I understand that the Navy has filed for patents on ridiculous magic apparently on the grounds that if they don’t, then we will have to pay the Chinese to license their ridiculous magic technology. These idiots make beanstalks look like Newton.
This has been covered here before, but I just wanted to make explicit my favorite argument against woo-woo. Chase its inescapable, inseparable implications to their impossible conclusions.
So there’s an easy way to tell if your topic is nonsense. Will it allow you to build a perpetual motion machine? Because if it will, then it’s nonsense. Some will attempt to dodge this with warp-drive, subspace, stargate extra-dimensional woo-woo. We’re not modifying the path of the object, which would take energy — we’re modifying its geodesic in n-d spacetime and allowing it to fall whither it may.” This is word salad.
If I have a machine that allows me to move a household object from one place in the universe to another, then I say let’s put it at the top of a gravity-driven electrical generator. Every time the weight of the object reaches the bottom, we’ll re-locate it once more to the top. Actually, we’ll target points about about 60 and 120 degrees past the top, but I need not chase efficiency because I now have an “over-unity device”, that is, a machine which puts out more energy than it takes in. Note that the power in the illustration below is flowing AWAY from the generator.
“It should take at least as much energy to change the geodesic of an object as it would to change the trajectory of an object with no modification of spacetime. If it does not, then we can exploit the difference to create an “over unity” perpetual motion machine, which I am comfortable that we cannot do. Claims which cannot be falsified even conceptually are not improperly discarded. They’re just turtles.”
Well said. If we allow a hypnosis with the other-worldliness of a proposed mechanism to hide from our eyes the export or import of energy from the local context, then we should allow that same latitude to any equivalent claim. But if we do so, then any perpetual motion machine becomes possible. Monkey turning the handle? Dammit Jim, I’m a theoretical physicist, not a primatologist!
Clarke’s third law states that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” which has a sting in the tail. The statement is not intended as, and should not be accepted as, a get-out-of-jail-free card for any sort of ridiculous woo-woo. Clarke most definitely did not say that claims of magic are unassailable because they might turn out to be science after all. We have other laws which help filter the nonsense from the good sense, and the laws of thermodynamics are the fiercest.
Theoreticians and patent trolls may wish from time to time to hide out from the long arm of these laws, perhaps with a cushy Navy job submitting preposterously-justified patent applications for ridiculous magic, but there is nowhere to run.