Scientists summon up demon

Scientists have managed to summon a demon which has only been referred to before in an 150 year-old dusty book.

Any demonic expert will warn you that summoning demons found in stray books is likely to lead to spinning heads and projectile vomit. At the very least you end up with unwanted babies and scorch marks in the carpet.

However, the scientists were working on a demon of an idea which was originally formulated by physicist James Clerk Maxwell, which appeared to violate the second law of thermodynamics.

The demon suggested that boffins could convert information into pure energy. Maxwell could only write about it because he didn’t have the right gear, and besides virgins are thin on the ground these days.

The experiment was that if you add hot and cold water, the law of thermodynamics suggests that the water will get colder.

Maxwell suggested that a demon could separate the water into two compartments and reverse the process, isolating hot molecules from cold by letting only the hotter-than-average through a trap-door between the compartments.

He said that the mixed water is more disordered than separated water and therefore the demon has converted a system from a state of disorder to a state of order, using only the knowledge of which molecules were hot and cold.

Sheesh, a demon which brings order out of chaos, no wonder the experiment never caught on with Evil Magicians.

It also did not catch the eye of physicists either because it violated the law, which also states that disorder should not decrease in an isolated system. The demon couldn’t separate the hot and cold water without expending energy.

But Hungarian physicist Leó Szilárd thought it was possible because the demon would in fact have had to expend some energy to ascertain which molecules are hot and cold.

According to the journal Nature Physics, which we get for the cut price Occam’s Razor (for that closer smoother shave free of all illusion) Shoichi Toyabe of Chuo University in Japan and mates got together a triangle of the art, made a circle out of pig’s blood and summoned Maxwell’s demon.

Study coauthor Masaki Sano of the University of Tokyo said these days we have the technology to take snap shots of single molecules so it’s not difficult to make Maxwell’s demon.

They set set up a very miniature version of a spiral staircase and caused a molecule to climb up this staircase using information. The staircase was actually made of potential energy and created using electric fields.

The scientists used a high-speed camera to take snaps the molecule. When it happened to be moving up the staircase, they let it move freely, but when it happened to be moving down the staircase, the researchers blocked its motion.

The blocking motion was Maxwell’s demon.

As the particle moved up the staircase, it gained energy because it moved to a location of higher potential. The boffins did not have to push the particle up the mountain. All it needed was data about which direction it happened to be moving.

Not only were the researchers able to move the particle up the stairs, but they were able to precisely measure how much energy was converted from information.

Basically the experiment showed that it’s possible to create energy out of information.

Of course it does not mean that the demon will be powering your house anytime soon. Apparently it takes more energy to summon one than it generates. Demons of today are not what they used to be. They just sing the theme song to flicks like “Titanic” or popular tunes like “you’re beautiful”. Entropy is just not evil enough these days.