Inventor Thane Heins was a college dropout who worked on his invention so obsessively that his wife kicked him out and he lost custody of his children. If that's not bad enough, he had difficulty getting scientists to take his idea seriously. His invention is a perpetual motion machine, which is viewed by the scientific community as squarely belonging in the realm of the batty.
Until, that is, he managed to convince Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Markus Zahn (previously on Neatorama: Zahn's work with ferrofluid), an expert in electromagnetic and electronic systems, to take a quick look:
Heins has modified his test so the effects observed are difficult to deny. He holds a permanent magnet a few centimetres away from the driveshaft of an electric motor, and the magnetic field it creates causes the motor to accelerate. It went well.
Contacted by phone a few hours after the test, Zahn is genuinely stumped – and surprised. He said the magnet shouldn't cause acceleration. "It's an unusual phenomena I wouldn't have predicted in advance. But I saw it. It's real. Now I'm just trying to figure it out."
There's no talk of perpetual motion. No whisper of broken scientific laws or free energy. Zahn would never go there – at least not yet. But he does see the potential for making electric motors more efficient, and this itself is no small feat.
"To my mind this is unexpected and new, and it's worth exploring all the possible advantages once you're convinced it's a real effect," he added. "There are an infinite number of induction machines in people's homes and everywhere around the world. If you could make them more efficient, cumulatively, it could make a big difference."
//Now, before you all scream "hoax!" and pillory the MIT professor for falling for the trick (and me for posting it), please consider that many of today's scientific dogmas were once crazy ideas that were initially dismissed out of hand by the majority of scientists at the time.
For example: Einstein's work on the quantization of light, theory of special relativity, and equivalence of matter and energy; Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, and (this one I'm more familiar with) Stanley Prusiner's work on prions.