(PhysOrg.com) -- 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
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...
Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-11-maxwell-demon-energy.html
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