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    Default (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Perpetual Motion and Perpetual energy are widely considered impossible for... A lot of complicated physics reasons, mostly relating to the laws of thermodynamics. Every such device that has been purported to exist has been proven to fail the criterion and the general consensus I've seen is that perpetual energy enthusiasts are deluded at best and scammers at worst.

    But, let's say that somehow, someone stumbles across a way to build a device that generates more energy than it consumes. For the sake of argument, the amount of energy generated can be harnessed to generate electricity by some means or another and the amount of energy generate greatly exceeded the consumed energy.

    In short, it's a generator, not the energizer bunny.

    Let's also assume that the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics are not disproved so much as expanded. They still hold true for 99.9 repeating percent of things, but this one thing, this one combination of factors seems to be an exception. This is not an "everything you know is wrong; black is white, up is down, and short is long" situation.

    What breaks? I've read enough science blogs to know that seemingly innocuous things like a battery that never needs replacing would actually be horrible. Earth-shattering kaboom? Inevitable catastrophic meltdown? Acceleration of global warming? How does it go horribly wrong?
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Well, the specifics would really depend on how much energy was generated and what you were doing with it, but my understanding is that if we just turn it on and let it go, this device would eventually catch fire and/or make everything around it catch fire. You pour energy into a system without taking any out, the energy builds up, and will likely manifest as heat (among many other things, but heat is the one we will be able to detect most readily). If its made of Indestructium(TM) and doesnt destroy itself well before then, eventually it will pour so much energy into the environment that it will basically turn into a self-resetting bomb. Needless to say, that would be bad. We could probably channel the energy it produces into another system for a while, but we still have the problem of energy coming in without going out. I guess if we really thought about it ahead of time and prepared for this, we could deal with the consequences by somehow moving the energy out into space far enough from Earth that we wont care about all the bad stuff it causes, and hope that the earth dies a natural death before the consequences of our actions come back home.
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    So this is going to depend a lot on how the device works.

    One comparable approach is to think of such a device as a nuclear reactor, just one that never runs out of fuel and can never be shut down. As long as you keep the water running over you'll have a nice power source. If you screw up, you get a horrible meltdown, but that's an engineering challenge. Assuming you build a whole bunch of these things you get a scenario with nearly limitless, but fairly dangerous, energy production (the pre-war Fallout universe is actually built around this idea, albeit one that just uses nuclear power straight up).
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    There actually may be a loophole in the first law of thermodynamics. It's theorized that it may be possible for things to have negative mass/energy, and if this turns out to be the case then it would be possible for perpetual energy to be generated by generating positive and negative mass/energy in equal magnitudes. The existence of negative mass would also imply the possibility of time travel via stabilized wormholes as well as the possibility of "travel"* at up to ten times the speed of light via the alcubierre metric.

    Negative mass could be extremely dangerous because it would nullify regular matter that it came into contact with. It would not explode the way antimatter does but simply cancel both itself and the regular matter out, but still it would be able to destroy anything it came in direct contact with


    *technically a reconfiguration of the surrounding space while the vehicle remains motionless
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    If the device actually generates energy out of nothing, then making a world-shattering kaboom is very trivial. All you need is a spaceship equiped with such a generator and enough time to build up speed. Anything accelerated to interesting speeds becomes a weapon.

    The idea could be weakened substantially in a following way: it does not generate energy, but simply reverses entropy, so you are able to extract useful work out of a single thermal reservoir. This would be slightly more difficult to break but I am sure it could still be abused in a destructive manner.
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    It's not just trivial, it's inevitable.

    If a natural process exists that releases more energy than it consumes, you have a constant increase of the overall energy in the universe. Depending on the amount of energy that is constantly being created, eventually you end up with a universe that is entirely filled with infinite energy.

    I assume that if you look deeper into the finer details of physics, if you can create energy from nothing, everything breaks.
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Answers here make me wonder two things.

    First, assume that we have Rater's magical energy creating thingamajig, but that it isn't indestructible. Let's also assume that it puts out the energy output of a household generator, but without consuming any fuel or releasing any byproducts. If it starts to melt down it will destroy itself before doing too much damage to the surroundings, and we just added a fixed amount of energy to the universe instead an ever increasing amount. Plus, we can always smash it if it gets to be too much trouble. What, if anything, does this break on its own?

    Second, assume the same household generator output, no fuel or pollution, but that the thingamajig is also indestructible. Assume also that we make sure to keep it cooled, and that it comes in a form that can easily be plugged into the electric grid. Eventually this will create infinite energy and destroy the universe. However the earth is big and we have an even bigger heatsink in space, so I wonder roughly how long this will take before it becomes a noticeable problem.

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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    In the short term specifics (particularly economics) would be important. Are we talking flying car for the cost of a regular car type device, or multi million dollars for 40 watts? Can it be turned off? Free energy already sort of exists; build a solar panel, put it outside, and you get energy. The relevant question is whether it is economic or not, as up to type 3 civilisations may generally still want to just use stars, or fusion. Then it will largely be a curiosity.

    There is an Asimov book about something similar; The Gods Themselves, where we are leveraging the differences in the laws of physics in different universes to produce energy. For dramatic reasons this is going to lead to the sun to explode suddenly, but in reality all processes in a G type star are quite heavily damped, and extremely slow to change, so there are no 'cliffs' to fall off and cause a runaway reaction. A type 3 or 4 civilisation that uses this sort of tech heavily might run into environmental problems, but I don't see even a type 2 civilisation being screwed for a very long time. How the universe would respond to such a device would be a specific question that no single answer exists to. If you are adding energy to the universe then you would expect to see overall curvature increasing, but the universe may compensate. Who knows, maybe the acceleration expansion of the universe is due to civilisations all over the place exploiting this sort of tech, and the universe as a whole is facing a massive environmental problem.

    Radar's point about travel is a very good one. Put the device in front of a mirror and photon pressure will give you thrust. Even if it is just a few watts, if a civilisation is talking about intergalactic travel the timescales involved mean that you don't need a lot of thrust for a brachistochrone trajectory, and avoiding the rocket equation is a big deal over those timescales.

    This is also what breaks in the 'just creates energy' model. Conservation of momentum fails. Energy doesn't have mass, but it does have momentum. The reversing entropy model works just fine, though then you still need to collect energy from somewhere. A closed habitat could go on perpetually with finite energy, so such a civilisation could last forever, but the thruster gets weak. It would literally need to be collecting background radiation and reradiating it in a single direction, so it would end up looking like a gigantic sailing ship (actually pretty cool)! The faster you go, the hotter the CMB in front of you gets, making it behave more like a jet engine (having a speed limit) than a rocket.

    The creation of negative mass would be an interesting model, that expands on the idea of reversing entropy. It needn't even be dangerous. There is no gigantic energy gradient like with anti-matter, so it would not require much of an energy barrier to avoid annihilation. If the matter you hold your negative mass with has different spin property for example it cannot annihilate without violating that, and there is no energy available to produce a simple particle with the requisite properties (even a photon). It would then be largely stable*. Even if you can't get warp drive working you can balance the crafts mass arbitrarily close to zero, throw positive mass out the back and negative out the back, and arbitrarily close to lightspeed is all about precision (and not getting melted by the doppler shifted CMB).

    As for what that breaks, actually surprisingly little. It looks a lot like free energy, but on a larger scale it is more like an energy debt that the universe is lazy about collecting. This would drive inflation locally. In the long term, you risk rendering the universe uninhabitable, but that is really long term.

    * One weirdness that comes about is that it would be extremely difficult to get negative mass to interact with an 'opposite' particle at all. If you have balanced negative and positive masses, the equation for and motion that solves conservation of energy and momentum only has one solution. Normally it has two, which is why you can model elastic collisions. One solution is the way in, the other is the way out. If the rest masses sum to zero the velocities after an elastic interaction must be the same as those before (no other solution to jump to), so they just kind of phase through each other! If they are moving relative to each other they have excess momentum, so they cannot annihilate.

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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Radar View Post
    If the device actually generates energy out of nothing, then making a world-shattering kaboom is very trivial. All you need is a spaceship equiped with such a generator and enough time to build up speed. Anything accelerated to interesting speeds becomes a weapon.
    If you have a spaceship that can move things in space making an earth shattering kaboom is trivial, perpetual energy or not. You just need to redirect a comet or an asteroid.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    If a natural process exists that releases more energy than it consumes, you have a constant increase of the overall energy in the universe. Depending on the amount of energy that is constantly being created, eventually you end up with a universe that is entirely filled with infinite energy.
    That could only happen if it increased the energy density of the universe faster than the expansion of the universe decreases it.
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    It's not impossible, in that energy can under some circumstances be created and destroyed (or there wouldn't be a universe.) What causes those circumstances? We don't know that part or how to replicate it.

    The effect would either be to eventually disintegrate whatever the object is near and then dissolve into a blackhole. This would presumably break the machine and end the generator.

    If the machine is used in a civilization, for instance, having unlimited energy would increase the planet's temperature until everyone dies. Also the mass of the planet would slowly go up, so billions of years after that the planet would be swallowed by the machine. If you powered a spaceship with it you could slowly increase the velocity of the ship, but unless you had a 100% efficient energy to thruster (also impossible) the ship would burn up before it got to light speed.
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Rooster View Post
    * One weirdness that comes about is that it would be extremely difficult to get negative mass to interact with an 'opposite' particle at all. If you have balanced negative and positive masses, the equation for and motion that solves conservation of energy and momentum only has one solution. Normally it has two, which is why you can model elastic collisions. One solution is the way in, the other is the way out. If the rest masses sum to zero the velocities after an elastic interaction must be the same as those before (no other solution to jump to), so they just kind of phase through each other! If they are moving relative to each other they have excess momentum, so they cannot annihilate.
    Basing the probability of annihilation on the behavior of classical mechanics is not quite enough I guess, but the point stands that those mass/antimass particle pairs would need to have the same position and velocity to annihilate. Any kind of natural collision would leave some uncompensated momentum. I would have to fiddle with the equations a bit to see, if it would be possible to generate a pair of photons from that somehow. I am also wondering, if negative mass particles would imply existence of negative energy interaction bosons.
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    The effect would either be to eventually disintegrate whatever the object is near and then dissolve into a blackhole. This would presumably break the machine and end the generator.
    Only if the energy isn't radiated away
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    It really depends on a lot of specifics.
    Simply having more energy put into a system won't inherently cause any problems - if the generator only produces a kilowatt of power, for example, then there's no fundamental difference between creating a kilowatt of power from nothing, or burning oil trapped in the ground to produce a kilowatt of power. It won't inherently heat up the Earth any more than any other form of power generation.

    Now, if the power produced grows with power absorbed, then we could have a problem. Just plug a generator back into itself and you have what amounts to a nuclear meltdown, or nuclear bomb. If the device is fragile, it might only light the building on fire. If it's durable, things could get orders of magnitude worse than that.

    But as long as we're tweaking the laws of physics, there's no reason why that must be the case. A given generator might have diminishing returns on input of power, such that beyond a certain value it drops below 100% efficiency - thus preventing a runaway escalation. They're still powerful and potentially dangerous, but no more than most other methods we currently use.


    Ultimately, depending on factors like this, the answer to the question of "what would happen" can be anywhere between "human utopia where we rule a civilization spanning the universe with wormholes and immortality" to "The entire universe is an unending sea of arbitrarily hot particles, and getting exponentially hotter. No life can ever exist ever again." This even includes "Physicists are baffled by this peculiar finding, but it ultimately isn't economically feasible and nothing changes."
    That's all I can think of, at any rate.

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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Only if the energy isn't radiated away
    We would be cranking these babies out the second we got them. It would be like a slightly more realistic Spiral Energy problem from Gurren Lagaan.
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Another possibility:

    If a bubble of space could be induced to enter a false vacuum state with a different value for the speed of light, energy could be created by converting matter to energy on one side and then converting it back to matter on the other side.

    E=MC^2, Therefore if you converted your sample to energy (perhaps by an antimatter reaction) on the side with the higher C you would get more energy than you would on the other side. That new larger quantity of energy could then be brought to the opposite side and converted back into matter (perhaps by feeding it into some machine that tries to yank mesons apart, thus creating new mesons due to color confinement) resulting in more matter than you started with.

    It is likely, however, that the energy required to operate such a device - stabilizing the vacuum bubble, running the meson shredder, etc - would result in very little usable energy actually being output.

    (It's also possible that the magnitudes might just automatically adjust themselves when passing through the membrane)
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Going back to negative mass and time travel, if you have access to time travel it may be possible to defeat the second law of thermodynamics as well. This relies on something called the self-consistency principle, the idea that you can't cause a paradox because the timeline can't be changed, and any self-cancelling sequences of events are just that, self-cancelling, and therefore have a probability of zero. Since paradoxes are impossible we could manipulate probability by arrangong things such that undesired outsomes would cause paradoxes, and therefore can't happen.

    Consider, as an example, a tall vertical aparatus made up of (from top to bottom) an automated hatch, a motion sensor, and a coin slot mounted in the bottom of the apparatus. The motion sensor is rigged so that if it is tripped by a coin tossed into the apparatus but the coin slot at the bottom is not tripped it will send a message into the past to close the hatch before the coin can fall in and trip the motion sensor. If the coin falls into the coin slot however, the signal from the motion sensor is interrupted and the hatch does not shut. As the hatch shutting before the coin can trigher it to shut would cause a paradox, it can't happen, and therefore there are only two possible outcomes if a coin is tossed into the apparatus, either the coin lands in the coin slot or the apparatus breaks. With sufficient redundancy in the apparatus (to reduce the probability of its failure being the resolution) things could be rigged so that any coin tossed into the apparatus will always land in the coin slot without fail
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    If a natural process exists that releases more energy than it consumes, you have a constant increase of the overall energy in the universe. Depending on the amount of energy that is constantly being created, eventually you end up with a universe that is entirely filled with infinite energy.
    Wouldn't flow rate matter here, though?

    Let's say that Energon produces +1 energy, but Entropy, over the same period of time, produces -1.1 energy. Now, harnessing Energon will, locally, create an excess of energy, even if, over the entire universe, Entropy continues to win. It's not too dissimilar from the hypothetical matter/anti-matter interaction... 1:1 matter/anti-matter interaction results in pure energy, but 1.1:1 mater/anti-matter interaction results in 1 unit of energy and .1 unit of remaining matter.
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    ...When I asked about what breaks if perpetual energy is discovered, I was not expecting a discussion on loopholes in the laws of thermodynamics that could theoretically result in perpetual energy.
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Well if you want the economics, law, and world power shifts that can get dangerously close to politics...there is that too...just hard to talk about hear clearly.

    And what breaks economically, socially, and politically gets bound up in the details of things like.

    Cost to create, manufacture, and maintain?
    Size and can be transported easily?
    does it need certain rare materials to create?
    how much power does this create anyway? is it scalable?
    what is the expected lifetime of one of these devices before either it needs maintenance or it just wears out and dies?

    so this covers a HUGE range depending on such details.



    what the implications are for physics are comparatively sane...which in the realm of quantum is always a fun thing.

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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Wouldn't flow rate matter here, though?

    Let's say that Energon produces +1 energy, but Entropy, over the same period of time, produces -1.1 energy. Now, harnessing Energon will, locally, create an excess of energy, even if, over the entire universe, Entropy continues to win. It's not too dissimilar from the hypothetical matter/anti-matter interaction... 1:1 matter/anti-matter interaction results in pure energy, but 1.1:1 mater/anti-matter interaction results in 1 unit of energy and .1 unit of remaining matter.
    Entropy doesn't destroy energy, it just becomes unusable because it is evenly distributed.

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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rater202 View Post
    ...When I asked about what breaks if perpetual energy is discovered, I was not expecting a discussion on loopholes in the laws of thermodynamics that could theoretically result in perpetual energy.
    This is GitP - never ask questions that you don't want (other) answers to.

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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    TBH I'm not even convinced we'd replace all of our existing power plants in favor of this perpetual energy. We already have an energy source that is way cheaper and greener than coal, it's called solar and all we do is make up excuses for why we shouldn't use it. I think the same would be true for this perpetual energy device, it would be see extremely limited use.
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    TBH I'm not even convinced we'd replace all of our existing power plants in favor of this perpetual energy. We already have an energy source that is way cheaper and greener than coal, it's called solar and all we do is make up excuses for why we shouldn't use it. I think the same would be true for this perpetual energy device, it would be see extremely limited use.
    If this perpetual generator can work steadily regardless of outside conditions, it is way better than solar could ever be. The key problem with solar power is that it only works at most half of the time, so you need something else to fill the gap in the night. In that regard wind turbines are far more reliable, but also very dependent on the weather and local climate, so they cannot be used everywhere. Just look how much money is pumped into fusion generator research - as long as those perpetual generators can be reliably produced in various scales, they would see a very wide use.

    If solar panels could be used to produce some kind of fuel efficiently, it would solve most of the problems we have with them. There is some research on large scale energy storage, but I do not know of anything good enough to stabilize the energy grid between day and night on the level of whole countries.

    tl:dr solar panels are nice, but cannot be more than an addition to some more reliable energy plants.
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Also, the main reason people look into solar power is that it's more environmentally friendly than burning fossil fuels... But they're not. It's a lower carbon emission but the panels themselves are bad in other ways.

    There are people looking into alternative materials though.

    Admittedly, I do think that part of the reason why it's taking so long for wind and solar power to become efficient and cost-effective enough to put everyone on them is becuase oil companies don't own the sun or weather, but that's neither here nor there.

    Nuclear power is a viable option, but people are scared of it and for good reason. We've mostly got it to the point that as long as everything's built right and everyone does their jobs without slacking off, a meltdown is impossible, but there've been enough incidents that I don't think we can convince enough people that it's safe and... Honestly, with all the horror stories you see about stupid bosses, stupid employees, asshat bosses, asshat employees, and so on I legitimately don't trust people not to screw up eventually myself.

    Also, nuclear material is still dangerous for a long time after it's not longer useful for nuclear generators, and storing it away is already a problem.
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rater202 View Post
    Also, nuclear material is still dangerous for a long time after it's not longer useful for nuclear generators, and storing it away is already a problem.
    Depends on the fuel, as I understand it. Thorium reactors are supposed to have fewer problems with that.
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rater202 View Post
    Also, the main reason people look into solar power is that it's more environmentally friendly than burning fossil fuels... But they're not. It's a lower carbon emission but the panels themselves are bad in other ways.
    I think the main reason they look into solar is because we're not about to run out of it. Solar energy isn't perpetual motion but the distinction between the two won't be a practical concern for power generation until billions of years from now

    Also, a lot of solar plants don't use photovoltaic cells, they use a bunch of mirrors to heat water into steam and turn a dynamo
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Also, a lot of solar plants don't use photovoltaic cells, they use a bunch of mirrors to heat water into steam and turn a dynamo
    Or incinerate targets.
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rater202 View Post
    Also, the main reason people look into solar power is that it's more environmentally friendly than burning fossil fuels... But they're not. It's a lower carbon emission but the panels themselves are bad in other ways.

    There are people looking into alternative materials though.

    Admittedly, I do think that part of the reason why it's taking so long for wind and solar power to become efficient and cost-effective enough to put everyone on them is becuase oil companies don't own the sun or weather, but that's neither here nor there.

    Nuclear power is a viable option, but people are scared of it and for good reason. We've mostly got it to the point that as long as everything's built right and everyone does their jobs without slacking off, a meltdown is impossible, but there've been enough incidents that I don't think we can convince enough people that it's safe and... Honestly, with all the horror stories you see about stupid bosses, stupid employees, asshat bosses, asshat employees, and so on I legitimately don't trust people not to screw up eventually myself.

    Also, nuclear material is still dangerous for a long time after it's not longer useful for nuclear generators, and storing it away is already a problem.
    I don't want to get into a debate whether nuclear or solar or wind is the best because it actually doesn't matter. If you compare the life time CO2 emissions of any of those with coal then they are a rounding error. Coal kills more people per kilowatthour every year than nuclear, solar, wind, hydro put together. In fact they can't even touch it. The difference is in orders of magnitude. I really can't stress how little small the difference between nuclear and solar is when placed next to coal.

    On top of that, coal is way more expensive than solar. Has been for a few years. And it should have been for longer because coal is massively subsidized. It's not even economically defensible to build new coal power plants.

    One thing to note is that IF we somehow transitioned into solar (or whatever other perpetual energy source you prefer) the total pollution would still be considerable. However it's worth noting that considerable is not the same as apocalyptic, it would not disable the stability of civilizations. It would not incur a permanent yearly growing cost in the form of property damage and loss of life from climate change. Climate change is already costing us a fortune every year, that cost will only increase. Either we stop burning fossil fuels or we get to a point where we can't afford to pay for the damages.

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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    I don't want to get into a debate whether nuclear or solar or wind is the best because it actually doesn't matter. If you compare the life time CO2 emissions of any of those with coal then they are a rounding error.
    That's kind of a loaded argument. That's really not the kind of pollution that solar or nuclear produce. Nuclear produces hazardous radioactive materials, and IIRC photovoltaic solar has some issue with the spent panels containing toxic heavy metals or something. That said they both only pollute a small contained area (which is probably the reason why nuclear looks worse than it actually it; it's pollution is concentrated enough that you can see its effects) and the solar one could probably be mitigated entirely by either using the other type of solar generation or by developing better processes for recycling burnt out panels. And I don't think wind produces any pollution at all of any sort (although I'm sure if there was enough of it it could disrupt wind patterns or something and slightly modify weather patterns). Wind is probably the best one environmentally (and hydroelectric is proabably the worst; it disrupts fish migration and water and weather and renders an area one quarter the size of the chernobyl exclusion zone completely uninhabitable simply as a result of normal operation (Lake Mead 247 sq.mi. vs chernobyl exclusion zone 1000 sq.mi.) and honestly Lake Mead probably caused a more significant disruption to natire)
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    Default Re: (Hypothetical) Perpetual Energy is discovered/invented. What breaks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rater202 View Post
    Also, the main reason people look into solar power is that it's more environmentally friendly than burning fossil fuels... But they're not. It's a lower carbon emission but the panels themselves are bad in other ways.

    There are people looking into alternative materials though.
    For along time I hoped for the organic photovoltaic cells to finally come out of laboratories, but there seems to be a lot of problems with that. It is a shame as they not only do not rely on rare earth material, but have much higher potential efficiency.

    That and direct photosynthesis of, for example, ethanol, which is possible, but still far from commercially viable.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Depends on the fuel, as I understand it. Thorium reactors are supposed to have fewer problems with that.
    There are also nuclear reactor designs that can burn out almost completely wide variety of nuclear fuels and waste. As soon as we get those designs online, the most problematic part of nuclear power plants will be gone.

    The thing with nuclear power is that a few (basically two) severe incidents have shaped the opinions of most of the people while the fact that those are the only instances, when the fissile material got out of the facility is less know and much less taken into consideration. The standards set in the modern world for nuclear power plants are downright extreme. It is kind of like with airplanes: they are by far the safest means of transport (due to extreme norms and loads of work put in by countless engineers), but those rare accidents are flashy and catch people's attention.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
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