The Gravity of the Situation

The amazing gravity-powered lamp design that won a 2nd-place Greener Gadgets Conference competition award for Virginia Tech grad Clay Moulton last month is too good to be true. Literally.

This is how Moulton’s Gravia Lamp is supposed to work: Weights totalling 10 lbs. move slowly down a narrow brass slide, activating a rotor. The rotor powers ten LED lights in the 4-ft.-high acrylic column, generating about as much light as a 40-watt bulb for up to four hours. The weights would have to be moved to the top of the slide at least once a day, but that’s a small price to pay for a cordless lamp that could last for an estimated 200 years.

Though public response was enthusiastic, Moulton likely would have hit a snag when he applied for a patent: As pointed out by Colin Watters on the Green Building forum, even with maximum efficiency (100%) LED lights, which don’t exist, the lamp would have to weigh 1.4 metric tons to function as intended. Like so-called free energy devices, the theoretical lamp simply generates more energy than what is being put into it.

Faced with these facts, Moulton admitted that his design was purely theoretical.

6 thoughts on “The Gravity of the Situation

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  1. While driving to vote yesterday, I heard this story reported on the radio, but I just can’t recall if it was Paul Harvey or some other reglar talk radio host. Anyway, the spin on the story was that soon these relatively cost effective devices could be coming to our homes very soon. Energy producing devices like this have been around for several centuries if not longer. Old timers call these “cuckoo” and “grandfather”. I have a flash light I take camping that can be shaken and it illuminates a very dim LED through a pop bottle lens. It is a very annoying flash light. While walking to the privy I have to periodically shake it making me look like a fool to other campers. Why didn’t they call it the “cuckoo light”. I found this cuckoo light for 25 cents at a yard sale. Now I know why the owner dispensed with it. Who’s cuckoo here? hehehe! I think I’ll patent a machine that captures falling rain drops to generate electricity. Then we could make the first rain powered execution device. Place the cuckoo flash-light inventor in it and wait for rain?

  2. My dad has a similar flashlight that’s powered by the user’s hand movements…but instead of shaking it, you squeeze a handle that spins a flywheel, so you don’t look like an overgrown baby with a rattle, and can keep pointing it in the same direction while you’re charging.These art student kids need to talk to engineers more. I can’t believe this designer is still trying to make himself sound like a genius when he’s been shown that the “concept” is useless for all practical purposes.

  3. Quix, I have one of the magneto driven flashlights that has a crank. 15 seconds of cranking will be more than enough to get you to the outhouse and back. 😉

  4. Heh heh, I have a “cuckoo flashlight” too. I thought it would be nice to go camping without having to bring batteries, but I found that standing in the pitch-darkness shaking a flashlight, annoying elk and bears and other campers within a mile radius, isn’t really any better.The Gravita Lamp is, indeed, modeled on the grandfather clock. Only grandfather clocks work, and that thing doesn’t. Are we really evolving as a species? Sometimes I wonder…It seems the inventor is trying to save face by insisting that his lamp design could work someday…in a perfect world, or on a different planet. I’m thinking he might’ve wasted thousands in tuition.

  5. Ah, I forgot about that! The next time we go camping, Richard will probably hide it from me so that he won’t have to rattle the cuckoo one. ;D

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