Unworkable Devices

As a sort of palate-cleanser after the quantum chicanery discussed in the previous post, let me recommend Donald Simanek’s Museum of Unworkable Devices, a wonderful collection of failed ideas for perpetual motion machines, including explanations of why they don’t work.

I’m tempted to turn a couple of these into exam questions, the next time I teach mechanics…


  1. #1 Bill the Cat
    July 8, 2008

    Earlier today I saw on TV news a new service that’s come out, where they use nitrogen rather than air to inflate tires.

    The explanation for how this was supposed to work was that nitrogen molecules are larger and thus would not leak out.

    I wrote that down as the guy was saying it, so that’s not from memory.

    Naturally, the news program has no fact checkers.

  2. #2 Ian
    July 9, 2008

    These people have no idea what they’re talking about. They really ought to try nitrous oxide instead. It’s a gas….

  3. #3 KeithB
    July 9, 2008

    Here is the straight dope on nitrogen:

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