London, Aug. 28: It is the modern-day equivalent of turning base metal into gold, and Sean McCarthy believes that he has it cracked.
A free, infinite supply of pure energy could be sitting right now in a secure area of an unprepossessing unit in the Docklands of Dublin.
McCarthy claims to have created a perpetual motion machine, that can produce at least as much energy as it consumes, so that once it has been set running it can continue indefinitely.
Even Sir Isaac Newton, who spent a lifetime trying to turn base metals into gold, declared the search for perpetual motion a fool’s quest, reputedly saying: “The seekers after perpetual motion are trying to get something from nothing.”
However, after allowing The Times and its physics expert, John White, into the office, McCarthy decided not to let us see the machine. The device is some form of an all-magnet motor and the only clue that he will give is that it looks like “a grandfather clock, without its pendulum”.
Since McCarthy, 40, made its existence known through a full-page advertisement in The Economist, he has been overwhelmed by interest from around the world — some of which has even veered towards “death threat” territory.
“We are getting bloggers putting out stories that this is a stunt to market Xboxes, that we are a call centre and that we have just closed down,” he said.
The search for perpetual motion creates passionate emotions in believers and those who condemn the attempts. It is considered heretical in the scientific community because it violates the first law of thermodynamics.
Since the first British patent for a perpetual motion machine nearly four centuries ago, hundreds have followed.
McCarthy cannot easily be dismissed. He is the head of an IT company that advises police forces across Europe on fighting fraud. “If I am proved wrong, this company is out of business and I will never work in this town again,” he said.
By the end of this month he hopes to assemble a panel of “the most qualified and the most cynical” scientists to test his machine.
White, a physicist at University College, Dublin, had a straightforward question. “Why not publish your results in a peer review journal and go and collect your Nobel prize when you are vindicated'”
He added: “If he is right, he will have solved the riddle of the universe and brought peace to the Middle East.”
McCarthy said he stumbled across “a kinetic anomaly of magnetic fields” while developing a wind turbine to power CCTV cameras.
He said some “very well-respected” scientists had tested the machine and achieved the same results. They refused to publish it because “this area is surrounded by fraudsters and the misguided. So we decided that either we should just drop this and get on with our lives or find a different way to get science interested.”