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His eldest, Robert Jr., has a water well drilling business, his daughter Raeleen is a massage therapist. And his younger son, Randell, recently bought a 53,000-square-foot space satellite manufacturing plant near Princeton, New Jersey, from Lockheed Martin. He then stocked it with millions of dollars of high-tech gear. Here the younger Mills plans to overturn quantum theory as it's been understood for decades.
Randell Mills, a Harvard-trained medical doctor who also studied biotechnology and electric engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says he's found the Holy Grail of physics: a unified theory of everything. A central part of Mills's theory explains the basis of the traditional, and paradoxical, "duality" concept of the electron as both a particle and a wave with a model where electrons are charges that travel as two-dimensional disks and wrap around nuclei like fluctuating soap bubbles. He calls them "orbitspheres."
Mills says that with this new understanding he's produced clean and limitless energy and an entirely new class of materials and plasma that will reshape every industry in the coming decade. Mills also claims breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, cosmology, medicine, and perhaps even a form of gravitational jujitsu.
"I've made the electron real," the 42-year-old Mills says. "It's a revolution very fitting to the 21st century, in a chain of revolutions man has had with fire, steel, fossil fuels, and Maxwell's description of electromagnetism. This is grandiose stuff, and when I say it, it delivers a beating from critics. But on the other hand it's fun."
Though the topics he broaches could be coming from a B-movie mad scientist, Mills's cadences are more often like those of a motivational speaker. He moves his six-foot-five frame with athletic ease and drives a BMW sports car. He and his wife, an investment banker, have two young sons and another child due in March.
His company, BlackLight Power Inc., formed in 1991, expects to receive in January patents on the energy and chemicals, which Mills says derive from "shrinking" the hydrogen atom's orbitsphere. BlackLight Power, with a research staff of 25, will submit its findings to premier scholarly journals by that time, he adds.
Despite howls from the scientific establishment that Mills is a relic of the "cold fusion" trend quashed a decade ago, BlackLight Power Inc. has raised more than $25 million from about 150 investors. While that's hardly a huge sum in this Internet-crazed era, it's coming from serious money and energy people. Prominent among them are multibillion-dollar electric utilities PacifiCorp, based in Oregon, and Conectiv, which serves Mid-Atlantic states. RS Funds, Eastbourne Capital Management, and executives retired from the top echelon of Morgan Stanley have also put in millions. With Mills holding on to controlling shares, BlackLight Power now is turning away private investors.
"I'm impressed with how Randy's gone about this," a retired Morgan Stanley executive says, "with experiments to test the theory at every step. And the potential payoff is almost unimaginable."
Conectiv senior vice president David Blake concurs: "We're past the scientific verification stage. The talk now is about commercial applications," perhaps within seven years, he says. Blake sits on the BlackLight Power board of directors.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. is considering a public offering of BlackLight Power stock in 2000. The investment bank says that the two chief needs that will trigger an IPO are a licensing agreement with a "household name company" and more substantial academic validation of its technologies. BlackLight Power is in discussions with DaimlerChrysler, and three major corporations are already examining materials it has produced, say Mills and company executives.
In the next year, Mills promises, the revolution will be "hydrinoized."
In one of BlackLight Power's cavernous laboratories sits the prototype energy-and chemical-producing cell that is the heart of Mills's ambitions. Mills explains that in this contraption, resembling a souped-up home furnace, water is electrically then catalytically broken down into atoms of oxygen and hydrogen. Potassium atoms are introduced as a gas into the very low-pressure hydrogen gas waiting inside the cell. Under specific conditions, the potassium acts as a catalyst to collapse hydrogen's electron orbit. The energy once used to maintain the higher orbit is released as ultra-violet light, Mills says.
The heat from that process can build pressure to turn a turbine for a generator or an engine, BlackLight Power notes in a marketing plan. The smaller hydrogen atoms, called "hydrinos," remaining in the cell can then react with other elements placed there to form novel compounds with amazing properties, Mills claims. "This will change how most everyday things in the 21st century are made and used," he says. For example:
EHydrinos combined with inorganic elements produce conductive, magnetic plastics that would revolutionize circuitry and aerospace engineering, and shrink and speed up semiconductors.
EHydrinos combined with highly oxygenated matter would form the basis of batteries the size of a briefcase to drive your car 1000 miles at highway speeds on a single charge, without gasoline.
EOne type of hydrino combined with an acid would produce incredibly powerful explosives or rocket propellants.
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