If you’ve taken a Physics class or two throughout your period of academic discovery, you may have encountered a little thought experiment commonly referred to as Maxwell’s demon. I’ve recently learned I am different from most people, as I am a big fan of the ne’er-do-well, so here’s a little refresher:
In 1867, Mr. Maxwell felt the need to antagonize Lord Kelvin (yes, that Kelvin), who earlier proposed the second law of thermodynamics. For the sake of brevity, the law describes how hot particles always spread out.
Maxwell clapped back, writing a letter to Kelvin, describing a hypothetical scenario where two separate rooms connected by a door significantly differ in temperature. According to Kelvin, this is impossible. However, Maxwell described an equally impossibly fast demon, who controlled the door in such a way that the hot and cold particles separated.
I really enjoy this thought experiment, since everyone can enjoy it without the pesky bounds of reality. It would be such a drag if every time someone was curious, they’d have to find the appropriate rooms, a door, and a hirable demon with at least 15 years of relevant job experience. Entry-level demons are easy to deal with, but the senior-level ones demand health insurance, stock options, and a 401k.
With the power of imagination these days, scientists don’t even need the OG demon. During the great resignation, the demon saw the writing on the wall and has been living on the streets ever since. But don’t fret, Maxwell’s demon has evidently found a new place to practice his mischievous ways…
You might have heard of this zesty new model, as it is the center point of many water cooler conversations! But this isn’t your grandfather’s Elkay LZS8WSLK EZH2O Bottle Filling Station with Single ADA Cooler, Filtered, 8 GPH, Light Gray, Commercial!
This devilish spin on the king of personal water distribution can be located on the first floor of Bausch and Lomb, just outside of room 106. This fountain is streets ahead of the competition, as it’s the hands free model!
“What does that mean?” you may ask.
“Surely it works the same as any other water fountain,” you may naively proclaim. FALSE! Wrong, I say! This is the work of a demon!
Dear reader, I beg you to experience this fountain for yourself. You will approach the water fountain, slam your palm into either the front or side, and find that to do absolutely nothing. This is because there is no way of physically interacting with it to turn on the flow. ONLY ONCE I BACKED AWAY DID THE WATER BEGIN TO FORM A BEAUTIFUL PARABOLA, TAUNTING MY PARCHED PALATE.
I rapidly approached the stream, maw agape, only to be met with the very last droplets of the stream. Angry, all I could think to do was air-bite in the general direction of the stream. Eventually, that yielded a positive and very messy result.
Considering myself to be out of the proverbial woods, I went to exit via the tunnels, only to find that the demon beat me to the double door and was back for round two. I swing open the right door only for the left one to meet me at an equally high speed.
I gave up and decided to flee via the second floor to the quad.
What did I learn from this altercation? Technology is bad — and demons are only marginally worse.