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electrostatic machine - Atlas Shrugged - John Galt

John Galt invented a new type of electrical apparatus described in the book as a motor. This motor is revolutionary because it uses static electricity from the atmosphere as its main source of energy, requiring only a small amount of conventional fuel to run the conversion mechanism. This approximates a perpetual motion machine of the second kind, a machine which spontaneously converts thermal energy into mechanical work (versus conventional heat engines, which convert thermal energy into mechanical work by transferring thermal energy from one reservoir to another). The theory is that the power is drawn from the environment (possibly approximating the Casimir effect, though that was extremely obscure and scientifically controversial at the time Atlas Shrugged was written). The book gives the source as static electricity from the air, and suggests that a new physics was necessary to tap it. Additionally, the motor could be seen as a metaphor for a person who, like Reardon and Dagny, has the ability to convert dispersed energy and resources into useful materials. Dagny discovers a discarded prototype of the motor, and it is superficially described in section Part 1, Chapter 9. In Part 3, Chapter 1, Dagny learns that Galt is using a working version of the motor to generate electricity for Galt's Gulch.
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