In my ruminations over the meaning of work, I’ve deviated from the normal definitions because the standard language we use leads into fuzzy thinking about what is actually happening at the fundamental level of particles and entities such as photons. At macroscopic scales, it’s useful to be able to count how many joules of work are being done where we’re starting off with a lump of “energy” which we are “using up” to get work done, but at that atomic scale, though we can use the same calculations, those calculations imply that energy transactions are happening when they really aren’t. We can assign numbers to the work done, but with work having the same dimensions as energy (and actually being the same “stuff”) you need to be very careful about the signs and choosing your viewpoint (as regards what is doing the work and what is having work done to it) in order to end up with a physically-sensible representation of the overall transaction.
Again my thanks to Abd and THH, who gave me the benefit of their time in discussing this difficulty in my explanations of the logic that led me to taking Perpetual Motion out of the “impossible” pile and placing it firmly into the realm of not only possible but conceptually very simple to actually do. I didn’t explain the logic well-enough, and this is an attempt to explain it somewhat better.
It’s better here to drop the concept of work anyway. At the individual transaction level I’m concentrating on we’ll deal instead with energy transfers and momentum transfers, and I take it as an axiom that both energy and momentum are conserved. Axioms are basic statements that are by definition unprovable but are instead seen to be true by demonstration that we haven’t seen any cases where they are untrue, and are the foundation statements on which other logic is built.
Kinetic energy has a direction, but is itself a scalar quantity. The vector quantity is in fact the momentum of that energy. In order to change the direction of that energy we do not need any energy transfers but instead a momentum transfer. This bit of nitpicking is rather important when it comes to sorting the direction of random kinetic energy into a single direction, since although we can assign a certain quantity of “work” to that change of direction, and the process of changing direction can have many examples of “work” involved depending on the viewpoint that is chosen, if the end result is that our quantum of kinetic energy is the same size but in a different direction then there is no energy transfer required. Momentum transfers at the atomic scale are lossless as far as we know. Momentum transfers will involve a force over a certain distance, and thus a number can be assigned to the work involved, but it is better to regard this as “virtual work” where there is no actual energy transfer overall. Concentrate on changes in the quantity of energy in each entity rather than the virtual work.
The problem of changing random-direction kinetic energy into a unidirectional flow thus reduces to being able to effect momentum-transfers, and does not need any energy-transfers in order to do it. With random momentum vectors input, a lot of the momentum will in fact cancel out as well when using any reasonable-sized mass of device. With two bodies, we can see that gravity or electrostatic attraction will produce an orbit of those two bodies around each other, where the momentum vectors are constantly changing and yet the energy of the system remains constant.
The force-fields we know about are electrical, magnetic, gravity and the nuclear forces. These force-fields tend to produce order in the universe. In fact, if they didn’t produce order then we wouldn’t be here discussing the problem – gravity organises dispersed matter into planets and stars, and also organises the galaxies on a grand scale. In opposition to that we have the mathematics of probability, which shows that with each random transaction things will become more disordered. Since there are many possibilities that a group of objects will be moving in different directions and only one where they all move in the same direction, each perturbation of the system will lead to more disorder. The force-fields, however, modify that set of probabilities, and if they are strong enough then they can impose increasing order with each transaction. This organising effect of the force fields, though it is very obvious, seems not to be taken into account in probability theory which considers systems that are not subject to such organising forces. But then, I’m not expert on probability theory, and here I’m stating my impression based on what people state as the truth, based upon it.
It’s certain that the probability theories apply, and is easily demonstrated. Let’s say we take some (white) Titanium Dioxide and some (black) Iron Oxide, and put them in a jar. Initially they’ll make two layers in the jar, and each time we shake the jar they will mix further and after enough shakes we get a grey mix that will not separate into white and black again. If you now apply a magnetic field to the jar and shake it, though, you’ll start to see some separation with each further shake of the jar as the Iron Oxide moves to the higher field strength whereas the Titanium Dioxide is unaffected. Choose the correct field and the right materials, and order will be produced instead of disorder. In much the same way we use a centrifuge to separate different densities of particles in a suspension. Apply a sufficiently-strong force-field, and we get order instead of disorder. If you don’t accept anything else I’m showing here, that at least ought to be self-evident when you look at the world around you.
Also consider a machine that throws out balls in random directions. In free-fall, those balls have an equal probability of being anywhere in the room when they stop bouncing. Here on Earth, however, they’ll all end up on the floor – gravity produces some order there. Some things we’re just so used to that we no longer think about them or look at the further implications. Force fields produce order, and they may not need to do work or transfer net energy in order to do so.
In a standard photovoltaic cell, a photon that comes in from any direction will produce an electron/hole pair. Since that is in the depletion layer of the cell, there is an inbuilt electric field that is inherent to the construction, and so the electron and hole will go in opposite directions driven by that field. They each end up on the opposite collection electrodes and thus give us an output current. We have an energy-transfer of the photon to an excited electron (leaving a hole behind in that atom), and then the electrical field will perform a momentum-transfer on that electron to make it go in the required direction. The field does not transfer energy, but momentum. The field produces order from disorder – electrons that are ejected in any direction will all end up going in the same direction. The solar cell is thus a good example of the use of a field to impose order and is a practical demonstration that 2LoT is not precisely correct.
In METTEC, again we see the organising effect of a strong-enough field. Without the magnetic field, electrons are emitted from the Nickel surface into the Nickel Oxide in random directions, and since they are attracted back into the body of the nickel will perform a small parabolic tunnelling path and re-enter the Nickel at a random direction and distance from where they were emitted. Once you add a magnetic field, though, those paths have an extra curve added and thus paths in the reverse direction are disallowed. All electrons that are emitted will return to the Nickel in the forward direction only, and this constitutes a net current in the forward direction. The current exists virtually in the insulating Nickel Oxide layer, but not in the conducting Nickel surface. Since the electrons are now moving forward against an electrical potential, they lose some of their kinetic energy (heat) which goes into electrical potential energy. The net result is that we should get a current out of the device which will depend upon the strength of the magnetic field. Random thermal emissions of electrons are forced to go in a single direction and thus heat is directly turned into electricity without the need for a second (cooler) heatsink.
The problem of Perpetual Motion, which people have tried to solve through the ages, is thus rather amazingly simple to solve if you can choose the right force-fields and the transactions that they can modify. The essential core of this is to work at the level of the individual transaction of energy and momentum transfers, and not to try to group large numbers of transactions together and act on the group. This means that the scale of the device needs to be somewhere close to atomic (in essence, even if some dimensions are human-scale) in order that those individual transactions can be separately dealt with. In turn, that makes them somewhat difficult to make for home experimenters when it comes to making something that’s efficient, though I’m open to challenges on that.
The Lovell device (sold as “Monotherm”) does the job, and can be easily made at home, but isn’t that good on the efficiency rating – it costs a lot to get a few microwatts. No-one seems to have bought one, though, although RMS has shown that it works. I’ve added in their measured data, so you can see that it’s none too good at room temperature but is still measurable. I have no reason to doubt these measurements, though I haven’t actually had some to test and haven’t replicated it myself. I suspect it needs a small amount of moisture in order to continue working well, since without that the PVA glue used as a binder will not have any conductivity, and a small amount of conductivity is needed to allow the electrons to move through the device. Their website address is on the picture, so if you want you can do further research. Like most products, it’s probably a bit oversold as regards its usefulness, but it’s unique as being a Perpetual Motion device you can actually buy. I suspect the people who are now selling it don’t know why it works, though, even though the design criteria are given in the patent. By looking at the workfunctions of different materials, you may be able to produce something better than the Monotherm, though given the PVA binder problem you may need to change that in order to get a better result at room temperature. Most people will probably try to get a higher voltage produced, but this is the wrong approach – in order to get more power you need to reduce the voltage produced. It’s easy to multiply the voltage afterwards. Note that this device relies on tunnelling essentially, so using semiconductor fab techniques could improve it a lot.
In order to produce a system that harvests thermal energy without the need for a cooler heatsink, we only need to find a transaction where a force-field can be used to bias each individual transaction in one direction and thus change the probability of the momentum being more in one direction than another. Permanent magnets, electrets and PN junctions are good candidates for the force field, since gravity is generally too weak and the nuclear forces not long-enough range to be easily used. Here I’ve mentioned a few ways it can practically be done, and I don’t doubt that there are other ways available that may be better. One thing is certain, though, and that is that you’ll need to stop believing that 2LoT always applies, since if you hold to that as an article of faith you won’t see any solution to the energy paradox. The energy paradox is contained in the statements of Conservation of Energy (1LoT) and the 2LoT which says that you can’t use that energy except once in its movement from hot to cold (or higher density to lower density). In reality, all we need to do is to use force-fields to alter the momentum vectors to be in the direction we want them. It really is that simple.
Update 21/12/2017 in response to a request from Peter
Adding some links so that if you want you can look back at related essays
http://revolution-green.com/mettec-and-more/ shows a practical design for utilising a magnetic force-field to bias the direction of surface tunnelling. Testing these devices shows that the workfunction difference between Ni and NiO cannot be reduced reliably to within 0.1eV of each other and thus allow a sufficient number of electrons to tunnel, so we’ve been trying out alternative pairs of metal and insulator to get a closer match.
http://revolution-green.com/heat-move-hotter-colder/ explores the problem of random systems, and shows that the movement of heat from hotter to colder is an emergent property that isn’t visible at the level of individual collisions, where the temperature of the source and destination have no effect on the results. The process of averaging out the individual particle energies that gives us the measured temperature loses detail, and thus hides an important point that the individual trajectories of particles may be changed by a force field.
http://revolution-green.com/theory-perpetual-motion/ shows the stage of my thinking before reaching clarity. Here I’m defining the words and concepts, and splitting the single word “work” into stored potential energy, stored kinetic energy and the type of work where there’s no actual energy-change overall and thus there isn’t actually any work done at all but it’s still called work – an example is driving to work and coming back home at the end of the day, where things are the same after a cycle. Still, I missed a few important observations at that point in time so read this afterwards and see what is valid and what isn’t. There’s a lot that’s right, though, and the points and conclusions are valid. The main thing I missed here was that changing the direction of kinetic energy requires only a change of momentum, and that for this no energy needs to be exchanged, so we can use a (conservative) field such as electrical or magnetic to do the job. That essay has a list of earlier articles too, going back in history and showing how the ideas have developed.