Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Science: Something For Nothing

This one, for a change, is not inspired by any recent piece of news, scientific or otherwise...

Instead, I turn my (wicked) eye to the perpetual motion machines. Of course, and it shouldn't surprise you, I am most definitely not going to suggest such a thing is possible to build - not even the one that just keeps going even if it does not do any work, and let alone the variety that produces more energy than you put into it. The laws of thermodynamics are exactly that - laws, and this is a short form entry, too. What get me thinking about this is the only thing that's perpetual about these "inventions" - the perpetual human fascination with them, and persistence in trying to overcome the basic laws of physics (a mandatory Star Trek quote: "Ye cannae change the laws of Physics!"). This would be much less fascinating if only uneducated and simple people kept banging their head against this particular wall. However, and sadly, there are plenty enough of their opposites flooding the patent offices with their valiant - if doomed - attempt. For ways in which said patent offices try to stem this tide you can do worse than reading this article (or at least this section of it). In the meantime, I'd be remiss if I didn't also point you here and here.

It's never a waste of time reminding oneself of the immutable laws of nature (and this)...