Last Saturday, a small company in Ireland began getting some attention for promising the world free energy. Free! Can you imagine? The social, economic, and political ramifications are huge. Not to mention the scientific ones. For hundreds, thousands, of years people have lived by the law that energy is not free – it takes energy to create energy. Proving that this truth is actually false shakes up countless of theories long accepted as fact. So, who are these brilliant scientists and where is that proof?
Steorn. And they came out of nowhere. This huge, momentous, and guaranteed nobel prize winning discovery, was created by a former e-commerce and security firm that happened to stumble upon the technology while working on something completely unrelated. However, they say, when working on monitoring a new system they discovered that there was a net increase of energy when everything they (and the world) believed told them there should be a net loss. And, instead of tying this groundbreaking technology up in the world of academia, they wanted to make it public and to challenge scientists to prove that their technology works.
It sounds crazy and, whether or not this is true, it is.
It also sounds, based on the activity at Unfiction and the number of tips in our inbox, like the perfect premise for an Alternate Reality Game or a Hoax. Our ARG radar (ARGdar?) has been bouncing back and forth on this one and the debates in chat and on the forums have been great. So, let’s go through what we know.
Last Thursday, August 17, an advertisement for the company’s challenge appeared in The Economist. You can view the a pdf of the ad on their website. It’s a simple ad done in a bright green with white text, most of which is devoted to the George Bernard Shaw quote used frequently throughout their website, “All great truths begin as blasphemies”. It goes on to explain that they have developed the technology to create free energy and that they are seeking a jury of 12 scientists, the most qualified and the most cynical, to test the technology and report the finding to the world.
Of course, several media outlets picked up on this. Though most of the well respected mainstream press ignored the story – perhaps their hoax alerts were ringing just a bit too loudly – a number of websites and smaller outlets reported on it including Team Xbox. Players everywhere began asking why a website covering the popular game console would cover just such a thing. And, could it have anything to do with Halo3 or the Xbox as both have used viral marketing and, after the success of I Love Bees could this be… ILB2 (OMG NO WAI!)?
This caused folks to take a deeper look at the website and logo. The logo, Xbox fans are quick to point out, is a spiral that’s rather reminiscent of their favorite gaming device. The website, hopeful ARGers point out, looks like it was done by creative individuals and not scientists and with the email notification front and center and the polls and the forums making the site far more interactive than a stuffy business site or one that is attempting to be taken seriously in the scientific community.
From there people began to dig into the company and the claim that they were making. A patent was filed several years ago – so clearly, if this is an ARG or a Hoax, it’s been in the works for a long time. The company, itself, is a registered business and has been for years. In the early days it was an e-commerce firm, from there they went into other business solutions, and finally, into security before the website went down for a redesign and remained that way for many months until it reemerged in its present state. And, while the company had owned .com, .net, and .org throughout that time, they had always used .com until this recent revival. A fairly detailed analysis of the company history based on web archives can be found on this UnFiction post.
While there is no aspect of play, no puzzles to solve, and no mystery to work through, it is just so outrageous and slickly produced that people can’t help but hope that it is a game. Surely nobody would go this far for a hoax. And, surely it’s not real. But, the company is real, the people are real, the patent application is real, the phone numbers and addresses are real. Could it be that this is, in fact, real? Could their free energy be in our not-so-distant future? Could the guys behind the company and the independent scientists that have looked at (yet not come out publicly… odd) the technology and claim it works just be missing something?