26 March 2012
I spotted an advert on the MSNBC website over the weekend that had all the signs of an “energy fraud”. These outfits promise you can outwit the high prices of fuel, electricity etc. and make your own energy for next to nothing! This one is much the same as all of them. These type of hoaxes tend to always have a few things in common.
1. An inventor has discovered some fantastic new method of making energy, but the big oil companies, government, or some other conglomerate is trying to keep the word from getting out.
2. They almost always invoke the little guy versus the big guy, and talk about a conspiracy by the government against their product.
3. Many, and this one included, claim to have invented something that uses perpetual motion.
4. The people behind these hoaxes produce a ton of blogs, and fake websites that will pop up if you google their product. They even produce reassuring sites that pop up if you put the word hoax or scam in front of the name!
5. Most importantly of all, almost all of these hoaxes fail the requirement of the second law of thermodynamics.
These fraudsters know their demographic. Males with lower than average formal education who have a very strong distrust of government. People like your Uncle Charlie who’s building a new fall out shelter, and does a web page on chem-trails. He is just the guy these folks are looking for!
In other words, the conspiracy theory types who believe climate change and the moon landing are government hoaxes.
To understand why these perpetual motion machines cannot and never will work, you need to consider the second law of thermodynamics. The easiest and most simple way to state it is:
1. You can’t win
2. You can’t break even.
3. You will always lose and you cannot get out of the game.
Seth Lloyd a professor of thermodynamics at MIT wrote the following in Nature: “Nothing in life is certain except death, taxes and the second law of thermodynamics. All three are processes in which useful or accessible forms of some quantity, such as energy or money, are transformed into useless, inaccessible forms of the same quantity. That is not to say that these three processes don’t have fringe benefits: taxes pay for roads and schools; the second law of thermodynamics drives cars, computers and metabolism; and death, at the very least, opens up tenured faculty positions.”
A good primer on the second law is here. I did not know until today that some people believe the second law makes evolution of species impossible.