skip to Main Content

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 attract.

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. Such an instrument is the Turbo-Thermo-Encabulator Max.

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!


Note:  In case you didn’t realize it already, this is an April Fools’ Day article.


Related Articles

A New Way to Cool Your Attic – Powered Attic Mini-Split Heat Pumps

RESNET Enters into Strategic Alliance with Int’l Jugglers Association

US Green Building Council to Require All-Glass LEED Homes


NOTE: Comments are moderated. Your comment will not appear below until approved.

This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. Another example of Dr. Bailes
    Another example of Dr. Bailes digging into the most dangerous areas of scientific research. It’s almost like an annual event.

    Let’s consider the consequences of achieving polarized heat. With the positherms offsetting the negatherms the world could well become entirely adiabatic. (Note that neutratherms are pretty much useless other than at political debates. Which could mean that they may not actually exist.)

    In an adiabatic world many of the things we take for granted would cease to be. Perhaps most importantly, we would lose, shall we say, physical affection. Without the concept of heat transfer it all goes away. Can you imagine two women discussing that “super neutral” guy?

    Think carefully about this Dr. Bailes. Is this the world you want us to have?

  2. Aw man! OK for the first
    Aw man! OK for the first several paragraphs you had me going, then I remembered what day it was. Very well done I admit! PROBLEM IS, now more than a few HVAC companies – and at least one HERS Rater I know of – who will be using this article to support their contention that you should build the cheapest home that code allows and then use Geothermal to condition it BECAUSE YOU CAN GET TAX CREDITS!!! Dang it. I’m hearing this (and seeing this) more and more and it’s really frustrating!

  3. Since everything I thought I
    Since everything I thought I knew is turned upside down, I’m going back to bed in hopes tomorrow my brain cells have better polarization.

  4. I got WAY too far into this
    I got WAY too far into this article before it dawned on me that today was April 1…..
    Well played!

  5. Same here. It was the
    Same here. It was the “Painters knew that insulated houses were bad way back in the early 20th century.” sentence that clues me in finally. Funny funny!

  6. Mike MacFarland already got
    Mike MacFarland already got me today, yet it still took me a while to figure it out, Tesla did so much wild stuff. Well played, sir, well played.

    By the way, did you know they removed the word gullible from the dictionary?

  7. The moment I saw mention of
    The moment I saw mention of girdlesprings, I knew that this was an adaptation of a weight reduction product, and therefore, by definition, would have a minimum 97% failure rate. But hey, they keep selling don’t they? 😛

  8. Yeah well, considering that
    Yeah well, considering that Dutch Boy Paint was a subsidiary of National Lead Company, yeah, they might well have wanted leaky houses!

  9. Dang, Bill! You should have
    Dang, Bill! You should have written the article. (And I can’t believe I missed the opportunity to use the word “adiabatic.”)

  10. That’s what I love to hear
    That’s what I love to hear this time of year. Last year one of my readers said she almost spit out her coffee while she was reading about powered attic mini-splits.

  11. Armando, that won’t work.
    Armando, that won’t work. Brain cells don’t have such a simple polarity scheme. They’re more like quarks, characterized by a number of properties like up, down, strange, charm, top, and bottom. Don’t they teach that in architecture school?

  12. That’s what I love to hear,
    That’s what I love to hear, Jake! I guess I did it right.

  13. Hmmm. There’s actually a lot
    Hmmm. There’s actually a lot of truth behind that statement. I guess you didn’t follow the link to read the full story of painters and insulated houses?

  14. Thanks, Nate. That’s the
    Thanks, Nate. That’s the ultimate compliment when I write my AFD articles.

  15. So you’re not defining
    So you’re not defining success by sales then?

  16. I am confused, I thought
    I am confused, I thought Thermo dynamics was relatively simple, and I could understand it (I am not alone) is your story correct, or is this just an April Cools day story?

  17. Nice one Allison. Larry Z.
    Nice one Allison. Larry Z. sent this and it took me a few paragraphs then it was “aha the flux capacitor” I should have known.

  18. Yes, but have you reserved
    Yes, but have you reserved your Model 3? That car looks amazing!!!

  19. Negatherms, Nate Adams will
    Negatherms, Nate Adams will be rolling over with his Negawatts!

  20. No, I haven’t. It does look
    No, I haven’t. It does look amazing but I just bought a new-to-me car (2013 model), so I’m set for a while. I like to buy a car and keep it 5 or more years after it’s paid off.

    I HATE YOU, I HATE YOU, I HATE YOU, I HATE YOU ALLISON!!! I didn’t know until I got to the comment section. YOU CREEP…

  22. You must be talking about the
    You must be talking about the Turbo-Thermo-Encabulator Max.

  23. Thank you, Barbara! There’s
    Thank you, Barbara! There’s no higher praise than that for my April Fools’ article.

  24. I couldn’t have done as good
    I couldn’t have done as good a job, but I appreciate having something that good to work with 🙂
    I am surprised you missed adiabatic. When I saw neutratherms I figured it was coming.

Comments are closed.

Back To Top