Sunday, July 8, 2007

My Best Answers

Jason Bradbury posted these questions earlier this morning. I've done my best at initial answers, but feel free to comment and give more detail where appropriate:

1. How long did the engineers have to build the Orbo demo?
According to Sean McCarthy, CEO of Steorn, he gave a team of engineers three days to build the demo out of clear Plexiglas. In his talk on Friday, Sean said that Steorn arrived in London on Sunday with three systems. It's unclear if the three days mentioned were before Sunday, or if they had three days to assemble existing systems between Sunday and Wednesday of last week.

2. Who are the engineers - are they Steorn employees.
They are either Steorn employees or contractors. Sean has stated that he has four PhD's under contract working for Steorn until the end of this year. It is unclear if the engineers Sean refers to are employees or contractors.

3. What is the position of this forum re Steorn - who set up this blog, when and why?
You can read my initial post back in March of this year to get a feel for why I setup this blog. Basically I was a forum lurker, and I figured I should turn my addiction into something of value for others. I attempt to document events that might be relevant to understanding what Steorn is all about.

4. What is Steorn's stated aim in the next, say, 7 days.
According to Sean, Steorn engineers are still working on the demo, but he doesn't want to put a deadline on when or if a demo will occur. Unfortunately we don't know what other things Steorn are up to at the moment. In the past, Sean has said there will be a Q2 Jury update, but based on the Q1 update who knows when or if that might actually take place.

5. What does this blog think about a company that manages information like a Labour press secretary :-)
If it were me, I'd do it differently. Assuming they have what they claim to have, being as tight lipped as possible seems like a reasonable approach. It's the other side of Steorn, their Web Forum, SPDC Club, Economist Ads, YouTube Videos, and most recently highly public demo failure that I don't really understand.

6. If you were to give a percentage on the overall feeling on this site as to the reality or fiction of Orbo - what would that be (i.e - about 70% of commenters believe Orbo won't work)
I'm a skeptic. Most commenters here are also skeptics or cynics. I'll give Steorn my original odds of 0.001% of having something. I'm guessing a lot of my readers give them lower odds then that.

7. What is the most damning piece of information that has surfaced in the last few days
In the last few days, clearly the management of the demo hints at best incompetent management, at worst some sort of fraud or scam. The excuses provided by Steorn don't seem to be realistic. In the past few months, there have been some loose ends. One of the biggest issues that Steorn hasn't addressed is the March 2007 investment of 8 million euros, after declaring that Steorn would take no more investment money after August 2006. Since August, the most damning piece of information is really the claim itself. Why make such a claim without providing any evidence?

8. What piece of information in the last few days makes you think we could be about to witness a working Free Energy Device?
Unfortunately all the information over the last few days has pointed in the opposite direction. Some members of the press were able to take photos of Sean holding a demo device, and Steorn did go through a lot of trouble setting up webcams, renting out the Kinetica Museum, printing t-shirts and making cute posters. While it's baffling to me that someone would go through all this trouble without actually having a working model of what they claimed, Steorn did it.

9. Who is Dr Mike - or at least - what's his relation to this blog and his credentials for being at the demo?
Was he sent by this blog? Does he run it?
How Dr. Mike ended up in London is an interesting story. Earlier this year, Steorn offered to have a skeptical forum member with a physics background come to Steorn, under NDA, and investigate their claims. This member of the forum would be able to report back to us on their opinion, without giving away any technical details about the device. The original volunteer had a falling out with Steorn, and Dr. Mike took his place as the forum representative. Dr. Mike frequently posts comments on this blog, and he is one of the central figures in this puzzle at the moment due to this special situation, so I frequently blog about him. For more details about Dr. Mike, see this post. Originally Dr. Mike was going to visit Steorn headquarters, but Steorn chose to have him attend the demo instead. Sean McCarthy stated that Dr. Mike would have a couple of days before the demo to do tests on the demo device, but unfortunately this didn't take place. We're all still waiting for Dr. Mike to return and give his opinion on the demo. He'll be returning Tuesday of next week.

.... (Aaargh - all so confusing and yet so interesting?!)
This whole ordeal has been both confusing and interesting. There is a part of me that hopes it's true. There is a part of me that knows it can't be. We're all just going along for the ride. The real truth hasn't been revealed yet, whether it involves a set of plans for a device that will change the world, or a few sets of handcuffs we just don't know. If it isn't real, we're not even quite sure what the whole point of it is.

Steorn has raised 14 million euros for this venture, you'd think if this were a scam, they would have been long gone by now. Instead they are creating a club and updating the public every now and then on a supposed Jury process, which no one can really be certain is happening. Pretty confusing and interesting. Thanks for your questions Jason.


Anonymous said...

"March 2007 investment of 8 million euros, after declaring that Steorn would take no more investment money after August 2006"

humm where is that information comming from? (Was it from a newspaper article?)

SteornTracker said...

The 8 million euro investment comes from paperwork that Steorn filed with the Irish goverment. You can see the summary of financial data here:

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

How many employees DOES Steorm have?

If he has to contract to bet Phd's and engineers then who does work for Steorn?

The Hobbit Hat video seemed to serve no purpose other then display what looked like a large office. However, the workshops seemed small, and the video itself seemed convienent, even had a soundtrack made. It all seemed like a setup. Do they actually own a large office complex. What other contracts, work are they doing these days?

Anonymous said...

This company lists the same physical address as Steorn. In a thread on Steorn about it, crank has a few comments.

I saw poster #4's comment about the Hobbit hat video. I watched it again.

Something clicked. Why does Steorn have so many offices for the staff? Are they all engineers working on Orbo? Or are they all working on Pre-Press assignments? Is the SPDC just a way to develop and e-publishing system?

Thicket said...

Steorn has about 20 employees. Yes, they have an office complex. According to Steorn, they are not doing anything other than free-energy development.

maryyugo said...

And not one of them knows how to operate a video camera unless it's to take a meaningless interview of Sean mouthing tangential platitudes against a leafy background.

Anonymous said...


Come on! They have 20 employees that are working only on this device for at least the last year and they couldn't pull off a demo. That dog don't hunt.

In the Hobbit Hat video it looked like everyone was working, what the hell are they working on. The video looked like a setup not the fun stress reliever that Steorn played it off to be.

How is anyone still buying this?

15-India-Street said...

About the Steorn staff.

In one of the interviews Sean once said most of the scientific and engineering staff was externally hired. They 'outsourced' the knowledge part of the company and only the marketing, finance and legal activities were performed from the Dublin office.

This made me realize that probably there just isn't any scientific and engineering at all. They just have a contracter with a workshop that can make toys and test-rig look-alikes.

Jason Bradbury said...

Thanks very much for this post and answers.



maryyugo said...

Hmmm... I tried to post the link to the spreadsheet on Rupert Goodwin's blog but it was deleted. I also emailed the link to him using zdnet's internal email system but as yet no response. I wonder what's up with that.

Finally, I reviewed the interview with Sean in which he promises not to accept investors until the technology is proven. That's the Youtube video here. That's dated September 13, 2006 and is now an obvious lie unless the spreadsheet is. I wonder which is more likely to be false?

Once more, why doesn't Rupert Goodwin print this?

In any case, that video is well worth rehearing in the light of the recent failed demonstration. I wonder if and when Sean will bluster like that again.

maryyugo said...

My apologies to Rupert and crew. I received a very nice explanation of why the post was deleted-- it was because I called Sean a liar in it. I modified the post to what I hope will be acceptable to ZDNet and reposted the item with additional links. They're doing a fine job over there. Again sorry about jumping the gun-- their refusal to post was entirely justified.

The item on Rupert's blog is here.

I am grateful for the reasonably moderated but uncensored blogs such as this one, Rupert's and fizzx. You certainly can't write the truth on Steorn's for very long.

Now we wait for Dr. Mike's report... and probably some others... hopefully with images and videos.