Thermodynamics FAIL
June 28, 2009 1:29 PM   Subscribe

Claiming to have invented a perpetual motion machine in 2006, Steorn Inc. (previously on Metafilter here and here) challenged a team of 22 international scientists and engineers to "verify" their apparently impossible device. Last week the scientific jury announced their results: The unanimous verdict of the jury is that Steorn’s attempts to demonstrate the claim have not shown the production of energy,” it stated. “The jury is therefore ceasing work.”

But have no fear, fellow citizens. Steorn has fixed the "key technical problems" which kept the device from working, and now plan to commercially launch their perpetual motion device towards the end of 2009.

Perhaps more interesting than the repeated failure of impossible physics is the question of whether or not Sean McCarthy and the several dozen engineers that he employs are scammers or perhaps just delusional.

A long postmodern treatise on Steorn, the Orbo and the Steorn Forums here.
posted by Avenger (73 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, this is surprising.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 1:32 PM on June 28, 2009 [12 favorites]


I would like these guys to come up with a date by which they are absolutely sure this will work. You know, blah blah blah, we have entered a game-changing new paradigm in physics, Thomas Kuhn quote, complete revolution, and we will have it ready in 2015, on May 9th., etc.

Then, anyone who does this (and those folks who have it on good authority from The Lord or the Mayan Calendar the world will end on such and such a date) has to register this prediction and date with the government.

As that date passes and the perpetual motion device has not arrived, or the world still exists, the first person to deliver the claimant's severed head gets $5,000. Heads go to the Museum of Science, to be plastinated and prominently displayed in the Hall Of People Who Thought They Were Smart, with a tiny brass plaque stating their name, what they claimed, and the date the head was received.

Then all we need is a brief law stating that any company seeking investors in their perpetual motion/overunity device, or congregations seeking donations for their end of the world bake sale must send out DVDs of video tours of the Hall Of People Who Thought They Were Smart.
posted by adipocere at 1:41 PM on June 28, 2009 [20 favorites]


Very clever. Their actual device is the search for a perpetual motion machine. Which will go on forever.

QED
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 1:47 PM on June 28, 2009 [12 favorites]


Yeah, well, their new product, a $400 dollar USB device to "to measure magnetic flux densities" is totally going to revolutionize, the uh, well, just you wait.
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:51 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


adipocere: "I would like these guys to come up with a date by which they are absolutely sure this will work. You know, blah blah blah, we have entered a game-changing new paradigm in physics"

This is something the real scientists can't even do. How many times have they pushed back the break-even date for the tokamak reactor?
posted by The White Hat at 2:00 PM on June 28, 2009


This is something the real scientists can't even do.

Well, if real scientists can't do it then they're fucked.
posted by Elmore at 2:03 PM on June 28, 2009


Aww. They solved the problems just after the jury disbanded. What a shame! If only the jury had given them a little more time...
posted by bjrn at 2:06 PM on June 28, 2009


Reading the "How Orbo Works" page, I see that it describes the same key principle that is used by all other over-unity energy production devices: it is sufficiently complicated as to exceed the inventor's understanding of why it won't work.

Bonus points are given for inventors who have also managed to exceed their understanding of the limitations of their measurement equipment, and therefore "prove" their device works using an inaccurate measurement. This is what usually separates the ones who are fooling themselves from those who are merely trying to fool potential investors.
posted by FishBike at 2:06 PM on June 28, 2009 [12 favorites]


The impossible proven to be impossible, more at 11.
posted by HuronBob at 2:14 PM on June 28, 2009


"This is something the real scientists can't even do."

Exactly. EXACTLY!

Real scientists do not do this. And yet the press releases of these guys do so ... but then at the last second there's technical difficulties. Or someone "stole" Joseph Newman's overunity device. Etc.

Attempting to patent perpetual motion devices (the patent office won't even allow those patents anymore; Amazon's one-click is more patentable than perpetual motion, that tells you something), creation of practical reversal of the second law of thermodynamics (you can get impractical, small-scale fluctuations), and predicting End of the World, these are also things real scientists do not do.

These are the three areas wherein I believe head-bounties are worthwhile, due to bilking of investors/congregations and general contributions to the dumbing down of the species. I just ask that they put their mouths (and the general mouth-al area, known as "The Head") where their other people's money is.
posted by adipocere at 2:14 PM on June 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is why people need more scientific literacy.

No, I'm serious. Make people go to college and make them take more science than people already do. And shame the fuck out of them if they can't hack it.

Make it uncool to be dumb.
posted by kldickson at 2:16 PM on June 28, 2009 [10 favorites]


Too bad this thread is closed, it's a perfect example!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:16 PM on June 28, 2009


Pons and Fleischer redux. I'm keen to power my home with dookies, has that slot been taken? I have a lab coat and a clipboard.
posted by nj_subgenius at 2:17 PM on June 28, 2009


Bet 50 quid with a friend about 2 years ago that they were frauds. He paid out about a year ago. I now must join with the energy cartels to protect my profits and supress this technology.
posted by therubettes at 2:20 PM on June 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


This story just keeps on going and going.
posted by rokusan at 2:28 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


thanks, I never heard of Orbo and found it fascinating. This is what it probably boils down to:
"I am certain Steorn really believed I would see something that resembled their claim... Watching Sean and listening to him talk (and boy can he talk!!) I am convinced he has seen everything he describes. Unfortunately, the rest of us have not... My conclusion after going through all this is that Steorn is neither hoax nor scam. It is delusion. The reason it seems surreal is because it is surreal - we are the real part of someone else's imagination."
posted by kolophon at 2:32 PM on June 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


as my thermo professor said, 'if someone's claiming to get better than carnot efficiency or that they're reducing entropy, well, call the attourney general or the BBB'
posted by rubah at 2:33 PM on June 28, 2009



I would like these guys to come up with a date by which they are absolutely sure this will work.


1 day after Duke Nukem forever or 2 days after Hurd.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 2:35 PM on June 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


If they really had an over-unity device, they would have a shittier website.
posted by ryanrs at 2:35 PM on June 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


> This is why people need more scientific literacy.

People don't need to know everything that is or isn't physically possible, they need to learn the more basic skill of critial thinking & investigation. No matter how many science classes you put people through, they will always have gaps in their knowledge about the world (and do you really want to tell people they need to take loads of classes to possibly at some point be able to spot infeasible start-ups?).
posted by bjrn at 2:39 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh man I love these threads - in the last one DirtyCreature (pbuh) was defending this shit like crazy and all but threated me to pistols at dawn. Good times.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:46 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Finding a source of "Unlimited free energy" would be the most unimaginably heinous crime possible against humanity. For it would inevitably turn the planet into a cinder. Hastening an isoentropic heat death. If you find a free energy source, you damn well better find a new free energy sink as well. Even then, the relative flux rates will still nail you.

 — Don Lancaster, How to Bash Pseudoscience [PDF]
posted by scruss at 2:49 PM on June 28, 2009 [14 favorites]


I always wonder if all of these guys are just scamsters trying to bilk investors out of their money, or if some believe they are actually getting close or what. Although I'm guessing if the latter were true some mental illness would probably have to be involved.
posted by imabanana at 2:52 PM on June 28, 2009


I've personally come across uncountable numbers of people deluded about physics. I can't think of a person I've come across who has deliberately lied about it.

The shameful aspect of this is not that Steorn themselves are wrong, but that anyone gave them a fraction of a second of attention.
posted by edd at 2:53 PM on June 28, 2009


I'm amused by how much the Steorn forum postings quoted in the "postmodern treatise" resemble the communications received by the guy who runs the May Day Mystery website.
posted by kowalski at 2:54 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I was extremely wealthy and extremely bored (an admittedly unlikely combination), I would sue for an injunction against the implementation of this technology, on the basis that it would destroy the universe. Like the LHC lawsuit, but funnier.
posted by ryanrs at 3:00 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thread title is misleading. Shouldn't it be Thermodynamics WIN?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:26 PM on June 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


Fools! This device is just a consequence of my unpublished proof for P=NP, which I based on the self-evident properties of Sumerian calendar calculations. They would have learnt about it if those simpletons at the Journal of Symbolic Logic had published my paper when I submitted it, along with some nice pastries, back in '03.
posted by Iosephus at 3:32 PM on June 28, 2009


If you find a free energy source, you damn well better find a new free energy sink as well.

Heh. I had not thought of that obvious implication. Perpetual motion researchers are genocidal maniacs.
posted by GuyZero at 3:40 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I take it in this context "free" means you don't know where it comes from? Because if you have to build a device to tap it, then it's (from your perspective) exactly as free as solar energy, which is only free after you build the tap. Oil for about a hundred years has been an effectively free energy source -- all we did is pull it out of the ground.

One distinction about creating energy from nowhere (or elsewhere) is that it would add to the planet's thermal load (as pointed out above); unlike solar power, which exploits an influx of energy we'd be getting anyway. But burning fossil fuels also adds to the planet's thermal load as it's essentially time-shifting an energy influx from a previous age.

Not going anywhere with this, just throwing random points out...
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:56 PM on June 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


How impossible is perpetual motion? Enough so that in Michio Kaku's Physics of the Impossible it stars as one of only two Class III impossibilities, the impossiblest of the impossible, so to speak, the ones that totally violate the known laws of physics. By contrast, invisibility is only a Class I impossibility (not possible today, but Coming Soon to a Weapons Lab Near You); time travel a Class II (possible in principle, but don't hold your breath).
posted by Creosote at 3:59 PM on June 28, 2009


If you find a free energy source, you damn well better find a new free energy sink as well.

Hm. How about you use some of that free power to operate a space-based laser cooling system that fires tangentially to the surface of the earth and cools selected regions of the upper atmosphere?
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:13 PM on June 28, 2009


But Steorn ARE creating energy out of nothing. I await the release of the bullshit powered cellphone.
posted by mattoxic at 4:14 PM on June 28, 2009


I take it in this context "free" means you don't know where it comes from?

In the context of the invention that is the subject of this post, they're not claiming a device that taps into some mysterious source of free energy that is all around us. At least I didn't see anything to that effect on their page describing how the invention works.

Instead they are claiming a device that you put energy in to make it go, then it does something clever with magnetic materials to get more energy than that back out. Sort of like a powered, magnetic version of an overbalanced wheel, I imagine.

And with those overbalanced wheel concepts (wheels with moving weights to make them always heavier on one side), it's usually pretty straightforward to figure out why they don't work. Generally that moving weights on the wheel also takes energy, more than the wheel produces, and that's why it stops.

I think the inventors have just come up with something complicated enough that they can't see any reason for it not to work. I was serious in my earlier posting that this is a common feature of such inventions. They really think they've outsmarted the laws of physics by being sneaky.

Unfortunately for them, the universe isn't fooled.
posted by FishBike at 4:18 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


In this context "free" means "powered by unicorns". The major technical roadblock holding them back is that the unicorn was shipped from Nigeria but it mysteriously hasn't arrived yet. Any day now though. Their major topic of ongoing research is: what kind of food should you dangle in front of a unicorn to keep it running in the wheel?

I've seen enough documentaries wherein Michio Kaku explained string theory by going to a Chinese noodle shop, that now the mere mention of his name is like being tea-bagged. I'm going to go take a shower now... but in this case he's right, of course.
posted by Humanzee at 4:20 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like unicorn power.
posted by WalterMitty at 4:46 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Isn't everything in the universe already in perpetual motion at the atomic level?
posted by bwg at 4:50 PM on June 28, 2009


the mere mention of his name is like being tea-bagged

Hey, don't knock it if you haven't tried it.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:53 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ugh, after that taco last night, I have a perpetual motion device in my gut, but the energy it releases is toxic.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:53 PM on June 28, 2009


Can we please stop using the "fail" meme? Shit's old and busted.
posted by Evilspork at 5:03 PM on June 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can we please stop using the "fail" meme? Shit's old and busted.

SENSE OF HUMOR EPIC FAIL
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:11 PM on June 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


Isn't everything in the universe already in perpetual motion at the atomic level?

Perpetual motion isn't contrary to the laws of physics, per se. Just set an object in motion and then eliminate all possible ways for that kinetic energy to be transferred to other objects or converted to other forms. It's very difficult as there are a lot of possible pathways for that energy to go elsewhere, but it is theoretically possible if no energy is extracted from the moving object at all.

Something like electrons orbiting a nucleus or photos zipping through empty space would appear to keep going forever, but at any larger scale it seems to be a practical impossibility.

What is contrary to the known laws of physics is to either set an object in motion and then perpetually extract energy from it, or to perpetually put energy in at a certain rate and extract it at a higher rate. These guys are claiming to have a device that does the latter.

If they're right, then they've discovered something that cannot be explained by current theory. Science has to be open to that possibility. The inventors don't even have to be able to explain how it works, as long as it works. The trouble is that it doesn't.
posted by FishBike at 5:11 PM on June 28, 2009


Obviously Steorn are scam artists and their technology is bullshit. The same can be broadly said of all over-unity energy returning devices. However, the possibility of extracting energy (by which I mean ordinary energy, commutable in all the ordinary ways, none of this orgone nonsense) from sources as yet untapped, by means as yet unknown, remains open.

For example: windmills, solar panels, geothermal heaters, Stirling engines and tide power all tap sources of energy, all are capable of being hooked up to motors, and all will continue to run indefinitely as long as their mechanical parts are maintained in working order. These are clearly not "perpetual motion machines", in the sense that they do not return energy over-unity, but they can broadly speaking be said to be machines that will remain perpetually in motion.

I'm very slightly agnostic about "magnetic tech" on this basis: if (it's a big if) some kind of device that harvested energy from the action of the Earth's magnetic field against magnets, in a similar manner to the way a windmill's sails harvest energy from Earth's atmosphere, could be built, then it would not be a "perpetual motion machine"; but it could potentially be a source of "pseudo-free" power. Perhaps I'm missing something there, and it wouldn't work for the same reason a magnet on the refrigerator is not "working"; or perhaps it's simply impossible to "anchor" a magnet such that the Earth's field can work against it, without putting it on a plane travelling at (circumference of Earth in km divided by 24) km per hour. (As an aside, if it did work, it would incidentally be a levitator - just put enough energy back in, and the device should become movable against the Earth's magnetic field, the same way a paddlewheel is the reverse of a waterwheel.)

But we don't need to develop new technology that does this. We have multiple technologies that do this, and we don't have a millionth part of what we could devoted to them: land and buildings covered with solar panels and wind generators, sea surface covered with tidal generators, hell, why aren't people wearing piezoelectric shoes to power their mobile phones, iPods, etc? These are all perfectly good technologies that would do everything Steorn promises, if we only hurried up a bit in our adoption of them.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:55 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the Irish Times link: A MUCH-TRUMPETED plan for limitless supplies of free energy has been dashed by the revelation that something cannot be produced from nothing.

Oh, come on, now. As if they only just discovered that something cannot be produced from nothing.
posted by obvious at 6:01 PM on June 28, 2009


Something like electrons orbiting a nucleus or photos zipping through empty space would appear to keep going forever

This is a place where the popular cultural view of physics fails. It isn't so much that electrons orbit the nucleus, as much as they are (probabilistically) in a volume of space around the nucleus.
posted by borkencode at 7:59 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Perpetual motion is real! And it's much simpler than Steorn's gadget
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:48 PM on June 28, 2009


This is right up there with the lossless compression algorithms that can compress any file.
posted by jeblis at 9:32 PM on June 28, 2009


Oh, come on, now. As if they only just discovered that something cannot be produced from nothing.
Both Irish and UK newspapers frequently work in completely dead-pan mocking comments in their headlines and articles.
posted by deanc at 9:32 PM on June 28, 2009


"...perhaps just delusional."

Pathological science. "the science of things that aren't so..."
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 9:45 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


How about you use some of that free power to operate a space-based laser cooling system that fires tangentially to the surface of the earth and cools selected regions of the upper atmosphere?

Unfortunately, the idea of a cooling laser is thermodynamically impossible, since the only way to go from a high entropy source (heat) to a low entropy output (laser) is to produce more low entropy energy. In other words, you would need a laser with more than 100% efficiency.

But hey, if you've got energy producing perpetual motion, reversing entropy should be simple.
posted by happyroach at 9:55 PM on June 28, 2009


Unfortunately, the idea of a cooling laser is thermodynamically impossible

Where do you get that? The Nobel committee saw it differently in 1997. It's like saying that a refrigerator is thermodynamically impossible, yet you have one in your kitchen. Removing thermal energy from one location at a greater-than-unity cost at another location violates no laws whatsoever. It's what conventional refrigeration does, and a cooling laser -- though radically different in implementation to say the least -- doesn't violate it any more. The laser can be utterly inefficient in this (probably ludicrously impracticable) scenario. It doesn't matter because it's out in space discarding heat to the interstellar void. But in principle it can remove thermal energy from a gas at a distance without heating adjacent gas in the process.

I certainly won't claim it will work as I described, I was really joking, it's probably laughably impractical for a dozen reasons beyond my understanding. But cooling lasers do exist and function on very small scales, and were a core component of the work that received the Nobel in physics in 1997.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:24 PM on June 28, 2009


LASER COOLING DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!
posted by ryanrs at 10:34 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, ryans, thanks for that crystal clear treatise. What way is that exactly? As I said, I was joking about the particular mechanism. But to suggest that conservation forbids the cooling of one location without reference to whether equivalent (and in practical terms, greater) heat is dissipated from some coupled location is to deny pretty basic and well understood engineering that we see every day. No one's suggesting that the overall system would not produce excess heat, only that the heat can be removed from the locality we're actually interested in.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:39 PM on June 28, 2009


Like windmills, laser cooling would not be a good way to cool the planet. See: Morbo.

A more practical approach would be to use your new energy source to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As a bonus, this plan is probably eligible for juicy green-tech stimulus funds.

As a matter of fact, screw the free energy.

Ah, screw the whole thing.
posted by ryanrs at 10:57 PM on June 28, 2009


Whoosh. Went right over my head.

Just to continue beating this horse until it's good and dead: yeah, a laser sunk in an atmosphere certainly couldn't be powered by local thermal energy and beam the heat into space, that's a thermodynamic impossibility on its face at least. But a ludicrously precise space based laser system with an unlimited power source (lots of solar power in spaceland) could in theory selectively cool down atoms in our atmosphere -- ones exhibiting a particular motion -- without heating up other atoms by a corresponding amount. The selectivity involved and the wavelength tuning to do it on any remotely useful scale, let alone the probably impossible requirement to avoid having any unintended heating effect on any atmospheric constituents in the beam path, makes it an idiotic scheme in any practical sense, almost certainly an engineering impossibility as well, but not, if I understand anything at all, thermodynamically impossible.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:19 PM on June 28, 2009


This is right up there with the lossless compression algorithms that can compress any file.


Naah, I got that one nailed.

It's the decompressor for my files that I'm still working on, though.
posted by DreamerFi at 11:55 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hate pseudoscientists. The Crackpot Index. Huzzah for critical thinking.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:57 PM on June 28, 2009


I've invented a perpetual motion device. It harness the power of "sneer," which is what is generated when somebody who hates a specific genre of music generates whenever they hear that music. The energy of "sneer" is greater than the energy it takes to power a small MP3 player.

I've used my friend Marvin, who hates all hipsters and anything related to them, by hooking up my device to him. I have an iPod shuffle which plays nothing but songs by Sigur Ros. The sneer device has three wires, one that is inserted carefully into Marvin's rectum, one that runs from that point to the shuffle and one that runs to my air conditioner.

Provided he doesn't take off the Shuffle, he constantly generates more than enough energy to keep the air nice and cool in my apartment and keep the iPod powered through sheer sneer.

I used to use Cat Power songs, but Marvin's sneer generated so much energy that he blew out my air conditioner. Perpetual energy is a dangerous thing.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:54 AM on June 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you gave your device to Pitchfork and pointed them toward a modern rock station, you could probably power half of the East Coast.
posted by Mikey-San at 3:23 AM on June 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like unicorn power.

Eh, they're OK, but just a bit too twee for my liking. Hands down, Perpetual Emotion Machine is their best album, though.

My friend Marvin thinks they're awful.
posted by defenestration at 3:54 AM on June 29, 2009


Speaking of lossless compression that can compress any file, would it satisfy the requirements of the pigeon hole problem (and perhaps myriad others) if a compression algorithm could compress any file but one? (no, probably not)

But it's still fun to imagine (in a science fiction way) an algorithm that could compress any file except itself, but is far to large to ever be stored.
posted by Richard Daly at 5:33 AM on June 29, 2009


I remember when this first started (three years ago now?), one of the common theories was that it was a viral/ARG campaign for a movie or video game.

I like imagining that it actually was an ad campaign, but then production got pulled on the movie. So the ad agency was like, "Well shit, I guess we have to make a perpetual motion device now."
posted by roll truck roll at 12:04 PM on June 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


God damn it, we're never going to get to join the Culture, are we?
posted by Skot at 12:23 PM on June 29, 2009


Perpetual FAIL.
posted by mano at 12:43 PM on June 29, 2009


bwg : Isn't everything in the universe already in perpetual motion at the atomic level?

I'm not a physicist (or even capable of basic math most of the time), but I believe the answer here is that if you want to go that route, the answer is still no, because it's not "perpetual" in that eventually it'll end in heat death when everything stops.
posted by quin at 12:47 PM on June 29, 2009


I thought we already discovered perpetual motion?
posted by Nauip at 3:34 PM on June 29, 2009


I'm not a physicist (or even capable of basic math most of the time), but I believe the answer here is that if you want to go that route, the answer is still no, because it's not "perpetual" in that eventually it'll end in heat death when everything stops.

Oh, I wasn't arguing in favour of perpetual motion machines on Earth, just observing that at the moment since the universe is still in expansion mode, at the atomic level all matter is in motion, all the time. Some believe that eventually the universe will reverse itself and contract, the result of which might be another Big Bang.

If that's the case then perpetual motion exists, but that doesn't mean some yahoo on our planet will be able to tap into it.
posted by bwg at 4:00 PM on June 29, 2009


Kind of curious about something, physics geeks:

Suppose the universe is constantly generating particle-antiparticle pairs, which then collide and annihilate one another. (This is referenced in all sorts of confirmed and well-respected theories, such as the Kasimir effect and Hawkings radiation.)

In that scenario, would not an object travelling the interstellar void collide with these virtual particles at some rate, thus slowing it down slightly even in the absence of hydrogen molecules?
posted by effugas at 4:17 PM on June 29, 2009


Presumably the virtual particles some from all directions so there's zero net effect. If you had a detectable field of virtual particles with a definite bias then by the same logic things would/could accelerate without any other external force applied. magic! You might get Brownian motion at best.
posted by GuyZero at 4:25 PM on June 29, 2009


GuyZero,

Yes, but the object is in motion, meaning collision density should be slightly higher in front than in back. For whatever period of time the virtual particles are in existence, that is time in which the leading edge of the object in motion will slam into them, while the trailing edge will not. No?
posted by effugas at 4:46 PM on June 29, 2009


Did someone say the Fail meme is going out of fashion?

Seriously? As long as mankind's going to try doing something - anything - there's going to be lots and lots of FAIL. In a sense, we are perpetual fail.

And sometimes there's going to be WIN.

Neither is going to go out of fashion for a while. The meme, maybe, but FAIL will be with us forever.
posted by WalterMitty at 10:51 PM on June 29, 2009


"If you push something hard enough, it will fall over."
-- Fudd's First Law of Opposition

"It comes in; it must go out."
-- Teslacle's Deviant to Fudd's Law
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:03 AM on June 30, 2009


A) There is no preferred reference frame in quantum field theory. Thus if you are traveling through the universe, you would see no detectable difference in the production of particle-antiparticle pairs in any direction, because from your perspective, you are stationary. The same reasoning does NOT apply to acceleration.

B) This is rather like worrying about a microbe landing on a runner and slowing them down. A much larger (though still small) effect would come from the fact that space is not empty, but is in fact filled with diffuse gas. That gas does have a reference frame, and so moving through it will create drag.
posted by Humanzee at 4:26 PM on June 30, 2009


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