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This is a question Training courses, seminars and conferences

Inspirational or a waste of precious slacking-off time? I once went on a buzzword bingo-laden training course which ended up with my being held at gunpoint in public. Could have gone better, to be honest. Tell us your tales from either side of the lectern

(, Thu 15 Mar 2012, 15:01)
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Nutter by proxy
Having worked in the alternative energy sector for 10 years I have been privileged to meet a whole rainbow of charlatans and whack jobs.

At a conference in San Francisco hosted by one of the USA's national laboratories where start up companies with renewable energy based business plans pitched their ideas to a panel of venture capitalists to compete for funding. It was essentially like a Dragon's Den type affair, except the venture capitalists were very polite and actually gave words of encouragement to some of the most ill-conceived business plans and technologies I've ever seen.

Myself and two colleagues got invited to a 70 year old philanthropist's hotel room to witness the ground breaking technology a physicist had brought to him. He thought we might be the very guys he was looking for to take it from a protoype to the earth shattering energy revolution it would undoubtedly become.

He unpacked it. Plugged it in. Air crackled. The smell of ozone was getting stronger as the air became ionised. We stepped back as he flung his arms enthusiastically around bare wires carrying some terrifying voltages.

To the untrained eye it might have looked like a large plastic vitamin jar lined with sticky backed aluminium tape, on a spindle in a perspex bracket, with a bent copper rail hovering over it. With the force of 10,000V from the stepper circuit attached to its jacksie it begin to rotate.

According to the inventor on the phone what we were actually witnessing was in fact a rotating gravitational wave and the solution to all our energy needs.

After switching of the lights and seeing the voltage breakdown through the perspex we informed him what in fact he had created was a DC motor. A really shit DC motor.

Two things made me thankful that day. 1) the rabid physicist had hung up after a passionate speech about how people like me needed to open our minds to over-unity devices (perpetual motion machines) and zero point energy (star trek). 2) The old guy still had all his clothes on when we turned the lights back on.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 17:14, closed)
I like that.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 17:18, closed)
i like that you like it :)

(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 23:27, closed)
You still fucked him though.

That's what people usually post on here if a woman is involved in the story..... equality and all that.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 17:24, closed)
Of course.
We took it in turns. Who can resist the seductive aroma of Werthers Originals and Old Spice?
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 23:23, closed)
I had some fun talking to an interesting Maltese/Australian bloke a couple of years ago. He told me about how he'd been trying to create cheap fuel by separating water into its component molecules: hydrogen and oxygen. The hyrdogen could then be used as fuel.

I asked him how he was going to overcome the laws of thermodynamics; specifically the inconvenient fact that he would have to put in the same amount of energy to separate the hydrogen and oxygen as he would get when the hydrogen was subsequently burned as fuel.

"No, no, no," he said, waving his hand dismissively. "You have to throw all that away and think outside the box."
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 21:55, closed)
Outside the box, as in outside of your brain box.
The hydrogen one crops up time and time again. Armchair scientists are a pain in the arse.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 23:26, closed)
And, of course
the reason that none of them have ever been able to make the breakthroughs that they are all so close to is that the scientific community will have them assassinated if they do.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 23:30, closed)
Also the oil companies buy up everything and suppress it don't forget.

(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 23:34, closed)
Back in the day
A colleage had a hand written patent application for producing hydrogen & oxygen using power from solar cells. Obvious possiblity, but it was accompanied by a rant about how the US patent office would not accept it, corrupted by the oil cartels etc and said it wasn't novel or inventive.

Incidentally, was the think outside the box man named Theodore Rout?
(, Sat 17 Mar 2012, 1:56, closed)
Nah, not unless he has an alias.

(, Sat 17 Mar 2012, 8:03, closed)
I manage the patents at our place
And using solar power to generate hydrogen and oxygen is not inventive. Hydrolysis is older than god's dog and just coming up with different ways of supplying the electricity is blindingly obvious. The rule of thumb patent examiners go by is if they could combine 2 or 3 existing patents to get your invention, then it is not inventive.

Doesn't mean you couldn't make a nice little business selling solar powered hydrolysers, just your core technology is not quite as novel ad you think it is.

Unfortunately inventions are like teddy bears and people don't like being told their idea is nothing new or is useless.

You also can't file a patent to do with perpetual motion because they are sick of dealing with idiots.
(, Sat 17 Mar 2012, 10:57, closed)
Hydrogen production is one thing,
making it into a useful fuel is another. I've played around with H2 storage materials and I reckon there's some potential there if the right components are used. Sadly, a lot of the groups researching them are well off the mark in that respect and just seem to recombine the same things over and over again...
I now work on CO2 capture. Great field if it works, but dull as fucking dishwater.
(, Sun 18 Mar 2012, 8:12, closed)
Too right. Never been convinced by fuel cells to be honest.
All those exotic materials to make a membrane that is so easily poisoned by impurities when people have made engines that can burn hydrogen just as efficiently... pointless waste of time.
(, Sun 18 Mar 2012, 15:26, closed)

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