Blog Post

4 Clean Energy Lessons Bob Metcalfe Learned From the Internet

Bob Metcalfe, the father of Ethernet and founder of 3Com (s COMS), has been mining the “rich vein” of Internet history to inform the next generation of energy technology — or “enertech” (energy technology), as he likes to call it. In an article in Scientific American this month, Metcalfe, who now heads up energy investments for Polaris Venture Partners, outlines these four lessons for keeping energy innovation on track:

1) Don’t stick to hard-and-fast categories: The divide between telecommunications and computing — voice and data — has blurred as communications networks have merged to provide both. It’s a blurring, Metcalfe says, that should be kept in mind when it comes to energy definitions like “feed,” “food” and “fuel” — just look at corn ethanol.

2) Obey the laws: Metcalfe created Metcalfe’s Law, which calculates the value of the network effect on computing; the future of clean power generation will be distributed and networked as well, he says. The development of the Internet also revealed that users’ desire for bandwidth is insatiable and building the Internet was not about conserving bandwidth, he says. Likewise consumers will have an unending desire for energy and the energy crisis will not be solved through conservation.

3) Watch out, Washington: Cleantech is going to Washington, prompting Metcalfe to warn that the people running it can “be dangerous and downright mean.” And pay attention to what you’re asking for, he says.

4) What scale can really mean: As the Internet was being created, it was often said that technologies that couldn’t “scale” and serve everyone were not viable, says Metcalfe. But often that just meant that incumbent technologies took precedence over new, cutting-edge ones. That could easily happen for clean power, too.

13 Responses to “4 Clean Energy Lessons Bob Metcalfe Learned From the Internet”

  1. Penny Gruber

    doc3osh, you are apparently not familiar with Goldes’ Speak, otherwise known as double talk or rubbish. Even as Goldes’ has admitted that the transformer device in the patent application does not work, and has admitted that his company has no samples that work, he still claims that one ( yes one ) device was waaay over unity. It’s just that it broke right before they were going to submit it to independent test. They couldn’t be bothered to fix it or build a replacement. Instead they went onto something “much simpler” for some two years.

    That new thing which is nothing more than a shunt regulator in other clothes they liken to the invention of the transistor. Oh, but a terrible thing happened! Just as it was to go to independent test, they discovered that it would be “much more difficult” to commercialize than they thought. Oh, but gosh they’ve discovered something else that is “much simpler” they’re going after now. And by gosh with those meager funds that have always limited them, they’re expanding into ambient heat generators ( Maxwell demons ).

    25 years of time has told. The final chapter will be the same as the first: Outlandish claims, no evidence, and no results. Magnetic Power Inc is a something for nothing scam.

    • sylvie chen

      Penny: You sound like a disgruntled investor using a pseudonym to bang MPI whenever you can. Claims of OU power from non-standard sources continue unabated, some from bogus scam artists, others from scientists making premature, but in good faith, experimental claims.

      I suspect that MPI falls in the latter category and Golde’s efforts reflect his optimism rather than his character. If you are going to bash his character, stop being a coward hiding in a clown’s outfit. Spite is not a form of energy but a form of mental disease.

      And for those who read blogs such as this one, I leave you with a recent article about “magnetricity”, a term that has lived for many years since Tesla’s time and ridiculed by most physicists electrical engineers, even me as bogus.

      Well, it has now been validated.

      The experiment, reported in Nature, was led by Steven Bramwell of the London Centre for Nanotechnology in the UK. Bramwell was a member of a team, led by Tom Fennell of the Laue-Langevin Institute in Grenoble, that reported neutron results in September.

      Nature Journal (link)

      Article (link)

      Penny or whomever (he/she) you are, “chill baby”.

  2. Penny, you are technically right (except if they are telling you they don’t have what they claim… they must not be claiming it, right?) :)
    They actually have a new CEO and some new engineers working with them over the past few months, and the final chapter of their story has not yet been written, I believe. Of course, until they submit something for independent verification, they need to be viewed with skepticism, but those of us who have been following them think that there is still good reason to believe that verification may happen soon. Time will tell…

  3. Penny Gruber

    Brad, MPI doesn’t have what they claim. Their CEO admits that patent application you reference does not work, and that they have no working samples of the device it supposedly partially describes. Despite claiming for years that they have over unity devices they have yet to even submit one to test, much less obtain confirmation of their claims.

  4. Im sorry not to be able to offer you this collection also in English, but for your readers which can read German the ‘Book of Synergy’ could be the biggest chronological and structured online-presentation of all new energy devices.

    Start with a scroll down of the items of part C to get a quick idea about the range and deepness of the presented material:

    Achmed Khammas
    Treskowallee 124
    D 10318 Berlin
    [email protected]

  5. I would like to announce the arrival of a clean, cheap, abundant, and portable form of energy production that will make burning fossil fuel obsolete.

    The German physicist Heinrich Freidrich Lenz stated in 1833 the direction of an electromagnetically-induced current (generated by moving a magnet near a wire or by moving a wire in a magnetic field) will be such as to oppose the motion producing it.

    Today, most of our electricity is produced by “electromagnetic induction,” where a magnet is moved in and out of a coil of wire in a closed circuit.

    In other words, we now have to power the motion of either the magnet or the wire to produce electricity.
    Instead, wind a solenoidal coil around a magnet, and apply electricity. The magnetic field is amplified, and the magnetic gradient can be exploited to yield more electricity than was used powering the solenoidal coil.

    In other words, we avoid having to power the motion of either the magnet or the wire, and can instead have a solid state power generator.

    It has been reported that previous attempts to commercially exploit this simple principle failed. Not because such solid state power generators failed to produce a net gain in electricity production, but because the source of the net gain in electricity couldn’t be explained.

    A private California company called Magnetic Power Inc ( ) exceeded breakeven (i.e. produced more electricity than it used) with a prototype in late 2004. Here is an abstract of their patent application:

    US Patent Application Publication No. US 2006/0163971 A1

    Solid State Electric Generator

    A solid-state electrical generator includes at least one permanent magnet, magnetically coupled to a ferromagnetic core provided with at least one hole penetrating its volume; the hole(s) and magnet(s) being placed such that the hole(s) penetrating the ferromagnetic core’s volume intercept flux from the permanent magnet(s) coupled into the ferromagnetic core. A first wire coil is wound around the ferromagnetic core for the purpose of moving the coupled permanent magnet flux within the ferromagnetic core. A second wire is routed through the hole(s) penetrating the volume of the ferromagnetic core, for the purpose of intercepting this moving magnetic flux, thereby inducing an output electromotive force along wire(s) passing through the hole(s) in the ferromagnetic core. The mechanical action of an electrical generator is thereby synthesized without use of moving parts.

    I strongly suggest you listen to the first 15 minutes of the radio interview with Chairman Goldes posted on the MPI website. Soon burning fossil fuel for energy will be obsolete, and replaced with a clean, cheap, abundant, and portable form of energy production.

    Brad Arnold
    3033 Monterey Av
    St Louis Park, MN 55416
    [email protected]