Gullibility and Zero Point Energy?
Readable post gg, but ...
That in turn inspired a fairly large number of engineers and inventors to try to find a way to, first of all determine whether the ZPF was real or not, and then if it was real, to tap it as an energy source.
These are wild goose chases. I noticed you mentioned Bell Labs. As an apocryphal tale look into the case of Henrik Schon of Bell Labs. The following is a news item presenting a "breakthrough" of his concerning organic semiconductors from late 2001:
The sad part of this story is that 100's of scientists worldwide tried to duplicate his results. Sadder still, is that even though he is a complete fraud and data fabricator, no one really could figure out what his motivation was. Young guy, obviously smart, with the backing of Bertram Batlogg, a very well respected condensed matter physicist.
This specific case of fraud is being taught at universities, read more here: assignment
On the upside, the more far-out the idea is, the less the scientific community reacts with gullibility. It is these corner cases, with an air of respectability, that cause the most damage to research.
BTW: 2001 was a very good year for scientific fraud,
The case of Victor Ninov