The Second Law is Safe

There’d been nothing but glowing praise for Dr. Trikowski and his miraculous invention.  The Trikowski generator was 100% efficient.  It produced no waste.  None at all!  It would save the environment, and it would save human civilization.

Some in the scientific community had expressed skepticism, but they were shouted down by Trikowski and his admirers.  “So called scientists!  They’re being paid off by the oil companies!” Trikowski would say.

Carlos seemed like just another reporter, someone with a fancy degree in communications but with absolutely no background in the sciences.  Except Carlos was not just another credulous journalist ready to lap up Trikowski’s sales pitch.  There were two things Carlos understood well:

  • The First Law of Thermodynamics: neither matter nor energy can be created or destroyed.
  • The Second Law of Thermodynamics: but they can be wasted.  In fact, they must be.  No system could be 100% efficient.  Energy must be lost somewhere, somehow.

But Trikowski’s P.R. people obviously didn’t realize how much Carlos knew.  They’d let him into the doctor’s lab for an exclusive interview, and there was the generator.  Carlos approached it in awe.

He could hear a very impressive thrumming sound coming from somewhere inside the machine, and he could see a very pretty blue glow shining through the front panel.  Carlos placed his hand on the generator’s smooth, metal surface.  It felt warm, considerably warmer than the room’s ambient temperature.  Energy lost in the form of heat, Carlos thought.  The blue glow—that’s energy lost in the form of light.  And the thrumming sound is energy lost in the form of vibrations of the air.  However the Trikowski generator worked, however impressive and revolutionary it might be, one thing was certain: it was not 100% efficient.  Nowhere near it.

“So,” Dr. Trikowski said with a used-car-salesman grin, “aren’t you going to ask me any questions?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Carlos said, removing his hand from the machine.  “The empirical evidence speaks for itself.  I can see—and hear—and feel—that the second law of thermodynamics is perfectly safe in this lab.”

At that, Dr. Trikowski’s grin faltered.

6 thoughts on “The Second Law is Safe

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