The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

30 May 2007

Zero Point Energy

A new technology to address global warming. Is it science fact or fiction?

The recent IPCC Report on Climate Change states that avoiding a global cataclysm by 2050 will require a drastic reduction in the use of fossil fuels no later than 2015. This could come about by lifestyle changes by the billions in the rich world, the emerging world and the poor world. Or it could come through governmental and international regulation. Or it could happen through a technological advance which would make the burning of fossil fuels no longer necessary.

This article is about one such new technology. It has been submitted by Mark Goldes, CEO of Magnetic Power Inc (MPI), a company which is trying to harness magnetic technologies for generating energy.

Take a look at the idea, explore it further on the internet. Wikipedia is skeptical. But type “Zero Point energy” into and “Zero Point” into, and read what comes up. See what you think.

There are very few realistic steps that can be taken rapidly enough that will substantially reduce the need for coal, oil and other carbon producing fuels in a mere eight years. Most conventional renewable alternatives (solar, wind, waves, fuel-cells) cannot possibly meet the challenge fast enough. Biofuel may be an exception, but will have an impact on the world’s food supply. Nuclear plants take ten years to begin operation.

Radical new energy conversion systems might be the missing ingredient. One could be magnetic energy conversion. Constructed using either rotary or solid-state electronic components, it could produce power indefinitely, without the need for fuel or recharge.

Up until now, this magnetic energy has never been utilized in any practical way, although it may have first been tapped in 1874 by Wesley Gary, a Pennsylvania inventor. A Harper’s article describing his patented device can be found on the internet. A magnetic generator without moving parts was demonstrated by Hans Coler in Germany in 1926. By 1937, an example large enough to power a house (or recharge submarine batteries) resulted in support being given by Hitler’s navy. The Allies bombed the laboratory late in World War II. In 1946, a British Intelligence report (now available on the web) indicated that the achievement was genuine.

This previously unutilized source of power might prove to be what scientists label Zero Point Energy (ZPE). Richard Feynman, a winner of the Nobel Prize, and John Wheeler, a protégé of Einstein, calculated there was sufficient ZPE in the volume of a seemingly empty coffee cup to evaporate Earth’s oceans. Physicist Harold Puthoff has stated that employing ZPE to power the entire planet would be like dipping a thimble into the sea. The March 1st 2004 issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology had an article headlining the fact that ZPE is no longer science fiction. The US Department of Defense is supporting ZPE research and development. BAE Systems is seeking to develop ZPE to power Mach 4 fighter aircraft and high-speed passenger planes.

If this can be made to work, it will open the door to products that will operate with no need for fuel or any plug into the grid. Batteries will become obsolete. Variations of these generators can be made as small as AA cells and large enough to power electric automobiles.

MPI’s Magnetic Power Modules™ can be connected together to produce large amounts of power, in a similar manner to solar panels. Preliminary data suggests a 1 kilowatt package may be about 5” x 8” x 12”. These modules could be linked to create generators for homes. Generation of utility grade power could eventually be installed at the point of use without the need for transmission lines.

The technology is being explored around the world. It is approaching pre-manufacturing stage. Mass production may not be far off. [Mark Goldes]

Magnetic Power Inc:

28 May 2007

Speak out at Speakers Corner

Speakers Corner in Hyde Park in central London has been a place of assembly and speech-making since the middle of the 19th Century. The Chartists, the Reform League, the May Day demonstrators and the Suffragettes all held many of their greatest battles for human rights at Speakers Corner. Tens of millions have assembled here to speak out and to listen.

Speakers Corner has become an emblem of the right to speak out freely in a democracy. There are now “Speakers Corners” in other parks in London, and also in Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Singapore, and Trinidad & Tobago. The USA does not have any permanently designated speakers corners but has instead adopted free speech zones, though these relate more to where activities such as picketing and pamphleteering are allowed, rather than speech itself.

The Speakers' Corner Charter
Heiko Khoo, a regular speaker at Speakers Corner since 1986, has created a Charter which he wishes to see adopted. This reads as follows:

We defend the Act of Parliament of 1872 which established Speakers Corner as a place for Free Speech.
1. We believe that the Right to Free Speech is threatened by the use of the Speakers Corner area for Pop Concerts and Fun Fair facilities, particularly on Sundays, which are designed to raise revenue to replace huge cuts in Government Grants to the Royal Parks.
2. We oppose the use of plain clothes police officers with hidden video and recording devices to monitor speakers and members of the public (from The Times, June 10, 1995).
3. We support the proposal to establish a covered area of Speakers Corner to allow Free Speech in adverse weather conditions.
4. We support the provision of cheap refreshment at Speakers Corner, and demand a minimum wage of £5.00 an hour for all workers in Hyde Park.
5. We demand the removal of all the fences encircling Speakers Corner in the interests of Public Safety.
6. We demand a Democracy Wall at Speakers' Corner where the public can post their views.
7. We support the establishment of a free Internet Broadcasting Centre in the vicinity of Speakers Corner, open to the general public where everyone may broadcast their views.
8. Speakers Corner is not a plot of Real Estate to squeeze a profit out of…
9. We demand that Hyde Park be taken into public ownership without compensation and management be placed under democratic control.

Find out more about Speakers Corner at: and'_Corner

Write it up on a Democracy Wall
During the winter of 1978-79, thousands of people in Beijing put up written complaints and protests about the ills of China on a stretch of blank wall on Chang'an Avenue, to the west of the former Forbidden City. This became known as "Democracy Wall".

Wei Jingsheng, an activist in the Democracy Wall events, called for democracy to become China's "Fifth Modernization" as a precondition for other aspects of modernization: "The leaders of our nation must be informed that we want to take our destiny into our own hands. We want no more gods or emperors. No more saviours of any kind. We want to be masters of our own country, not modernized tools for the expansionist ambitions of dictators... Democracy, freedom and happiness are the only goals of modernization. Without this fifth modernization, the four others are nothing more than a new-fangled lie."

In October 1979, Wei Jingsheng was convicted of publishing counter-revolutionary statements and leaking secret information to foreign reporters. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Released on parole in September 1993, Wei was forbidden to take part in political activities for three years and told not to publish articles overseas. He ignored this and was arrested in March 1994 and sentenced in December 1995 to 14 years imprisonment. In November 1997, Wei was released and flown to the United States, where he received medical treatment. He is now at Columbia University in New York.

 On 16th January 1980, Deng Xiaoping demanded cancellation of the constitutional right to hang wall posters and stated that the four great freedoms of "speaking out freely, airing views fully, holding great debates, and writing big character posters.... have never played a positive role in China." 

Do something
Exercise your right to free speech. Say what you think.

1. Speak out. Go to Speakers Corner and speak out… on human rights, climate change, the state of the nation, corruption in government, or whatever it is that is bugging you. You will find an audience willing to listen to you, as well as a fair number of hecklers, interrupters and crazies. Prepare what you want to say, then say it. Speak up so that people can hear you. Convince them with your passion that something needs doing, and suggest to them what they can do.

2. Put it up in words. Create a Democracy Wall. This method of allowing the public to present a point of view is now being used more widely… in schools to test out the opinions of young people and in communities so that people can express what they like and dislike. Create your own Democracy Wall, and invite people to express their opinions (even if you disagree with them).

Conker the world

The Horse Chestnut (Aesculus Hippocastanum) was first introduced to Britain from the Balkans in the late 16th century. It is a popular ornamental tree in parks, gardens, town and village squares, churchyards and streets. The tree flowers abundantly from April to mid-May and the “candles” (which are white or red) seem to light up the tree.

The “horse” connection is twofold: (1) Horse Chestnuts were fed to horses in the East as a stimulant and to make their coat shine. (2) The leaf-scars on the twigs have the shape of a horseshoe, including the nail holes.

The fruits of the tree resemble those of the Chestnut tree. They develop in prickly cases, which ripen in September and October. In the late 18th century, the fruits began to be used to play "conkers" – before that, hazelnuts or cobnuts or snail shells were used. 

There are about 470,000 horse chestnut trees in Britain. But the numbers will dwindle if local authorities have their way. Conkers and conker playing are now seen as dangerous in our risk-averse society. Conkers have been banned from school playgrounds. Local councils have been pollarding, chopping down or not replacing horse chestnut trees. This is because children may throw sticks to knock the conkers down near a busy road, or simply because they are afraid that a conker will drop on somebody’s head and they will be sued for damages.

Building a reputation through conkers
Most towns and cities want to be seen as distinctive and special; some even want to achieve greatness. Ashton in Northamptonshire has done both through conkers, and it all happened largely by accident.

The village green in Ashton is surrounded by chestnut trees. In 1965, a group of friends at the local pub found themselves unable to go on a fishing expedition due to the bad weather. So someone suggested that they play conkers instead. A small prize was offered to the winner, and money was collected for a blind charity as one of the group had a blind relative. This became the starting point for the World Conker Championships, which has become an an international event. The championships are held annually and each year more and more entrants participate and more and more money is raised for the Royal National Institute for the Blind to pay for Talking Books.

Entrants come from all over the world. In 1976 the title went overseas for the first time – to a Mexican. In 1998 there were nearly 50 overseas players, and the Men's champion was Helmut Kern from Germany. In 2000 the Ladies’ champion was Austria’s Selma Becker.

The success of the championships has led to publicity, sponsorship and celebrity involvement. The event now includes craft stalls and entertainment. To date, around £310,000 has been raised.

Things to do
1. Write to your local council telling them not just to retain horse chestnut trees, but to plant more. They are beautiful trees in any neighbourhood, and they provide people with a lot of pleasure.

2. Look out for diseased horse chestnut trees. They are vulnerable to two diseases, the impact of which is being increased by climate change (warmer winters and wetter springs). The diseases are: “Bleeding Canker”, a virulent fungal disease which affects the trunk and then the tree as a whole, where the symptoms include oozing pus and cancerous growths; and the Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner, a leaf moth from Macedonia which damages the leaves. Check out these websites:

3. This Autumn, start playing conkers. Go to Ashton and participate in the World Conker Championships. Why not? It could be a lot of fun, and you might even win. Then think about what you could do to make your town or neighbourhood great – just like the residents of Ashton have done.

4. Read “England in Particular” by Sue Clifford and Angela King. Horse chestnuts and conker playing are just one of the aspects of English life featured in this encyclopaedia. Also visit the Common Ground website. Common Ground supports local diversity across the UK: and

Players’ Rules of Engagement for the Noble Game of Conkers at the
Ashton Conker Club World Conker Championships:
1. All Conkers and Laces are supplied by Ashton Conker Club. Laces must not be knotted further or tampered with.
2. The game will commence with a toss of a coin, the winner of the toss may elect to strike or receive.
3. A distance of no less than 8" or 20cm of lace must be between knuckle and nut.
4. Each player then takes three alternate strikes at the opponent’s conker.
5. Each attempted strike must be clearly aimed at the nut, no deliberate miss hits.
6. The game will be decided once one of the conkers is smashed.
7. A small piece of nut or skin remaining shall be judged out, it must be enough to mount an attack.
8. If both nuts smash at the same time then the match shall be replayed.
9. Any nut being knocked from the lace but not smashing may be re threaded and the game continued.
10. A player causing a knotting of the laces (a snag) will be noted, three snags will lead to disqualification.

If a game lasts for more than five minutes then play will halt and the "5 minute rule" will come into effect. Each player will be allowed up to nine further strikes at their opponents nut, again alternating three strikes each. If neither conker has been smashed at the end of the nine strikes then the player who strikes the nut the most times during this period will be judged the winner.