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  An apology to Dr. Herbert Kroemer

There’s only one way to do this: offer an abject apology to Dr Herbert Kroemer, a Nobel Laureate, for having cited him as an enthusiastic supporter of young Aasis Vinayak’s ‘solution’ to the world’s energy problem. GoodNewsIndia’s story on that claim is now pasted below this note. It will remain there for a while so that widest attention can be drawn to this --what, else?-- scam.

Perhaps the greatest journalistic diligence was not exercised by GoodnewsIndia. Perhaps an excitement on behalf of India, overwhelmed skepticism. But an attempt was indeed made to check: a long phone call to 16 year old Vinayak and his Headmaster Mr John was made prior to publication. They both specifically confimed having received Dr Kroemer’s endorsement.

All this is not said to mollify Dr Kroemer’s understandable outrage. He writes: “All the preposterous claims Mr. Vinayak has made about alleged praise from me for his work, are total lies: I have never sent any email or any other communication to him. Nor did I have any communication with NASA on this matter. In fact, his ideas are a bad case of scientific nonsense, violating one of the most fundamental principles of physics, the Principle of Conservation of Energy, and demonstrating his lack of scientific understanding. If there were only the junk science aspect of the whole affair, it would be more amusing than disturbing. What IS disturbing is his blatant lying by claiming [non-existent] correspondence from me. Even to non-scientists, such lying should discredit the individual and all of his claims.”

And thereby hangs a shame brought on India by Aasis and his Headmaster. An added shame is that GoodNewsIndia ferried it—never mind that other more venerable papers have carried the story and have still not woken up to the scam. Maybe this rebuttal will alert them.

Yes, astonishing hypotheses do turn out to be true, but this idea did teeter even in the uneasy penumbra of science. Vinayak’s claims are however not being discussed here. They will run their logical course. The disgrace is in having picked on a Nobel Laureate and putting false words in his mouth.

Dr Kroemer, is sad on behalf of India, in addition to being angry with Aasis. He says: “Apart from the libelous insult to myself, I am saddened, as a friend of India and as an admirer of Indian science, about this sort of irresponsible newspaper reporting. India has a very large number of first-rate physicists, and the newspapers should first have contacted one or more of them before printing stories like that at face value, thereby misleading readers, and potentially damaging the first-rate international reputation of Indian science.”

GoodNewsIndia stands corrected and chastened. And apologises to Dr Kroemer—a true friend of India—on behalf of India itself. It is hoped that other publications will take note of this development and make amends.

As for for young Aasis, as the 63 year old publisher of GoodNewsIndia, I say, “from a small town the world out there may seem manageable. But to be truly noticed, there is no substitute for quality work.” I am afraid, I have no words for his head-master.


The regretted story follows

P G Aasis Vinayak is a 16 year old school boy and his invention is exciting many serious scientists. This despite the fact that his claims are astounding. If proved right, it will force us to rethink energy issues and rearrange all assumptions nations live by—and fight each other.

Aasis calls his invention VHS [Vinayak’s Hydral System]. It is quite startlingly this: using VHS you can pump 1000 litres of water to a height of 8 metres in 2 seconds using just 20 Joules. To accomplish the same task using our best existing motors, we would need 98,000 Joules. Hold that question: Aasis says, VHS is not some kind of perpetual motion machine nor does violate any universal principle of physics. He says, input to VHS includes unseen atmospheric and gravitational forces and that he has merely arranged for these to be marshalled.

As the idea is currently the subject of a global patent application, available details are skimpy. Aasis calls the central devise APWARD [for Air Pusher Water Driver]. It sits on a tower about one metre higher than the height to which water is to be pumped. The water source, discharge tank and APWARD are connected by some special piping and fittings. The entire arrangement is called VHS.  When power is fed to APWARD, VHS is induced to marshall forces of nature and accomplish the prodigious feat claimed for it. For those that trust their technical acumen, there’s an elementary schematic sketch at Aasis’s site.

Aasis has built a working model rated for 10 watts. It is said to have proved his claims and excited serious men. He sent his idea to the NASA, USA for an opinion and it had it studied by Dr Herbert Kroemer, a Nobel Laureate. Media reports quote him as writing to Aasis: “the principle behind [the innovation] can solve the present energy crisis. So you get even the Nobel Prize. So strive hard to make it succeed. The Nobel Prize is booked for you. Then, you will be the youngest person to be awarded a Nobel Prize.”

A small rosy reverie is not uncalled for. World energy needs will be reduced to a bare fraction of what they are today if VHS is realised. Oil fields will neither be coveted nor oil money drive religious extremism. And lambs will lie with lions and the world will slow down, giving environment a chance to restore itself. Well, don’t we all live for that perfect world. Let us believe Aasis will lead us to it.

For GoodNewsIndia a greater story than the invention itself is that India’s better self, is alive and well. First there’s the boy himself, the only child of two hard working teachers. And they live in a little heard of —but delightfully named— town called Pattanamthitta in Kerala. Next there is the headmaster Mr John, of Aasis’s SDA English Medium School, who didn’t mock the young man’s idea when he brought it up an year ago. Luckily, he teaches English and not physics or else he might have said the laws won’t allow it. A teacher encouraged him to build the first model.

When the model was ready, the media and the Kerala government arrived at Aasis’s doorstep. Our unstoppable President Kalam wrote to enquire and had the idea evaluated. The Prime Minister’s office sent a senior staffer to see what was needed. Finally the National Innovation Foundation came on-board to do all the hand holding necessary to take the idea forward.

Aasis is now at building a real life VHS which will be used to pump tail-race waters of a dam back to the source. If it works we won’t need any more dams; we would simply keep pumping a given quantum of water over and over again to generate all the power we need.

Over the phone speaking to GoodNewsIndia, Principal John calls Aasis, a very bright, humble, hard working boy. Aasis himself is soft spoken but full of confidence. They have had an over-fill of attention and offers —and there have also been security concerns because of the monetary potential of the idea.

Brief encouraging messages are welcome at either the school’s or Aasis’s addresses. But definitely no queries seeking more information, offers of assistance, business proposals or collaborations.

Aasis wants to left alone with his mystical invention.

Telephone interview