Perpetual Motion and the Religion of Physics

By Deane Barker on July 20, 2005

Perpetual motion: We’re (I’m?) having a bit of a discussion on this post about perpetual motion. This prompted me to look up the concept on Wikipedia and confirm what I knew to be true: it’s impossible.

It is generally accepted that perpetual motion machines cannot exist. In particular, perpetual motion machines would violate either the first or second laws of thermodynamics. […]

Scientists and engineers accept the possibility that the current understanding of the laws of physics may be incomplete or incorrect; a perpetual motion device may not be impossible, but overwhelming evidence would be required to justify rewriting the laws of physics.

This whole thing has got me thinking about the religious aspects of physics. The basic debunking of perpetual motion — and the concept at the core of the laws of thermodynamics — is that the universe is slowly coming to a rest. The Big Bang was, well, big, and the whole shindig is settling down from there, using up all the energy that was banged forth.

This means that one day, the entire universe will have to — by definition — settle down completely. Energy is expended and not replaced, entropy is increased, and everything slowly rolls downhill. So, after all energy has been expended, the universe…will…stop.

Then what?

I didn’t care much for physical science, and in college I put off the requirement until my senior year when I took Astronomy 101 with a bunch of freshmen. I’ve never felt so small as when I walked out of that class everyday. It was the most religious class I ever took in college, and I went to a Lutheran college.

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Comments

  1. Isaac Asimov addressed this issue in his excellent short story “The Final Question”. If you haven’t read it, try to avoid Google-ing for more info, the ending will probably be spoiled.

  2. Genesis 1:1

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

    Matthew 24:35

    Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

    Revelation 21:1

    Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

  3. Unless I’m remembering my facts incorrectly, the universe is, in fact, expanding at a more rapid pace today than it has in the past. It doesn’t show signs of stopping the expansion and eventually collapsing in on itself (to be potentially followed by another big bang), at least not at this time.

    However, I’m no astrophysicist, so someone else should correct me.

  4. I couldn’t post this earlier this morning because I couldn’t remember the title and stuff, but Alan Moore wrote a great little apropos comic, a Wildstorm Spotlight (image) featuring Majestic. The topic is the so called heat-death of the Universe.

  5. Actually looking into the comic I see the sub-title is quite appropriately “The Big Chill”

  6. hmm from what i understand energy doesn’t get created nor destroyed it simply transforms from one to the other.

    Perpetual motion it self may not be possible, but whats to say we made a magnetic machine that isn’t closed system but an open system that is actually tapping into the big magnetic field which is the earth. If nikola tesler were alive today i believe he would of proved free unlimited or free in out lifetime energy can be created.

  7. Two points of view. 1. In Physics we trust. / Tarun Biswas / 2. Science is not always as objective as we would like to believe. / Michael Talbot. / == . Strange physic’s contradiction 1 On the one hand : The particles in the Universe are more than antiparticles / Baryon asymmetry / 2. On the other hand: Dark matter in the Universe is more than visual matter

    Question : Does one physic’s hand know that the other hand do ? ==========. Best wishes. Israel Sadovnik. / Socratus. http://www.physforum.com/index.php?showtopic=23624&st=15 http://www.physforum.com/index.php?showtopic=2547&st=105 http://www.physforum.com/index.php?showtopic=2548 ================== . .

  8. Different points of view. 1. In Physics we trust. / Tarun Biswas / and plus millions of other believers . 2. Science is not always as objective as we would like to believe. / Michael Talbot. / and plus few others. 3. Religion or Physics ? Faith or Knowledge ? / some doubtful people. / 4. Science and religion in tandem can become a great force to liberate the mind and help the humans to a fuller and better understanding of reality. / G. S. Sidhu / and plus some individuals .
    ===== . P.S. In Physics we trust. Is it correct ? Of course, it is logically correct. Because only Physics can logically explain us the Ultimate Nature of Reality. ==========. Best wishes. Israel Sadovnik. Socratus.

  9. This whole thing has got me thinking about the religious aspects of physics. The basic debunking of perpetual motion and the concept at the core of the laws of thermodynamics is that the universe is slowly coming to a rest. The Big Bang was, well, / by Deane / ============== . About the theory of Big Bang is written many thick (very thick) books. But nobody writes about the reason of the Big Bang . Nobody knows it I know The action, when the God compresses all Universe into his palm, we have named a singular point And action, when the God opens his palm, we have named the Big Bang

    Best wishes Sadovnik. Socratus

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