The Misleading "Science" Behind Heat and Insulation
Conventional thinking says putting insulation in a building prevents heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. This comes from the 19th century physicists who invented the laws of thermodynamics. The second law of thermodynamics in particular gives us the impression that insulation can be a good thing. It says, in simplified terms, that heat flows from warmer areas to cooler areas. But it's always good to question conventional thinking, so I've been looking into the history of heat.
What do we really know about heat?
I began my study a few years ago after I first wrote about Alex Wilson's article on the global warming potential of insulation. As you probably know, I came out strongly against his conclusions. I'll leave those arguments aside here, but suffice it to say my beef with that article led me to question the whole drive for insulation. So I hit the books.
I began with my undergraduate thermodynamics books and from there went through a review of graduate statistical mechanics, including the classic work by Cal Tech professor David Goodstein, States of Matter. I read the various formulations of the second law, including, of course, those by Carnot, Clausius, and Kelvin. But somehow there seemed to be something missing.
One day while I was reading about the new Tesla Model 3, it occurred to me that Nicola Tesla also did some work in the area of heat. I looked up everything I could find of his online, but the important stuff seemed always to be tantalizingly out of reach. In some of his works mentioned on the Web, especially those by the ridiculous "free energy" fanatics, there were references to papers he had written on a new theory of heat, but the actual papers weren't online. So I headed down to the library at Georgia Tech.
It was there I discovered what may well be his most revolutionary scientific idea. He published a paper in the Physical Review in 1905 (the same year Einstein published his three groundbreaking papers!) titled On the Polarity of Thermal Energy. I made a photocopy of the paper and studied it intensely. As the title suggests, the most important part of the paper was his discovery that heat could be polarized. In fact, as with atoms, heat exists in three states: positive, negative, and neutral. The diagram below is from his paper.
Tesla even had names for the three types of heat: positherms, negatherms, and neutratherms. As with electricity, he found like thermal charges repel each other and opposites attact.
It was such a different take on heat that I wasn't sure I could trust my own mind (not a new feeling for me), so I asked other scientists to look at it. I showed it to Professor John Straube and Dr. Joe Lstiburek as well as a number of physicists I know. None could find any flaws in paper. Several have undertaken experiments in their labs, and the preliminary results all support Tesla's hypothesis (although some of the uncertainties are a bit high).
The consequences of polarized heat for the insulation industry
The radical nature of Tesla's theory ensures resistance from the insulation industry. Their whole raison d'etre, after all, is resistance. Beyond that, however, once we harness the power of polarized heat, insulation becomes unnecessary. At that point, all the insulation in the world makes the impact of global warming worse. How could it not? It takes energy to make it, to ship it, to install it, to reinstall it, to uninstall it, and to dispose of it. Painters knew that insulated houses were bad way back in the early 20th century. Now this information is about to go mainstream.
Think of the possibilities. New homes don't need insulation. We know that insulation is rarely installed properly anyway, and R-value doesn't mean a whole lot because it changes with temperature, density, and a host of other factors.
No, all we need is a structure that allows us to polarize the heat on both sides and ensure that we get the same polarity on both sides. Because of the different sizes of the subatomic thermal particles, it turns out to be easier to polarize to negatherms in the air on either side of a wall, floor, or ceiling. Once you do that, the negative heat inside the house on a cold winter night will never go through that wall because it has an intense dislike for the negatherms on the outside.
Naturally, generating negatherms requires mechanical systems so this is a job for the HVAC industry. And as everyone knows, HVAC companies do much better work than insulation companies. In fact, we already have something that can accomplish this task.
Why the second law of thermodynamics is incomplete
Physicist Ludwig Boltzmann is one of the 19th century scientists who gave us our current understanding of heat, thermodynamics, and statistical mechanics. But did you know he committed suicide? It's true. Look it up. Paul Ehrenfest continued that same line of study, and he, too, committed suicide. What isn't so well known is the actual reasons behind their suicides.
They had worked for decades to build upon the work of Rumford, Joule, and Kelvin. They created an elaborate set of postulates and axioms to shore up their laws of thermodynamics. Once word of Tesla's theory of polarized heat got out, they cracked. They suddenly became aware of the critical nature of heat that they had missed, and that was more than they could handle.
As it turns out, the conventional understanding of the second law of thermodynamics is to the full theory of heat what Newtonian gravity is to the general theory of relativity. It's a special case. It applies only to neutratherms, but when you incorporate positherms and negatherms, you open up a whole new world of knowledge and applications.
It's time to get serious about heat and take its triune nature into account. Once we do so, we'll solve global warming, reduce the costs (first and operating) of buildings, and create a lot of new jobs in the HVAC industry. Stay tuned. This story is just heating up!
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