by The Phantom Websurfer
©2006 Bard and Cubist -- all rights reserved
From a certain point of view, it could be argued that TSAT's demise is an example of TANSTAAFL -- "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch"; the zine's readers got a lot of nifty transformational stuff, but they never offered anything in return, with predicable (if somewhat protracted) results. Curiously, the Universe actually does allow 'something for nothing'! The catch is, it's strictly a quantum-mechanical deal (see also: 'vacuum fluctuation'), which means that while it can be significant for stuff on a subatomic scale, it's irrelevant and unobservable as far as the normal-sized world is concerned.
Thus, the final Random Access link is a monument to Man's eternal, albeit futile, search for a Free Lunch.
Over unity; under suspicion
Perpetual motion machines -- that is, gadgets which generate more power than they consume -- simply aren't possible. Nevertheless, untold thousands of people throughout history have poured vast quantities of time, treasure, and effort down the rathole of Building a Perpetual Motion Machine. And why not? If only the thing could be done, the payoff -- free energy for all! -- is mighty tempting, isn't it? Alas, all such efforts have failed, utterly and completely. Which doesn't prevent charlatans from bilking people with perpetual motion scams, nor well-intended fools from tilting at windmills. About all that's changed is the terminology; nowadays, the up-and-coming devotee of perpetual motion talks about 'over-unity', or 'free energy', devices.
Donald Simanek has collected information on a large number of different perpetual motion machines, ranging from the ancient (a mercury-driven overbalanced wheel, 8th Century India) to the contemporary (the notorious Schadewald gravity engine) -- and he explains why each one can't actually work. Check out The Museum of Unworkable Devices for further details.
Originally, this space included an exhortation to submit interesting links to TSAT, the better for them to show up in future installments of Random Access. Too bad there won't be any future installments any more...