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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-19-06 11:29 PM
Original message
Why do some people who understand evolution fail to understand
basic physics? Some people who laugh readily at the notion of a 6000 year old earth are always up for someone's magic machine that extracts free energy or magic chemical that converts water into gasoline. These devices and chemicals have all been suppressed by the oil companies, of course.

IMO, the three laws of thermodynamics can be restated as follows:

1. You can't get something for nothing; that is, if you want to move things around or heat them or cool them, you're going to have to put some energy into the system. A car might roll downhill on its own, but someone has to push it to the top of the hill first.

2. If you move energy around to do something useful, you're always going to lose a little on the way. Anything that converts energy to work is going to have some built-in inefficiency; cars, boilers, nuclear reactors, whatever. Heat leaks out and friction is generally there to rob you of some energy. That's why those executive desk toys with the clanking balls eventually slow down and stop.

3. Everything is steadily going downhill unless someone interferes. Drop a glass plate on the floor. You can watch the shards until doomsday, but they are never going to leap up and spontaneously reassemble themselves into a plate.
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OwnedByFerrets Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-19-06 11:34 PM
Response to Original message
1. Never took any philosophy classes in
college huh? :) j/k Not sure, however, where you wanted to go with your post.
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sendero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-19-06 11:37 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I understand it..
... and it's pretty simple. The laws of the universe always apply. Period. And we know most of them already. There is no free energy out there. It always comes with a price.

My motto is "there are more rocks than gold, there is no free lunch".

It's true that electric motors are a lot more efficient than any internal combustion engine. Once you get past that, all of the free energy claims are just bullshit.
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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-19-06 11:42 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Exactly
I think people get confused when invisible potential energy is converted into visible kinetic energy. Electric cars in California may move the smog elsewhere and it may be easier to capture the chemicals that cause smog if they come out of a single smoke stack instead of 10,000 tail pipes, but the cars still consume energy. They may not even assist in preventing global climate change if combustion of gasoline in the individual cars is replaced with combustion of coal at a generating plant.
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:03 AM
Response to Reply #4
7. Wrong.
As mentioned above, an electric engine is far more efficient a machine then any internal combustion engine. Therefore, the amount of energy required to move a 2000 lb electric car is less than the amount required to move an internal combustion car of the same weight. Not to mention that the original source for an electric car can be a green source -- solar or wind, using already existant energies instead of depending upon fossil fuel energies.

Now, if you're talking about the hydrogen fuel cell scam, you're on the money.

And I don't know anyone who believes you can turn water into gasoline.

BTW, what was the prompt for your rant?
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Trajan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 04:06 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. Stands and Applauds and Applauds and Applauds and Applauds ....
Sweet .......
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karlrschneider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:11 AM
Response to Reply #7
15. I respectfully disagree with your claim...
The amount of energy needed to move a car (or anything else) is determined only by the mass of
the object, the velocity to be achieved and friction/drag - plus the net loss in potential energy;
where that energy comes from has no bearing on it.

Perhaps you meant to say the amount of "fuel"? If so, you would be correct if the vehicle itself
is the only part of the overall system under analysis, but it isn't a closed system. If it's
powered by electricity, that electrical energy has to be produced -somewhere- by either chemical
processes or nuclear, as far as we know right now anyway and that conversion ultimately introduces
more losses overall than single-stage internal combustion.

Of course, Heinlein's _Waldo_ might someday appear and dope out a way to get unlimited free
energy from the "other universe" but I'm not holding my breath... :-)
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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-19-06 11:38 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. It just that somehow people can't fathom that energy is neither
created nor destroyed. In order to alter matter, energy has to be put in. In general, energy is spreading out so eventually everything in the universe will be at the same temperature, something like 4 deg C if I remember properly. Yet, the rumor of a magic method or device that runs forever or produces more energy than was put in keeps emerging.
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ret5hd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-19-06 11:51 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. i think its more like 4 deg above absolute zero.
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OPERATIONMINDCRIME Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:06 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. I Believe That Is Correct.... .....Bring Your Jacket.
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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:04 AM
Response to Reply #1
14. Get Real
That was a post long over due. There appear to be scientific morans here galore.

You see it with the peak oil folks, you see it with the magic carburator guys, you see it with the electric vehicle guys, you see it with the end of the earth because of hybrid plant guys, you see it all over the place - as ignorant as a Republican in church.
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skids Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:03 AM
Response to Original message
6. Because physics isn't "basic"
While you may find it comforting to term the laws of thermodynamics in layspeak, the reality of the situation is that they were developed to explain very specific systems with very specific parameters. Like for example, it has to be a closed system. With various branches of theoretical physics opening the door to the possibility that there really is no such thing as a closed system, and there may be back doors through which energy can enter a system, it falls to crap.

There are respectable physicists on both sides: some say these back doors may exist, others say no and even go so far as to apply thermodynamics out into realms where it was never intended to apply, like information theory. Both sides have both dubious arguments, and strong arguments. One could spend an entire career keeping up to date in those fields, and many do.

A terriffic example of how a physical law/theorem can go awry when oversimplified is Earnshaw's theorem, which was interperated by the lay-physicist for many decades as an absolute prohibition on passive magnetic levitation. What the lay-physicist did not realize was that the law only applied to static systems -- and did not account for the existance of diamagnetic materials. Today the layperson knows different, the ones that are interested enough to look into it at least.

Following any reasoning that proves there is no system that skirts the parameters of that the laws of thermodynamics, if such a watertight reasoning exists, is not undergraduate material.

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Toots Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 08:00 AM
Response to Original message
10. Then explain a black hole and why the entire universe hasn't been gobbled
:shrug:
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EST Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 08:42 AM
Response to Reply #10
12. Physics 101?
When there is sufficient matter present, it alters space such that all directions in that area of space are "one way."

That amount of matter, although huge in the numbers that we humans normally deal with, is not very large in comparison to the largeness of the universe. Once that limit is reached, the result is automatic and anything in that general vicinity has no chance: there is no way out: all the street signs are one way - toward the developing anomaly.

Because space in the universe is so vast and the total amount of matter relatively small and thinly spread, black holes do not pop up all over the place, only where the mass is sufficient to cause the collapse of space-time.

It is beginning to look like all galaxies that actually have a structure, rather than being amorphous collections of stars, dust and gas, also contain at least one black hole . Whether that black hole or singularity is an organizing factor for that galaxy or merely a result of the accumulated matter, or a combination of both, is still up in the air.

If the universe is actually expanding and keeps on expanding, all available matter will probably never accumulate sufficiently to cause it to disappear into the collapsed space represented by a black hole. If the universe is not expanding or is contracting, then all matter could, indeed, disappear.

The quality of mass that we glibly describe as gravity is not yet sufficiently understood to allow us to answer more than the easy questions about what happens in the presence of large quantities of mass but those answers are being teased out as we go along.

If your question was rhetorical only or meant to be sarcastic, ignore this clumsy explication.

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Toots Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 08:56 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. It was a question about energy
You say energy can not be created out of thin air so to speak. I say a black hole proves this false. They just get more and more intense the more mass they gather. They create their own energy as they develope without losing any at all.We do not understand gravity at all really or the energy it derives from..
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EST Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 11:43 AM
Response to Reply #13
16. I suppose a definition of thin air would be needed, however,
Hawking described a form of radiation that does emanate from a black hole, suggesting that, should a b.h. stop accumulating mass, it will eventually evaporate, satisfying the demands of entropy. I haven't quite doped it out to my own satisfaction how the zero entropy (or infinite entropy, if you prefer) inside a singularity (or, more accurately, its event horizon,) with its stopped clock, can allow even Hawking radiation. I am not clear that singularities can be said to create their own energy, since their own source is the accumulation of energy to become a b.h. in the first place.

Gravity does not appear to derive, particularly, from an energy, although energy in the form of mass and radiative energy does have effect on its local volume of space-time, creating a three-or-more dimensional funnel that attracts even more mass/energy.

Can energy emerge from nothing? This comes down to definitions, or maybe even philosophy, as in: can that nothing contain a particular form of nothing, called singularities-points with zero size, being not so empty points, or a single point, in that nothing. This time limited, entropy related language starts losing all specificity, thus demanding mathematics. Whew!

The physics inside a b.h. or a singularity likely do not resemble the physics out here in this lower pressure environment, where energy cannot be created out of thin anything. Almost all the available energy is wrapped up in the form of mass, and is not created or destroyed, merely modified in form.

There are many, many unanswered questions in this whole field of discussion but we've probably hijacked this thread long enough. Let's meet again soon and kick it around a bit more.
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 08:13 AM
Response to Original message
11. I wouldn't put the third law like that at all
Your 3rd law looks more like one of the restatements of the 2nd law. The 3rd law involves a statement about temperature, and the existence (and importance for calculating efficiency and entropy) of absolute zero. Wikipedia suggests: "As a system approaches absolute zero of temperature all processes cease and the entropy of the system approaches a minimum value."

I've heard the quick summary of the 3 laws as:

1: You can't win the energy game.

2: You can't break even either.

3: You can't get out of the game.
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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 04:17 PM
Response to Reply #11
22. Good one
I also re-phrase the third law as " It's all going to hell in a handbasket!"
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survivor999 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 11:52 AM
Response to Original message
17. Theoretically
There could be some situations in which these laws don't work that way. That's how new things are discovered. Sure, it's unlikely, but possible. One just needs broad replication before believing anything.
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hyphenate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 11:54 AM
Response to Original message
18. I think that we're all just
waiting for someone to come out with the fusion generator so we can use our garbage to fuel our cars. :)
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EST Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:32 PM
Response to Original message
19. in response to your original question:
"Why do some people who understand evolution fail to understand basic physics? Some people who laugh readily at the notion of a 6000 year old earth are always up for someone's magic machine that extracts free energy or magic chemical that converts water into gasoline. These devices and chemicals have all been suppressed by the oil companies, of course."

I have never found anyone who actually understands evolution but fails to grasp basic physics.
I do know some camp followers who profess to some mental clarity about evolution that they don't really possess or haven't looked at deeply enough to substantiate.

Like the blind men and the elephant, many of us tend to view the thumbnail popularization of a subject, the part we know about, as though it were the entirety of the subject--the other 99% of the elephant.

It seems to me that a good background in general science is a prerequisite for a more thorough understanding of any particular branch.
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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:51 PM
Response to Original message
20. I think I'd add that some that seem to understand
evolution really don't.

It's not hard to fake it: You learn the result and it's easy to overlook the process. I've known fundies that actually understood it (and rejected it), while I've interacted with people here that accepted evolution's validity while showing a miscomprehension of what it entails.

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Spaceman Spiff Donating Member (176 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:56 PM
Response to Original message
21. An easier way to say this is
1. You never get more energy out then what you put in.

2. We don't even break even.

3. Right now we're not even coming close.
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Dinger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 04:17 PM
Response to Original message
23. This Is What I Say To RWers About Evolution:
Edited on Sun Aug-20-06 04:18 PM by Dinger
God created evolution.
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