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Biotech Science

Maxwell's Demon Soon A Reality? 148

Posted by Zonk
from the chomp-chomp-evil-snacking dept.
DMiax writes "Reuters reports that a group of scientists from University of Edimburgh may have realized a nanomolecular engine - a Maxwell's Demon. The device selects and traps other molecules based on their direction of motion. Physicist James Maxwell first imagined the nano-scale device in 1867, and the research team cites him as the basis for their understanding of how lights, heat, and molecules interact. The device is powered by light, and may spur advances in nano-scale technology to new heights in coming years."
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Maxwell's Demon Soon A Reality?

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  • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:26PM (#17850228) Journal
    The Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] goes to great lengths to explain how the demon can't violate the 2nd law -- that it must delete information, which increases entropy. Okay. But what keeps it from violating the 1st law: that energy is conserved?
    • by Control Group (105494) * on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:31PM (#17850328) Homepage
      Because the demon isn't increasing the energy of the system, it's simply sorting it. The total heat of the system doesn't change, it just goes from equilibrium to a gradient. The demon isn't conceptually picking out molecules and throwing them, it's deciding which molecules to let pass based on velocity. The energy is all in the molecules already.
      • by Stile 65 (722451) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:51PM (#17850706) Homepage Journal
        You're correct, but creating and keeping a gradient also requires energy. That energy is given to the rotaxane molecules in the form of photons.
      • Article (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Mark_MF-WN (678030) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @08:29PM (#17853434)
        Yeah, the title of this article is horribly misleading. This device is exactly the opposite of Maxwell's Demon -- it consumes energy and increases entropy. Maxwell's demon reduces entropy and can generate energy.


        Obviously, the article irresistably leads to a discussion of Maxwell's Demon, and how this machine highlights the thermodynamic principles that were uncovered during the examination of that wonderfully subtle and insightful thought experiment. But it definitely doesn't mean that Maxwell's Demon may be a reality than machines that exploit relativistic effects suggest that we'll be able to ride around on beams of light, as in Einstein's thought experiment. Or that we'll be able to create superpositions of alive cats and dead cats (the hot new Valentine's gift for 2007 -- all the furriness and half the upkeep!)

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Because it doesn't ever make more energy? I mean you could extract some energy with the heat differential... but as the article says it takes energy to measure the speed of the particles and open and close the gate. You might be able to increase the potential energy of a gas slightly but it is really just using the energy more efficiently, not making more.
    • by eklitzke (873155)
      This is a result of Gauss' law, which is a standard result in vector calculus. This is a mathematical proof about continuously differentiable vector fields. If you took vector calculus in college you probably proved it. For the potential to not be differentiable would be _really_ degenerate case, which IIRC you just assume doesn't happen because there are standard formulas for different potentials (e.g. electric potential, gravitational potential) and all of them are well behaved.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by UbuntuDupe (970646) *
        Good point. Yours *is* pretty big.

        Now, as for my question, did you have a relevant comment to add?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Dilaudid (574715)
      The reason the wiki article goes on about the second law (entropy increases) is because the first law (energy is conserved) is seen as being fairly obvious, e.g. a ball will never bounce higher than the level it was dropped from, and the first law applies both forwards and backwards in time. The second law is weird, since it is time inhomogeneous (entropy increases when time goes forward, and therefore would decrease as time goes backwards), and it seems to be more a statistical result than a scientific one
    • by radtea (464814)
      But what keeps it from violating the 1st law: that energy is conserved?

      "the conservation of energy is a consequence of invariance under time translations" [wikipedia.org].

      This is a specific result of Noether's theorem, and has been known since the 1920's but rarely gets mentioned in the popular press. For the specfic case of energy conservation, Noether's theorem implies that unless the form of the Lagrangian (the fundamental mathematical object underlying the equations of motion that govern a system) is explicitly time-d
  • by Control Group (105494) * on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:28PM (#17850258) Homepage
    Maxwell's Demon was a thought experiment about the possibility of violating the second law of thermodynamics, not a thought experiment about sorting molecules. The idea was that the entropy of the system could be decreased by the demon selectively moving fast molecules from one side of the box to the other, thereby concentrating heat.

    This tech is certainly a mechanism for such sorting, but it's powered by external light, so the entropy of the system has not decreased and the second law isn't violated. So, while it's mechanically similar to Maxwell's Demon, it's dissimilar in concept (or should I say, "in spirit" - we're talking about demons, after all).

    Of course, TFA doesn't have Leigh claiming that they've come up with Maxwell's Demon, just that he "credits Maxwell for establishing the fundamentals for understanding how light, heat and molecules behave."

    None of this is to say that this isn't an impressive feat, and of obvious value in terms of furthering the science/technology of nanomachines, but calling it Maxwell's Demon is missing the whole point of the original thought experiment.

    [this text added to waste time between hitting reply and submit]
    • ... and the original though experiment said nothing about nanotechnology, either (maybe only in implication).
    • This catches molecules instead of sorting them. It should be called Maxwell's cup.
      • This catches molecules instead of sorting them. It should be called Maxwell's cup.

        Perhaps "Maxwell's rubber" might catch on...

    • I cannot believe people like Szilard, Brillouin, Bennett (well, I would believe that, because: who the heck is Bennett?, read more names at the Wikipedia entry about this creature) spent so much time on it in XX century.

      This is another artefact of science history that does not belong to science in any way, like epicycles of Ptolemy, aether, calorique (thermogen), stone of philosophers and other crap.
  • Light coming in? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DarthChris (960471)
    I may be wrong in this, since I haven't studied thermodynamics since I was doing my A-Levels, but I believe that the light coming in and powering it directly violates the setup for Maxwell's Demon. Can someone confirm or deny this?
    • Re:Light coming in? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Control Group (105494) * on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:45PM (#17850602) Homepage
      Pretty much, yes. The idea of Maxwell's Demon was to violate the second law of thermodynamics - once you include an external power source, its entropy increase has to be included in the system, and now you've just got a heat pump. Doing it on the nanoscale is Really Neat(tm), but it's not Maxwell's Demon.

      But then, TFA doesn't have Leigh saying that it is Maxwell's Demon, just that he credits Maxwell with furthering science.
    • Well, I think it's obvious that I qualify (see user name) :-)

      There's a nice quote from the article:
      "As Maxwell had predicted long ago, it does not need energy because it is powered by light."
      If light is not energy (or more exactly, does not carry energy), then I conclude that solar cells are violating the first law (because solar cells are powered by light and output energy).

      However, for being an entropy-decreasing Maxwell's Demon it would suffice that there's no energy transfer from the light to the gas (o
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172)
      That's right. Maxwell's demon is a demon. A supernatural being not subject to the laws of physics. He can arbitrarily effect the system without being affected by it. Thus there is no widening of the sytem by his introduction and no feedback effects from his actions. That's the whole point of him.

      Maxwell's demon could sort a mixed bag of apples and oranges into two bags of apples only and oranges only while preserving an apples and oranges system.

      If you sort a bag of apples and oranges the system is one of a
  • by hairykrishna (740240) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:31PM (#17850320)
    "Journalist misses whole point of Maxwells demon, news at 11"
  • This looks to me like a promising step towards machinery for cleaning arteries. I imagine it won't be past our own life-times (we that aren't close to dead) before technology like this silently and efficiently ensures we never die of clogged arteries, strokes, blood clots.

    Then we can sit in front of our computers all day long eating cheesy nacho's and injecting ourselves with nano fat collectors.

    Mmmmm... nachos [douginadress.com].
    • by dbIII (701233)

      This looks to me like a promising step towards machinery for cleaning arteries.

      No - that's a bicycle :)

      It's actually pleasantly surprising to see a press article titled nanotechnology which is actually on the topic. Drexler et al were not talking about sub-micron particles in toothpaste when they used the term.

  • Now this... (Score:3, Funny)

    by IAstudent (919232) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:32PM (#17850358)
    is what I call a Maxwell's Demon [wikipedia.org]
  • I thought.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Talonator (594765) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:33PM (#17850368) Homepage
    .. that the point of the Maxwell's Daemon was to illustrate a hypothetical 'perpetual motion' machine which would generate gradients with no energy input.

    In the classical example, the Daemon sits at a gate between two chambers, where both are filled with particles of random velocities. When a slow particle approaches from the left or a fast one from the right, the Daemon keeps the gate shut. When a fast one approaches from the left or a slow from the right, however, the Daemon opens the gate and lets the particle pass, thus passively generating a gradient of slow/fast particles.

    As to its 'energy from nothing' nature, it's been shown that the actual switching could occur with zero energy use, but (I believe) the act of resetting the Daemon's velocity measurement device would require some energy.

    Long story short, the reason that the idea of a Maxwell's Daemon is important is not because it's a nanomechanical switch, but because it was thought to be an anti-entropic system with no energy use. The actual action that the Daemon was performing is quite irrelevant, and so I take offense at the title of this story. That's all.
    • by QuickFox (311231) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @05:01PM (#17850890)

      The actual action that the Daemon was performing is quite irrelevant, and so I take offense at the title of this story.
      Mod parent funny. He expects accuracy on Slashdot.
    • So... Where does Maxwell's demon's energy come from?

      Hell?

      I mean, if the demon is performing an action, and it's not taking energy from the system in order to do so, then what? Might as well say, "any perpetual motion machine can be made to work... with magic".
    • Sure the demon can know the speed, and sure it can know its position, but can it know both at the same time?

  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arkham6 (24514) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:33PM (#17850376)
    Is this article written for scientific morons?

    "it does not need energy because it is powered by light."

    As I understand it, the object the demon works on has to be isolated from the universe. If this 'demon' is powered by light, its not isolated, because outside influences are acting on it.

    I think maxwell's thought experiment still stands, thanks come again.

    • I share your amazement. I thought E = hv or E = mc2 So powered by light means no energy required? Gaggg...
  • Nanotechnology (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lazerf4rt (969888) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:34PM (#17850384)

    Leigh believes nanoscale science and engineering could have a huge impact on society - comparable to the impact of electricity, the steam engine and the Internet.

    But quite how, is difficult to predict.

    So far, the biggest impact of nanotechnology on society is that society is full of geeks who swoon at the idea of nanotechnology being the future. Why are so many nerds just dying for the nanotechnology future to get here? What's wrong with the present?

    Things that seem like a Harry Potter film now are going to be a reality.

    I thought the inspiration for nanotechnology came from Sci-Fi books and Star Trek. Now Harry Potter is the big inspiration?

    • by Rycross (836649)

      I thought the inspiration for nanotechnology came from Sci-Fi books and Star Trek. Now Harry Potter is the big inspiration?


      There was some quote in reference to writing sci-fi by some author. Can't remember the source.

      "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
    • by wiggles (30088)

      Why are so many nerds just dying for the nanotechnology future to get here?
      Get your answer here [amazon.com].
      • by Lazerf4rt (969888)

        You mean from a Sci-Fi book?

        • You asked "Why are so many nerds just dying for the nanotechnology future to get here?" and got your answer. If your new question is in reference to your second question about sci-fi and Harry Potter, then I ask you why you had to ask the first question if you already knew the answer to it. Any questions?
    • by cowscows (103644)

      Why are people talking about alternative fuels? Why do people worry about a sustainable future? What's wrong with sticking with oil?

      Why are so many people fascinated by space travel? Fuck going into space. What's wrong with Earth?

      Why are so many techies talking about new hardware? What's wrong with the computer you have? What more you could possibly want?

      You're right. Today is perfect. I hope nobody ever events anything new ever again. That wouldn't be cool at all.

      What's the matter with you?
      • by Lazerf4rt (969888)

        You're right. Today is perfect. I hope nobody ever events anything new ever again.

        Strawman alert! I never said today is perfect. I merely asked a question. The implied meaning took place entirely in your mind. You just got trolled!

        • by cowscows (103644)
          You're right! Your question could not have possibly implied anything at all! You said something stupid, but since it's mildly ambiguous, no one can justifiably comment on it!

          In fact, here's a comic someone made that touches on this point:

          http://www.xkcd.com/c169.html [xkcd.com]
          • by Lazerf4rt (969888)

            You're right! Your question could not have possibly implied anything at all! You said something stupid, but since it's mildly ambiguous, no one can justifiably comment on it!

            That straw man sure says a lot of things on my behalf.

    • Re:Nanotechnology (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jerf (17166) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @05:23PM (#17851236) Journal

      What's wrong with the present?
      The present is freaking awesome . There are entire new categories of awesomeness that didn't even exist a hundred years ago, and it's getting better all the time. If I even started listing them, I'd sound utopian, even though it's not an unrealized future I'm describing, but the actual present. There is no-when I'd rather live, if I can only select from the past, and assuming I don't get to chose who I'd end up as (an assumption that people frequently sneak in; are you sure you want to live in 1500 if you are almost certain to end up a dirt-poor peasant somewhere or other?).

      But since the present actually exists, we can see its problems. As freaking awesome as it is, it is still far from perfect.

      But the future doesn't actually exist as anything but our dreams. So, natually, it has no problems. So the future is even awesomer, and the present sucks to the extent that it doesn't live up to my awesome future dreams.

      People who have actually taken a look at the future in a clear-eyed way say it'll still have problems, and it's still anybody's guess as to whether they'll be bigger or smaller than the problems of today. Still, since staying in the present doesn't really seem to be an option, it seems we'll find out. One thing's for sure, we won't be jumping straight to a mystical paradise anytime soon.

      In the meantime... enjoy what is here and what you have. If you're certain the present sucks, it will... for you. Why add the misery of thinking everything sucks more than it actually does to the still-real misery that life often offers you?
      • However, the future has been much better. I believe the future topped around 1900, where it seemed like science could explain everything. Instead we used most of the next century to discovering the limitations of science.

        Of course, the future has been worse as well. When I grew up, it seemed like the most likely future consisted of cockroaches ruling over a radioactive Earth.
    • by feepness (543479)
      What's wrong with the present?

      Because in the future we will have much better tools for creating a better future.
    • by Alsee (515537)
      Why are so many nerds just dying for the nanotechnology future to get here? What's wrong with the present?

      Because full blown nanotechnology means you can pretty much BitTorrent real objects. You just download the datafile for an object, and everything from food to cars to computers to houses could be created at will for everyone virtually for free - grown out of raw dirt and solar energy. You could even BitTorrent a RealDoll [realdoll.com] for example.... not that that is particularly relevant to why so many nerds just dy
    • by treeves (963993)
      I thought the inspiration for nanotechnology came from Sci-Fi books and Star Trek. Now Harry Potter is the big inspiration?

      Neither. If you have to have a single source inspiration, it would have to be Richard Feynman, 1959.

      http://www.zyvex.com/nanotech/feynman.html [zyvex.com] was the first search hit on Google.

    • Why are so many nerds just dying for the nanotechnology future to get here?

      Dying is a big part of it. To me, the most exciting nanotech applications are medical. When you get down to that scale, you can send your little robots in and they can perform DNA repairs on individal cells. You don't have to worry about arteriolsclerosis anymore because little machines can just drive in through an IV, collect the fatty deposits on the blood vessel walls, and leave with them through another. Cancer is easy to fix
      • by Lazerf4rt (969888)

        Thanks for the straightforward answer. I was aware that death was a big part of the motivation. It's certainly something I've agonized over in the past as much as anyone. Maybe even more. But since then I've learned that death is, in fact, not something to fear. Here is one book [amazon.com] which puts it better than I am able to, and it isn't sci-fi or fantasy. If, 10, 20, 50 years from now, we can continue to expand our lifespan, that would be neat and everything, but I don't think it's sensible to view life extension

        • No, not sci-fi or fantasy, but religion. I looked at Buddhism for a while because I like their relatively thoughtful, contemplative approach (I like the Quakers for the same reason), but I eventually decided I'm too attached to my own identity (and memories and knowledge) to be interested in Buddhism's goals, whether they're right or not. I'd rather have continued reincarnation than Nirvana.

          I don't know that I exactly fear death so much as that there are a lot more things that I want to do than I can get
          • by Lazerf4rt (969888)

            Well, it's actually cool that you say you don't want Nirvana. Religion is like psychotherapy, and Buddhism in particular I think, in that it's a temporary medicine for people who feel like they need something more or something's missing. And I find it interesting that nanotechnology attracts the same kind of audience (example [imminst.org]).

            I was attracted to Buddhism also, but I sensed that it was full of a lot of crap about "eightfold path" and "realms of existence" and stuff. But it eventually led me to meditation a

            • Probably the single biggest draw for religion is a desire to avoid having everything just end at death. For most people, religion answers that; for those of us who do not believe, the same motivation still exists. It's not nanotech that can answer that, but medical immortality; nanotech is just a very likely path to it.

              Nanotech is probably also necessary for the level of space colonization that medical immortality would eventually necessitate.
    • by syukton (256348)

      So far, the biggest impact of nanotechnology on society is that society is full of geeks who swoon at the idea of nanotechnology being the future. Why are so many nerds just dying for the nanotechnology future to get here? What's wrong with the present?

      In the present, you have to make a conscious effort to exercise in order to maintain a healthy weight. In the present, you need to modify your diet in order to lower your cholesterol. In the present, cancer kills you before you even know it's there (or short

  • Sorry, proud Scottish fella... They may take our lives but they will never take out freedom!
    • by teslar (706653)
      You obviously missed the news that to celebrate and deepen the French-British relationship, names of cities on either side of the channel are changed to contain one half of the French and one half of the English name - hence Edimbourg + Edinburgh = Edimburgh

      Of course you will not notice this in the name of every city. Londres + London for instance still gives London :)

      :)
    • I thought it should have been Edamburgh, but that would be sort of cheesy.

      BTM
  • by Ranger (1783) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:35PM (#17850408) Homepage
    Today, I see this Opinion Center with Intel under it. I check my Preferences to see if I can select other Opinion Centers or turn it off. I can't. So I go and take a look. It's a paid advertiser section. That's fine, but please label it for what it is, a Paid Sponsor Section. It's not an opinion center.

    Mabye there's a place to make a comment or complaint about this, but it wasn't obvious so I posted it here.
    • by cowscows (103644)
      I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the likely response you'll get from the editors will be very similar to the text of your sig.
    • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @05:58PM (#17851714)
      I think we're seeing Cowboy Neal's Demon, a software utility that moves links about on a page to create infinite money for the developer.

      Of course, such a thing can never happen in real life, so it's all theoretical.
    • And I see the Vendor's section with AMD in it is gone as well. I guess Intel put up enough cash to beat out AMD and get a misleading section name.
    • Hey! Take your opinions over to the Free Speech Zone, buddy! We don't want 'em here!!
    • by zobier (585066)
      Personally, I'd prefer slashvertisements to me marked as such and not passed off as real stories, so I'm OK with it. Now if they'd just follow suit with the others and not just one vendor's.

      Cue the greasemonkey in 3, 2...

      Oh, and the current story in there is Give Intel a Piece of Your Mind [slashdot.org], go on... do it.
  • by kebes (861706) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:37PM (#17850452) Journal
    Let's get the pedantic "This is not actually a Maxwell Demon" comments out of the way first. The original thought experiment of Maxwell's Demon [wikipedia.org] was to suggest a hypothetical creature/device/demon that could watch molecules and make decisions based on what those molecules were doing. By watching the motion of molecules, the demon could open/close a flap and thus sort molecules by kinetic energy. This would allow the demon to generate a hot gas out of nowhere, without any energy input. This would thus contradict thermodynamics (which states that entropy always increases, etc.).

    The reason that such a demon cannot be created is that the very act of making an observation (of a gas molecule's trajectory, for instance), requires the usage of energy. And on the scale we're talking about, that usage of energy is exactly the 'work' you are doing to raise the temperature of the gas in sorting the molecules. Thus no such thing as a maxwell demon can be made, and thermodynamics is intact.

    This most recent report, as stated, requires an input of energy to move/sort molecules. Thus it doesn't violate thermodynamics and it's not really a Maxwell Demon. The article seems a bit confused on this issue, stating:

    As Maxwell had predicted long ago, it does not need energy because it is powered by light.
    I would content that the light is an input of energy, and thus saying "it does not need energy" is rather silly.

    In any case, the actual research (see David Leigh's page [ed.ac.uk]) is about photo-activated molecular shuttles: molecules that switch between well-defined states with input of light. You can thus trap or move other molecules using light. Certainly one step towards the much-anticipated "nanotechnology" but not quite the fine control of molecular positions one would imagine when using the term "Maxwell Demon."
    • Did you honestly just suggest that measuring the velocity of an object (by shining a light on it) consumes as much energy as is in a the kinetic energy of a moving massive object? That doesn't pass the laugh test.
      • by kebes (861706) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @05:23PM (#17851226) Journal
        Well you have to a little careful here. The argument relates not to energy per se, but the energy dispersal, i.e.: entropy. That's why I said 'usage of energy' instead of simply 'energy.' It turns out that entropy increase in the demon is larger than the entropy decrease you get by sorting gas molecules.

        The argument would be the same with massive objects. If you attempt to devise a way to generate a low-entropy situation using "massive moving objects" then I assure you that there will be a corresponding increase in entropy elsewhere that will offset it. (Remember that a fast-moving object has high kinetic energy, but this doesn't say much about the entropy of the system it is a part of.)
      • by not-admin (943926)
        No, he suggested that the process of measuring the velocity AND THEN storing, analyzing, and acting upon that observation will create as much (or more) entropy as the device will eliminate in the particles.
  • It's Edinburgh.
  • Am I the only one who the only one who thought TFA was about a bisexual space alien rock star?
  • by 0xABADC0DA (867955) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:45PM (#17850596)
    Pity the researchers weren't able to create Maxwell's lesser-known "Angel", a device that -- using no power at all -- sits on a barrier and sorts molecules based on their goodness. All matter composed of "charm", "up" and "top" quarks collect on one side, whereas matter composed of the hateful 'strange', 'down', and 'bottom' quarks collect on the other.

    This would totally change the world in the short term by finally providing a means to mass-produce holy water, and eventually even purifying the entire world of 'evil' particles (ie collect all the hateful particles together, send them up on the 'space elevator to heaven' and launch into the void).
    • by isaac (2852) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @05:13PM (#17851058)
      Flavorist! That strange quark never got to chose to be strange - it was just made that way. It's not fair to discriminate on that basis.

      -Isaac
    • by Chris Burke (6130)
      This would totally change the world in the short term by finally providing a means to mass-produce holy water, and eventually even purifying the entire world of 'evil' particles (ie collect all the hateful particles together, send them up on the 'space elevator to heaven' and launch into the void).

      Leading to the eventual clash between us and whatever planet our huge ball of quantum-mechanically perfect evil lands on.

      Which would be sweet. This is the best plan ever.
  • Consider (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) * <lajollahomeless@hotmail.com> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:47PM (#17850632) Homepage Journal
    Most of the Maxwell's Demon experiments deal with particles which are assumed to be infinitely small and particles which are one iota larger than infinitely small.

    Consider Maxwell's Demon operating on entire galaxies at a time. An infinitely large mass (typified as a black hole) has a much larger gravitational field than a mass which is one iota less than infinitely large. If Maxwell's Demon were a gravitational capacitor (ie. its effect is only realized when the gravitional field resulting from a mass exceeds a certain level but exhibits no behavior up to one iota less than that gravitational field) then the Demon could, possibly, move out of the way and selectively allow the object of infinite mass (eg. a black hole) to pass while reflecting all objects of lesser mass.

    I first proposed a similar theory years ago when working for Abbott Laboratories.
  • but I wonder if this tech could be used to make a much more efficient solar cell?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Forget thermodynamics, is the command to start the demon /etc/init.d/maxwell start?

  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:53PM (#17850742) Homepage Journal
    I notice there wasn't a schematic or diagram of the engine, but I scoured the web and managed to find one.

    Here it is:

          .

  • A new player for the Edinburgh Engines in the Bucky Basketball League!
  • How it works (Score:2, Informative)

    by baby_robots (990618)
    I am currently working towards a PhD in this subject. I think that the first thing to realize is that he has not yet made a motor. He has molecular ratchet as proof of concept towards a molecular motor.
    In layman's terms this is how the ratchet works. First, the molecule is essentially a dumbbell with a ring around it. The ring can move freely back and forth across the dumbbell, but prefers to be at either end. The dumbbell can be bent only near one end, which pr
  • Got tired of wasting gas living above the planet
    Mister, show me the way to earth
    The boys of Quadrant 44 with their vicious metal hounds
    Never come around here no more
    Sometimes I wonder if I'm still alive
    Six feet down at age 25
    Maxwell Leather Demon rock hand jive

    I came down like water
    For the age of solar
    Hail to the father
    Kiss your sons and daughters
    Goodbye goodbye
    Steam steady roller
    Lady tongue controller
    Ten feet tall, better walk it back down

    Despite the great duress, always get off 'cause damn it!
    It's the onl
  • I'm certain that captain baseball bat boy will kick his ass.
  • by avitzur (105884) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @06:24PM (#17852098) Homepage
    "Lisa! In this house we obey the law of thermodymanics" - Homer Simpson.
  • by glwtta (532858)
    This is merely a Demon of the First Kind - wake me up when they've built a Demon of the Second Kind, that's much more difficult.

    Also, that has got to be the stupidest headline slashdot ever carried. What's next, "Chinese Room built, undergoing testing"?
  • Mark Raizen of the University of Texas at Austin has already shown a way to achieve Maxwell's Demon using sheet lasers in Cold Atom Systems. You use the Doppler cooling effect to do velocity selection of atoms and selectively slow them down as the sheet laser sweeps across the box.

    http://graduateadvisor.physics.tamu.edu/talk/2006/ 20060216_MarkRaizen.txt [tamu.edu]
    • by iggymanz (596061)
      but that's not really a case of Maxwell's Demon, since energy input is needed. There's any number of ways to get cold seperated from hot, but they all require energy. Maxwell's demon provides free (no cost) energy for perpetual motion by using the heat differential generated by the demon to run a heat engine. Of course, this has been proven impossible so many ways, with classically and quantum dynamically and even via information thermodynamic.
      • by XchristX (839963)
        I don't think energy is the issue here so much as entropy. Not much extra work is being done while sweeping the laser, though there may be some energy lost on recoil. The main deal in this case is that we have to take into account the entropy of the photon generated during a doppler-recoil, which manifests itself in the entropy of the CCD-camera where the photon impinges in the setup. That balances the second law out.
  • Its only a few billion years after nature evolved the bacterial flagella or maybe a billion after the mitochondrial F0-F1 ATPase evolved.

    Now when someone builds a 25,374 atom Worm Drive Assembly [1] -- then I'll be impressed.

    1. http://www.nanoengineer-1.com/mambo/index.php?opti on=com_content&task=view&id=60&Itemid=57 [nanoengineer-1.com]

Real Programmers think better when playing Adventure or Rogue.

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