Blacklight Power, Dark Matter and Alternative Science

Sometime Ya Gotta Believe

I’m just not sure it’s this time.

Derek Lowe has been on the case of one Blacklight Power Inc., who make this claim.

BlackLight Power, Inc. is the inventor of a new primary energy source with applications to heating, distributed power generation, central power generation, and motive power. It is based on a new chemical process of releasing the latent energy of the hydrogen atom, the BlackLight Process.

Now according to Lowe, “Their founder, Randell Mills, has been telling people for years now that there is another energetic state of hydrogen, which he calls the “hydrino”, and that transitions to and from this state can be used to generate power.”

That’s interesting stuff – it would mean they’ve found a new source of energy based on a previously unknown state of the hydrogen atom that is a lower energy state than the lowest we know about. Transitions to this lower-energy state would provide energy essentially for free. That’s a nice price.

Of course people stated to think that there might be one or two problems with this

As an atomic physicist, I can tell you that

1) An electron bound to a hydrogen atom is exactly and analytically solvable. We know every bound state, and there is no state below the ground state.

2) Blacklight’s equations are nonsense and have nothing to do with the Schroedinger or Dirac equations describing an electron in a potential. It’s been a while since I looked, but their equations were really weird and bore no relation to anything in atomic physics.

3) The energy levels of an electron around a nucleus of charge Z go as E=(-1/2 Hartree)*(Z^2/n^2). The spectroscopic experiment where they purport to see a n=1/2 energy level (ie, an energy level lower than n=1, the ground state) is done in a discharge which included both hydrogen (Z=1) and helium (Z=2). The line they saw is the n=1 level of He+.

4) If there were an energy level of hydrogen which was 40.8 eV below the ground state, every hydrogen atom that we see should be in that state! Room temperature is about 1/40 eV, so the ratio of normal ground state atoms to hydrino atoms should be e^(40.8 eV/(1/40 eV))=e^(-1632), or ~10^-500.

In other words, those who know atomic physics know that Schroedinger’s equation describes what we observe in the hydrogen atom pretty darn well (like, perfectly, to the best of our ability to measure), and worse, doesn’t describe anything that we don’t observe about it, either. And worse yet, for Blacklight, anyway, if such a lower-energy state existed for hydrogen, it would tend to get there pretty quickly. Since most of the normal matter in our part of the universe (about 74%) is hydrogen, then we’d have seen some evidence of it by now. We haven’t.

To which Blacklight has responded “Oh – haven’t we?” And this is where it gets a little interesting.  One commenter, Mack, writes to say that Mills has stated that there is evidence for this stuff, hydrinos.

He claims it has – we just didn’t recognise [sic] what they were. He claims his theory predicts spectral lines from the corona from hydrino transitions that match observed lines and is the reason for the massive temperature difference in the corona.

Mills is pointing to one of the biggest mysteries in the solar system, the fact that the solar corona is much hotter than can be easily explained. This energy source, he speculates, is the transition of normal hydrogen to hydrino in the solar corona.

And as to why we haven’t seen this stuff directly (there’s a lot of hydrogen out there, after all), He also claims that hydrinos and the di-hydrino molecule fit the bill for “dark matter” since they don’t absorb and emit light like normal hydrogen.

Dark matter?  That’s the biggest “Holy Grail” in astrophysics right now.  Hummmm… a single theory that explains disparate phenomena is worth a second look.

But maybe not a third. This is a bit like Fleischmann and Pons all over again, with the atomic physicists saying that the physics is nonsense, but the chemistry looks interesting, and the chemists saying that the chemistry is bunk, but the physics is compelling.

Lowe knows how the stalemate is going to be decided.

… all Blacklight has to do to quiet the skeptics (many of whom are much more vitriolic than I am) is to throw that big switch at some point and have the kilowatts (or megawatts) come streaming out. That’ll do it, for sure, and the company assures everyone that this is their goal.

The final arbiter, like usual, will be nature.

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One Comment on “Blacklight Power, Dark Matter and Alternative Science”


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