Not cold fusion, but a perpetual motion battery?

Several years ago, I watched an episode of ABC’s Nightline that featured a scientist in Florida that had invented something akin to a perpetual motion battery. It was made of little metal balls and salt water. The inventor was a chemist that made a fortune from developing the process to produce the little metal balls, so he wasn’t a total quack. When an electric current was run through the battery, it allegedly produced more BTU’s of heat than could be produced by the current itself.
The man’s grandson was going to start a company to find practical applications for the device. I have searched the internet for news or stories of this battery, but have found none. Has anyone else ever heard of this? I seem to recall that the inventor lived in Sarasota.

I know what you are talking about, but I, too, forget the inventor’s name. Robert Park, of the American Physical Society dealt with this issue in his recen book, Voodoo Science. I don’t happen to have my copy at hand, but perhaps, if no one else comes along to answer this today, I can dig up the story later. As and alternative, you might want to try searching Bob Parks; newsletters at the APS site, http://www.aps.org/index.html

Which once again points to the terrifying scientific illiteracy of (most) Journalists.

Everything else aside, this really doesn’t mean anything. He made a fortune, so he wasn’t a total quack? Ironically, the majority of scientists who invent useful, real items never see a fortune their whole lives.

That aside, this is what you are referring to:

Now, let me take some choice quotes here:

None of which is anything close to a reputable source.

OK, here’s the first test - does the device include that miracle energy cure-all, palladium? If so, it is 95% likely it is another “Cold Fusion” scam.

BFD! The US Patent Office would patent my buttcheeks if I wrote the proper forms up. Repeat after me - a device need not exist or work at all to be patentable.

Double-BFD! So? I demonstrated my latest software at several conferences around the World before it actually worked - no one knew the difference.

Ah…good plan then. They are not sure how it works, yet are ready to go full-scale commercial. Well, maybe it will sell well in Clearwater if they sell it to Scientologists (Xenu[sup]TM[/sup] Inside!).

Anyhow…thanks for stopping by the Straight Dope! :slight_smile:

[tearing mind away with difficulty from mental image of paperwork required to patent Una’s buttcheeks]

Um. In which we discuss the Patterson Power Cell.

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=54774

[would you have to moon yourself in a Xerox machine, or what? Maybe a plaster cast? Or a polyester resin reproduction?]

I think that a perpetual motion machine is the only machine that you have to prove to work to patented

quote
I think that a perpetual motion machine is the only machine that you have to prove to work to patented **
[/QUOTE]

How long does the test take?

One of the most important parts of getting a patent is “enablement”. A person skilled in the art has to be able to make the device in question. One of the other criteria is that the invention must do something. Thems the rules.

B

How long does the test take? **
[/QUOTE]

Well, you start it up and leave it on a shelf at the patent office. Then you come back a year later, and if it’s still running, you get your patent.

That was a clever joke, Booker, but IIRC that is the real answer.