Ought the following two questions be deemed to be identical for the purposes of Skeptics?

Did Tesla say that one could get or transmit energy through thin air

Are there technologies that provide unlimited free energy?

I wrote the prior, with specific reference to how it is distinguished from the latter, and it seems unfair and incorrect to deem it to be a duplicate of the latter because my question refers specifically to a theory by Tesla about the ability to create energy from something (air) whereas the latter is a vague question about creating energy from nothing - i.e. violating the laws of thermodynamics. The questions, analysis and answers are entirely different.

Thanks for reading.

  • You're not providing any specific way of harnessing the energy out of air. At the moment it is too vague to be answered correctly, without more information the question will lead to endless speculation. If you provide more detail on how exactly Tesla thought you could do that it would make the question viable. Additionally, the phrasing "create energy out of thin air" is extremely misleading.
    – Mad Scientist Mod
    Apr 14, 2011 at 13:18
  • In addition, you might want to ask Physics and not Skeptics, if your question is about evaluating a physical theory.
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 14, 2011 at 13:39
  • @Fabian, Sklivvz: Thanks -- I agree that this question is better suited for Physics (and I should include the theory :o)) Apr 16, 2011 at 23:32

4 Answers 4


I think it’s neither vague nor unspecific (nor, for that matter, a duplicate). There certainly is an answer (or several possible answers) along the lines that Tesla was thinking.

But it’s off topic: this is a physics question.

  • That was actually my point three, but it sounded like too much...
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 15, 2011 at 10:22

We currently extract energy from thin air, by putting turbines where they will catch the wind (and the windmill has been one of the standard images of the Netherlands for a long time). That's clearly not getting energy from nowhere. Therefore, the questions are different.

I'd me much more comfortable with "not a real question", although it is possible to find online references to what Tesla was thinking.

I'm not quite sure how to formulate a question that would work here. "Would this particular idea of Tesla's work?" doesn't seem suited to Skeptics, although it could be an excellent question on another site.

  • The "closed as duplicate" was due to two things: 1. flags by users; 2. the question reads very similar to the other and has the same correct answer.
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 14, 2011 at 19:33
  • 1
    @Sklivvz: No, it doesn't have the same correct answer. "Can you create energy out of nowhere?" has the answer "No." "Create energy from thin air" can be accomplished in at least one way (wind power), and possibly more than that (Tesla's plan to use electrostatic potential, not that that looks at all practical to me). Apr 14, 2011 at 19:56
  • 2
    Nope. See here. Out of thin air means out of nowhere basically. Not out of known sources. Can energy be extracted from wind/currents? Yes. Can energy be extracted from the Earth's EM field? Certainly. Out of thin air? No.
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 14, 2011 at 20:13
  • @Sklivvz: The wording is bad, but the question was definitely about Tesla's plans to extract energy from the air. Apr 14, 2011 at 20:57
  • Maybe it refers to this patent? It's the closest match I can find. In such case, even Tesla himself does not claim to extract energy out of air, but out of cosmic radiation, so the question is NARQ. And in any case it would belong on Physics...
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 14, 2011 at 21:06
  1. "Create energy out of thin air" in English means "out of nowhere", in which case the closure as duplicate is appropriate. The title is at least misleading.

  2. Maybe it's to be intended literally, but I can't find any reference to Tesla actually claiming that. The closest thing I can find is the 1901 patent "Apparatus for the Utilization of Radiant Energy", which, as the title implies, clearly states that energy would be extracted out of cosmic radiation. So there is no claim to extract energy out of air, and the question still has an incorrect title and - as Lennart suggested - it is not a real question.

In any case - there was no attempt from Brian to actually clarify what claim he was referring to, so we may never know what he really meant. :-)


If it's not a duplicate then it's "not a real question". It's to vague and unspecific.

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