dr. Diamandis:

I was very happy to see that the X-Prize Foundation is expanding its activities and prizes to go after solutions to such problems as energy, transportation, and curing of diseases. Solutions to these problems have long been needed, and substantial progress can indeed be made -- very quickly -- if the sharp young grad students and post doctoral scientists at our best universities can be funded and allowed to work "outside the box" on these problems. As you know, it is fashionable to speak of research "out of the box", yet in practice our present scientific community maintains a very authoritarian control over what research is allowed at our universities and most other laboratories.

There is a ubiquitous but well-concealed reason that these three problem areas you are expanding into have not already been resolved or had great progress made in solving them. The problem lies in a most unusual place, one seldom even suspected and hardly ever challenged. There are very serious areas and falsities in the classical electromagnetics (CEM) and electrical engineering (EE) model, that have been there since the model's formulation in the 1880s and the further crippling restrictions (Lorentz symmetry, discard of the huge curled Heaviside energy flow component) imposed in the 1890s by Lorentz. E.g., Lorentz arbitrarily symmetrized the equations, just to make them simpler and easier to solve. Thereby he arbitrarily discarded all asymmetrical Maxwellian systems! Nature did not and does not discard them; Lorentz did. And sadly, today all our electrical engineering departments, professors, and texts continue to arbitrarily discard them.

It is precisely those arbitrarily discarded asymmetrical Maxwellian systems that make possible solutions to the problems of (1) energy, (2) transportation, and (3) medical healing via special EM stimulation of the cellular regenerative system to reverse the damage existing in its cells.

These astounding errors in the CEM/EE model have been pointed out by eminent scientists – such as Nobelist Richard Feynman, John Wheeler, Henry Margenau, Mario Bunge and others -- but to no avail. Correction of these severe falsities in the old 1880s EE model has not been allowed by the scientific community. It will not be allowed unless considerable governmental pressure from the highest levels is exerted upon the community.

For a compilation of these terrible errors, see my paper "Errors and Omissions in the CEM/EE Model", available freely at http://www.cheniere.org/techpapers/CEM%20Errors%20-%20final%20paper%20complete%20w%20longer%20abstract4.doc .

As an example, this paper also gives overall details of a magnetic Wankel engine (a special rail gun or linear magnetic motor wrapped almost in a circle, which readily "kills" its own back mmf to produce a motor without back mmf). The magnetic Wankel engine can readily be built and tested by any university EE department or physics department or decent laboratory. In a real load, the magnetic Wankel engine will produce more useful work output than the amount of energy the operator himself inputs and pays for to kill the back mmf. The excess input energy is freely received from the active vacuum, so the performance of the asymmetric motor is analogous to the performance of a home heat pump. A heat pump may have an efficiency of only 50%, but it has a coefficient of performance (COP) of COP = 3.0 to 4.0. It is absolutely possible to build asymmetrical EM systems that readily take excess energy from their vacuum environment and use it to exhibit permissible COP > 1.0 performance. The reason our electrical engineers do not build such systems is because our engineers are ruthlessly conditioned to only consider, design, and build symmetrical systems (whose COP

Technically, by killing its back mmf for very little operator-input energy expended, the magnetic Wankel engine becomes a nonequilibrium steady state (NESS) system receiving almost all its input energy from the seething vacuum. In short, any university can successfully build it and test a radical departure from the standard EE curriculum and practice, to its heart's content. The electrical engineer is already familiar with the Lenz law effect used to cheaply kill the back mmf, but he will not understand at all where the continuing EM energy input to the operating COP > 1.0 magnetic Wankel comes from, nor how it is being produced.

The magnetic Wankel engine is also easily adapted to be self-powering, requiring no further input of energy from the operator, but taking all its required input energy freely from the environment (analogous to a solar cell array driven electrical power system). In that case, its COP = infinity. Recall that efficiency is defined as the total useful energy output or work output, divided by the total energy input from all sources, and expressed as a percentage. The efficiency of any real system with losses is always less than 100%, else one would be violating the conservation of energy law. On the other hand, the COP of a real system with losses is defined as the total useful energy output or work output, divided by only the operator's input (that he has to pay for!), and expressed as a decimal fraction. If the environment freely inputs sufficient additional energy to overcome the losses and then still have more input, the COP > 1.0. And example is the common home heat pump. The heat pump usually has an efficiency of only about 50%, thus wasting half its input energy from all sources. However, it receives so much additional free or nearly free energy input from its environment, that it still outputs three to four times as much energy as the operator must pay the power company for. So its COP = 3.0 to 4.0.

If the U.S. scientific community (NAS, NSF, NAE, DoE, NASA, the national labs, and the universities) will simply fund some sharp young doctoral candidates and post doctoral scientists to correct the sad old CEM/EE model and apply the corrected model anew, the present energy crisis -- and our bone-crushing dependence on foreign oil, natural gas, etc. -- can be solved quickly (in 2 years), cheaply, cleanly, and permanently.

So the reader should check the "Errors and Omissions in the CEM/EE Model" paper referenced, to become familiar with the unpublicized falsities in electrical engineering that have been used in electrical power engineering for a century. These falsities are still being dogmatically employed in systems for power, transportation, and healing.

E.g., Maxwell's actual theory IS NOT taught in our universities. Instead, an Lorentz-curtailed version of Heaviside's limited subset of Maxwell's theory is what is being taught and used. Quoting Paul Nahin (a biographer of Heaviside):

".... nowhere in Maxwell's writings do the equations for the electromagnetic field appear as we write them today. Maxwell used an amalgamation of Cartesian component and quaternion notation, and it was Heaviside who first wrote the electromagnetic field equations in modern vector form." [Paul Nahin, Oliver Heaviside: Sage in Solitude, IEEE Press, New York, 1988, p. 9].

For Maxwell's original EM theory, see James Clerk Maxwell, "A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field," Royal Society Transactions, Vol. CLV, 1865, p 459. Read Dec. 8, 1864. Also see: The Scientific Papers of James Clerk Maxwell, 2 vols. bound as one, edited by W. D. Niven, Dover, New York, 1952, Vol. 1, p. 526-597.

In the 1880s Maxwell's 20 quaternion-like Maxwellian equations in 20 unknowns were severely curtailed by several scientists including Heaviside, Gibbs, Hertz, etc. after Maxwell was already dead. Circa 1892 Lorentz then administered the “coup de grace” to this already sharply reduced "subset" of Maxwell's theory. Lorentz arbitrarily symmetrized the already sharply curtailed Maxwell-Heaviside equations, thereby arbitrarily discarding all asymmetrical Maxwellian systems. Nature did not and does not discard them; Lorentz did and our present electrical engineering professors still do. The unaccounted asymmetrical Maxwellian systems of course include the very systems that can freely take part or all their necessary input energy from the vacuum environment and use it to power their loads partially freely or completely freely.

We ourselves do not have to learn how to extract usable EM energy from the vacuum! All we wish, anytime we wish, anywhere we wish! Nature already ubiquitously does it, and this is another of those things that has been suppressed by the falsities in CEM/EE. Every charge and dipole in the universe already continuously and freely absorbs virtual photons from the virtual state vacuum, coherently integrates the converted virtual mass energy until the next quantum level of excitation is reached. Then the charge or dipole suddenly decays its excitation by emitting an observable (quantized) photon. So every charge and dipole in the universe is already a "free EM energy gusher, if we will but learn to use it properly. We just have to correct the horribly flawed and insane way we’ve been taught to symmetrically collect and use the freely out-gushing energy flows. Instead, we must build and utilize asymmetrical collection and dissipation systems that dissipate the energy to power our loads, but do not dissipate any of it to kill the source dipoles.

To show how much energy is available (and not even considered and used) in a very simple piece of material, we quote Swann with reference to a simple telephone wire, with no current ongoing:

"Think of the cables which carry the telephone current in the form of electrons. In the absence of the current the electrons are moving in all directions. As many are moving from left to right as are moving from right to left; and the nothingness which is there is composed of two equal and opposite halves, about a million million amperes per square centimeter in one direction, and a million million amperes per square centimeter in the other direction. The telephone current constitutes an upsetting of the balance to the extent of one hundredth of a millionth of an ampere per square centimeter, or about one part in a hundred million million million. Then if this one part in a hundred million million million is at fault by one part in a thousand, we ring up the telephone company and complain that the quality of the speech is faulty." W.F.G. Swann, Physics Today, June. 1951, p. 9.

We point out that the generator used to produce the voltage and amperage in that cable doesn't produce even a tiny fraction of that enormous energy continuously ongoing in the Drude electron gas in the absence of organized current. So obviously all that energy does not come from the generator or other source such as a battery! Instead, it comes directly from the seething virtual state vacuum, via each and every charged particle in the circuit.

Every EM field and potential -- including a static field and a static potential -- is already an ongoing set of free EM energy flows (from its associated source charges), as shown shortly after the birth of the 20th century by Whittaker [E. T. Whittaker, 1903, “On the Partial Differential Equations of Mathematical Physics,” Math. Ann. 57: p. 333-355; E. T. Whittaker, 1904, “On an Expression of the Electromagnetic Field Due to Electrons by Means of Two Scalar Potential Functions.” Proc. Lond. Math. Soc., Series 2, 1: p. 367-372].

Consideration of how such a “steady flow” process creates and continually replenishes all static EM fields and potentials led Van Flandern to characterize a static field as analogous to an unfrozen waterfall. Quoting:

“To retain causality, we must distinguish two distinct meanings of the term ‘static’. One meaning is unchanging in the sense of no moving parts. The other meaning is sameness from moment to moment by continual replacement of all moving parts. We can visualize this difference by thinking of a waterfall. A frozen waterfall is static in the first sense, and a flowing waterfall is static in the second sense. Both are essentially the same at every moment, yet the latter has moving parts capable of transferring momentum, and is made of entities that propagate. …So are … fields for a rigid, stationary source frozen, or are they continually regenerated? Causality seems to require the latter.” [T. Van Flandern, 1998, “The speed of gravity—what the experiments say.” Phys. Lett. A 250: p. 8-9].

Consider the following little experiment: Simply assemble some charge or make a dipole, and thereafter leave it alone so it is not destroyed. That silly thing will sit there and freely pour out real usable EM energy (real observable photons) at light speed in all directions, as long as one cares to observe and measure. Every charge and dipole in the original matter in the universe has been freely doing this – steadily and continually emitting real, observable photons – for some 13 billion years or so, and none has “run down” or exhausted its steady and free EM energy flow. Yet no instrument known to man can measure any OBSERVABLE energy input to the charge!

Bewildered comments on this have been made by quite a few physicists. Some examples are:

“[I]t is not usually acknowledged that electrodynamics, both classical and quantal, are in a sad state.” [M. Bunge, 1967, Foundations of Physics. Springer-Verlag, New York, New York Bunge, 1967, p. 176].

"A generally acceptable, rigorous definition of radiation has not as yet been formulated. …The recurring question has been: Why is it that an electric charge radiates but does not absorb light waves despite the fact that the Maxwell equations are invariant under time reversal?" [B. Kosyakov, 1992, "Radiation in electrodynamics and in Yang-Mills theory," Soviet Physics Usp. 35(2): p. 135, 141].

"The connection between the field and its source has always been and still is the most difficult problem in classical and quantum electrodynamics." [D. Sen, 1968, Fields and/or Particles, Academic Press, London, England, p. viii].

This startling problem – known but scrubbed from almost all the textbooks – is called the “source charge problem”. It was not solved for a century, until the present author solved it in 1999 and published the first crude solution in 2000, 2002, and subsequently [e.g., T. Bearden, 2000, "Giant Negentropy from the Common Dipole." Proceedings of Congress 2000, St. Petersburg, Russia. Vol. 1: p. 86-98; T. E. Bearden, Energy from the Vacuum: Concepts and Principles, Cheniere Press, 2002].

An unsolved source charge problem presents a terrible but experimentally-proven dilemma to physics: Either (1) the conservation of energy law fails completely and we must discard most of physics and thermodynamics, or (2) the charge or dipole is freely absorbing and coherently integrating the incessant virtual energy fluctuations of the quantum mechanical vacuum (which is what it does, and conservation of energy rigorously applies). All EM fields and potentials – and every joule of observable EM energy in the universe – have been and are produced and are continually replenished by – this known, free, continuous EM energy extraction mechanism. This source charge capability can easily be demonstrated experimentally so that one can see it oneself.

However, the charge and its continual absorption of disordered virtual state energy bits, their reordering, and their coherent integration to quantum energy also represents a real physical system continuously producing negative entropy. Specifically, it continually consumes positive entropy of the virtual state vacuum fluctuations and produces negative entropy in the observable state (in its continually established and replenished fields and potentials).

The proof that a real physical system is permitted to produce continuous negative entropy is given by D. J. Evans and Lamberto Rondoni, "Comments on the Entropy of Nonequilibrium Steady States," J. Stat. Phys., 109(3-4), Nov. 2002, p. 895-920. We proposed the source charge and the source dipole as the first known physical system easily shown to do so.

The proof that eliminating the artificial Lorentz symmetry condition does allow free EM energy currents from the vacuum into the system for its use, is given by M. W. Evans et al., “Classical Electrodynamics without the Lorentz Condition: Extracting Energy from the Vacuum,” Physica Scripta, Vol. 61, 2000, p. 513-517.

A listing of areas already known and accepted by leading thermodynamicists to readily allow violating the hoary old second law of thermodynamics is given by Dilip Kondepudi and Ilya Prigogine, Modern Thermodynamics: From Heat Engines to Dissipative Structures, Wiley, New York, 1998, reprinted with corrections 1999. Areas known to violate the second law of thermodynamics are given on p. 459; one such area is simply strong gradients. Indeed, merely pinning (temporarily) the charges in a circuit so that dq/dt = 0, and suddenly amplifying the voltage while dq/dt = 0, is work-free and yet freely increases the available collected potential energy of the system -- a very simple negative entropy operation readily demonstrated.

Other than a bit of switching and control, freely increasing the magnitude of potential energy in a system is work-free, so long as the form of the input energy is the same and does not have to be changed. In short, rigorously work is the change of form of energy. It is NOT the change of magnitude of the energy, as is mistakenly stated in about half the university sophomore thermodynamics textbooks for external system parameters such as the potential. The amount of electrical energy W collected from a voltage V in a circuit containing q charges, is given by W = Vq. So long as q is pinned and no current flowing, q is constant. Hence one may merely increase the voltage alone, to get all the W one wishes from a static source of voltage! If one multiplies the voltage by 1,000, the same charges will now freely collect 1,000 times more energy than initially, with no other change!

Then just switch away the static source of potential (which has not been drained or depleted at all since it furnished no current, power, or work). Recomplete the circuit gap by a diode and a resistor in series, and then let the charges q become unpinned. Now that circuit will freely dissipate that energy almost freely collected, to power its loads and losses. Then repeat it iteratively. Or use the iterative "dumps" from the freely potentialized external circuit to charge capacitors, then use the capacitors to furnish steady voltage and current to the external circuit's loads and losses.

The hoary old second law of thermodynamics -- that a system could either produce more entropy or remain in the state of entropy it is in -- is only a "half-law" anyway. Starting with an equilibrium (state of maximum entropy) condition, the system must first be moved out of equilibrium (thus lowering its entropy, and thereby constituting a negative entropy process). The old second law has always just assumed that first reaction, but then failed to account for it. Hence it has always been an oxymoron implicitly assuming its own contradiction has first occurred but been unaccounted. In short, it has always assumed that, given a system slightly away from equilibrium, and with no further negative entropy operation, it can only remain as is or decay back to equilibrium (produce positive entropy).

Every charge, every EM field, and every EM potential (and every joule of EM energy in the universe) already violates the old second law of thermodynamics, and always has. It has long been known that, for many-particle systems, the individual tiny parts of the system continually violate the second law. Quoting Maxwell (who was also a thermodynamicist) as he referred to a gas:

"The truth of the second law is … a statistical, not a mathematical, truth, for it depends on the fact that the bodies we deal with consist of millions of molecules… Hence the second law of thermodynamics is continually being violated, and that to a considerable extent, in any sufficiently small group of molecules belonging to a real body." [J. C. Maxwell, "Tait's Thermodynamics II," Nature 17, 278–280 (7 February 1878)].

So the only thing necessary to free ourselves from the energy crisis is to (1) change the present horribly flawed EE model, and then (2) correct the sadly flawed old second law of thermodynamics. And then (3) turn the sharp young grad students and postdocs loose on it. Then we will quickly relearn how to asymmetrically use the source so that we never allow it to be destroyed or depleted, once we have paid to separate the charges and made it. In other words, we must simply use only an appropriate asymmetrical collecting circuit -- one of those that Lorentz discarded circa 1892 and that our EE departments and professors continue to discard to this day.

When unmolested, the source dipolarity -- even a static voltage source -- will pour out EM energy unceasingly from now till the end of time, for us to collect and use that freely outflowing real EM energy at will. But again, such collection circuits are asymmetric a priori. All our engineers are ruthlessly taught to design and build only symmetrical electrical power systems, which do freely evoke energy from the vacuum via their source dipolarity, but then deliberately nullify the effect of having a free energy gusher as every dipole and charge in the source.

Our present symmetric power systems are insane systems which use precisely half their collected free EM energy to destroy the source dipole! The other half of the freely collected EM energy in the external circuit is dissipated in powering the circuit’s losses and the load. With the circuit itself continually destroying the source and cutting off the free flow of EM energy extracted from the vacuum, it destroys its own dipolar source faster than it powers our desired loads! Thus we have to continually restore the dipole if any excitation of the circuit is to occur. To remake the source dipole, we continually have to crank the shaft of the generator, putting in more mechanical energy than we get out as useful work in the load. Rigorously, this practice self-enforces COP

In short, we pay the electric power company to continually and deliberately use its EM energy (all of which is freely extracted from the vacuum) to engage in a giant wrestling match inside its generators and always lose.

A close colleague and I have recently filed a provisional patent application on an asymmetric process – already proven in hard physics – for reducing the hydrocarbon fuel consumption or nuclear fuel rod consumption of power plants by some 75%. We state unequivocally that the basic mechanism we adapted is already experimentally proven and reported -- and replicated many times -- in physics since 1967, although it has not been properly understood. In the follow-on application, once such a modified power plant were up and running and powering its external grid and loads, it could also easily be close-looped so that all further fuel consumption ceased until the power plant had to be shut down again for maintenance etc.

Every charge and dipole in the original matter in the universe has been freely pouring out real, usable EM energy since the beginning – for some 13 billion years or so. If one makes a dipole or assembles some charge, it will freely pour out real EM energy to use for the next 13 billion years if the universe lasts that long! So one does not need to burn fuel or consume nuclear fuel rods to obtain absolutely free flows of real electrical energy! Not at all. The only problem is to learn how to do the interception, collection (potentialization), and dissipation of some of that freely flowing EM energy to power our desired loads, without using half the free energy to deliberately destroy the source of energy!

There is no crisis or problem with the availability of free EM energy, cheaply and cleanly. Instead there is a problem of the mindset of our present electrical scientists, who insist on only allowing symmetrical electrical power circuits to be taught and modeled and built. These "modern" circuits use half their freely collected EM energy to do nothing but destroy their dipolarities – which are extracting the free EM energy from the vacuum in the first place. The other half of the collected potential energy is used to power the loads and losses. So the COP of such systems is always COP

Over the last century, this terrible EE model -- and the scientific community's propagation and severe enforcement of it – has caused most of the world energy crisis, and it has also denied proper economies to struggling impoverished peoples the world over. Hundreds of millions of these struggling poor peoples have died during the last century because of that incorrect model and their resulting lack of any decent living standards -- leading to starvation, ravage by opportunistic diseases, etc. If scientific ethics is to be maintained and not just made a joke, we must correct these known and serious falsities in the present CEM/EE model, as quickly as possible.

The main point is that one of our most sacrosanct but horribly flawed scientific models -- and the adamant promulgation of it by our organized scientific community -- is what is really responsible for the energy crisis. EM energy itself is free, free, free and it occurs in ever-flowing free streams and gushers, once we pay a little bit for just one time, in order to make the source charge or dipolarity.

The question now is when and if our scientific community will fund and allow our sharp young doctoral students and post doctoral scientists to correct these grave deficiencies in the electrical engineering model and in electrical engineering practice. So far, we have not noticed any move to do so; indeed, the exact opposite is true, and professors and students who try to "rock the boat" against the accepted but horrible old CEM/EE model are rather resoundingly disposed of, their careers damaged or ruined, etc.

And Feynman's pointing out that force fields do not and cannot exist in space, in his three volumes of sophomore physics, is just ignored and that part is never taught.

Sadly, it appears that, not only is our scientific community still fiddling while Rome prepares to burn, but it seems to be doing everything in its power to insure that, once Rome burns, it will burn completely.

So it is with a great deal of hope that one reads of the new prize areas that will be opened up by the X-Prize Foundation. If some of this can be used to fund those sharp young grad students and post docs, and a few of our eminent higher group symmetry EM theoreticians, then perhaps the scientific community can at long last be goaded out of its long sleep, giving us a quick solution to all three of the new areas.


Tom Bearden

P.S. Just to give a bit more insight, force and force fields cannot exist in space, but only in matter. EM force fields thus exist only in charged matter, never in space. Quoting Feynman:

"…in dealing with force the tacit assumption is always made that the force is equal to zero unless some physical body is present… One of the most important characteristics of force is that it has a material origin…" [Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton, and Matthew Sands, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, Vol. 1, 1964, p. 12-2].

"…the existence of the positive charge, in some sense, distorts, or creates a "condition" in space, so that when we put the negative charge in, it feels a force. This potentiality for producing a force is called an electric field." [Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton, and Matthew Sands, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, Vol. 1, 1964, p. 2-4].

In short, an EM field in space is a precursor-to-force field and thus a force-free field, comprised solely of a curvature or torsion of spacetime (general relativity view) or a change in the virtual particle flux of vacuum (particle physics view). It is the ongoing interaction of this force-free precursor field in space, with charged matter, that produces the force fields in that charged matter.

Sadly, this also means that there is not now, and apparently there never has been, a single EE department, professor, or textbook that even teaches how to calculate the actual EM field in space, though all purport to do so. The force field they teach does not exist in space, but only in charge matter DUE TO THE ONGOING INTERACTION WITH THAT CHARGED MATTER OF THAT PRECURSOR FORCE-FREE FIELD CONDITION OF SPACE.

To his great credit, at least Jackson mentions the problem, and admits that the classical electrodynamicists just assume it away arbitrarily. Quoting Jackson:

"Most classical electrodynamicists continue to adhere to the notion that the EM force field exists as such in the vacuum, but do admit that physically measurable quantities such as force somehow involve the product of charge and field." [J. D. Jackson, Classical Electrodynamics, Second Edition, Wiley, 1975, p. 249].

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