There are very few ideas in physics important enough to call The four laws of thermodynamics are especially important and useful. At one time I examined patents for an industrial company. The question I had to answer was..."will this process or that machine work? Should we buy this patent?" Most machines or processes are too complex to analyze directly in a short time. However, the laws of thermodynamics apply to their operation and make them much simpler to analyze. The analysis begins by abstracting the machine or process to its inputs, losses, and outputs. Then it is simple to apply the laws of thermodynamics to it; and if the machine violates one of the laws, we can send the patent back to the inventor with a polite thank you.
The lectures were titled as The Rights and Duties of the Individual in relation to Government. These lectures formed the base of his 1849 published essay Resistance to Civil Government. The essay was published in an anthology called The word "Resistance" from the title was apt for Thoreau's metaphor of comparing the government to a machine.
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Another example is the unbalanced wheel of our Minnesota farmer inventor. He might describe his out of balance machine from a different perspective. The purpose of building something out of balance is to produce a torque once the machine is set in motion. This torque comes somehow from the way the machine parts change position when the wheel is rotating. The torque times the rotation rate supply power to offset losses from friction.