David Sereda: Beyond Convention
By Bill Moore
David Sereda has had meditation-induced ecstatic experiences, planted more than one millions trees, tried to raise $10 million for an experimental aneutronic fusion reactor, and once witnessed, along with dozens of others, a silver metallic UFO hovering over Berkeley, California.
In short, the 44 year-old Sereda is just about as unconventional as they come, but there is, to quote Shakespeare, a method to his madness: to help the world beyond its dependence on polluting, finite fossil fuels.
Sereda recently appeared on Coast to Coast AM with Robert Plarr, the driving force behind the Angel's Nest sustainable habitat project in Taos, New Mexico. They were talking with program host George Noory about energy technology from hydrogen to helium 3 to electric vehicles. I had met Plarr's partner, Victoria in Torrance, California last January where she introduced a video that Sereda had shot about their 9,000 square feet, wind-solar-hydrogen-powered home, which purifies its own water, grows its own tropical fruits in winter, and makes enough fuel to propel a stretch Hummer limo.
When Sereda mentioned that he knew and admired the efforts of Don't Crush.com co-founder Paul Scott, I decided I'd ask Sereda to talk to EV World about his experiences and his aspirations as an advocate for a more sustainable future for the planet.
But let me warn you, if you're a skeptic who thinks yoga is bunk and UFOs are myth, you'll probably want to pass up this particular interview, especially if you doubt the sanity of anyone proposing that we strip-mine the moon for Helium 3 to fuel virtually radiation-free fusion reactors here on Earth, as well as spaceships.
It turns out, however, that some very sane people not only think it can be done, but that it has to be done because helium 3, which is also found in abundance in the atmosphere of Jupiter, may be the fuel that will save mankind and take us to the outer reaches of the solar system, if not the stars. [See press coverage of lunar helium 3 mining proposals at University of Wisconsin Madison Fusion Technology Institute].
|Sereda's personal journey beyond the conventional began after attended a meditation workshop taught by his father, a Berkeley university professor. It was while he was meditating on campus that he had what he calls an "explosion of ecstasy".||David Sereda is author, theorist and documentary film maker|
"It started in my belly and I had to excuse myself from the meditation hall. And I went outside [where] I was just in awe of nature. A bird was walking on the grass and it tickled me because it felt as if it was walking on my body. When the wind blew through the willow trees, I started laughing because I could feel it. It was actually me, because there was this supernatural ecstasy everywhere. I could hear every blade of grass, every plant had its own sound; trees, everything. I even looked up at the sun and the sun was making this sound like this giant symphony of sound blending into this one cosmic kind of roar of ecstasy and I knew at that moment that I was one with everything.
"When it hits you on a deep level, you can actually feel the earth. I literally fell in love with the beauty of nature from that moment. You know, I always have, but this was really profound".
Inspired by the experience, he and his girl friend decided to plant fruit trees in a local city park so that birds and homeless people could have cherries and apples to eat, only to have the local authorities cut the trees down.
"That was my first experience with trying to do something transformative", he said.
Undaunted, he became a volunteer tree planter over the next 22 years, personally planting 1.3 million trees.
In 1987, he met physicist Dr. Bogdan Maglich, the discoverer of helium 3 fusion. Based on the reaction of "heavy water" and the rare helium 3 isotope, the process creates enormous amounts of energy but almost no lethal radiation. According to Sereda, a mere nine grams (0.31 ounces) of helium 3, which is non-toxic, can produce energy equivalent to 1000 barrels of crude oil.
Sereda introduced Maglich to John Bryson, now the chairman of Southern California Edison, one of the nation's largest utilities. According to Sereda, Bryson, whom he characterizes as a environmentalist, initially was interested in the technology, but over time, that interest flagged.
"I thought it was a slam dunk".
Undaunted, Sereda says he spent the next ten years, working part time, to introduce Maglich's fusion technology to wealthy investors ranging from Solomon Brothers to Michael Jackson's partners.
"Nobody would give us a mere $10 million to finish this project".
He said Dr. Maglich had already spent $26 million at this point taking his theory through three stages. The fourth and final stage involved building a working demonstration reactor that used a unique design to accelerate the helium 3 particles through a figure 8 race track where they'd emerge and collide, releasing their energy at 0.7 Million electron-volts energy, the equivalent to heating to 7 billion kelvins.
Despite its promise, Maglich and Sereda ran into a brick wall. Plasma physicists dismissed the concept as unworkable, The federal government and potential investors turned them down, despite a classified Air Force study, which supposedly described the technology as "groundbreaking". According to Sereda, their computer simulations indicated that a confinement chamber just one meter square could generate a gigawatt of electrical energy, enough to power a small city, without producing any radioactive waste. [Read Maglich's 1975 account in Harper's Weekly of his experiences].
"We had that kind of a feasibility study attached to a business plan. We thought for sure that we'd get our money". Instead what they were met with was hostility. Sereda claims that he was personally threatened by someone claiming to be from Royal Dutch Shell who warned him not to pursue the matter any further.
"A helium 3 fuel cell in your electric car would run it for two or three years before you'd have to recharge it", he told me. "That's how amazing this stuff is."
Sereda said that after the Air Force study, NASA's then-director James C. Fletcher went to Congress to ask for money to fund the project, but was turned down.
It was during the Clinton Administration that Maglich and Sereda, along with actor and UC Berkeley alum Harry Hamlin, approached Congress one last time for funding, ironically on April Fool's Day, 1993. Hamlin is reputed to have sought Vice President Al Gore's support, but was ignored.
The award-winning scientist and his supporters, including Sereda, found themselves in a classic Catch 22 situation. He explained that he believes they were turned down, in part, because the government typically funds technology development at a more fundamental level, expecting the private sector to fund the commercialization of the technology.
He cited the example of industrialist J.P. Morgan funding Nicola Tesla from which spun off a host of modern electrical and electronic inventions from alternating current to electric trolleys to radio to electron microscopes to television remote controls.
"If you don't get financing behind revolutionary-thinking scientists and scientific studies, you can't get anywhere. Right now all of the money is being focused on computers and things that use energy, but very little money is going into how we produce energy".
He said that during the filming of a documentary, he interviewed the head of the solar lab at Sandia in New Mexico where they were "looking at massive breakthroughs in solar power and they're crying for money over there. There's no money." He added that neither the current Bush Administration nor the previous Clinton Administration provided the lab with enough money to pursue these potential breakthroughs.
In a private meeting with the multi-millionaire former owner of Champion Spark Plugs in Aspen, Colorado, Sereda was asked why the government wasn't willing to fund the project, the assumption being that if the government won't fund it, it can't be valid.
"Everyone's pointing the finger at the other guy."
Frustrated by a lack of interest, Maglich shelved his Migma reactor design and shifted focus to bomb detection. His company is now building an airport detector that can remotely "sniff" luggage and identify bombs, regardless of how cleverly they are packaged or hidden.
"They can get the chemical signature of an explosive [non-intrusively] within a matter of seconds rather than an x-ray, which can't do that. An x-ray can only [take] a picture, but it can't see a well-disguised bomb".
I asked Sereda if his interest in the UFO phenomenon might negatively impact the kind of reception he receives.
He responded that as recently as the last few weeks, the former Defense Minister for Canada, Paul Hellyer, now in his 80's, has gone public with his belief that Earth is being visited by extra-terrestrials. Sereda also points to former President Ronald Reagan's allusions to aliens during an address to the United Nations 1987, though it could be argued that his comment was allegorical. It is known that when White House speech writers tried to remove the reference, the President is alleged to have insisted it be put back in, presumably because before becoming President, he and his wife, along with the crew on a charter flight over California had seen and chased a UFO. President Jim Carter reported that he'd seen one. Astronaut Gordon Cooper claims that he'd chased them in his fighter plane over Germany before joining the Mercury space program.
"Edgar Mitchell, who walked on the moon, believes in UFO's and yet when you talk about UFO's in America, despite all these American heroes who have testified on video... I have a new video coming out with ArcLight Films... on Father's Day in June (2006) called 'Dan Akroyd Unplugged on UFOs'. And in this film there is amazing footage of UFO's, and Gordon Cooper on camera testifying that he has actually seen UFOs and chased them. So, what do you say when America's greatest heroes Edgar Mitchell, Air Force Colonels like Philip Corso a retired Air Force Colonel from Roswell testifies that he'd seen the alien bodies, and yet the media makes fun of it?"
( Col. Philip J. Corso actually retired from the U.S. Army and co-authored a controversial book on the infamous Roswell, N.M. UFO "crash" in 1947 in which he claims to have overseen the secret dissemination of advanced technology that spun off from American attempts to reverse engineer the crashed spacecraft).
"That's what gives my name a hard time", said Sereda, "but I have personally seen one of these things in Berkeley, California in 1968. I was seven years old, the streets were crowded, everyone was pointing up in the sky, and there's a silver disk hovering up there at two or three thousand feet and bigger than a 747. You don't forget things like that".
No, I don't suppose you would.
To some degree it was that formative event that continues to stimulate his interest in space travel and advanced propulsion systems and theory. After all, if we are being visited by visitors from distant solar systems, they have obviously solved the problem of relativity and moved way beyond chemical propellants.
"I am interested in anti-gravity. I am interested in their energy technology because if we could reverse engineer it, it would change everything on this planet. It would be the end of oil, the pollution, it would be the beginning of exploring the universe and getting beyond the solar system. I think its very profound".
This is why he's so keenly interested in helium 3 as not only an earth-bound power source but as a propulsion system that could accelerate a spaceship to one-tenth the speed of light. He said the NASA's head of propulsion technology personally told him that he was excited about it's possibilities, but without private funding or Congressional appropriations the technology would have to sit on the shelf.
"Here we are nearly to 2006 and we're spending $200 billion a year on foreign oil, throwing money away... what's $10 million? What's a $100 million...? If I was the head of the Department of Energy, this is what I would do. I would put millions of dollars into expanding our solar and wind capacity as proven technology that works today to get off foreign oil.
"Second, I would put huge amounts of money into exotic energy research including cold fusion, helium 3 fusion, and then I would put money into exotic ideas like perpetual motion machines and zero point energy, because if one of them works, if I am hedging here, we're going to change the world. That's what this country was built on. Here's a country where the airplane was built, the computer, the automobile, jet engines, television, it all happened here, because investors put money into ideas".
His frustration was palpable as he talked about America's great inventive and scientific heritage where émigrés came here from abroad to pursue their dreams, including Tesla and the modern father of television, Vladimir Kosma Zworykin.
"You meet these brilliant physicists who tell you they can change the world if you just fund them, and nobody will give them money. How are we going to change this thing?"
Model Citizens Today and Tomorrow
One important way to change things -- assuming ET has a non-interference policy -- is to follow the lead of people like Paul Scott and Robert Plarr. Scott not only powers his home in Southern California entirely with solar panels, but also his Toyota RAV4 EV electric car, said Sereda. Plarr powers a 9,000 square foot home in Taos, N.M, which has all the amenities you'd find in any upscale residence -- plus a stretched Hummer limo -- entirely with renewable energy.
"We should build a foundation on solar and wind," he said. "If everyone in China and India burns fossil fuels, we're finished, global warming is going to destroy us. We have to do this to survive".
"It's so simple. The UFO beckons me to someday go interstellar to explore our universe. Here we are on a little planet and the Hubble telescope is showing us how big this thing really is and we can't go anywhere. We can't even live in harmony with our own planet. We actually can, the technology is there, we just aren't choosing it."
Sereda candidly shared with me how he's had his ups and downs financially through the years. A corporation that he formed to promote alternative energy technology collapsed in the mid-1990s, forcing him to live in a tent on his father's property in Topango, California. To help a zero point energy researcher in Hawaii, he sold his BMW to fund the man's research. He spent two years in Los Angeles walking and riding the bus. Today, he reluctantly drives a 30 mpg Toyota Corolla because he'd prefer to be driving an EV.
"I ride my bicycle everywhere. My girl friend and I live right in the middle of Los Angeles." He hopes that once his UFO film comes out next year that he can afford to buy an electric car and solar panels and emulate his friend Paul Scott.
For David Sereda is was the spiritual that motivated him to pursue the technological. He considers himself a "mystic" Catholic who says he understands how Saint Francis came to have such a deep love for nature.
"You see God in everything".
He believes that how we treat the planet is reflected in our own state of mind. Our misuse and abuse rebounds ultimately back on us as individuals.
"I am the one driving this car, I am the one hurting the earth. I have a choice. I can walk to the store if its closer. I can ride my bicycle, or an electric car, if I can afford it. As Paul Scott point out, solar panels on a roof in California added to your mortgage.. Amortized over thirty years, it's only $30 a month. That's free energy for the car and the house. He has no energy bill.
"If everyone did what Paul Scott did..."
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