NanoPundit -Where Society, Science and the Law get really, really small.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

When Bad Thermodynamics Happens to Good People

Instapundit links to another Perpetual Motion Machine hoax. The nano link here is tenuous so try to follow along. It seems someone was trying to cure cancer with nanotechnology, pie pans and household current and discovered that he could separate hydrogen from oxygen using a radio frequency field. He was experimenting on RF heating of cancerous tissue augmented by “Tiny bits of certain metal . . . injected into a cancer patient.”

As a byproduct of his experimentation, he discovered electrolysis of water. The cancer treatment is not an original idea and “water into fuel” is thermodynamic illiteracy. In fact, without thinking too hard, I would guess that adding the nanoparticles reduces the efficiency of the process because energy is used to heat the nanoparticles rather than disassociate the hydrogen from the oxygen. Bucket brigades at hydroelectric dams is a better idea for producing ‘free’ energy.

I’m a big fan of InstaPundit, as you can tell by my blog name, but man-oh-man does he need a basic understanding of thermodynamics. Using a bunch of energy to separate H from O and then recombining the H’s and O’s back into water and a little bit of energy isn’t going to run anything anywhere. In fact, this is so basic that it didn’t even make the cut for one of those Encyclopedia Brown books.

And for the double bonus irony he takes a shot at creationists in an adjacent post. I can disprove “Water into Fuel” in a lab without any problem. Disproving creationism is a little tougher.