Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Also make sure the cat can't eat the toast.

Aaron and I had a discussion about perpetual motion machines the other day. Of course, I am entirely convinced that it's impossible. There can't be a 100% efficient transfer of energy; the second law of thermodynamics says so. Aaron remained at least a tiny bit agnostic, thinking that maybe, just maybe, the second law isn't really a law after all. At any rate, this guy certainly didn't quite get it yet.

It reminds me of the Mythbusters episode with free energy machines. It's incredible how much time and energy (pun intended) some people put into finding a counterexample to something completely accepted by every scientist since, well, a long time ago. One guy had this gigantic Ferris Wheel-sized contraption in his backyard. What did it do? Turn very, very slowly. I think most of the supposed perpetual motion machines move using magnets, which some people seem to think are exempt from the whole delta-S thing. Since all those kooks are barking up the wrong tree, here's my plan to build a perpetual motion machine:

Step 1: Buy a cat.

Step 2: Buy a loaf of (preferably sliced) bread.

Step 3: Toast a slice of bread.

Step 4: Butter one side of toasted side.

Step 5: Fasten toast to cat's back using string or otherwise secure mechanism, with unbuttered side making contact with cat.

Step 6: Cover kitchen floor in KY.

Step 7: Drop cat-toast from a one-meter height onto lubricated kitchen floor.

At this point, the fifth law of thermodynamics, which simultaneously states that cats land on their feet and toast lands buttered side down, takes effect. So what happens? Well, naturally, the cat-toast never finds equilibrium, and constantly flops around on the lubricated surface for all eternity. As controls, one could drop a cat without toast, toast without a cat, a cat with unbuttered toast.

An alternative experiment could involve strapping one cat to another cat, and dropping it. But cat squirming could interfere. Also, I suppose one could also just butter both sides of the toast. But then that wouldn't involve cats, so, like, what's the point?

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