Does Violating the Second Law imply Time Reversal, And Sheehan's Perpetual Computer

Even if one could reverse entropy and violate the second law, this wouldn't necessarily create a time machine or a way to go back in time, or reverse the exact events that happened. Consider if you were able to violate the second law with a brownian ratchet or with Daniel Sheehan's perpetual computing device, or the devices at This would decrease the entropy in the universe (if hypothetically it worked) but wouldn't cause the whole universe to run in reverse, nor would it even reverse an isolated part of the system locally since the information would end up in a different place (different configuration of particles) in the new low entropy state after the violation. Time would still exist. Sheehan's computer or the brownian motion electric generator would just cool down the universe in that particular local section that it was working in, it wouldn't set the information (particles) back exactly to what it was 10 seconds before, or 4 minutes before.

I therefore highly doubt the idea that the second law defines time, since even if the second law were broken, time would still exist, and have direction (with only some decreases in entropy occurring). If one could build a perpetual energy generating machine, our lives would continue as they are now; just it would be a lot easier to generate electricity. The universe would not go into reverse and start doing things backwards, as the new low entropy state would be different configuration of information (particles) than 20 seconds ago when it was lower entropy.

Even if you decrease the entropy of a system without expending energy (2nd law violation) this does not guarantee that the information will be in the *exact* earlier state it was before - the information could end up in new positions, but still low entropy.

Consider for example a brownian motion device that generates electrostatic charge due to random vibrations... you violate the second law and time goes in reverse? No, you just end up organizing electrons in a low entropy state in a capacitor. But the electrons were not gathered up in the capacitor 10 seconds ago or 10 minutes ago in that configuration, the electrons were on wool.

Now on the other hand if you could somehow make a 2nd law violating machine that took the information from an earlier point and rearranged that information exactly as it was before, then this would create a local small time machine. By local I mean it doesn't reverse the entire history of the universe, it only reverses what is in the petri dish that you are reversing ( or under your microscope with nano technology ). Sort of like total entropy of the universe versus local entropy.

A very important point to consider is that it would be much easier to create a second law violating device that did not reverse time, it would be much easier to create a device that simply reorganizes the particles or information into a low entropy state that was different than the previous low entropy state. This is because you then do not need to replicate exactly the old low entropy state with exact configuration of information.

It is much harder to configure information exactly the same as old information, than it is to just arrive at a low entropy state of any kind. An example is a corrupted hard drive where a poem has a few words in it that just so happen to rearrange into equally as poetic words: "The dog went to the store." becomes "The god went to the store" The word dog becomes corrupted, and becomes god, making the poem more meaningful, even though corruption is supposed to be high entropy and disordering information (religious joke about mutations).

Are local time machines possible where one reverses the information back to its original state locally and not the entire universe? An example is a computer simulation that you could rewind so the characters could relive their exact same lives, only slightly differently, or even exactly the same way with no differences at all - is a computer system a local time reversal machine since one can reverse the lives of computer simulation characters, like Second Life or Grand Theft Auto virtual worlds? A computer works by adding energy to the system and does not violate the second law, but Sheehan's perpetual computing system would violate the law - could you recycle the heat back into the computer and would Shannon's information theory be revised?

Sheehan's perpetual computer wouldn't reverse time as far as I know, as it would reconfigure information to a new low entropy state than the previous low entropy state. Similarly if you used the devices to power a computer you wouldn't reverse time locally or universally, you would simply reconfigure information (particles) to a new low entropy state. Low entropy doesn't have to be the same exact low entropy as a previous state. For example if you hooked up an electrostatic generator to the CPU to turn all heat into electricity again, the electrons would be in a new low entropy state that was not the same configuration of information 2 seconds ago when it came out of the CPU as heat, or more seconds ago when it was electricity before it reached the CPU chip (in some capacitor in the circuit).

As for Shannon Information Theory and how a second law violation would affect it, this is an open area of research and I am still thinking about it. I will update this article or point to a new article when I have come up with any words that could possibly describe the implications. What would happen to the equations, redundancy, error correction: second law violation to a new low entropy state would probably mean will still need redundant error correction (like in http browsers that send sockets), just that your computer would run much more cooler. However I have not thought about it nearly enough to make proper comment yet.

© Larry Olson 2012-15   Email: mail at olsonb dot com