Stranger Fruit

In the past, ID supporters have not only attacked evolution, but also the link between AIDS and HIV (witness Phil Johnson, Tom Bethell, and Jonathan Wells) and anthropogenic global warming (witness the expectorations of Dave Springer – a.k.a. DaveScott – over at Uncommon Descent). Now, it appears that perpetual motion (and the apparently DOA Steorn Orbo project) "is perhaps the best physical evidence I have ever seen against the absurd assumptions of materialism." Perhaps we now need to teach the controversy within physics?

The money quote:

These clever Irish researchers have demonstrated that the principles of thermodynamics function in a manner far closer to the predictions of William Dembski and William Brookfield than the clearly flawed thermodynamic claims of Hawkings and Maxwell.

You remember Brookfield, don’t you? Orac has more.


  1. #1 phisrow
    July 6, 2007

    Now that is curious. Isn’t the ID crowd usually first in line to talk about how “thermodynamics disproves evolution”? I guess that a completely different set of thermodynamic laws also disproves evolution?

  2. #2 John Lynch
    July 6, 2007

    Curious … but not surprising.

  3. #3 Gerard Harbison
    July 6, 2007

    Oh crap. And they’re Irish too. I would have at least hoped that a couple of Irish guys could have come up with a perpetual motion machine of the second kind, but this one just violates the first law. How depressing.

  4. #4 SMC
    July 6, 2007

    Perhaps we now need to teach the controversy within physics?

    <sarcasm>Surely you don’t think the vast and powerful conspiracy of Godless Newtonists would allow such a thing. Even now, they are surely working to deny tenure to anyone who would challenge Newtonism…</sarcasm>

  5. #5 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    July 6, 2007

    As someone wisely noted, ID science goes like this:

    “Evolution breaks 2LOT, so evolution is false”.
    “Orbo breaks 1LOT, so evolution is false”.

  6. #6 j_rock
    July 6, 2007

    um, I don’t know that much about physics, but their machine doesn’t make sense. It supposedly puts out 3 times the amount of energy it takes in, but how does that translate into infinite energy? It sounds to my like more efficient energy, but isn’t it still dependenent upon that initial input? Once you cut the power, won’t its output stop? I need to read up on this perpetual motion thing, but the idea I’ve always had about it was that you input an initial amount of energy, (flick a pendulum or something…) and the thing keeps moving without the need of any additional outside forces….

    I dunno though, I don’t know anything really about physics…

  7. #7 Tyler DiPietro
    July 6, 2007


    Perpetual motion is considered impossible (barring something extraordinary) because, via the second law of thermodynamics, work always produces waste energy (heat) which can’t be turned back into work. Or more concisely, perpetual motion is impossible since there is always dissipation from energy input.

    Or at least that’s my understanding. CS and math are my specialties, not physics.

  8. #8 j_rock
    July 6, 2007

    Thanks for the clarification. I pretty much knew it was impossible. Remember that episode of the Simpsons where Lisa starts going crazy during a teacher’s strike and invents a perpetual motion machine?


    Sad when one learns their science from a cartoon show…anyway….

    So what they’re claiming about producing 3 times the amount of energy as put in would basically have to be pulling energy out of nowhere right? They would need to recycle that waste energy to sustain it and pull additional juice out their ass to produce the additional energy that they claim. Am I anywhere near warm on this?

  9. #9 Tyler DiPietro
    July 6, 2007

    “Am I anywhere near warm on this?”

    You are correct, as far as I can tell (not being a specialist in physics). But it’s also interesting to note that they’re also treading into 1st. law of thermodynamics territory by claiming that their device can actually increase the net energy of a thermodynamic system without additional input. It’s basically woo, pure and simple.

  10. #10 j_rock
    July 6, 2007


  11. #11 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    July 6, 2007

    it’s also interesting to note that they’re also treading into 1st. law of thermodynamics territory

    Idealized PM machines are classified in 2 or 3 classes, but proposed ones are in one or several classes:

    1. PM of the first kind: input less than output – energy creation breaks 1LOT.
    2. PM of the second kind: spontaneous heat to output – no heat flow breaks 2LOT.
    3. PM of the third kind: no input, no output, goes forever – no friction breaks CM (classical mechanics).

  12. #12 Brian X
    July 7, 2007

    Why is it that people who are against “materialist science” never seem to understand that if it affects the material world, it’s part of the material world?

    And how come none of them can ever seem to spell “Steven Hawking” correctly?

  13. #13 JD
    July 7, 2007

    OW! OH DEAR NYARLATHOTEP OW! Why oh WHY didn’t anyone warn me about reading comments on OE?

    Ow ow ow ow…

  14. #14 SmellyTerror
    July 7, 2007

    …and just to answer an earlier question of j_rock’s: it’d be infinite energy because you could use some of that extra energy output to feed back into the system, and it’d get multiplied again. Once you got it started it would feed itself, and still have plenty left over to use for whatever you like.

    So not infinite all in one go, but infinite over time.

    I’d love if this were true, in the same way I’d love it if the the people of earth wised up and made me god-emperor. It might give me an erection to think about it, but it ‘aint going to happen.

    …I said might.

  15. #15 Caledonian
    July 7, 2007

    It wouldn’t be a good thing if it were true – any violation of conservation principles opens up a terrible can of worms. See “Primer” for an example of a device that violates both causality and CoE.

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