Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

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Levi
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Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Levi » Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:59 pm UTC

One of my favorite games to play is called "Think of Ways to Break the Second Law of Thermodynamics Using Mechanisms Described in Science Fiction/Fantasy Works", which, despite its long name, is a lot of fun. This thread is for discussing such things (Also: Stuff that could be deviously used to break other physics laws). I just played this game with homeopathy and realized that one could make homeopathic radiation. Small amount of radioactive material+water=energy created.

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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Diadem » Tue Dec 14, 2010 11:04 pm UTC

If you can violate the first law, you can violate the second one by proxy. After all you can decrease entropy at the cost of energy. But if your energy comes out of nowhere, that means you can decrease entropy without any other effects. And if you have FTL travel you can violate the first law. So pretty much every scifi story out there counts.

Levi wrote:homeopathic radiation

I suddenly have visions of employees of nuclear power stations sleeping with a bar of plutonium under their pillow because otherwise the daily amount of radiation they receive would be dangerously small ;)
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby grythyttan » Tue Dec 14, 2010 11:17 pm UTC

I saw a sketch with homeopathic beer. One character said something like "that's strong stuff" about it. it should be possible to make ethanol fuel out of that.
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Shivahn » Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:00 pm UTC

grythyttan wrote:I saw a sketch with homeopathic beer. One character said something like "that's strong stuff" about it. it should be possible to make ethanol fuel out of that.


Was it this?

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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby grythyttan » Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:22 pm UTC

Yes, that's the one! "wait! we could try drawing on a bit more lifeline with biro."
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby webgiant » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:57 pm UTC

Levi wrote:I just played this game with homeopathy and realized that one could make homeopathic radiation. Small amount of radioactive material+water=energy created.

Actually that's how to make a radiation sickness cure in homeopathy: take something which causes the symptoms of radiation sickness, dilute it beyond Avogadro's number, and serve.

To create actual homeopathic radiation, you have to figure out how to reverse the process of creating radiation, something along the lines of diluting energy with water (I suppose you could dilute energy with lactose instead, if that would be easier). If we assume for the moment that homeopathic rules work, it would be very hard to create "homeopathic radiation".

It's easy to irradiate a "homeopathic remedy" with your proposed mixture, but it wouldn't be "homeopathic radiation".

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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby ++$_ » Fri Dec 17, 2010 10:09 pm UTC

To create radiation with homeopathy, you would obviously have to take something that treats radiation poisoning and dilute it to 30X.

Potassium iodide is used to treat radiation poisoning....

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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Diadem » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:54 am UTC

Wait, if you take something that makes you ill, and dilute it, you get a cure right?

So if I dilute an asperin enough, can I give people headaches? Somewhat immoral, but should be a lot of fun. Or can you fix infertility by giving people diluting birth control pills?
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby pizzazz » Sat Dec 18, 2010 5:48 am UTC

Magic systems tend to violate thermodynamics--or at the very least manage to tap into some otherwise undetectable source of energy that may not even exist in this universe. But it seems simpler, if we can violate SLT, to just have either devices (such as wands in Harry Potter, or warp drives in various universes) or people (such as channelers in Wheel of Time, or Jedi/Sith in Star Wars) capable of quickly and effectively creating and manipulating large amounts of energy.

So, bringing this around to real life, it seems that without the current laws of thermodynamics, we would end up with something resembling what we currently call magic sooner or later.

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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby davidstarlingm » Sat Dec 18, 2010 6:12 am UTC

Maybe it's just me, but I was always bothered by the use of telekinesis in films and TV shows. People lifting cars and whatnot with their outstretched hand....well, it seems like it would break conservation of momentum, not to mention conservation of energy.

Would it break any laws to have "lightweight" telekinesis....ie, you can lift an object some distance away, but only if you'd be strong enough move the object if you were actually touching it? In other words, I can open the refrigerator door, but only by exerting as much force as it would normally require (and having that same equal-and-opposite force exerted on my hand in the process).

Also, any kind of wormhole-based teleportation quite thoroughly violates conservation of energy. Create a wormhole 100' underwater (where the water is under pressure) and the other side 100' above the surface. Gravity would continually accelerate water through the bottom wormhole and down from the top one back to the point of origin, effectively generating infinite free energy.

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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Levi » Sat Dec 18, 2010 7:35 am UTC

You wouldn't be able to move the same amount as you would using conventional means. You're not using your muscles to telekinesize something, so I wouldn't expect that you would be able to use the same amount of force.

Lifting really heavy stuff would mean you'd have to eat a lot if you decided not to violate conservation of energy. Now I'm wondering how much food it would take to pull a star destroyer out of the sky.

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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby JayDee » Sat Dec 18, 2010 8:21 am UTC

davidstarlingm wrote:Maybe it's just me, but I was always bothered by the use of telekinesis in films and TV shows. People lifting cars and whatnot with their outstretched hand....well, it seems like it would break conservation of momentum, not to mention conservation of energy.
There are fictions where this is played with. Discworld books tend to conserve momentum and energy (at least to a degree). Lifting something heavy up with your mind is likely to result in your brain being pushed out the bottom of your feet. People complain that magic must be pretty useless if you can't just do anything by, you know, magic.

Eddings' Belgariad (and same-universe books) has magic take something out of the people doing it. Characters that perform large feats of magic are exhausted by it. From memory, the first time Belgarath tries to move a rock with his mind (pushing against it) he goes flying the other way. They also have magic-users work out, practising lifting bigger and bigger rocks to build up their telekinesis 'muscle'.
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Soralin » Sat Dec 18, 2010 1:39 pm UTC

webgiant wrote:
Levi wrote:I just played this game with homeopathy and realized that one could make homeopathic radiation. Small amount of radioactive material+water=energy created.

Actually that's how to make a radiation sickness cure in homeopathy: take something which causes the symptoms of radiation sickness, dilute it beyond Avogadro's number, and serve.

To create actual homeopathic radiation, you have to figure out how to reverse the process of creating radiation, something along the lines of diluting energy with water (I suppose you could dilute energy with lactose instead, if that would be easier). If we assume for the moment that homeopathic rules work, it would be very hard to create "homeopathic radiation".

It's easy to irradiate a "homeopathic remedy" with your proposed mixture, but it wouldn't be "homeopathic radiation".

++$_ wrote:To create radiation with homeopathy, you would obviously have to take something that treats radiation poisoning and dilute it to 30X.

Potassium iodide is used to treat radiation poisoning....

Heck with potassium iodide, the above posts just described how to make a homeopathic radiation sickness cure, so all you need to do is take that, and dilute it 30x. ;)

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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby grythyttan » Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:01 am UTC

Hm,so does that mean that the effectiveness of a homeopathic remedy follows some sort of sine wave?
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Levi » Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:18 am UTC

A tangent wave.

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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Whelan » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:19 pm UTC

Shivahn wrote:
grythyttan wrote:I saw a sketch with homeopathic beer. One character said something like "that's strong stuff" about it. it should be possible to make ethanol fuel out of that.


Was it this?

I get the feeling that will end up the most linked video in this subforum.
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby bigglesworth » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:26 pm UTC

davidstarlingm wrote:Also, any kind of wormhole-based teleportation quite thoroughly violates conservation of energy. Create a wormhole 100' underwater (where the water is under pressure) and the other side 100' above the surface. Gravity would continually accelerate water through the bottom wormhole and down from the top one back to the point of origin, effectively generating infinite free energy.
That's only if the wormhole is either free or cheap to sustain. If the wormhole requires energy to sustain, it might be a net loss.
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:36 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:
davidstarlingm wrote:Also, any kind of wormhole-based teleportation quite thoroughly violates conservation of energy. Create a wormhole 100' underwater (where the water is under pressure) and the other side 100' above the surface. Gravity would continually accelerate water through the bottom wormhole and down from the top one back to the point of origin, effectively generating infinite free energy.
That's only if the wormhole is either free or cheap to sustain. If the wormhole requires energy to sustain, it might be a net loss.

Also if gravity itself could travel through the portal's it would affect the direction and strength of gravity near the portals.
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Proginoskes » Wed Apr 04, 2012 6:50 am UTC

The Second Law of Thermodynamics only applies to the entire closed system (i.e., the Universe). It's possible to violate it locally. (The fact that you are alive is proof of this.)

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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Meteoric » Sat Apr 07, 2012 12:19 pm UTC

davidstarlingm wrote:Maybe it's just me, but I was always bothered by the use of telekinesis in films and TV shows. People lifting cars and whatnot with their outstretched hand....well, it seems like it would break conservation of momentum, not to mention conservation of energy.

Would it break any laws to have "lightweight" telekinesis....ie, you can lift an object some distance away, but only if you'd be strong enough move the object if you were actually touching it? In other words, I can open the refrigerator door, but only by exerting as much force as it would normally require (and having that same equal-and-opposite force exerted on my hand in the process).

The novel Mistborn almost had this. The characters had a sort of metal-only telekinesis (and only push and pull directly towards or away), but they were subject to equal-and-opposite-reaction. This actually was kind of interesting, since it meant they could propel themselves around if there were metal objects nearby. It still violated the hell out of conservation of energy, though, since this was all powered by swallowing a few flakes of metal, which were entirely consumed in the process, although considering e=mc^2, it's probably a violation in the opposite (unhelpful) direction. I've heard that the author plans to write (or perhaps has already written?) another sequel in a modern-ish setting, so the possible uses for energy might be explored there, but I haven't read it yet, sorry.
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Xanthir » Sat Apr 07, 2012 5:08 pm UTC

It didn't actually violate energy conservation any more than magic in general does - there's some handwaving, but the metal is just a catalyst for the soul-reaction that channels mana to actually fuel the ability, which comes from the infinite-energy multiverse or somesuch.

In other words, it's magic, don't question it. It doesn't need to make anything more than internal sense.

(And yes, Sanderson wrote a short story in roughly Industrial times called Allow of Law. He plans eventually to do another trilogy there, and then a trilogy set in Future times, all within the Mistborn universe.
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby webgiant » Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:11 am UTC

++$_ wrote:To create radiation with homeopathy, you would obviously have to take something that treats radiation poisoning and dilute it to 30X.

Potassium iodide is used to treat radiation poisoning....

Actually homeopathy is not obvious. Homeopathy doesn't use a diluted cure, it uses a diluted "symptom", something which causes the symptom. This is due to the magical concept that if they dilute the symptom enough, it turns into a cure. Thus homeopathy treats arsenic poisoning by heavily diluting arsenic to the point where there is no arsenic in the water, as in, "plain water." The reason why they don't call it "plain water" is because of another homopathic magical concept called "water memory", where a substance's effects are retained by the water itself even after all trace of the substance is removed from the water.

So it is quite obvious that to treat radiation poisoning with homeopathy, one would take a quantitiy of a radioactive substance, dilute it until no trace of the substance still existed in the water, and then hand the mixture to the patient. The fact that, for the first time in homepathic history, the water would actually have some trace of the substance still left in it--the radioactivity, in the form of heavy water molecules indistinguishable from regular water--would be somewhat dampened by the fact that the water would make the condition worse.

Fortunately, homeopathy doesn't actually work the way it says it does. Most of our water has been thoroughly mixed with heavy metals, then diluted and shaken, then treated and sent to us. If water memory worked, heavy metal poison could be treated by drinking tap water. There are plenty of other things you'd much rather not have "memorized" by your water.

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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Charlie! » Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:33 pm UTC

webgiant wrote:
++$_ wrote:To create radiation with homeopathy, you would obviously have to take something that treats radiation poisoning and dilute it to 30X.

Potassium iodide is used to treat radiation poisoning....

Actually homeopathy is not obvious. Homeopathy doesn't use a diluted cure, it uses a diluted "symptom", something which causes the symptom. This is due to the magical concept that if they dilute the symptom enough, it turns into a cure. Thus homeopathy treats arsenic poisoning by heavily diluting arsenic to the point where there is no arsenic in the water, as in, "plain water." The reason why they don't call it "plain water" is because of another homopathic magical concept called "water memory", where a substance's effects are retained by the water itself even after all trace of the substance is removed from the water.

So it is quite obvious that to treat radiation poisoning with homeopathy, one would take a quantitiy of a radioactive substance, dilute it until no trace of the substance still existed in the water, and then hand the mixture to the patient. The fact that, for the first time in homepathic history, the water would actually have some trace of the substance still left in it--the radioactivity, in the form of heavy water molecules indistinguishable from regular water--would be somewhat dampened by the fact that the water would make the condition worse.

Fortunately, homeopathy doesn't actually work the way it says it does. Most of our water has been thoroughly mixed with heavy metals, then diluted and shaken, then treated and sent to us. If water memory worked, heavy metal poison could be treated by drinking tap water. There are plenty of other things you'd much rather not have "memorized" by your water.

Re-read what ++$_ wrote.
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby tomandlu » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:19 pm UTC

webgiant wrote:Most of our water has been thoroughly mixed with heavy metals, then diluted and shaken, then treated and sent to us. If water memory worked, heavy metal poison could be treated by drinking tap water. There are plenty of other things you'd much rather not have "memorized" by your water.


Sigh, silly man - don't you know that you have to hit the homeopathic cure against a special leather pad to make the water 'remember'. (I wish I was joking).
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Роберт » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:00 pm UTC

davidstarlingm wrote:Maybe it's just me, but I was always bothered by the use of telekinesis in films and TV shows. People lifting cars and whatnot with their outstretched hand....well, it seems like it would break conservation of momentum, not to mention conservation of energy.

Would it break any laws to have "lightweight" telekinesis....ie, you can lift an object some distance away, but only if you'd be strong enough move the object if you were actually touching it? In other words, I can open the refrigerator door, but only by exerting as much force as it would normally require (and having that same equal-and-opposite force exerted on my hand in the process).

Also, any kind of wormhole-based teleportation quite thoroughly violates conservation of energy. Create a wormhole 100' underwater (where the water is under pressure) and the other side 100' above the surface. Gravity would continually accelerate water through the bottom wormhole and down from the top one back to the point of origin, effectively generating infinite free energy.

So imagine I'm on one side of a seesaw like balance system, and there's something my weight on the other side, both 3 feet from the fulcrum. With my lightweight telekinesis, I exert twenty pounds of force "up" on it, therefore getting 20 pounds of force "down" on me. The seesaw is getting 120 lb/ft of torque from my pull on the object, and 120 lb/ft of torque from me. It seems like I have the potential to get twice as much done than I should be able to with this method. Not sure.
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:30 pm UTC

davidstarlingm wrote:Maybe it's just me, but I was always bothered by the use of telekinesis in films and TV shows. People lifting cars and whatnot with their outstretched hand....well, it seems like it would break conservation of momentum, not to mention conservation of energy.

Would it break any laws to have "lightweight" telekinesis....ie, you can lift an object some distance away, but only if you'd be strong enough move the object if you were actually touching it? In other words, I can open the refrigerator door, but only by exerting as much force as it would normally require (and having that same equal-and-opposite force exerted on my hand in the process).

It would break conservation of angular momentum. Suppose you had two ball traveling antiparallel with with their paths distance d apart. Taking the two balls as one system they have an angular momentum dependent on (among other things) d. Now let's imagine they have a magical perfectly elastic collision a distance, with all forces along the direction of motion. The linear momentum of each ball would switch, conserving linear momentum. However the lateral displacement of the linear momentum would reverse the angular momentum.

If all the movement matched there being an invisible lever between the user and the object, that would close this hole. In fiction any gestrues from the user are usually sympathetic (moving the hand to the right, object moving to the right). An invisible level system would involve moving your hand to the left when you wanted the object to move right.
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Re: Second Law of Thermodynamics: STFU

Postby Роберт » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:02 pm UTC

But if you're not careful, now the object and the person are both being forced in the same direction.
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