Today XKCD had a lovely little cartoon about a forum for perpetual motion machines, still going after 8 years. They're a wonderfully insane subject that crazy people inevitably drift into. Not being interested in them is often a sign of sanity, if you ever wondered about your own mental health. Those places also attract con men and I think that's the origin of the Receding Horizon Problem, those sorts of machines.
The Receding Horizons Problem (RHP) entry is constantly deleted from Wikipedia, probably for political reasons because I can't think of any other which are sane or rational. RHP is taught in Intro to Engineering (ENG 10/101). Engineers are usually sane, but not always. I've met several that were STUPID, but most are smart and sane. Perpetual Motion Machines violate thermodynamics, and nothing can. They're called Laws of Thermodynamics because they can't be broken. They're universally right, always, without error or exception. Crackpots insist that their cheats and errors that ALMOST work before it stops would work if they just had more money to build a bigger one. Sometimes this is a con man planning to take the money and run to Brazil. Sometimes this is a nut with terrible personal history that's driven him insane. There are steam punk mechanical engineers that build perpetual motion machines as a joke, part of their cosplay, complete with hawkers making absurd claims just like in the real world. They know and strongly imply its all hokum, just to make their point about how little some things change. I respect their parody skits and how much fun they have mocking morons.
I have encountered people who insist that Cold Fusion works. It doesn't. Its a battery, at best. If it were actually fusion, the neutrons and gamma rays would kill you. The absence of radiation from a fusion reaction is the most obvious way to tell. The people I've talked to INSISTED it was all a conspiracy to prevent clean energy. I asked if they were running their house on this amazing machine they claimed to have running on their desktop.
"Why not? Isn't it almost free energy generation that you say will free the world from oil dependency?" I ask.
"Yes! Its a conspiracy," he agrees.
"So why not run your house on it?" I ask.
"Well, umm, gotta go!" he says. Uh huh. So liar or crazy person. I even stopped being friends with the people who were friends and supporters of this nut. They kept insisting he was a brilliant scientist and engineer, but neither he nor any of them had their homes running on his Cold Fusion device. A gizmo that would end their home heating bills and save them thousands a year for three easy payments of $19.95 (plus shipping and handling!). Not much of a friend, was he? Cult leaders do that. Con people, make them brainwashed into supporting them, especially when they're provably wrong.
In the real world, applied sciences make money if what they're applied to has value. A free home power generator that is cheap to build, requires no maintenance but distilled water once a month, costs nothing to operate, and makes free power? Very valuable. A billion-dollar idea worth mass producing. Of course, that would require it to work. Peak oil and the loss of cheap energy has no easy answers. Cold Fusion is just a solid state perpetual motion machine, with the same BS claims used on spinning flywheels running generators going into a "magic box" which is always sealed and proprietary and contains a car battery that's charged up to keep the hoax going longer. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Many of us have been involved with Peak Oil study since before the Oil Price spike in 2007-8. Some of us even have a background in geology, economics, or engineering. We know the facts. Many of us made predictions about WHEN the spike would hit and how high the price of oil would go, but most of us also underestimated the consequences to the world economy on demand, and demand destruction turned out to be considerably worse than anticipated. I thought we'd end up paying big bucks for a gallon of gasoline. It really hasn't been like that, not really. The doubling of price was enough to kill the housing boom, burst that bubble. That killed the derivatives scam, which destroyed the stock and bonds markets, which hurt the dollar currency and turned us into an inflationary machine with ever-expanding money supply. Both presidents were responsible for this mess. Clinton too.
We might even blame Reagan, who embraced Deficit Spending and convinced our population that a Rising Tide Would Lift All Boats. Actually, the rising tide bought BMWs and said "screw it!" to the rest of the boats stuck in the mud. That lack of investment in small businesses is what lead to this cruel world of multinational corporations that only care about their stock price and profitability because that's how their executives get paid. They don't care about the imbalance or how it insured their kids would never make as much money. Like the entitled Spanish aristocracy presiding over a broken Spain after the disastrous invasion of Britain, their precious Armada sunk by storms in the Channel, we got handed a broken economy which is provably destructive to workers, families, and the future in general.
And the population voted for Socialism in the last election. That was crazy. Many of you applaud that, thinking that Socialism is best for everyone, whether they want it or not. I think you're fools if you do. I think the population needs jobs, universal employment. Mostly in manufacturing because anyone can do that, regardless of education. Instead, most of the unemployed are either underemployed and angry about it or in education hoping there will be a job by the time they come out with huge student loan debt, which is the next financial crisis coming and might be the one to break us. Going to school for a degree, gambling there will be a good paying job afterwards is merely delaying the inevitable, and might lead to suicide. Doing that is crazy. We're not supposed to admit that socialist countries have really high suicide rates (Greece!) because you just can't get ahead no matter how hard you try, but that doesn't matter if you're not paying any attention. Socialism is giving up on democracy. Its giving up on trying.
If America were socialist we'd be no better than Mexico. Our water and sewer would fall apart, we'd see people sick and dying from cholera again. The lights would go out because its nobody's job to keep them on, and why bother, right? You'd end up shivering in the cold. No amount of education will fix that indifference. Socialism is all about ignoring progress and responsibility and managing the die-off. Eventually, even you will be unnecessary. Then its your turn to kneel in the ditch in front of the firing squad. That's the big danger of cult-mentality trust. The crazies running the world today are megalomaniacs who deny reality. This is why we don't have fuel rationing, why our currency is inflating daily, why our food costs more and more, why our healthcare is nationalizing and lowering in quality, why there's no enough flu shots and they're no longer free, why there's $3.30/gal gasoline and the roads are falling apart because those fuel taxes are being spent on social programs instead of the road repairs they're supposed to, and why, most importantly, all the jobs are in China and India. We screwed ourselves. Its our fault. We voted for greed and laziness and easy money. Not to protect our kids from the future we can't prevent. We voted for crazy.
At this point our only good fortune is the terrible world economy has prevented a fuel price spike from going higher. Sure, we'll all be unemployed soon, but that's okay right? After all, the farmers will feed us for free because we voted for them to, thanks to Socialism! Oh wait. What if the farmers stop working? What if they export the food like Bennetton did in Argentina a decade ago? People starved, despite their insistence on voting for Socialism. It didn't save them at all. Will that happen here? Only time will tell. I won't make timing predictions because I've never been good at that. Stuff happens that delays things, or unanticipated things make it all a bit worse but in a way you didn't expect. Prediction is bad like that. The Oil IS running out. What we've got left is expensive and lower quality. It costs more. Its not available for everyone. Demand destruction has become the defining factor of the end of cheap oil. And isn't that just Crazy?