2017-08-01 07:03:53 UTC
Clifford Truesdell, The Tragicomical History of Thermodynamics, 1822-1854, p. 6: "Finally, I confess to a heartfelt hope - very slender but tough - that even some thermodynamicists of the old tribe will study this book, master the contents, and so share in my discovery: Thermodynamics need never have been the Dismal Swamp of Obscurity that from the first it was and that today in common instruction it is; in consequence, it need not so remain." [...] p. 333: "Clausius' verbal statement of the "Second Law" makes no sense, for "some other change connected therewith" introduces two new and unexplained concepts: "other change" and "connection" of changes. Neither of these finds any place in Clausius' formal structure. All that remains is a Mosaic prohibition. A century of philosophers and journalists have acclaimed this commandment; a century of mathematicians have shuddered and averted their eyes from the unclean." https://www.amazon.com/Tragicomical-Thermodynamics-1822-1854-Mathematics-Physical/dp/1461394465
Thermodynamicists may disagree with Truesdell but it would be difficult to ignore the view of Jos Uffink, arguably the best expert on the foundations of thermodynamics:
Jos Uffink, Bluff your way in the Second Law of Thermodynamics: "I therefore argue for the view that the second law has nothing to do with the arrow of time. [...] Before one can claim that acquaintance with the Second Law is as indispensable to a cultural education as Macbeth or Hamlet, it should obviously be clear what this law states. This question is surprisingly difficult. The Second Law made its appearance in physics around 1850, but a half century later it was already surrounded by so much confusion that the British Association for the Advancement of Science decided to appoint a special committee with the task of providing clarity about the meaning of this law. However, its final report (Bryan 1891) did not settle the issue. Half a century later, the physicist/philosopher Bridgman still complained that there are almost as many formulations of the second law as there have been discussions of it. And even today, the Second Law remains so obscure that it continues to attract new efforts at clarification." http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/313/1/engtot.pdf
So Clausius' statement of the second law "makes no sense"; "the second law has nothing to do with the arrow of time"; "the Second Law remains so obscure that it continues to attract new efforts at clarification"... What the hell is going on? Is it possible that in the "Dismal Swamp of Obscurity" commonplace mechanisms able to convert ambient heat into work are forbidden, derided, anathematized etc.? It is not only possible, it is the case:
Here is water placed in an electric field. Vigorous cyclic motion can be seen, obviously able to produce unlimited amount of work at the expense of heat absorbed from the surroundings (no other source of energy is conceivable - no electric current passes through the system). Also, heat flows from cold (surroundings) to hot (the bridge) - the heat accumulated in the bridge can come from nowhere else:
Floating Water Bridge - Wasserfadden - Physics Experiment
"The Formation of the Floating Water Bridge including electric breakdowns"
"One thing that the researchers did notice is that the water in the bridge tends to get quite hot as the bridge forms – in some cases exceeding 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). According to Benmore, there have been cases in which boiling floating water bridges have formed."
Floating water bridge / thermography
Physicists watch the videos - not one could think of a reason why the second law of thermodynamics should be questioned. Actually there is no thought at all in physicists' heads at that moment:
"Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity."
Water in an electric field again:
"However, in experiments in which a capacitor is submerged in a dielectric liquid the force per unit area exerted by one plate on another is observed to decrease... [...] This apparent paradox can be explained by taking into account the difference in liquid pressure in the field filled space between the plates and the field free region outside the capacitor."
We have a high pressure between the plates and a lower pressure outside the capacitor so if we punch a small hole in one of the plates, there will be an ETERNAL FLOW through the hole, from inside (between the plates) to outside. That is, we will have a SYSTEM IN DYNAMIC EQUILIBRIUM. The eternal flow can be harnessed to do work, in violation of the second law of thermodynamics.
If the plates of the capacitor are only partially immersed, the pressure between them pushes the liquid upwards:
I. Brevik, Fluids in electric and magnetic fields: Pressure variation and stability, Can. J . Phys. (1982): "Fig. 1. Two charged condenser plates partly immersed in a dielectric liquid. [...] Fig. 2. The hydrostatic pressure variation from point 1 to point 5 in Fig. 1."
Rise in Liquid Level Between Plates of a Capacitor
Liquid Dielectric Capacitor
Chapter 11.6.2: Force on a liquid dielectric
But the rising dielectric liquid can do useful work, e.g. by lifting some floating weight, and the crucial question is: At the expense of what energy is the work done? Since, by switching the field on and off, we do no work on the system, the energy supplier can only be the ambient heat. That is, the system can cyclically lift floating weights at the expense of heat absorbed from the surroundings, in violation of the second law of thermodynamics.