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No. 105: May-Jun 1996

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Real perpetual motion?

Physicist R.A. Webb and coworkers magnetically induce electrical currents in tiny gold rings at the University of Maryland. The ring temperatures are low but not in the superconducting range. Magnetic induction of electricity is of course perfectly allowable in physics. What is not theoretically permitted is for tiny currents to persist long after the magnetic field has been turned off. The currents are small, only 10-6 of an ampere; but, they are there, and they shouldn't be.

(Lipkin, Richard, and Travis, John; "Electric Currents That Merely Flow," Science News, 149:126, 1996)

Comment. If you conceive of electrical currents as mists of palpable electrons circulating around inside those gold rings, the situation does resemble perpetual motion. The referenced item is brief and not forthcoming on such mat ters. Do the currents eventually die out? Will any metal work? Does the phenomenon appear at room temperature?

From Science Frontiers #105, MAY-JUN 1996. 1996-2000 William R. Corliss