Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
Tuesday, July 15 2008
Since being exposed to the dubious idea of "earth batteries" the other day, I've found myself fascinated with online "free energy" fora, particularly those built around obviously foolish ideas such as the use of water as a combustible fuel. The best forum of all had the name "URGENT! WATER AS FUEL DISCOVERY FOR EVERYONE TO SHARE." The guy who moderates this board is named "gotoluc" and he begins the board with the following plea:

If this is the first time you are viewing this page I ask you to share this link immediately to everyone you have in your email address list and ask them to do the same no matter what you or they may think. We need to give this back to the World a.s.a.p.

Next I ask everyone to stop experimenting if you can and help with this, since I believe it is the one of the most promising real effect at this time (that I know of) that is fully shared on the Internet. Nothing will be hidden here. You can view the development of everything that is going on.

He then links to a video of a circuit firing an automotive sparkplug, with him occasionally spritzing the plug with water and claiming that combustion happens whenever he does this. I've watched this video and it's possible the sparkplug flashes a tiny bit more brightly when it's wet, but to call this "combustion" is magical thinking. I suspect the water is changing the behavior of the sparkplug slightly through its ability to conduct electricity, and that all of the energy in the spark is coming from the circuitry used to fire it. (This circuitry is needlessly complicated for what is being done, with DC being converted to AC and then back to DC, and many diodes installed serially in a manner that would provide no useful electrical effects.) It would be easy to test whether any actual energy was coming out of this system: submerge the whole thing in a calorimeter and see if it raises the temperature of a known volume of water any more than could be explained by the amount of electricity flowing into it. But that would take math and an understanding of the relationship between watt-hours and calories.
This water combustion forum is just one tiny piece of a large web-based community of thermodynamics deniers called that purports to be "the international open source free energy research forum." The idea is that free energy is out there waiting to be achieved, and all it will take is a bunch of people experimenting in their garages and sharing freely. The trouble with this model is that a bunch of people have already been down this road, done their experiments, and shared freely. Those people were scientists and their sharing was the publication of a great many papers. They came to label the wall they kept running into "the Second Law of Thermodynamics," and it has survived every test since it was first postulated in the early 19th Century. You can quickly see the difference between the "collaboration" going on at and real science by reading the posts. Most say simply "Wow!" and "Great!" and others misuse terms such as "radiant energy" to jargon-up their ignorant commentary. Most of the people in the forum seem to think that this water combustion technique could, with a few tweaks, be used to power a conventional internal-combustion engine. Nobody writes about what possible chemistry (or nuclear reactions) could be happening here, and no one expresses any fear that perhaps natural lightning, simulating this apparatus, might explode the oceans. Actually, there was one person who asked some chemistry questions, wanting to know what byproducts were being produced and whether there were any concerns about doing this in foggy weather and accidentally detonating a cloud. But that was me, and within hours gotoluc had eliminated all my posts and replaced them with this:

Please ignore bigfun posts from now on. He is here to ridiculize everyone. He has posted ridiculizing comments on my Youtube and I have blocked him there. If he posts here one more time I will ask Stefan to block him also.


It seems gotoluc runs a tight ship, and once someone with scientific knowledge starts asking any informed questions he gets shut out of the forum, leaving the ignorant tinkerers and happy talkers to post in peace. The forum has to be run this way, or else gotoluc and his accolytes would quickly be shown for the fools they are. An unfortunate side effect of this, though, is that even if someone in the forum should stumble into something scientifically interesting, it can never successfully be explored because there won't be anyone there to ask the questions that need to be asked.
I do intend to troll this forum again in the future, but now that I know how sensitive gotoluc is, I'll be very cautious in my tweaking.

Today I returned to that same small bluestone mine I went to yesterday, this time outfitted with a cloth grocery bag and a canvas firewood tote. I figured both had shapes better for carrying large flat items than my backpack's. Unfortunately, though, once filled with stone, there was no easy way to loop the handles over my shoulders so they could hang from my body. And the bags hung too low when dangling from my hands. So I had to use my arm muscles to keep the load above the ground, experiencing a much more strenuous walk home than the one'd I'd taken yesterday.
Back at the house, I turned my attention to another rot abatement project: the garage doors. Each door is comprised of four hinged panels, each 22.5 X 108 X 1.25 inches in size, and only the bottom panels have any rot, mostly to the outside layer of plywood and to the lower piece of 1.25 X 3.5 X 108 lumber forming part of the rectangular frame. I removed the worst of two deteriorated panels this afternoon and pried it open to see what could be replaced and what might be salvaged. Its interior with filled with an inch of styrofoam panel, meaning I couldn't hope to improve its R value (and, happily, I also wouldn't be tempted to tear apart the good panels to insulate them). It looked like replacing the rotten piece of framing would be relatively easy, but I don't know where I can find sufficiently strong eighth inch plywood to replace the outer skin. The old skin was more like cardboard than plywood, and having been splashed against for 13 years by water falling off an unguttered roof, it's a wonder it's not in worse shape than it is.

I've yet to use anything but human power to mow the lawn this year, although I can't say a spool mower provides a cut anywhere near as good as that of a conventional gas-powered lawn mower. One problem with a spool mower is that it only cuts objects within a certain window of heights. If something is too short, the mower rides over it (no surprise there) and if its too long, the mower knocks it down and rides over it like it's too short. A gas lawn mower doesn't have this problem because its blade serves as a fan to suck fallen materials up to cutting height. But the spinning blades of a spool mower have no useful ærodynamic effects.
After I was done spool-cutting the yard, I ran around with manual sheers snipping off the hundreds of flower stalks of the Greater and Lesser Plantains, a plant that may actually be more common in our yard than grass. Other annoying fast growing tall-statured plants in our yard include chickory, various invading berry bushes, and smartweed. Dandylion and White Clover, though common, are generally short enough to mow. There's also a massive Motherwort on the edge of the garden that I have left intact for the bumblebees despite Gretchen's objections.

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