In 2006, a previously unknown Irish technology company by the name of Steorn created headlines globally when it took out a full-page ad in The Economist, in which it claimed to have made the scientific breakthrough of this – or any other – century: perpetual motion, nothing less than a complete and immediate solution to the global energy crisis.
The investment money poured in, with some of Ireland’s most respected entrepreneurs and institutions getting on board, but the demonstration was a spectacular failure. So how did so many well-meaning and otherwise sensible people get things so desperately, absurdly wrong? The story begins with a malfunctioning CCTV system and ends with an exploding battery, and it drives home Ireland’s frenzied state of mind during the Celtic Tiger years.
Barry J. Whyte is an award-winning journalist and author. He is currently Chief Features Writer for the Business Post.