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Latin term for a perpetual motion device. A device (thermodynamically closed system) that achieves motion which can be used to do work (i.e. a closed exothermic reaction). Conceptually "weaker" versions (but essentially equivalent) are not-quite closed systems which exhibit motion at a fixed rate despite energy loss.

Forbidden by the first law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy) and the third law of thermodynamics (increase of entropy), depending on exact formulation. In other words, quite impossible; don't waste your time looking for one.

However, an excellent source of physics puzzles!

Poem by American poet William Carlos Williams from his 1936 book of poetry, Adam & Eve & The City. IMHO, one of his best pieces of work, which ranges from themes of lovers to that of racist hatred, to the beauty of "stars of matchless splendour" and "bright-edged clouds..."

—a dream
we dreamed
        we two

of love
        and of

that fused
in the night

in the distance
the meadows
        by day
        The city
we arrived—

        A dream
a little false

toward which
we stand
        and stare

All at once
        in the east

        All white!


as a flower

a locust cluster
a shad bush

Over the swamps
        a wild
magnolia bud—
a northern
And so
        we live

At night
        it wakes
On the black

a dream
        toward which
we love
at night
than a little

We have bred
we have dug
we have figured up
our costs
we have bought
an old rug—

We batter at our
unsatisfactory         brilliance

There is no end
        to desire

Let us break
and go there—



Milling about—

Money! in
armored trucks—
Two men         walking
at two paces from         each other
their right hands
        at the hip-
on the butt of
an automatic
till they themselves
hold up the bank
and themselves
        drive off

for themselves-
        the money
in an armored car-

        For love!


wisps of long
dark hair


by wisp
upon the stubs
of his kinky wool
For two hours
        they worked-

he coiled
        the thick
knot upon
that whorish

upon his face
by the lines—

—a running horse

        For love.

Their eyes
        blown out-

for love, for love!

Neither the rain
Nor the storm—
can keep them

        for love!

from the daily

        of their
appointed rounds—

the creamy foods
out of sight
the sub-cellar—
the waste fat
the old vegetable
        chucked down
a chute
        the foulest
sink in the world—

And go
on the out-tide
ten thousands
floating to sea
        like weed
that held back
the pristine ships—

And fattened there
an eel
in the water pipe—

        No end-




        -a dream
of lights

the iron reason
        and stone
a settled


of matchless

in bright-edged
the moon




Tearful city
        on a summer's day
the hard grey
in a wall of


Williams began to play more with the rules of mechanics and language later on in his career, and a perfect example of this is Perpetuum Mobile: The City from Adam & Eve & the City, which was published in 1936. In this poem, the first sentence has a much different structure from his usual work, with a tone that is actually quite similar to E. E. Cummings in his use of language and his word placement:

-a dream/ we dreamed/ each/ separately/ we two// of love/ and of/ desire-// that fused/ in the night.

He then weaves this thought among phrases describing a city, and his life there with a partner. There also seems to be a cynical, yet still-hopeful yearning about his life:

We batter at our/ unsatisfactory/ brilliance-/...Let us break/ through/ and go there.

This much more personal glimpse into the life of Williams is characteristic of his later works, as he leaves behind the patronizing tone heard in Riposte. Williams then tells various short stories about various acts of violence, from a bank robbery to an act of hate against an African-American man, and ends them with the exclamatory phrases For love! For love. -for love, for love! with his message implying that these horrendous ‘daily accomplishment(s)’ are anything but love.

Interestingly, the structure of the poem is a bit closer to the poems of E.E. Cummings, in that he cuts up the sentences with space, and he uses punctuation, such as exclamation points, to put more power in his words. Furthermore, Williams seems more comfortable with syntax, as he overlaps a sentence upon itself, becoming almost repetitive:

Carefully/ carefully tying/ carefully// selected/ wisps of long/ dark hair/ wisp/ by wisp.

This technique affects the imagery, as the scene is slowly revealed to the reader. In this way, Perpetuum Mobile is really quite close to a stream of consciousness style for Williams, though at times it reads more like a series of memories and bits of newspaper articles, and then comments on those, as opposed to the relatively mono-stylistic method of Cummings.

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