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The Impossibility of Perpetual Motion Machines

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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 “freeenergy” 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.

Challenge Winners Please Email [email protected], with your choice of product from the Merch Store (

Connor Grey
Creepy Magician
Alex Taylor
Adrien Romeo
Epsilon Centauri
Enoae Andrei

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Sound Waves from the Beginning of Time

Hosted by Matt O'Dowd
Written by Matt O'Dowd
Graphics by Kurt Ross
Directing by Andrew Kornhaber

Designing a perpetual motion machine has a very long history and became quite the craze from the middle ages through the renaissance. The first welldocumented design for a perpetual motion machine was from the 12th century. Bhāskara's wheel, named after the Indian mathematician, was embedded with tubes of mercury that would flow from back and forth as the wheel turned. Other types of overbalance wheels followed through to the Renaissance and worked on the same principle. There were also designs that employed the magicalseeming lodestones – magnets. For example, this ramp in which a ball is pulled to the top by a magnet before falling through a hole and rolling to the bottom again. Then there are the selfpumping waterwheels or selfblowing windmills.

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