A more efficient electrical generator, or something much more profound?

f you’ve been following the story of Thane Heins and have been looking for an update to his story, I had one appear this weekend in the Toronto Star. It was a year ago when I first wrote about Ottawa-born Heins, who says he has developed an electrical generator that redirects the energy in “Back EMF” that usually slows down an electrical motor-generator as it accepts load. In other words, Heins claims to have eliminated the magnetic friction and replaced it with magnetic acceleration. He calls this effect “regenerative acceleration,” but those who are skeptical of his claims say that acceleration does not equate to power/torque/work and that Heins has failed to demonstrate there is such a link.

Is it just a more — potentially much more –efficient motor? Or is it, well, more than that? Heins says it’s not perpetual motion or an overunity machine, yet, but he believes he can get it there as he continues to refine his prototype. I won’t go into much more detail, you can read the article if you want an update. I decided to do an update after receiving an e-mail from Lee Smolin, a highly respected theoretical physicist at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo. Smolin said the public deserved an update to show that Heins is misguided. I’ll let the reader make that judgement. All I can say is that Heins continues to press on, and bit by bit is making what he feels is progress. The cast of characters he’s interacted with over the past year range from rockstar Neil Young to UFO researcher Steven Greer, who claims to be an ET contactee.

I like this story, mostly because Heins is doggedly determined and acutely aware of how controversial his claims are, but at the same time he isn’t prepared to censor himself. He tells it like he sees it, and invites others to come and kick the tires. I didn’t mention this in the story, but he’s decided to take a kind of open-source approach to licensing his technology. The idea, the way I understand it, is that others can license it and build real-world applications on top and that all members of the licensing network get to share in the advancements and the revenues that are generated — assuming it gets to that stage.

Obviously, as attempts are made to put this technology into a real application, we’ll know once and for all whether it works or falls flat. That’s perhaps my biggest criticism: Heins has spent the past year refining a prototype that really doesn’t answer the questions that people have. Regardless of how simple it is, all people want is to see the technology used in some way where real work — beyond acceleration — is clearly observable and irrefutable.

That said, I’m curious. Besides, I like an underdog and am a sucker for a good story, no matter how it ends. Some will say that by giving him publicity I’m encouraging him, giving him credibility, and helping perpetuate some sort of lie or con job. Having been a reporter and columnist at one of the largest newspapers in North America, I can tell you this: I, like many of my colleagues, have probably done more to unknowingly spread lies and con jobs by writing about so-called credible people and companies. At least with Heins, he wears his heart and motivations on his sleeve.

23 thoughts on “A more efficient electrical generator, or something much more profound?”

  1. Since the output is greater than the input, I will make a small motor, hook it up to a small battery, thee output will be fed to a bigger motor etc, etc, and fairly soon my small battery will supply power to all of North America. Great invention…

  2. I watched several of his videos on YouTube. He seems very proficient with electric motors and electronics. I have no doubt he’s knowledgable in that area. But the one issue I have is that he never actually proves his claim of more power using the simplest means possible; and that is – hook up a Watt meter between the motor and the power source (the wall) and to the generator. Instead he just reads off numbers, like “this voltage increased from X, it was higher than before”, etc. That does not mean more power necessarily. An engine can spin faster with less torque, but it does not necessarily have more power. He seems to equate faster speed with more power, or higher voltage with more power. Not necessarily the case. Now, if he had multiplied voltage and current, that would have given power and he could have compared power before and after to see what the difference is. He didn’t do that. Sure, one does wonder how the motor speed increased, and maybe in some way it does contradict Lenz’s Law (or at least an interpretation of it), as he repeatedly states, but that’s not enough. You have to dig deeper. Like I said, the simplest thing to do is hook up a power meter to see what goes in and what comes out. That’s the true test. And I feel that it would put a quick end to all the claims.

    A more efficienct motor, maybe? That I could accept. But something that can produce more power than what you put in? Never. If that were true you could use the positive feedback to make a battery power a city. That is the implication of an overunity device. And we know what category that falls into.

  3. Thanks for the update Tyler- an interesting story and man- I hope he is successful, but it will have to be in producing a much more efficient motor- Franco on the previous post pretty much sums up the why of it, along with some other concerns, as does your article in the Star. Mr. Heins does seem to undermine his own efforts, and it make its hard to tell if he is just eccentric or something worse. Still, it does make for a good story;-)

  4. Science is a method of thinking using a *set of procedures*, not, as you seem to believe, a body of knowledge. Those procedures do nothing except set down how to tell if something is real or not. Knowledge can be invalidated over time, but the methods on how to tell whether or not someone is either lying or a complete nutcase do not disappear in the same way.

    With that said, your credulous and naïve stories about these anti-science types are annoying. All a person like this has to do is plop his invention down in front of a group of physicists and engineers, and, if it works, he’ll win the Nobel Prize and become staggeringly rich and famous. If he’s worried about people stealing it, then all he has to do is do it in public instead of behind closed doors.

    Does he do that? Nope. Why? Because he’s 1)lying, or 2)a quack (on rare occasions both apply).

    The fact that you speak of science as if it was merely one method of thinking is ridiculous. Scientific thought can be boiled down to a single idea: “never make the same mistake twice”. What other method of thought would you have us adopt? How can you possibly argue for a quack whose main argument in favour of himself is “science is stupid. Magic works.”?

    This difference in magical and scientific thought is ultimately what separates a scientist, who can admit when they are wrong, and quacks like Thane Heins or Richard Hogland, who, while undoubtedly intelligent, quickly become obsessed with a flawed idea and *never* give it up, no matter how much evidence contrary to their idea is presented to them.

  5. However this pans out, the explanation will be interesting. Unfortunately, I have a feeling we’ll be looking at a tragic human-interest story rather than a scientific breakthrough (anyone taking bets?) But I’m glad he’s getting a chance to proove himself.

  6. Gopher65,

    I don’t recall I ever used the words “science” or called this a science story. You say “your credulous and naive stories about these anti-science types are annoying.” If you find them annoying, don’t read them. You make it sounds like I write these stories or blog about them all the time. Mr. Heins is the only one I’ve written about, and it’s as much a human story as anything else. So excuse me if .01 per cent of my writing offends you or wastes your time.

  7. It isn’t about me; I generally do skip the ones that annoy me;). They’re bad for my blood pressure hehe. No, it is about the other people who read this and take your lack-of-research as The Truth. You don’t seem to realize that your uninformed and highly biased musings on stories like this one have an effect on your reads, and through them the general public. You are a teacher, like it or not, and people listen to what you say. You have a responsibility to be accurate, and to not intellectually wank-off to your personal wish fulfilment fantasies (like this sorry excuse for an article).

    As for this being “the only one” that you’re written about, your stories often have severe anti-science biases in them. You are prone to believing what you want to believe, rather than doing the necessary research to find out what is likely to be true, and what is likely to be false. That’s called “magical thinking”, and it is common in most people. You are, in short, a standard CNN/Fox News class journalist. High on hype, low on facts. All entertainment, no substance. That’s just sad:(. I hate it how the mainstream media does that.

  8. Wow, who pissed in your cornflakes? Your unfounded criticisms really just make you sound like a cranky old man from Western Canada with a bone to pick. Fire away…

  9. 1) I’m liberal, early-to-mid 20s, and while I currently live in Saskatchewan, I don’t like it here (does anyone:P?). I’d much rather live in Toronto than here.

    2) My criticism of your articles isn’t unfounded. Unless you have – at the very least – a BoS-Physics degree, you aren’t qualified to be writing *opinion* pieces about this stuff. Key word there. If you have a BA then maybe you have the ability to regurgitate facts in a coherent fashion for an audience, but that doesn’t give you the knowledge necessary to have a valid opinion on a subject like this one. I don’t write about football, cars, or schoolboards (don’t like it, don’t have one, and don’t have a kid in one… yet:o)), and you (clearly) should leave the technology writing up to people with a grasp on the subject. Or, and I like this idea a bit more, you should pick up a beginner physics textbook and start working your way through it, while completing all the problem sets. (I know my posts here are sardonic, but I’m serious about that last line. Reporters have a tendency to be seriously undereducated in the areas they are covering. Especially science reporters.)

    3) Being able to read who my email provider is doesn’t make you insightful, but trying to pass that off as an insight derived from my writing style certainly does… errr… right?

    Anyway. Tired. Going to bed before I pass out before I can make it to my bed made of coal and sickly tar.

    (That’s my way of saying that I find it irritating that you through in an unjustified geographical attack. That *points up* is why everyone else in the country has a grudge against Toronto. You read everything that I said and THAT was all you could come up with? An ad-hominin attack stating that I’m automatically wrong cause I live in the west? Comeon:P. I gave you some golden material for a counter-thrust up there.

    As a hint, note that my attacks weren’t centred around a dislike for greenness, but rather around your credulous nature and the obvious lack of any real research on your part (that’s just laziness). Real research means not using Google and Wikipedia as your only source(s), and giving serious time to the experts in the field rather than just to the crackpot.)

  10. As I’ve said on a couple other wordpress blogs: waaaaaaaa:(. No edit feature. Typos a-plenty. Gah.

    *prays to the great gods at wordpress for an easy to use, monitor, and implement editing feature*

  11. Still sounding cranky.

    Why do you keep calling me a science reporter? I’m a business reporter who covers energy. I make no claims to the contrary. My job is to talk to as many different viewpoints as possible — engineers, executives, scientists, environmentalists, average folks, etc…. Every day is school for me, and unlike those schooled in a particular area I’ve had the benefit of broad and direct access to some of the greatest minds in the fields of technology and energy.

    I’m not saying you’re automatically wrong because of where you live, you’re just wrong. And I don’t need to go into a lengthy counter-attack against an anonymous attacker who’s got nothing better to do than, well, attack. This is a *blog* — it’s meant for opinion. And I’ll say it again, if you don’t like it you’re free to hypertext to somewhere else.

  12. I really wanted to discuss this article I just read in the National Post that just makes me sick. To think this sort of misinformation is getting put in a major Canadian newspaper is appalling in my opinion…


    Sorry, I think you’ll have to cut and paste… looking forward to some thoughts and discussion if possible!

  13. *points up* Tyler, read that article that he linked. It is very biased, yes? Your articles read just like that, except in a different political direction. Is that really how you desire to come across?

  14. You make me laugh, Mr. Gopher. To compare a feature on an inventor — one that that doesn’t sugarcoat the craziness of his claimed innovation — to a pure opinion piece is a stretch. But let’s compare it to one of my more opinioned columns, like the one on Monday about carbon capture and sequestration. Point out to me one fact in that column that’s wrong — that doesn’t support my argument? I don’t argue something if I haven’t researched it to back it up.

    Now, look at Mr. Corcoran’s piece and tell me if you believe he speaks the facts or is just ranting and, well, seemingly spreading false information. Has Mr. Corcoran done the research? Does he back up his argument? Just curious to get your thoughts on this.

    The difference between you and me, by the way, is that while I disagree completely with Mr. Corcoran and have never really liked much of what he has to say, I recognize his views as opinion and don’t attack him as an individual. And if, by chance, I did it wouldn’t be behind the cowardice of anonymity.

  15. “1) I’m liberal, early-to-mid 20s, and while I currently live in Saskatchewan, I don’t like it here (does anyone:P?). I’d much rather live in Toronto than here.”

    Actually I like Saskatchewan and I don’t even live there. I know plenty of folks from Sask and they’re probably just too nice to tell you that they’d really like you better if you weren’t there or at least could find the manners not to slam their province.

    But mostly I think you’re a wanker for the reasons that Tyler is giving. :)) It’s an interesting story and even if it turns out to be only a story it’s honestly done and factual, not idiotic, accusatory, or anything like a CNN / Fox story.

  16. Gopher may say he’s a liberal, but if someone sounds, looks and feels like a wingnut… I think what’s happening here is that common disease that infects the blogosphere: soapbox syndrome, where the act of typing into a comment form can unknowingly send our thoughts from a reasonable location along a linear trajectory that winds up in the furthest reaches of insanity. Pretty much every Bill O’Reilly rant does this.

    Gopher, you point out that Tyler has biases, and act as though this is some kind of major discovery. Everybody has biases; what’s important is how well we contain them. Corocoran and you, Gopher, have no control over your biases (NB: bias is not synonymous with ideology–look it up). Tyler, by contrast, contains his biases quite well. No, he’s not perfect. Yes, he and Corcoran both have bias, but if you can’t tell the difference between a Tyler Hamilton piece and a Terrence Corocoran piece, then that’s like pretending there’s no distinction between a well-intentioned, if controversial, energy policy and a Nazi police state.

    In short, Gopher, you’re young and have a lot to learn. Like this: valid, reasonable objections can be made about almost anything in life. But if your objections aren’t reasonable–and they aren’t, and neither are Corcoran’s–then your being part of the problem, not the solution.

  17. Tyler, I justed wanted to say how much I appreciate your work and your willingness to stick with this story. Completely separately from whether Thane Heins has something or nothing, the fact that you are willing to lend your own reputation to the principle of open minded research is something noteworthy and uncommon. Kudos to The Star as well.

  18. Thanks, Mr. Hamilton, for providing this blog. This is a courageous , yet very professional undertaking, allowing your readers to comment on your work. Alas, anonymity is to blogs what horse-power is to angry drivers on public highways. Most readers are simply, sanely curious about Mr. Hein’s story, not credulous; credulity implies the negation of all other possibilities. The update that you’ve just made is the only sensible one I found on the web since last year and it satisfied my curiosity. BTW, http://www.lincolnvolt.com has disapeared! It’s still in Google cache dated march 7th, but without pictures. If I were credulous, I would say that M.I.B. are behind this, but I’m just curious about it…

  19. hello
    one inportant point is the fact that thane have a staff that is in the background of him !
    they are the professors and students that are working in the university !
    so we need one more video to now if the tecnology works or not !
    we will see !!!!

  20. i dont know much about regenerative,but there is a way one can make electricity, you take electric moter and generator join them with shafts, connect the wire through capasater , give power to the shafts by engine , both the moter and the generator will run on its won. try it, see it for you self.

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