Sep 14, 2022

Pulling Energy Out Of Thin Air

Posted by in categories: energy, law

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During the middle ages, the concept of the perpetual motion machine would develop. The first law, known as the Law of Conservation of Energy, would prohibit the existence of a perpetual motion machine, by preventing the creation or destruction of energy within an isolated system.


In 1,867 James Clerk Maxwell, the Scottish pioneer of electromagnetism, conceived of a thermodynamic thought experiment that exhibited a key characteristic of a thermal perpetual motion machine. Because faster molecules are hotter, the “beings” actions cause one chamber to warm up and the other to cool down, seemingly reversing the process of a heat engine without adding energy.


Despite maintaining the conservation of energy, both Maxwell’s demon and thermal perpetual motion machines, contravened, arguably one of the most unrelenting principles of thermodynamics. This inherent, natural progression of entropy towards thermal equilibrium directly contradicts the behavior of all perpetual motion machines of the second kind.

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