Maxwell's demon demonstration turns information into energy
Date: Monday, November 15, 2010 @ 21:58:21 EST
Topic: Science

( -- Scientists in Japan are the first to have succeeded in converting information into free energy in an experiment that verifies the "Maxwell demon" thought experiment devised in 1867.

Maxwell's demon was the invention of Scottish mathematician and theoretical physicist James Clerk Maxwell, who wanted to contradict the second law of thermodynamics (although the name was given to the imaginary being later). This law implies it is not possible to invent a perfect heat engine able to extract heat from a hot reservoir and use all the heat to perform work, because some of the heat must be lost to a cold reservoir.

Maxwell imagined a box containing a gas at a particular temperature (or pressure). In any gas some molecules are hotter (moving faster) and some are cooler (moving slower) than the average. In Maxwell’s thought experiment a partition with a small trapdoor is placed in the box, and the trapdoor is guarded by the imaginary being who, without expending energy, selects which molecules go through to the other side...

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More information: Experimental demonstration of information-to-energy conversion and validation of the generalized Jarzynski equality, Nature Physics, Published online: 14 November 2010. doi:10.1038/nphys1821

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