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Blacklight Power gets $50M; but is it profound, or utter nonsense?

Updated

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Notable story today by VentureWire (sub required) about the company founded by medical doctor Randell Mills, called Blacklight Power, which claims to have found an alternative source of energy, and has gotten $50M from respected investors.

This is significant, because alternative energy is a hot sector right now.

Some are calling Mills' work profound. Others are calling it "utter nonsense". Basically, Mills claims to have discovered a process which generates "hydrinos" -- a previously unknown form of hydrogen in which electrons move below the ground state to release energy. Numerous mainstream physicists, however, are calling such a result impossible, according to the piece.

As in any boom, there are a lot of fanciful ideas emerging, and it is difficult to say which ones should be taken seriously. If you're an entrepreneur or investor looking at the clean-tech sector, take a look at this smorgasbord of far-out energy ideas, by Utah...

writer Sterling Allan, who is also founder of a group that is trying to foster support for alternative energy ideas:

Why not harness the power of atmospheric pressure differences of weather patterns across hundreds of miles, through abandoned pipelines? (Ref.) Why not float wind turbines out at sea like oil rigs? (Ref., ref.) Why not use the downed trees from hurricanes for biomass energy? (Ref.) Why not harness the breaking power of vehicles through gadgets in the road at off ramps?

We asked him whether he had any Silicon Valley investors/entrepreneurs contacting him about this stuff. Here is his response:

"I do have some associates in that region, and some of them have indicated links with Silicon Valley investors or entrepreneurs. I wouldn't say the connection is strong, though. Wouldn't mind seeing that change, especially as our New Energy Congress (.org) takes off, and we begin churning out recommendations of promising technologies deserving of funding."

If you're interested, here's his daily newsletter.

Meanwhile, DFJ has finished raising $110M for its clean-tech fund, DFJ Element, part of which will be invested from a Silicon Valley office. DFJ Element may raise even more money, but point is that $110M is ready to invest, according to VentureWire.


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Comments

I'm certainly not in a position to say yeah or nay on BLP, but as far as Black Light Power goes and the statement "As in any boom, there are a lot of fanciful ideas emerging" ... I first ran across BLP references on the net in 1997. "Emerging" doesn't exactly seem to apply to them.

I think Alta Vista was my engine of choice way back then.

Mel on January 4, 2006 10:05 AM
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I have had direct exposure to the company.

This is truly remarkable stuff. I am not a scientist, but the promise here seems truly revolutionary. Blacklight has been around a long time. This is not a fly-by-night, momemtum-riding start-up. Dr. Mills is doing it the right way, meticulously trying to prove the science before jumping headlong into applications. They have had (and are currently having) independent tests performed by domestic and international agencies and companies. And $50 million for new science (not new software, hardware, or a network - but good, old-fashioned science) seems like too much investment (from good investors) to be cast as the "a fool and his money are soon parted" category (Enron memories aside).

WRT the academic dissention over their discovery: this is tough because it's basically telling very smart people that what they have learned, known, and taught is no longer true. A difficult pill to swallow for anyone, I would imagine. So it is hard to discern natural bias from rational assessment here. I suppose this is the case no matter what status-quo disrupter you're dealing with.

BOTTOM LINE: Do your own homework before passing judgement. I can't say for sure Blacklight has figured out what they say they have, but if they have...
It will fundamentally - and this is NOT hypebole - change the way the world produces and consumes energy.

HISTORICAL FOOTNOTE: The Wright Brothers were summarily dismissed by the US government and most academic experts of their day.
This quote sums it all up - from THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, by Fred C. Kelly:
"When a man of the profound scientific wisdom of Simon Newcomb (for example) had demonstrated with unassailable logic why man couldn't fly, why should the public be fooled by silly stories about two obscure bicycle repairmen who hadn't even been to college. Professor Newcomb was so distinguished an astronomer that he was the only American since Benjamin Franklin to be made an associate of the Institute of France. It was widely assumed that what he didn't know about the laws of physics simply wasn't in books. And that when he said that flying couldn't be done, there was no need to inquire any further."

Dan on January 4, 2006 10:08 AM
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I call shenanigans.

50M$ to prove to something to the scientific community when they have a new and viable energy source?

Why not prove the dissenters of the world wrong by making power and putting it into the grid? Because they can't make it work.

Edward Miller on January 4, 2006 12:43 PM
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Why would 150 investors, including NASA and the US Navy, devote millions of dollars over 15 years without basic proof of his claims? Why is it so hard to believe that a theory is proven wrong? Why should someone who has a technology that would change every facet of life irresponsibly invite every Tom, Dick and Harry scientist?

This guy has the money and interest of business gurus for 15 years and has specific scientists and agencies testing his findings. The lack of patience and lack of Non Disclosure Agreements can kill any invention. I'm sure the good doctor would want to be sure that "hydrinos" don't give rats cancer before sticking it into our future products.

I don't know what this guy has, but neither does anyone else. So, following the principles on an open mind, I will wait for the proof.

Has anyone really read the Super String Theory all the way through??? I mean really, should I believe in multi-demensional squiggles lasping through reality or some guy figured out a way to get an electron to dip into it's protons orbit? Occam's Razor gets duller than a bowling ball with the Super String Theory!

Cheers to the Wright brothers and Sikorsky and thank goodness for that little key that stopped Ben from getting fried. Now, I'm going to take care of this headache of mine with a couple of leeches!

PS If you ever get dupped and feel angry and stupid, just remember the longest and most useful scam to ever be invented by the human mind, religion. It's the most unproven widely used concept on Earth. What's a little solid ground theory to that one?

Seb on January 4, 2006 3:47 PM
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If you guys are ready and willing to allow dr. Mills a reasonable doubt, maybe your open-mindedness is enough to consider also the works of the Correas and Aspden. www.massfree.com
Mills is not the only one to say that today's physics is basically flawed: and what if these are the only guys out there to know it right? The ridiculous multi-billion quest for the Higgs' boson which persistently fails to show up, should concern taxpayers about how their money is wasted along sci-fi modern physics...

Diego on January 5, 2006 12:17 AM
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Why go that far (into religion etc.), we all believe in things without concrete proof all the time. Take advertizing for example. Can any businessperson can say with certainty exactly what is the real, concrete impact of their advertizing? Not really. It works on faith and an unexamined belief that as much as I bombard you with advertizement, you are also a willing conniver in this laser-tag-like choreographed mass behavior. In my opinion, this bet on Blacklight is not so bad. I'd say more power to Blacklight guys and go find it!

SimplyTired

SimplyTired on January 5, 2006 9:19 AM
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I really don't care about whether or not it shatters the world of science. Here's my question: does it work? As long as the black box puts out electrical power at a certain voltage, amperage, and frequency, that's all that matters. Make a million of the black boxes that put out power, and let people buy them.

jhpace1 on January 5, 2006 9:36 PM
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^Exactly! We should just worry about if it works, whether than if know HOW it works. Just bring these out, we can refine the theories later.

Sigma on January 5, 2006 9:54 PM
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Mill's findings are consistent with the fact that the universal space fabric is filled with the zero point radiation energy. That the hydrogen atom can go to lower energy states should surprise noone in light of this well-proven scientific FACT.

Furthermore, Mills has produced hydrinos and hydrino compounds for examination and testing. You can even see vials containing such materials on his website.

Erin on January 6, 2006 9:57 PM
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All in my humble opinion as a scientist:

1. It's total scientific nonsense
2. It's got all the characteristics of a huge scam
3. It relies on the scientific ignorance of gullible investors.
4. If you've got any money invested, pull it out now
5. If you've lost any money, sue.
6. The principal will end up in the loony bin, but he will have a bunch of your money with him.


Please get it listed on the Nasdaq ASAP so I can short the hell out of it.

Paul Dent on January 9, 2006 11:30 AM
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The questions all should be asking is:

1. Why should we believe this?

2. Why should we NOT believe this?

Regarding the first, there's really nothing except for Dr. Mills assurances. It works because he says it works.

Regarding the second, a number of physicists have read over Dr. Mills' papers. They say his theory is fundamentably flawed from the get-go. It does not constitute valid physics, and Dr. Mills has not been able to get his papers published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Now given these two facts, what do we make of it? I say only a hopeless, and dare I say naive, optimist would give this idea much chance of working. I have no particular reason to trust Dr. Mills, while I have considerable reason to trust the physics community. Physicists are not perfect, but they're damn good at what they do, and true revolutions in science are very rare beasts.


Rabbit on January 20, 2006 12:39 PM
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It is utter nonsense, and they probably know it, so that would make it a deliberate fraud.

Any investor from the Govt. e.g. Nasa or the DoD who was so stupid as to believe in this should be immediately fired. Scientific illiterates should not be in charge of doling out our tax dollars.

These guys should be in jail. The problem is that it is hard in the legal system to prove that something will never work and that the perpetrators knew it all along. This why the OTCBB is so riddled with penny stock scams.

Paul on February 20, 2006 11:33 AM
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I've been following Blacklight's progress for a few years. It is notable that they are proceeding cautiouly, notching up paper after paper in mainstream physics and chemistry journals that show that their plasmas have intersting properties. This might just be the fuel source we need now, or yesterday: before some damn fools go off and build more petential Czernobyl reactors. I only wish teh deadline for the Blacklight heater didn't keep slipping int o the future. Will the $50 million finally bring one of the applications to fruition?

Dolphin on February 27, 2006 6:10 AM
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I think some of scientist types are missing the whole point. It looks to me like Blacklight has discovered some sort of behavior that simply can't be explained by 'normal' science. They are trying to develop a theory that explains the new behavior, and that doesn't seem quite as bizzare as some of theories that are actually accepted as correct (see string theory post earlier).

I hardly think this is the first time a theory was developed from the results of experimentation, that couldn't be explained by currently accepted theories... Actually, isn't that how things usually work?

That being said, I think Mills may be on a personal mission to prove a lot of people wrong, instead of trying to help humankind in general. They should be developing working units, and leave the theory stuff for later. Not to mention, it is a lot harder for a skeptic to call you a kook, when they are watching the 'impossible' in action right in front of their eyes, and have no better explaination themselves.

gdr on March 8, 2006 4:50 PM
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I've followed a number of such, um, situations, such as:

Xogen
Genesis
Dennis Lee

I even researched and wrote an article on the first. After a while you just get
tired of these scams - they're all the same. The only thing inventive about them
are the arguments that the desperate use tojustify their belief in the impossible.

It's disappointing that the authors fell for such a tired old ruse.
All in the name, I suppose, of being "open minded".

Rumblin'rabbit on March 26, 2006 5:27 PM
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Pure and simple--Junk Science.

Some statements in this thread bother me and have enticed me to comment, though my better judgement reminds me that I hadn't ought.

In Mel's HISTORICAL FOOTNOTE, to compare this "science" to that of the Wright Brothers is a very poor analogy. At that time, there were plenty of examples in nature, and some earlier glider experiments, to bolster the hypothesis that something the size of a man could sustain flight. From there, it was just a matter of engineering ingenuity. Comparison to String Theory might have a bit more merit, but none of its originators are claiming that there is any experimental evidence of it's validity, nor are they marketing its tenants as a way to solve the world's energy problems. If you put forward due diligence in comprehending the many critiques of Dr. Mills' hypothesis, you'll come to understand that his mathematics are based on flawed use of developed equations.

I am continually baffled by the consistency of my fellow humans to want to believe they can attain "something for nothing." I guess that's why the lottery is so popular? This also wreaks of the incomprehensible attraction of our species to forces beyond intellectual comprehension (dare I agree with the religion analogy put forward by Mr. Miller, above?)

You can "free think" all you want, but I'm with Erin on this one. I can't imagine that this company could ever get listed on any stock exchange, but if it does, I'm shorting the "H," "E," "Double Matchsticks" out of it! Though I would stand to benefit immensely, please don't allow yourselves to fuel my IRA.

Xprmntl on March 30, 2006 9:24 AM
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I am appalled at the temerity of a lowly MD to disturb all these esteemed Physicists as they kneel in front of their particle accelerators and say their Latin chants.

Bryon on May 19, 2006 12:41 PM
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I have followed Blacklight Power for several years as have others in these posts. If he were a true scam artist, I doubt he would be working with NASA, DOD and/or other institutions, rather wouldn't he be simply trying to "sell" his new technology to the general (uneducated) public, ala Dennis Lee, etc? Let's give this guy a chance to get to the finish line. If his tech works, the human race will be the better for it (except for our towelheaded brothers, perhaps). If it doesn't, he has exposed himself to rather severe penalties given who has invested in his company. Time will tell.

Bruce on July 11, 2006 12:36 PM
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A man once came upto Einstein and told him that a book was coming out called "100 Scientists Prove Einstein Wrong" Einstein simply smiled and said "My dear fellow. It only Takes One"

My point is that science has always shifted on the pivot of one man.. be it Einstein, Newton, or Galileo.

I'm not saying what he says is true.. I'm saying that just because it goes agenst the scince mainstream is not reason enauf to discount it. just reason to question it!

Desman on July 26, 2006 1:54 AM
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