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The Impossibility of Perpetual Motion Machines

Bad ideas come and go in physics. But there’s one bit of nonsense that is perhaps more persistent than all others: the perpetual motion machine. No working perpetual motion machine has ever been experiment verified. All break the laws of thermodynamics.

In fact, we classify based on WHICH law of thermodynamics they break. We have perpetual motion machines of the first kind – they violate energy conservation – they pump more energy out than they need to keep running. This includes most of the historical devices.

Then there are machines of the second kind – they’re a bit more subtle in their wrongness because break the second law of thermodynamics – extracting energy by reversing entropy. Many modern “free-energy” devices fall into this category. Now the best modern designs are by you – answers to our recent challenge question, which we’ll get to at the end. But first let’s take a look at examples of what other people came up with – this’ll be a fun little journey through some pretty terrible science.

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1.4k shares, 295 points

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