Anthony Watts recently performed an experiment in an attempt to show that one can get free energy by putting a hot object in front a mirror.
This was in an attempt to defend the theory of the greenhouse effect. It was a noble and valient attempt I must say, and I'm glad he shared it with us. But it was an attempt that was ultimately doomed to failure.
First of all, due to the way the experiment was performed the temperature data stops at 480 seconds. This is because the mirror is placed in between the IR temperature reader and the light bulb.
For the period from 480 seconds to 990 seconds only the start and end temperatures are known. The data in between is drawn as a straight line. But was it really that way?
I'm not sure why the experiment was not done with the mirror placed behind rather than in front of the bulb, such that we could see the data from the 480s to 990s mark.
Perhaps the mirror could have been placed under the light? The bulb might not get as hot as 19F more.
Rather than a steady gradient, the actual temperature during this period may have been more logarithmic in shape, like the first warming phase data was:
Did the missing data actually look more like this?
By saying that the mirror really is providing tangible new energy to the system, one is saying that energy can be produced for free. Yet, clearly, from fundamental thermodynamic principles, this isn't true.
Such a small temperature increase could be explained by the blocking action of convection of the air removing heat from the bulb.
The light bulb is only about an inch away from the mirror. The warming observed was a modest 19F. The smallness of the gap could explain the increase in temperature of the lamp globe.
A real test would be: not to use a flat mirror, but to use a concave, spherical one, to really multiply the heating due to Anthony's EMR mirror effect.
Stage 0 warming: bulb with no mirror. No additional warming due to the mirror effect.
Stage 1 warming: one flat mirror. Warming = 19F (11C)
With stage 1 warming one can see how a lot of EMR is lost due to the flat geometry of the mirror.
What you really need is stage 2 warming from a cureved mirror that concentrates all of that reflected back-warming, back-energy, or backradiation -- call it what you will -- to the bulb.
Stage 2 warming: supercharged warming by spherical EMR reflection. Warming = 160F+?!
Given that a concave shaped surface will constrict air convection even further than a flat one would, I recommend using the curved mirror at least 2 feet away from the lamp globe.
This will allow for plenty of air flow, while the spherical shape takes care of any loss, in EMR energy terms, due to the increased distance of the mirror from the globe.
Now instead of just one flat surface of warming reflection, there's like ten, maybe twenty times the surface area of warming light being reflected back to the globe by the mirror.
Does the concave mirror supercharge the effect? The answer of course is no: there is no further warming by increasing the area of light reflected back to the lamp from the concave mirror, just as there is no increase from the flat one.
I will wager to all comers that in the case where the parabolic mirror is 2 feet away from the lamp, the lamp will be cooler than when a flat mirror is held 1 inch away from it, the latter situation being demonstrated in the Watts experiment.
Does a flashlight get warmer with or without the reflective backing? The greenhouse effect theory, and apparently some of the commenters on that WUWT thread, say a flash light with a reflective backing will get hotter. Yet how can that be?
You can redirect energy as EMR with a mirror. But you can't create energy, and that's what the greenhouse effect is all about.
If the greenhouse theory, and Anthony's experimental conclusions as a result of his experiment were correct, it would allow for crazy mechanisms, such as the following free energy oven:
An oldie but a goody. Photo via Hockey Schtick
Anthony is a motivated blogger and all round champion for the truth, and WattsUpWithThat is a great website. I also applaud him for raising a subject that he disagrees with: namely atmospheric greenhouse effect denial, and to try to share with us his understanding of a subject that can be hard to define even by the so-called experts.
But like so many of my favourite websites (Jo Nova and Andrew Bolt also come to mind) it has its taboo or no-go topics, and greenhouse effect denial is one of them.
Update 1, 29/5/2013: As a result of this experiment the government will now mandate that mirrors be installed in all homes in cool climates as an energy saving measure.
Government tests could not confirm the energy-boosting effect, however the government said it would proceed with it anyway because they had friends in the mirror industry who would benefit financially.
They said full advantage must be taken of this era of widespread belief in the greenhouse effect, because one day people would wake up and stop believing in getting energy for free from it.