device that would be able to operate continuously and supply useful work, in violation of the laws of thermodynamics
. A machine that would produce more energy
in the form of work
than is supplied to it in the form of heat
would violate the first law of thermodynamics, which is a special case of the law of conservation of energy (see conservation laws
, in physics), and is known as a perpetual-motion machine of the first kind. A machine that would completely convert heat from a warm body into work, without letting any heat flow into a cooler body, would violate the second law of thermodynamics, which is concerned with entropy
changes, and is known as a perpetual-motion machine of the second kind. There were a number of early attempts to design and construct various types of perpetual-motion machines; however, since the 19th cent., when the laws of thermodynamics became understood, most such attempts have been abandoned.
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