P.O.K.E.R. Night

Or, Let’s Build a Vortex Tube Party!

By Mister Jalopy

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Photography by Mark Frauenfelder and Mister Jalopy

IN 1867, SCOTTISH PHYSICIST ROBERT Clerk Maxwell proposed a “thought experiment,” suggesting that it may be possible to break the second law of thermodynamics, if you could find a molecularly minded demon that was willing to cooperate.

Start with two hypothetical containers of equal temperature with a connecting trap door controlled by a gatekeeper to sort hot from cold molecules. When the demon sees a fast/hot molecule racing toward the door, he opens the trap to let the hotter molecule speed into container A. Similarly, if ...

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