A Swedish man who was arrested after trying to split atoms in his kitchen said Wednesday he was only doing it as a hobby. The 31-year-old Handl said he had tried for months to set up a nuclear reactor at home and kept a blog about his experiments, describing how he created a small meltdown on his stove. Only later did he realize it might not be legal and sent a question to Sweden's Radiation Authority, which answered by sending the police.Read more »
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.Read more »
Science will certainly push forward along the frontier of phenomena that are too big or small or subtle to be detected without delicate instruments, as well as along the much more jagged and unpredictable frontier of how the basic laws play out in complicated ways. But there’s no question that the human goal of figuring out the basic rules by which the easily observable world works was achieved once and for all in the twentieth century.Read more »
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