Monday, February 18, 2008

Will the Real Dean Kamen Please Stand Up

Remember back at the turn of the century all hub bub about Dean Kamen's "Ginger"? It was a secret project that was going to change the world. Well, after a lot of build-up and excitement it turned out to be a high tech scooter. It was indeed a very cool gizmo and a marvel of engineering, but change the world it didn't. Frankly it was a huge disappointment.

So, imagine what was going through my mind while being introduced to the humble Thane Heins on my favorite science, technology and futurist web site I thought this Mr. Heins could be the real Dean Kamen - the man who would change the world.

Thane Heins, the amateur inventor, may have actually stumbled across the heretical perpetual motion machine. With a set of magnets attached to a rotor driven by a shaft coming off a typical electric motor Heins places a wire coil in front of the moving magnets. Verifying that voltage potential was present from his induction coil he then sets up a load to generate some amperage. Instead of the back EMF dragging down the motor it inexplicably accelerates it.

Heins believed that the steel shaft connected to the rotor he used for the magnets conducted the magnetic resistance away from the coil and back into the motor. He was figuring the Back EMF was actually boosting the motor's flux fields. Did his unlikely configuration result in a positive feedback loop that accelerated the electromagnetic field causing the motor to go faster? To be sure, he replaced steel shaft between the rotor and the motor with a plastic one. There was no acceleration. On the face of it this seems to mean the ferrous steel of the connecting shaft was doing something. Something no one would have expected.

Thane Heins without an electrical engineering background has had trouble getting anyone to take this phenomenon seriously. Lately he has attracted some attention. He has contacted some very wealthy men who has been known to have ambitions to change the world themselves. He now has some hot irons in the fire. Recently MIT’s professor Markus Zahn saw the demonstration and came away perplexed, calling the idea something worthy further examination.

If the potential is true what Heins calls "regenerative acceleration" could one day provide us with a car that would need no charging from the grid, would not need ANY gasoline, would literally cost nothing to fuel up. This would definitely change the world.

Let's hope this thing turns out much better for us than Kamen's over-hyped, over-priced Segway scooter.