Here’s how it all unfolded. According to CEO Sean McCarthy, in 2003 Steorn’s engineers were hard at work developing a security camera system to keep watch over ATM machines. They were playing with the idea of using a small wind generator to power the camera system so it wouldn’t need to be hooked up to an electric line. Being tinkering types, they were trying out various configurations of the wind generator’s magnets in an attempt to improve its efficiency, when the engineer working on this bumped into a problem: the generator appeared to be putting out more energy than it was taking in.
Their first reaction was to be annoyed that their meter had broken. After more testing proved it wasn’t due to a faulty meter they set this all aside to look at later, while they finished up their ATM camera project. In the end they never did get the wind generator idea off the ground.
But they did return to investigate their magnetic anomaly. The company is stocked full of professional engineers and none of them were in any hurry to decide they had stumbled upon what they knew was impossible, a perpetual motion machine. They replicated and tested the effect in many different ways, looking for where the energy was coming from. They found that the permanent magnets being used were not losing strength over time, the surrounding air was not changing temperature, and so on.
According to Sean McCarthy, Steorn invited several leading university physicists to test out their device themselves. These physicists, Steorn would have us believe, all agreed that they could not find an explanation for the effect. But not one of them would allow their opinion to be put on the record – none wanted to take the risk of being associated with such a radical and unlikely idea.
Failing that route, Steorn decided to find scientists who would agree to go on the record in validating their claims – by calling for them publicly. In an August 2006 issue of The Economist, Steorn placed a full page ad (at a cost somewhere between $70,000 – $200,000) promising a future of clean and free energy, and asking for applications from qualified experimental physicists who would be willing to thoroughly test their device and publicly release their findings, whatever they may be.
Thousands of people applied through Steorn’s web site, hundreds of whom were genuine scientists. From this pool, Steorn chose a jury of 12. (The 12 most qualified? The 12 most gullible? 12 most fictional? Only time will tell.) According to Steorn, this group convened to begin testing the device in January of this year. The time schedule will be set by the scientists, not by Steorn, but Sean McCarthy’s expectation is that they will come out with a result by the end of this summer. He continues to be committed to publishing their entire report, whatever they conclude. And it is when this “jury” has finished their report that Steorn plans to finally release all details of their device publicly, and to begin licensing out the technology for other companies to produce.