And now, two of my favorite topics are together at last, in an article about a demon-powered bead.
Masaki Sano, a physicist at the University of Tokyo, and his colleagues have demonstrated that a bead can be coaxed up a 'spiral staircase' without any energy being directly transferred to the bead to push it upwards. Instead, it is persuaded along its route by a series of judiciously timed decisions to change the height of the 'steps' around it, based on information about the bead's position. In this sense, "information is being converted to energy", says Sano....If you're a living system--and let's hope you are--as Cake would put it, Satan is your motor.
Vlatko Vedral, a quantum physicist at the University of Oxford, UK, says that it will be interesting to see whether the technique can be used to drive nanomotors and artificial molecular machines. "I would also be excited to see whether something like this is already at work in nature," he says. "After all, you could say that all living systems are 'Maxwell's demons', trying to defy the tendency for order to turn back into randomness."