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The engine runs on static electricity and is self-sustaining. I was wondering if any attempts had been made to create such a device. Research on renewable energy is not of much interest to me, but I think it is very cool getting energy in different ways.

asked Dec 13 '13 at 22:56

Collin1's gravatar image


edited Dec 14 '13 at 11:31

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

To my knowledge, no, it's not possible to obtain enough energy from atmospheric electricity to do what Galt's motor promises, although I could be mistaken about that. It may also be very enticing to calculate the energy available in a lightning bolt and imagine storing that energy somehow and releasing it more gradually on demand to do useful work. I still doubt that there would be enough energy for that to be feasible or practical.

There is, however, another astounding example of a "motor" similar to Galt's that actually exists today and is highly practical: small nuclear power plants, small enough to fit easily into a person's backyard or into the engine compartment of a nuclear submarine to power the sub for months at a time without refueling. The physics for that is already well known.

Update: Science Fiction

In the course of reviewing Ayn Rand's usage of the motor in Atlas Shrugged, I found a passage in Part II Chapter I that confirms the science fiction aspect of the story. It's from the scene where Dr. Stadler has just finished reviewing the partial manuscript that Dagny asked him to review. Dr. Stadler is speaking to Dagny:

The pages where he writes about his converter—you can see what premise he's speaking from. He arrived at some new concept of energy. He discarded all our standard assumptions, according to which his motor would have been impossible. He formulated a new premise of his own and he solved the secret of converting static energy into kinetic power. Do you know what that means? Do you realize what a feat of pure, abstract science he had to perform before he could make his motor?

The story depicts the motor's inventor as an innovator in philosophy as well as physics.

answered Dec 14 '13 at 03:40

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

edited Jan 02 '15 at 21:51

I've always thought that the motor was Rand's metaphor for life. That is, life is a process where the entity consumes static energy to sustain its activities.

And Galt's discovery of the motor is his discovery of the meaning and purpose of life.

(Jan 02 '15 at 03:28) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

Yes. When John Galt walked out of the Twentieth Century Motor Company, he said, "I will stop the motor of the world." (Part II Chapter X.)

(Jan 02 '15 at 21:52) Ideas for Life ♦ Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

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Asked: Dec 13 '13 at 22:56

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Last updated: Jan 02 '15 at 21:52