Finally someone published a book about the Paul Brown saga—a chapter of our energy scene’s cautionary history. The author, Florida businessman Philip H. Talbert, advocates a resurrection of Brown’s previously-stifled technologies such as “photo-remediation” of nuclear waste and associated battery-sized generators of electricity.
The Half-Life of a Nuclear Battery by Philip Talbert is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Paul Brown as “a true genius whose life was cut far too short of his goal in his relentless quest to make clean, cheap, safe and abundant energy available for all mankind.” At one point Talbert was CEO of a small company which gives itself credit for discovering Brown’s genius.
Talbert says he wrote the book to tell people about how powerful interest groups, with vast resources to spend, use government agencies as tools for stifling or snuffing out potential competition. Talbert hoped to show how those interest groups discredit and suppress development of important alternate energy technology. So far, these interest groups have effectively safeguarded their stranglehold positions in both the economic and political arenas, he says. As a businessman he also realized that the book could warn other would-be energy entrepreneurs and inventors about what not to do—the minefields to avoid.
Talbert looks back at a 1988 meeting at the Office of Naval Technology (ONT) in Arlington, Virginia. He believes that his own spontaneous words at that meeting were “the primary catalyst to the long siege of various government intervention activities” added onto other interference that his company’s project with Brown had already experienced.
Paul Brown had by then invented the resonant nuclear battery, and he and Talbert were in Arlington to discuss it and a proposal submitted on their behalf by a Naval Air Development Center. If successful, the proposal would have meant more than a million dollars of funding toward a resonant nuclear power supply for a type of airborne sensors.
In the large meeting room at ONT, technical discussions with enthusiastic scientists and engineers, in uniform or civilian clothes, had been going for about an hour when Talbert noticed a bearded gentleman come in and take a seat in the back of the room. The room became quiet when that man asked his one question—what would the Navy get out of it if the Navy funded preliminary development of this power supply? Talbert replied to him that the Navy would get exclusivity for its use in Airborne Sona Buoys and related applications.
That was not good enough, Talbert recalls. The gruff gentleman said the Navy wanted full exclusive rights for all military applications.
Looking back at that moment, Talbert figures that he and Brown were probably a bit too cocky for their own good, having recently entered into an agreement with Atomic Energy of Canada (AEC) to use its facilities for jointly developing the nuclear battery technology. An AEC subsidiary was the largest producer of industrial and medical radio-isotopes in the world.
However, his response at the meeting was also influenced by a warning a few months earlier from General Daniel O. Graham, former military advisor to President Ronald Reagan and known as the father of the Strategic Defense Initiative program. Surprisingly, the patriotic highly-decorated general had cautioned Brown and Talbert, “Whatever you do, don’t let the military get control of this technology.”
Talbert’s reply to the bearded man, therefore, was that in no way would the company give those exclusive rights for only $1.2 million. Further, “we’re about to start full-scale development with the Canadian government, thank you. So we can just come back to see you after the technology is fully developed and discuss purchase orders with the Navy at that time.”
Suddenly the building’s fire alarm went off and everyone was ordered down eight flights of stairs. It turned out to be a false alarm, but the meeting was over. In the evacuation confusion, Brown and Talbert later realized, the Navy ended up with proprietary documents that the inventor and business partner had not intended for them to keep.
Talbert found it strange that neither he nor Brown saw the mysterious bearded man exit the building. The meeting was to be rescheduled but that never happened.
After describing that crucial meeting, the biography explores various obstacles thrown in Brown’s path—problems with the Idaho State Securities department, the tax department, radiation control agents; time- and money-wasting promises followed by stalling and stonewalling from other agencies; a negative article in Forbes magazine; devastation of their company caused by a slick con man; and a false charge of drug manufacturing.
The book chronicles the false-charge incident. Brown was a skilled race car driver as well as a scientist. He had ordered a chemical from Eastman Kodak for a personal experiment involving his race car. As do most inventors, he had laboratory workspace for experiments at his home as well as at work. Talbert says Kodak should have known that Idaho was one of four states requiring a special permit for receiving that particular chemical, but Brown had received no warning. As soon as the shipment arrived, the government’s regulatory agency employees burst into his home in the middle of the next night. The house, cars and personal belongings were seized and an $8 million tax lien was filed against Brown. After the family suffered further outrages in the following months, a jury voted, 11 to 1, to acquit Paul Brown.
For some reason the prosecution was going to re-try this case. Talbert talked to trial attorneys and was told that no district attorney takes a case to trial a second time if the hung jury was a vote of 11 to 1. Later one of the prosecutors confided to Brown’s lawyer that the prosecutor’s office was being pressured to do so by an un-named federal agency. Talbert, however, had a friend, prominent in the legal field, who finally convinced the prosecution to dismiss the case and the tax lien.
With their previous company having been wrecked by a corporate raider, Talbert and Brown were less often in contact during the last part of Brown’s life. Brown never gave up on his invention for converting the decay of isotopes—materials taken from nuclear wastes—directly to electrical energy without going through a heat process such as making steam for a boiler, or any other thermal cycle.
At the age of 43, Paul Brown was killed in a late-night street race in Idaho in 2002. Talbert relies on secondhand reports when writing about that tragic event.
Why am I telling you about this book? The main reason is that this story—about what can happen to a small company—ends with hope of another life for Brown’s transmutation technology and hope for freedom from what Talbert calls fossil fuel masters who enslave the people.
Talbert concludes that “Safe, cheap, clean and abundant energy does exist. We just haven’t been given access to it... We just have to hope and pray that it can not only be ‘rediscovered,’ but allowed to be fully developed in the near future with minimum interference from the various special interests groups and, more importantly, from our own government.”
A Personal Perspective
When I read Talbert’s biography of the inventor Paul M. Brown, memories surfaced.
The first time I met Brown, in 1987 at a magnet factory in southern California, he seemed on the road to financial success—a well-dressed, handsome 29-year old man who was research director for a company in Portland and had already made a name for himself in Non-Conventional Energy Technology (NCET). For instance, at a NCET conference several years previously he’d presented on Advanced Variable Reluctance Alternators for Efficient Power Production and then he went on to further experiments that were ground-breaking. He turned his attention to converting the natural decay of radioactive material directly into electricity without boilers and turbines. His method could have been a better way to deal with the nuclear waste problem—transmute it into safer substances instead of burying the waste, and get power out of the process.
Brown and his wife Jackie looked like they were headed into an American dream life. Instead, Talbert’s book reminded me of the nightmare aspect their lives took on a few years after that California meeting.
In my archived documents related to the work of Paul Brown I found a gracious letter thanking me for a 1991 letter of support during Brown’s “time of crisis.” I dug further; a slightly earlier letter from him “to those who know me or my work” reminded me why I’d written a character reference.
Brown had said, “I am being wrongly accused of heinous acts and I must prove my innocence in a court of law. These past few months have been a terrible burden on my family, friends and even the company. The next 30 years of my life are at stake because I have been accused of drug manufacturing.”
He had been falsely accused and was forced to defend his character and even the technology he worked hard to advance. At that time he’d already been active in new energy research for at least 15 years and had publicly presented his findings related to magnetic energy, electro-gravitics, resonant nuclear generators, and his findings about pioneering inventions of Alfred Hubbard and T. Henry Moray.
Later, he told me that during the so-called legal search even the ceiling and walls in his Boise, Idaho house had been torn apart. He had been jailed and released, lost his house and his wife was assaulted—all within a year. Then his mother’s car was pipe-bombed.
What was that about? His life had been going well beforehand. He had presented his discoveries to meetings abroad and to the prestigious Intersociety Energy Conversion Engineering Conference. His company was making waves in financial circles; Fortune magazine had said his venture was on the rise. The company was proudly offering the world a wastebasket-sized battery that used spent nuclear-plant waste; the battery was said to be able to produce enough electrical energy to power five homes at less than half the current rate per kilowatt-hour.
At this point, I’ll note my personal prejudices. Although Brown’s nuclear battery was revolutionary yet based on accepted but overlooked science, I admit to having a knee-jerk aversion to anything that could be misconstrued as a go-ahead to the nuclear fission industry’s production of dangerous wastes. In my view, the radiation burns on Paul’s hands were mute testimony to the destructive-to-life materials that he experimented with.
I’m more interested in his earlier work with magnetic and electrostatic motors and generators. Part of the genius of Paul Brown was his ability to look outside the confines of mainstream scientific thinking, and to run experiments that actually tested non-conventional theories. He understood how magnetic fields could do work and why that doesn’t violate the physics law that says energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Non-conventional magnetic generators don’t create energy; they convert a previously-unknown form of energy into a way to generate useful electric power. Regarding that form of energy, Paul said that, “Many researchers have independently come to the conclusion that a high-frequency dynamic aether exists.”
I wonder if the earlier work of the brilliant Paul Brown should be revisited too.
Update from Philip Talbert
[Editor’s Note: Jeane Manning’s review was written in 2010. Philip Talbert has provided the following current update about his development of Paul Brown’s work.]
It turns out that Jeane Manning’s closing statement was somewhat prophetic, as I am now heading up a company, Spin-Tronix, Inc. (STI), that is vigorously involved in the development of a patent pending Spintronic Generator (STG). The STG is based on “kinetic magnetism” that Paul Brown had experimented with when he was with our previous company back in the 1980s. The device Paul built was essentially a result of his extensive research of the earlier work of John Searl in the UK. Paul’s device, which was only about the size of a laptop computer, generated an enormous amount of electricity (almost a megawatt of power) before he was forced to short it to ground in an effort to stop the runaway condition, resulting in a fire.
Regrettably, at that time I had to discourage Paul from continuing further research on this technology since our company’s Board of Directors wanted him to focus his efforts on the development of the resonant nuclear battery that he had invented. Moreover, since we were a public company with our stock traded on NASDAQ and the Pacific Stock Exchange, I was rather concerned about possible controversial publicity that might ensue relative to the “anti-gravity” anomalies that had been reported involving the Searl technology that of course Paul was most interested in.
I became involved with this technology again in early 2012 at the request of an investment group that had invested in a company formed by Fernando Morris with John Searl (Searl Magnetics, Inc.) that was attempting to redevelop Searl’s SEG. They asked me to serve as Chairman-CEO of STI, a newly formed holding company, and to re-structure the company that also included acquiring the rights to develop and license Searl’s technology. We subsequently learned however, that Searl had already signed over such rights to D.I.S.C. Inc. in 1995, but we were finally able to negotiate the legal assignment of these rights to STI from D.I.S.C and Searl.
After several months, it had become quite clear that advanced age and serious heath issues had taken their toll on John Searl. Moreover, his business partner Fernando Morris had blown through well over $600,000 with no material progress toward development of the SEG. Also, he had been engaging in felonious activities that could have resulted in serious problems for STI and its ability to raise adequate financing down the line. Accordingly, in early 2014 the shareholders of STI voted unanimously to rescind all agreements with Searl and Morris, but STI retained all of its rights to the Searl technology acquired from D.I.S.C. We had also come to the conclusion there seemed to be a definitive pattern, based on Searl’s previous business relationships, that perhaps answers the question as to why his SEG has never been redeveloped in more than 50 years from the time Searl purported to have first built it!
Fortunately, I had been able to locate a large portion of Paul’s notes and related information relative to the kinetic magnetic device he had built back in 1986. Accordingly, we have raised additional funding and are now in the process of concentrating our efforts on developing the STG utilizing certain nano materials and techniques that have only recently become available to us. This research and development is going forward under the direction of Bruce Parsons, Ph.D., a very capable and brilliant engineer, with prototyping well under way for this important technology.