What are some less known gadgets and technologies that made you say "Wow!"? by Shashank Shukla
Answer by Shashank Shukla:
When I was in London for one of my contracts I visited British Museum. Crawling though each and every section a room filled with ancient “gadgets” caught my attention. Specially this and this damn thing made me go wow-
Pic credit- http://www._wakeline.org_
This was first few attempts to make a Perpetual motion machine.
Perpetual motion machines are those machines which hypothetically can do work(e.g motion) indefinitely/infinitely without an energy source.
There are two levels of Perpetual motion machines-
- Generates energy which is over or equals unity.
That is a machine which once provided with energy after an initial start/push can sustain itself by using its own energy till infinity.
2. Generates energy which is slightly lower than unity.
This type of machine once provided with energy after an initial start/push can sustain itself for quite a long duration but eventually slows down and stops.
OK let me present to you something that you are more familiar with-
(you can try to play the GIF in your device before reading further)
This is Newton’s Cradle
When the first ball of Newton's Cradle collides with the second, the first ball stops, but its momentum isn't lost, just transferred to the second ball, then the third, then the fourth, until it reaches the very last ball. You witness this conservation of momentum as the last ball swings into the air with nearly the same momentum as the first ball. This is a classic example of conversation of momentum or energy.
And this is the awesomeness of perpetual motion machines. There have been some excellent attempts in making these machines.
If you are an Ironman fan then you can recollect this-
Even your Drinking bird Toy was invented trying to achieve a perpetual motion machine.
From relatively simpler machines-
to fairly complex ones-
The great minds like Da Vinci also tried to make machines which could make themselves move with first initial push and get their energy from the same movements.
You can see how the heavy rollers make the wheel rotate continuously by that witty geometrical cut.
Archimedes too tried his hands on making the “immortal self sustainable machine” –
So then, if conservation of momentum/energy is possible why do we have energy crisis, energy can’t be destroyed right?
I am sorry to be the messenger of misery but everyone failed and every machine eventually stopped, some after years, but they all did!!
Do you know what stood between us and the self-sustaining machines that can provide us infinite watts of energy?
Thermodynamics(Remember your teacher blabbering senselessly about something like this when you were in school?).
To be specific first and second law of Thermodynamics.
- When energy passes, as work, as heat, or with matter, into or out from an isolated system, the system's internal energy changes in accord with the law of conservation of energy.
- In a natural thermodynamic process, the sum of the entropies of the interacting thermodynamic systems increases.
Meaning that the amount of input of energy in a machine will never be more than or equal to the amount of work done by the machine because there will always be some amount of work which will be dissipated by internal friction, viscosity, heat, sound or light. Also, its natural to have disorder in universe and processes that don’t increase the disorder of the universe requires work to be done in opposition to the disorder, meaning natural state of this universe is disorderly and if you fancy doing a work in an orderly fashion(input energy=output work) you will still need to put extra efforts from your own(Hypothetically: input energy=output work+extra energy of yours to keep the system perfect). So even though energy can’t be created or destroyed most of the energy can go from ‘usable energy’ to ‘wasted energy’. So there can be no machine which can run on its own and produce more energy than it consumes making that extra energy/work.
No wonder this pissed off Leo so much:-
“Oh ye seekers after perpetual motion, how many vain chimeras have you pursued? Go and take your place with the alchemists.”
— Leonardo da Vinci, 1494
Now I know some of you super-scientific nerds would come after me because I have definitely missed underlying physical chemistry involved here but trust me this is the best way a large non-scientific community can relate to it.
Although Thermodynamics and Perpetual motion machines have much wider implications but to sum it up for you this is the reason you will have to pay for your electricity bill at the end of every month!