According to Wikipedia, the Karpen Pile is:

claimed by some to be a battery that has provided continuous energy for over 60 years, making the Karpen Pile either a supremely effective method of storing energy or a Perpetuum mobile.

Have there been any studies to research the claim that the Karpen Pile actually works as described by its inventor?

I know that the abstract concept may be thought to violate a series of principles of physics, but perhaps there's some validity to the claim, as it might harvest energy rather than only generate it.

  • 4
    This page provides an excerpt from the French patent, and a translation to English.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 12:57
  • i have three pages from karpen's book. anybody interested?
    – user6211
    Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 2:26

2 Answers 2


Welcome to Wikipedia in action.

If you go back to the older versions of the article, such as this one, you'll see that the operation of the device was explained as thermal siphoning. Then someone copied a press story into the article (complete with headline and subhead, notice). Someone else tried to tidy up the resultant mess. A third person copied another press story into the article wholesale. A fourth person tried to tidy that up. And thus we are where we are now, with an article that is the result of well-intentioned copy editors tidying up after plagiarists: one that is in large part lightly revised copies of uncritical news coverage rather than original and neutral encyclopaedic writing that presents known facts.

It's also worth observing that the article by Ovidiu Sandru, a partial copy of which forms much of Wikipedia's article right now, goes on to say, in the part not quoted in Wikipedia, that "[s]ome scientists say the device works by transforming thermal energy into mechanical work", but the museum director disagrees with them. Sandru very clearly sides with the museum director rather than the scientists.

The proper target for skepticism here is Wikipedia. You've got an article that has been built by a succession of plagiarists who cannot themselves write copying sensationalist snippets from news articles. Those snippets have usually been the first couple of paragraphs, which of course will contain the attention-grabbing speculative sensation rather than the boring old facts about what scientists who've looked at the thing say, that were buried 10 paragraphs in. As a result of this plagiarize-tidy-plagiarize-tidy cycle the article is biased towards sensation and speculation and low on the boring old facts of the matter.

Beware taking as factual encyclopaedia articles created by people who cannot write.

  • 2
    Indeed, the article barely even touches on WHAT the device actually is. This reminds me of the funeral I once went to where the woman's name was mentioned only ONCE the entire service.
    – horatio
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 15:58
  • Thanks for looking into it. I'm still unclear what's going on. "Thermal siphon" is just another word for convective heat transfer between heat reservoirs at different temperatures. I was just in Athens, and they're on top of every building. I couldn't figure out if the gadget is supposed to work all the time at one temperature, with no other energy input, like room light, or what. Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 16:20
  • If you read the references section of this paper you'll see some of Vasilescu-Karpen's papers on this subject (such as Piles à oxygène empruntant leur énergie au milieu ambiant.) cited, which should be fairly informative as to what Vasilescu-Karpen himself thought. Mainstream opinion on the WWW seems to be that this is just a long-lived battery being discharged very slowly.
    – JdeBP
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 16:37
  • what does xyr own mean?
    – Felipe
    Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 14:55
  • 1
    @FelipeAlmeida "xyr" is an invented non-gender-specific version of "his" or "her". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xyr . Few native English speakers would recognise it.
    – slim
    Commented Jun 5, 2013 at 16:58

This probably isn't a "proof" answer like you're asking in the question, but aside from the "we can't put it into an exposition because we can't afford security" line it sounds suspicious as hell -- not to mention similar to the Oxford Bell which has a number of similar characteristics and most definitely isn't an infinite energy source, merely a very efficient battery delivering a very small charge to keep something very simple running...

  • 1
    Had never heard of the Oxford Bell. Cool!
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 12:53
  • 1
    This isn't proof either, just evidence: If such a thing really worked, surely NASA engineers would know about it and be using it instead of letting some of their costly gadgets -such as the Mars Exploration Rovers- die from lack of energy.
    – Andy
    Commented Jun 20, 2011 at 18:29
  • The problem is that by claiming that 1) it can't be reproduced because they don't know what went in it and 2) they can't even put it on display because they don't have the money to protect it from thieves (hint hint), they make it impossible to conclusively disprove. It doesn't give the thing a single whit of actual credibility anywhere outside sensationalist reporting, though. Commented Jun 20, 2011 at 18:55

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