Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Pseudoscience Watch

I've decided as part of the Science part of this blog to do a weekly pseudoscience post. This week is a link to The Museum of Unworkable Devices. This website has alot of good information on perpetual motion machines. The author does a good job of explaining conservation laws, and why various devices will not work. Of particular interest is the link to Ken Amis' document on why perpetual motion will work. I especially enjoy his following critique of thermodynamics

"Perpetual motion machine inventors shouldn't be intimidated by the laws of thermodynamics. The thermodynamic laws were invented by engineers and physicists during the industrial revolution to discourage those restless minds seeking alternatives to those incredibly inefficient coal-burning engines. Then physicists tried to add clout to the laws by cloaking them in an incomprehensible mathematical theory called statistical mechanics. Not one in a hundred degree-holding physicists or engineers really understands where these laws come from. Even the great physicist Maxwell had to enlist the aid of a demon to make sense of it all. Instead of making laws about what can't be done, scientists should instead invent laws that show us the ways things can be done. The negative character of thermodynamics laws does nothing but stifle and discourage creative and inventive minds from the quest for perpetual motion machines. Scientists nurtured in this climate of negativity have not, and never will, discover the secret of perpetual motion. They haven't a clue how it might be accomplished. "

The best part about his argument, is that it has no actual scientific substance to it. Instead, he cloaks his lack of results by presuming that scientists are out to discourage people like him from discovering perpetual motion machines. In fact, no one would be happier than scientists if he did discover a PM machine because then we could form better laws to describe the universe. As far as this mysterious theory of "Statistical Mechanics" that no physicists actually understand.... well, actually, every physics graduate student takes a course dedicated to Statistical Mechanics.