Two Fatal Falsehoods in Physics
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Pentcho Valev
2019-04-23 11:43:39 UTC
Physics was definitively killed by Einstein's false constant-speed-of-light postulate, but an earlier falsehood - the second law of thermodynamics - had already gravely mutilated it.

Triply distilled water in an electric field undergoes turbulent motion:


The motion can do work, e.g. by rotating a waterwheel. This work will be done at the expense of

(A) electric energy?

(B) ambient heat?

The correct answer is (B) - the second law of thermodynamics is false.

Note that the water is triply distilled so the current is reduced to minimum - obviously the current cannot be responsible for the work done. Moreover, the motion starts before the bridge is formed - this implies that the motion can only be powered by ambient heat.

Godfathers killed physics in more than one way:

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Pentcho Valev
Pentcho Valev
2019-04-23 15:31:26 UTC
Water rises and then goes down as the capacitor is switched on and off:

"Physics Demonstration of the Force on a liquid dielectric in an electric field"

"Liquid Dielectric Capacitor"

"Rise in level of liquid dielectric in capacitance"

The systems can do mechanical work - e.g. by regularly lifting floating weights. The work will be done at the expense of ambient heat (clearly not at the expense of electric energy - in the last video this is more than obvious), in violation of the second law of thermodynamics.

Pentcho Valev
Pentcho Valev
2019-04-23 21:31:46 UTC
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"A plane capacitor with rectangular plates is fixed in a vertical position. [...] The capacitor is charged and disconnected from the battery. [...] The lower part of the capacitor is now brought into contact with a dielectric liquid... [...] When the plates contact the liquid's surface, a force in the upward direction is exerted on the dielectric liquid. The total charge on each plate remains constant..." http://electron6.phys.utk.edu/PhysicsProblems/E&M/2-Dielectrics/capacitors_with_dielectrics.html

In an electric field, water develops a specific bulk pressure that pushes in all directions and results in turbulent motion. In some systems with a suitable geometry, as the above one, the pressure lifts water against the gravitational force.

The pressure is NON-CONSERVATIVE. This means that, if suitably harnessed, it will do work AT THE EXPENSE OF AMBIENT HEAT and in violation of the second law of thermodynamics. Here is the molecular mechanism:


If it were not for the indicated (with an arrow) dipole, other dipoles in the picture are perfectly polarized as if there were no thermal motion. Of course, this is an oversimplification – thermal motion is a factor which constantly disturbs the polarization order. The crucial point is that, as can be inferred from the picture, any thermal disturbance contributes to the creation of a local microscopic pressure. Consider the indicated dipole. It has just received a thermal stroke and has undergone rotation as a result. Now it pushes adjacent dipoles electrostatically. One can say, somewhat figuratively, that the indicated dipole has absorbed heat and now, by pushing adjacent dipoles, is trying to convert the absorbed heat into work.

The sum of all such microscopic disturbances is macroscopically expressed as bulk pressure. The final effects are turbulent motion and/or water rising - both can do work at the expense of ambient heat, in violation of the second law of thermodynamics.

Pentcho Valev
Pentcho Valev
2019-04-24 05:43:56 UTC
Misleading education:

"A necessary component of a heat engine...is that two temperatures are involved" http://physics.bu.edu/~duffy/py105/Heatengines.html

Actually one-temperature (isothermal) heat engines are commonplace - e.g. pH-sensitive polymers can cyclically do work as they swell or contract. No "two temperatures" involved:

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By adding and removing hydrogen ions (H+) one can cyclically extract work from pH-sensitive polymers:

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(This is Fig. 4 on p. 15 here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1367611/pdf/biophysj00645-0017.pdf)

Adding and removing H+, per se, consumes no work if done QUASISTATICALLY. This means that the work lost e.g. in adding is compensated by the work gained in removing, and the net work involved is zero.

In his famous lectures


Feynman discusses the non-isothermal analog which, at least apparently, doesn't violate the second law:

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In the isothermal case the two temperatures are replaced by "adding and removing H+" which, if performed QUASISTATICALLY, consumes no work. So the system just lifts weights for us, at the expense of ambient heat and in violation of the second law of thermodynamics.

Heat engines working under isothermal conditions (no "two temperatures") and able to violate the second law of thermodynamics are commonplace. They are too slow and impuissant to be of any technological importance, and this is one of the reasons why scientists pay them no attention. Yet there seems to be an exception: When water is placed in an electric field, the non-conservative force (pressure) that emerges in the bulk triggers vigorous (by no means impuissant) motion apparently able to convert ambient heat into work quite efficiently:

Pentcho Valev
Pentcho Valev
2019-04-24 09:41:09 UTC
An absurd implication of the second law of thermodynamics:

"In the presence of a catalyst, BOTH THE FORWARD AND REVERSE REACTION RATES WILL SPEED UP EQUALLY... [...] If the addition of catalysts could possibly alter the equilibrium state of the reaction, this would violate the second rule of thermodynamics..." https://courses.lumenlearning.com/introchem/chapter/the-effect-of-a-catalyst/

In many cases things are far from "EQUALLY". Here is a catalyst that accelerates the forward reaction, 2H+ -> H_2, but SUPPRESSES the reverse reaction, H_2 -> 2H+ (violation of the second law of thermodynamics par excellence):

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Yu Hang Li et al. Unidirectional suppression of hydrogen oxidation on oxidized platinum clusters https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms3500

An analogous example (the forward and the reverse reactions are not accelerated "EQUALLY"):

"In 2000, a simple, foundational thermodynamic paradox was proposed: a sealed blackbody cavity contains a diatomic gas and a radiometer whose apposing vane surfaces dissociate and recombine the gas to different degrees (A_2 ⇌ 2A). As a result of differing desorption rates for A and A_2 , there arise between the vane faces permanent pressure and temperature differences, either of which can be harnessed to perform work, in apparent conflict with the second law of thermodynamics. Here we report on the first experimental realization of this paradox, involving the dissociation of low-pressure hydrogen gas on high-temperature refractory metals (tungsten and rhenium) under blackbody cavity conditions. The results, corroborated by other laboratory studies and supported by theory, confirm the paradoxical temperature difference and point to physics beyond the traditional understanding of the second law." https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10701-014-9781-5

Scientists should have noticed the absurdity of this particular implication of the second law of thermodynamics long ago. Consider the dissociation-association reaction

A ⇌ B + C

which is in equilibrium. We add a catalyst, e.g. a macroscopic catalytic surface, and it starts splitting A - the rate constant of the forward (dissociation) reaction increases by a factor of, say, 745492. If the second law of thermodynamics is obeyed, the catalyst must increase the rate constant of the reverse (association) reaction by exactly the same factor, 745492. But this is obviously absurd! The reverse reaction is entirely different from the forward one - B and C must first get together, via diffusion, and only then can the catalyst join them to form A. Catalysts don't accelerate diffusion! If, in the extreme case, the reverse reaction is diffusion-controlled, the catalyst cannot accelerate it at all - the rate constant already has a maximal and unsurpassable value.

That catalysts can shift chemical equilibrium (and violate the second law) was my first heretical idea, 25-30 years ago. I believed my argument was convincing and enthusiastically submitted a short paper to Nature - they rejected it, as it were, before receiving it (let alone giving it to referees). My efforts to publish continued, mainly in The Journal of Physical Chemistry, and I was also active on Internet forums. The main result was this (I didn't take it seriously initially but then it proved fatal):

Athel Cornish-Bowden 1998: "Reading Mr Valev's postings to the BTK-MCA and other news groups and trying to answer all the nonsense contained in them incurs the risk of being so time-consuming that it takes over one's professional time completely, leaving none for more profitable activities. On the other hand, not answering them incurs the even greater risk that some readers of the news group may think that his points are unanswerable and that thermodynamics, kinetics, catalysis etc. rest on as fragile a foundation as he pretends. [...] Can a catalyst shift the position of an equilibrium? No. Absolutely not if it is a true catalyst present at very low concentrations. If it is present at a concentration comparable with that of one or more of the reactants then it may appear to shift the position of equilibrium by mass action effects. However, when it does this it is acting as a reactant, not as a catalyst. Mr Valev's claims to have shown otherwise... [...] Suffice it to say that if Mr Valev really believed what he was saying he would not be writing nonsense on this news group, he would be building the machine that would make him the richest man in Bulgaria (or even the world)." http://bip.cnrs-mrs.fr/bip10/valevfaq.htm

Pentcho Valev