Lecture 3 Energetics: Challenges to Thermodynamic Laws

It seems there have been some recent challenges to the second law of thermodynamics. I don't have a strong science background so if anyone else can explain these abnormalities another way or dispell them - please, by all means…

The second law of thermodynamics is understood as a natural law and universal principle of increasing entropy; it states that the entropy of an isolated system which is not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium.

Basically this means that all forms of energy (and thus matter) become less organized and integrated over time - simply put: all forms of energy ultimately end up as heat, which is the lowest and least complex form of energy. This means that ultimately the entire universe will be nothing more than heat.

Not exactly the most uplifting perspective. However, this natural law is extremely important to the existence of life as it describes the transference of energy without which life would not exist.

Oddly, enough there have been recent studies and inventions that have shown that there are exceptions to the second law.

In a recent experiment (2002) Australian scientists were able to show that the second law can be consistently broken at a micron scale, which has serious impacts for developments in nanotechnology.


Further, there are a great many recent examples of machines or small prototype devices that use magnets to create perpetual motion machines. Some of them are simple enough that you can build them at home and others commercial versions are complicated enough that you could use them to power a home. Is this a hoax? Is it time to start making puts on oil? :)

One thing is certain, our world has been around for a long (in relative terms) time and in every direction it is complete with countless examples of stunning and remarkable complex integration. With such an amazing amount of integration, supposedly all headed towards a state of complete disintegration, it makes you wonder what force or law created the complexity in the first place?

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