Sunday, January 18, 2009

Perpetual motion



'Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?' (Browning.)

It's part of the human condition, I think, to always be yearning for the unattainable, and it being Sunday I'm prompted to make this childish confession.

Since the age of about thirteen I've dabbled in experiments on perpetual motion. Every once in a while I'll sit down and do a few more drawings, play with a bunch of magnets, build silly little machines. It's a ludicrous pastime. Intellectually I understand perfectly well that the laws of physics forbid the possibility of perpetual motion, and yet and yet, etc.

Arrogant, quixotic, call it what you will - its very hopelessness is what makes the quest seem worthwhile.

(The above image is Boyle's self flowing flask, incidentally. And no, just in case you were wondering, it doesn't work.)

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