Valone is probably the most broadly informed authority
on the kind of basement tinkering that ventures into
gray areas beyond the conventional laws of physics.
Right: Valone in a shed he uses as a workshop in his backyard. Above: The magnetically powered model railroad car in the
backyard of Valone’s suburban home.
Valone unearths another magnetic propulsion
concept, described in Popular Science in June 1979.
This is the Kure Tekko magnetic motor, which interests Valone because it uses the under-exploited
concept of a “magnetic gradient.” A magnetic rotor
turns inside a spiral-shaped stator that is also
magnetic. Mutual repulsion accelerates the rotor
as its distance from the inner surface of the spiral
increases. At the end of the spiral is a gap that the
rotor must cross before it overcomes the repulsion
of the stator to begin its next cycle.
“The Japanese used a solenoid to take the
rotor across the gap,” says Valone. “Of course, this
consumes electricity. But there may be a better
way.” He shows me a paper from the IEEE, entitled
Transactions on Magnets, describing a piezoelectric
laminate that may be capable of switching the force
from a static permanent magnet in the same way
that a transistor switches electricity. This indeed
has fascinating implications — depending how
much switching power it consumes.
When I ask Valone how he came to be so open-minded, he turns the question around. “I always
wondered why other people were less open-minded,”
he says. “I promised myself that as I grew older, I
would never lose my curiosity, and the ability to solve
mysteries that others had overlooked. I felt that this
was a youthful quality I needed to keep.”
He agrees that his open-mindedness has the
potential to lead him astray. “My ability to perceive
reality is conditioned by my beliefs,” he says. “If
I believe in free energy, I’ll start thinking I see it in
all the wrong places. So many inventors have been
self-deceived. Ninety percent of the people who
claim they have free energy don’t have it.”
Still, he suggests that open-mindedness is
precisely what the world needs right now. “Where
are we going to get energy from in the future?” he
asks. “None of conventional science can answer that
question. Unfortunately federal dollars are tied into
projects that aren’t going anywhere, because politics
have dominated science, and scientists all over the
world are afraid to stick their necks out. We are losing our innovative ability in this country.” He pauses
to emphasize the point: “The only approaches that
have promise today are unconventional.”
Tom Valone’s Integrity Research Institute ( users.erols.com/iri).
The Basement Mechanic’s Guide to Building Perpetual Motion
Machines ( makezine.com/go/simanek) includes actual photos
of construction projects which, unfortunately, don’t quite work.
(See Donald Simanek’s article about perpetual motion, page 70.)
Wikipedia article about the Simple Magnetic Overunity Toy
(SMOT), which some claim produces more energy that it uses
Wikipedia article about Steorn, Ltd., a Dublin, Ireland-based
company that claims to have invented a perpetual motion
machine ( wikipedia.org/wiki/steorn).
Charles Platt has been a senior writer for Wired magazine
and has written science fiction novels such as the Silicon
Man. He wrote “Electric Avenue” in MAKE, Volume 05.