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Entropy Systems Inc.

Entropy Systems Inc. (which has run out of energy but used to sputter and puff at www.entropysystems.com/) issued a news release claiming they have 

developed engine technology that produces power, by absorbing heat from atmospheric air, that can be at any temperature (even sub-zero). No fossil fuels or any nuclear materials are required to operate these engines and therefore they do not produce any pollution. [The engines are] Room Temperature Superconductors of heat. ESI engines require no cryogenic liquids or any fuel storage systems and can be used to run Automobiles, Boats, Lawnmowers and Generators. 

The punctuation may not be proper, but that may be to throw off the skeptic who might think this is too good to be true. Sanjay Amin is said to have patented this engine, which, we are told, is especially wonderful because 

The ESI engine takes room temperature air, absorbs heat from the air like a sponge, converts, that heat to power and exhausts air at a lower temperature. This low-temperature exhaust can be used for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning.

Obviously, Mr. Amin has put all his money into research and is doing his own press releases. Maybe his new technology will suck up unnecessary commas and capital letters and return them as poems.

If Mr. Amin is right, we will no longer need swimming pools if we wish to cool off on a hot day. With this new technology we will be able to mow the lawn and refrigerate the entire neighborhood at the same time. Global warming will be a thing of the past. Snowmobile engines in Alaska will be not only be cooling the air they absorb for fuel, they will be restoring the permafrost with their exhaust.

Mr. Amin claims to have published a book on thermodynamics in 1994, but Mr. Amin has no works on file with the Library of Congress. If anyone buys one of his engines, he may be able to spare a few copies of his book and donate them to libraries across the country. The engine sells for $75,000. The price does not include the lawnmower or boat a prospective buyer might want to attach to the engine.

Mr. Amin notes that he has several patents. Some people might be impressed by this fact. But of all the requirements for being granted a patent in the U.S., having a working device is not one of them.

Even Alex Chiu has a patent for his immortality rings, though his patent description is somewhat unintelligible, it clearly makes no mention of immortality, as his web site does. Chiu modestly compares himself to Einstein, Tesla, and Thomas Edison. He should compare himself to people who have been committed to institutions, either for their problems or their crimes.


further reading

PhACT-FAQ on Heat Based Free Energy Prepared by Tom Napier See this page for the scientific and technical reasons why engines such as those promoted by Mr. Amin's are unlikely to work

Free energy claims of Entropy Systems Inc. - Sanjay Amin (various critical reviews)

Sanjay Amin's Entropy Engine - deflated? by Earnest S.I. Gullible and Gerhard W. Bruhn Department of Mathematics, Darmstadt University of Technology, FRG [pdf file, 216K]

 

(Thanks to Andrew Price and Eric Krieg)


reader comments

9 Sep 1999
I just read your article on the entropy engine. I was expecting some intelligent discussion of the project. Instead, I find an ad hominem attack of the press release.

reply: Why would you expect to find an intelligent discussion of an obvious fraud? You are obviously too serious about this kind of stuff. Haven't you heard that laughter is the best medicine?

Surely you realize that this is not sound logic. You cannot say that an invention is flawed simply because its inventor cannot spell.

reply: I can say it, but I wouldn't. Surely you wouldn't deprive a few people of a little humor just to serve the goddess of logic, or would you?

Or is your main argument "Too Good to Be True," as implied by your title? Hey, that's great! "This machine can't work because *I* say it's 'Too Good to Be True!'" I can't tell--is this begging the question, or an appeal to unqualified authority?

reply: Well, at least you know what an ad hominem is. I'll grant you that. And you are not totally humorless.

I've seen some excellent articles on your site. This is not one of them. If you hope to convince others to share your opinions, shouldn't you provide facts and sound reasoning? Anything else is on par with the "charlatans" you are trying to debunk.
Andrew Dooley 

P. S.: You might want to have a look at your own use of capital letters. According to my AP stylebook, "Too Good to Be True" isn't in keeping with proper usage.

reply: Thank you, Andrew, but I use the US stylebook (Universal Skeptic) where proper usage is determined by one's accountant. You are correct, of course, in assuming that some of my readers would be ignorant of fundamental facts about heat, energy transformation, thermodynamics, etc. Hence, they would not see why Mr. Amin's engine would not be a good investment.  Thus, I have added a link to the PhACT-FAQ on Heat Based Free Energy Prepared by Tom Napier. Here you can find the scientific and technical reasons for my treating Mr. Amin's claims as if they came from one of the three stooges rather than from a great scientist.


10 Sep 1999
Regarding Sanjay Amin and the "Entropy Engine" and the claim that Mr Amin has "several patents" for this technology:

I searched his website with care and could find no reference to US patents by number. Accordingly, I searched the US Patent database (http://patents.cnidr.org/access/search-bool.html) back through 1976. In over a million US Patents, four show one Sanjay I. Amin listed as an inventor. The latest of these issued in 1986. All four are assigned to the Upjohn Corporation, and relate to the refining of pharmaceuticals. From the biography published on his website, it appears that this is a different Sanjay Amin.

It would appear that he does not have US Patents for this technology. If his claim to US Patents is erroneous, could it be that his claims for his "Entropy Engine" are similarly erroneous? I merely pose the question.

Keep up the good work.
Johan Bakker

reply: Another reader, Bruce Whiteside, has found that Sanjaykumar Amin of Entropy Systems has the following U.S. patents: 5765387 issued 6-16-1998 (Device and method for thermal transfer using air as the working medium) and 5547341 issued 8-20-1996 (Device for thermal transfer using air as the working medium).


16 Jan 2000
A reader of the discussions in "Too good to be true" and "PhACT-FAQ on Heat Based Free Energy" might feel nonplussed as to whether or not S. Amin's entropy engine is sound, since Amin's arguments are not refuted by all that is said there. Amin has no doubt about the validity of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but he claims to have found a way which is not governed by that law. And indeed, if you compare the simple normal situation under which the Second Law is treated in textbooks on thermodynamics with the complicated situation inside Amin's engine you should admit that there is at least a certain logical gap between both situations. And this gap is the reason why all reference to the Second Law does not hit the nail on the head. Amin argues that by generating two different gravitational fields (by rotating the cylinder of his engine) the situation lies outside the area of application of the Second Law. This argument cannot be disproved by repeating the story of the Second Law of Thermodynamics again and again.

So, what else can be done in this situation? Why not check Amin's claim by an independent calculation?

His claim is that, taken over one engine cycle, there is a positive amount of heat flowing from the surroundings into the cylinder of the engine (where it is converted to mechanical energy). The heat flow is caused by the deformation of the local gas volume (it is compressed or expanded): local compression or expansion heats or cools the gas locally. But the cycle has to be executed at constant temperature. So the temperature change has to be compensated by a suitable heat flow between the cylinder and its surroundings that is equal to the local deformation energy. Thus, the total heat flow, taken over one cycle, can be calculated as the sum of all local deformation energies over the whole gas cylinder during one engine cycle.

For the execution of that calculation a little knowledge of calculus is required, namely the knowledge of differentiation and integration rules, but not more than is standard in engineering. The reader who is interested in details of the calculation is referred to the attached paper [in .pdf format]. The result of the calculation is of interest: the total amount of deformation energy over one cycle is ZERO, thus Amin's entropy engine does by no means absorb heat energy from its surroundings like a sponge. The absorbed heat energy is ZERO, hence the mechanical energy output of the engine is ZERO as well, or, taking friction losses into account, even less than zero.

Also, this result means that Amin's engine obeys the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

What are the reasons for Amin's different announcements on the WWW? Amin tries to calculate the mechanical output of his engine in a more complicated way than we did and he is not able to do that correctly. Analyzing his calculations you will find several mathematical flaws (see section 4 of the attached paper). So one cannot expect a correct result from his calculations: The announced energy sources of his engine are merely the flaws of his calculation.

Prof. Dr. Gerhard W. Bruhn Department of Mathematics Darmstadt University of Technology Germany


26 Jan 2000

Dear Professor Carroll,

If you can stand one more comment on the obviously dippy Amin Entropy Engine:

Professor Bruhn's paper (elucidating the flaws in Mr. Amin's arithmetic) implicitly assumes, in the course of demonstrating that the Amin cycle does not violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics, that the First Law of Thermodynamics is correct.

The First Law of Thermodynamics can be loosely stated as "Energy is conserved -- the net energy change in a system is equal to the energy into it minus the energy out of it, so long as you keep account of everything." Professor Bruhn takes care to correctly calculate the energy inputs and outputs of the complete Amin cycle, finding basically no net energy output of the system, whereas Mr. Amin, erroneously does find energy output and then leaps to the conclusion that the energy comes from the air (working fluid) in "violation" of the Second Law.

You can see how defending the Second Law by assuming the First Law is unlikely to convince a professional nincompoop. Fortunately, Mr. Amin used the same line of argument in his website -- calculating energy balances in his cycle implicitly assumes the First Law. So Mr. Amin should be dispatched in this instance.

But what if he were a Devil's Advocate and didn't concede his case on the grounds that assuming the First Law to defend a proof of the validity of the Second Law in a putative violating case was unwarranted?

My question is really along the lines of "what are the axioms of science or logic?" In other words, what argument would a professional nincompoop understand and find convincing? Does it automatically dissolve into sophistry, or is there some self-consistent underpinning which would allow doubting the truth of the First and Second Law (more generally, any set of science or math axioms)?

How about a good book recommendation on philosophy of science?

Dr. Paul Vetter
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab 

reply: As I understand it, professional nincompoops transcend logic and recognize that natural science has no axioms to grind.

As for book recommendations on philosophy of science, any of the following is on my short list:

W. I. B. Beveridge, The Art of Scientific Investigation (New York: Vintage Books, 1957).

Irving M. Copi, Introduction to Logic 10th ed. (Prentice Hall, 1998).

Michael W. Friedlander, The Conduct of Science (New Jersey: Prentice?Hall, 1972).

Ronald Giere, Understanding Scientific Reasoning, 4th ed. (New York, Holt Rinehart, Winston: 1998).

Janet A. Kourany, Scientific Knowledge: Basic Issues in the Philosophy of Science,2nd ed. (Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1997).

Thomas S. Kuhn. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions  3rd ed. (University of Chicago, 1996).

Karl R. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1959).

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