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.
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.