• This was the week that blogged (13th – 19th August 2006)

    Welcome to the first edition of a new weekly web-article on the Irish blog community. The concept of this weekly piece is to round-up the popular topics of discussion during the week and highlight the range of opinion and angles available in the Irish blogosphere.
    If this were a new media application it would be in ‘Beta’, and as such I hope the coming weeks will allow me to push things around until I find the best format and set-up. Once I find the best way to put the piece together it will hopefully get more concise and eclectic too.
    If you have any suggestions for the way this article could be presented, drop me a comment below or send me an e-mail; if you have any suggestions for blog posts worthy of inclusion in the next edition you can do the same (it can be your own post, it can be funny or serious; it doesn’t matter as long as it’s original and coherent).
    Otherwise, I hope you enjoy!

    It could be the greatest scientific finding of our time or perhaps the greatest hoax of the century so far however the ‘free energy machine’ claim by Steorn has certainly gotten bloggers talking.

    Seeking to publicaly validate their claims the Irish company has challenged a panel of top scientists to investigate their technology and prove or disprove their suggestions; Bernie Goldbach of IrishEyes points out the unorthodox nature of their campaign so far, saying that “In normal scientific circles, you publish peer-reviewed articles and then release digestible information to the business press. There may be a reason Steorn is advertising its moves during the August silly season before subjecting its IP assets to a traditional review process”.

    On the subject of the actual claims Quantum Computation PhD student Joe Fitzsimons of Quantized Thoughts gives us his opinion; “The first thing to mention is that these devices are explicity banned by thermodynamics, as they violate conservation of energy, and so it seems incredibly unlikely that they have built a working device as seems to have been claimed. If they have built a device which appears to be producing excessive energy, it is exremely likely that it is drawing the extra energy from some external power source… The second thing worth noting is that they have issued a challenge to scientists to prove or disprove their device produces free energy. To me, this seems like what crackpots often do”.

    The potential for a free energy machine has largely been written off by the scientific community and wider public already with many suspecting a hoax; NixMix of Threats to Democracy reasons that if this is a joke, it’s certainly an expensive one; “The company have hired one of the most expensive PR firms in the world and spent over 100k on an ad in the Economist challenging the most qualified and most cynical scientists in the world to prove them wrong.”

    In reporting the story TCAL link to the patent filed and a company video on the technology; they also point out a similar claim from 2002 which also originated in Ireland. And finally Colm Smyth of S’Mythology, who describes the claim as “probably the most unbelievable yet fascinating claims made this century” is excited but is certainly not holding his breath; “while we wait and on a more realistic note, I’ll look into buying solar panels while Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) offers tax incentives; although Ireland is better located for wind and wave energy, the sun shines enough here to deliver about 60% of a home’s heating needs”.

    Internationally the story of the week has been that of an apparent attempted terrorist attack on UK to US flights. Branedy suggests a motivation for the attempted attack; “One of the greatest features of the western world is mobility, most dramatically represented by air-travel and airplanes. One of the most active agents in change is mobility. Change in a culture that suppresses individual initiatives and freedoms, in favor of religious dogma and enforced religious rituals would have to resist any mixing of ideas and people, mobility is the enemy. This is exactly the same for both the west and islam”.

    Elsewhere Padraigh of Kiss me I’m Irish, worried by all the talk of terrorism, opines on the readiness of Ireland for any kind of attack and suggests that we as a country are complacent; “While we may not be a target we could very well be the starting point of an attack on Britain or the US. Now if the Irish Authorises aren’t too worried about Britain being attached, with their lax security at our airports, well then so be it. But what about the Irish people that could be on these planes?… Is it safe to get on a plane that departs from Ireland? Who Knows?”. Going back to Goldbach, however, his concerns lie in a slightly more ecological place; “THOUSANDS OF GALLONS of potentially hazardous material have been discarded at airports throughout Europe. As a citizen who sorts, recycles, compacts and composts, I need to know what the airport authorities are doing with the gallons of wine, whiskey, soft drinks, water, energy drinks and assorted other hazardous liquids. Surely they have not been discarded with other nonlethal waste… So when I visit my airport of debarkation for my trans-Atlantic flight, I will insist upon placing my hazardous liquid into a suitable hazardous materials receptacle. And as a conscientious taxpayer, I expect to see cadres of HAZMAT experts sweeping through terminals with megaphones alerting travelers to the dangers of leaving behind unattended vessels containing fluids”.

    As the ‘War on Terror’ continues to create doubt and fear, Bernard of Running With Bulls puts the rising calls for racial profiling into an Irish context; “Moore street, in Dublin’s city centre is a melting pot for lots of different cultures now. I don’t know the number of different nationalities that are represented there. Phonecards, unlocking telephones, and everything related goes on there. If these people were living in the US, they would now be branded as terrorists”. At the same time Irish Eagle questions those who make assumptions of another kind; “I heard Olivia Mitchell voice her doubts that those who were involved in the airplanes terror plot were allied with or part of al Qaeda. Her reason? They were too young. Most were only ‘university age’… I sincerely doubt al Qaeda has a minimum age, but if they do I really doubt it’s 25 or even 22”.

    Last but not least on this topic, the heightened panic in the US and Europe has already had a knock on effect on the Irish blog community with the news that Rick Segal and Shel Israel had been forced to postpone their visit to Ireland in September. Here’s hoping they can make it over soon.
    And in other news:

    Suzy of Maman Poulet supplies us with an 83-word long list of phrases and terms banned by US communications company Verizon. Included in the list are medical terms such as ‘vagina’ and ‘scrotum’ as well as generally recongised technical terms such as ‘fornicate’, ‘fellatio’ and ‘masturbate’.