Greek scientists believe they have made a discovery which casts doubt on the first and second laws of thermodynamics, by creating a mechanism capable of sustaining a permanent election cycle. Until recently it was believed that this was impossible to achieve because friction would eventually run down the usable energy in the electoral system. However, the mechanism’s defenders argue that it is the exercise of power in government that increases entropy in the system by exposing politicians to friction, whereas electoral campaigning appears to “re-energise” them. Until this discovery, perpetual motion had been considered an “epistemic impossibility” within the current understanding of physics.
To support their claims, the team behind the discovery point to the empirical finding that the last time a Greek government completed its four-year term was 1989, while since then national elections have taken place on average every two years.
The scientists claim that their discovery can in fact be attributed (like most things of value) to the ancient Greeks. The so-called “Antikythera mechanism”, a 2nd century BC calendrical device, was discovered in a shipwreck around 1900 but has only recently been subjected to rigorous investigation using modern scientific techniques. Scholars have puzzled over the function of the device for decades, but this most recent interpretation suggests that it links the frequency of electoral cycles to the movements of the celestial bodies. Using the ancient device as a prototype, the researchers created a modern “perpetual election machine”. The team of Greek scientists hope to use their breakthrough to fuel a recovery in the Greek economy, which is more commonly described as a “black hole”, and thus make the definitive Greek contribution to the unifying “theory of everything”.
Sceptics argue that perpetual elections actually rely on regular infusions of energy from outside the “systemic” parties, and point to the potential role of mysterious so-called “dark matter” in sustaining the continuous election cycle. They have committed to publish their findings in a future post on this blog.
POSTSCRIPT: A first publication of the results of research into political “dark matter” can be found here.
Image from io9.com