Boffins chase 'hydrino' super power source
Quantum theory called into question, apparently
Dr. Randall Mills, a Harvard medic by training, is claiming to have built a prototype generator that can produce 1000 times more heat than normal fuels, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper.
The trick, he says, is the use of a new form of hydrogen - we can hear your collective eyebrows raising - which he calls the Hydrino. This has a single electron orbiting the nucleus of the atom more closely than it does in normal hydrogen.
We'll just pause while that sinks in. Yes, he is suggesting that an electron can be more tightly bound to a nucleus than the ground state allowed by quantum theory.
According to Mills, creating a hydrino is a simple process. Take some H2O and split off the hydrogen into H2 molecules. Next, split these into hydrogen atoms by passing them over a super-heated filament. Add a catalyst, such as strontium ions or potassium atoms, and out pops the hydrino. As the hydrogen ion collapses into a hydrino, energy is released.
We're troubled by this. Surely, if a lower energy level than the ground state exists, wouldn't electrons prefer to sit in it? What on earth is keeping all the electrons in hydrogen atoms and ions sufficiently excited that they stay is their theoretically less stable 'orbit' in the ground state?
We are not alone. Not everyone is in a big hurry to abandon quantum mechanics. Dr Roland Smith, Reader in Laser Physics at Imperial College, London is one of the sceptics.
"Quantum Mechanics (QM) is a robust and incredibly well tested piece of physics," he told The Register. "A vast number of our everyday devices including lasers and computers are based on its predictions and they work 'as expected from QM theory' to incredibly high degrees of accuracy.
"In contrast, the experimental evidence for the existence of 'Hydrinos' is very weak and has not stood up well to the acid test of scientific peer review and publication in mainstream literature."
But despite the understandable mainstream resistance to the idea, Mills is quite happy to say that he is right and quantum mechanics must be wrong. He told the Guardian that he's done a lot of testing, and argues out that much of the theoretical work has been peer reviewed. He says resistance to the idea is the result of people's vested interests in the status quo.
Of course, some of you will have heard about this theory before. Mills has been around a while, as has Blacklight Power, the company developing his research. The company claims to have huge investment backing it, and even NASA has expressed an interest in the past.
Blacklight explains its technology here.
Dr. Smith suggests anyone wanting to get a handle on the "entertaining history of the 'hydrino story' and its various meetings with the sharp end of the scientific process" should check through the archives of sci.physics.fusion. ®