“Nothing in life is certain,” writes MIT mechanical engineer Seth Lloyd, “except death, taxes and the second law of thermodynamics.” But is this necessarily so? In episode 52, we’re joined by Andreas Schilling with the University of Zurich, who discusses his development of an amazingly simple device that allows heat to flow from a cold object to a warm one without an external power supply; a process that initially appears to contradict this fundamental law of physics. His open-access article “Heat flowing from cold to hot without external intervention by using a ‘thermal inductor’” was published with Xiaofu Zhang and Olaf Bossen on April 19, 2019 in the journal Science Advances.



Websites and other resources

Andreas’ video and pictures of the original experiment:


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An animated video describing the experiment:


Media and Press

Physics World | Science Daily | Futurism | ChemEurope | Futurism | TechTimes | IDW (English, German) | Mysterious Universe


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Hosts / Producers

Doug Leigh & Ryan Watkins

How to Cite

Leigh, D., Watkins, R., & Schilling, A.. (2019, June 25). Parsing Science – Bending the Laws of Physics. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.8862209


What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers


Andreas Schilling: I would say the more you know about physics, the less you believe that the whole thing is working.

Doug Leigh: This is Parsing Science. The unpublished stories behind the world’s most compelling science as told by the researchers themselves. I’m Doug Leigh. Ryan’s on vacation but he’ll be back next time. Today, in episode 52 of Parsing Science, we’re joined by Andreas Schilling from the University of Zurich who talks with us about his development of an amazingly simple device that allows heat to flow temporarily from a cold to a warm one without an external power supply, a process that initially appears to contradict a fundamental law of physics. Here’s Andreas Schilling.

Schilling: Hello! I’m Andreas Schilling. I’m living in Switzerland, in the beautiful city of Zurich. I was born actually in the countryside in Switzerland, but I went to a very good school, we had very good teachers there. I finally decided to study physics at the ETH in Zurich. So it’s quite a famous school in Switzerland. So I did my diploma there, and I was asked to do a PhD also, because my grades were not so bad so I was taken as a as a PhD student, and this was actually in superconductivity. So in that time, we discovered a new super conductor which is still high PSI at ambient pressure, so it’s a130 Kelvin also. And then people pressed me to go into academics, so I did a postdoc in Berkeley, so I went two years to the Department of Chemistry actually, but they did a lot of physics there. This was actually the best time of my life, so please ask me to go back there and probably say yes. And then after my contract ended I had to go back, and after that I came to Zurich also as a professor.

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