Energy is the lifeblood of civilization, but inexpensive, high energy density sources are rapidly being depleted and their exploitation is severely degrading the environment. This paper explores a radical solution to this energy-environmental dilemma. In the last 10–15 years, the universality of the second law of thermodynamics has fallen into serious theoretical doubt [1–3]. Should it prove experimentally violable, this would open the door to a nearly limitless reservoir of ubiquitous, clean, recyclable energy. If economical, it could precipitate paradigm shifts in energy production, utilization and politics. In this paper, recent challenges to the second law are reviewed, with focus given to one for which laboratory experiments are planned. Possible consequences of its violation for technology, society and the environment are explored.
Keywords: entropy—energy—second law of thermodynamics—climate change—environment—ecology—energy economy—famine
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