Think Of The Homeless

There are over 30 million Americans who live on the streets of our nation. Can you consider giving something to a shelter near you? Your fellow human beings need socks because they walk everywhere. Food and shelter are great too, if they will take them. So please give.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Entropy Rules

If Entropy Had a Face

Entropy Rules

When we think about entropy, do we really know just what it is? Do you even care? Well, you might, it just might help to understand what entropy is and what it is not in relation to our very existence.

The word entropy is all about a certain mathematical quantity that is important when considering the origins of our very existence and the beginnings of the universe itself. In order to understand changes in our world it is important to be clear and accurate as to the definition and reality of entropy in our lives. 

Entropy is basically the mathematical quantity that allows scientists to measure the way physical systems change. No matter what they subject, everything in physical existence experiences the changes brought about by entropy. In the “First Law”, mass and energy are conserved. In the “Second Law” the entropy of any physical system increases with the passage of time. Think of it as a cosmic bell curve, when something is begun, it has a slow rate of decline, but as time passes, the rate of decline increases proportionately. This applies to every physical system. 

Entropy was coined by scientist Rudolf Clausius when he sought to describe an unusual mathematical quantity that he had discovered. This was a differential whose integral vanished around a closed path. (?) In 1896 Ludwig Boltzman recognized a close relationship this quantity and the way gas molecules move at differing speeds. He showed that molecular velocity distribution  had all the observable properties of “entropy”.  This discovery in the early days of its study lead to the idea of entropy being all about heat exchange.

Entropy is simply the name of a mathematical expression that measures the degree to which energy becomes less available for proper work to be performed over time. Entropy always increases  due to time passing and the energy that is available to do “useful” work is lost to a form that is not useful for work.

As an example, air in a balloon can be pressurized to effect an outside physical construct. Air just spread out in a room can do nothing, as there is equal pressure from all sides and a null state is achieved. 

Early in the twentieth century, it was believed that nature moved in one direction, from order to disorder. But this was a mistake of observation. When water turns into steam, it only appears to have become disordered. But why does nature move in this seemingly one way direction?

Scientists believe that everything is made from atoms. There are 92 useful kinds, and “building blocks” or molecules are the result of different combinations of atoms. Water is made from hydrogen and oxygen atoms and the more the water is heated, the more violent actions there are among molecules crashing into each other, creating greater disarray among them. Ice tea, for instance, has a greater amount of molecular order than hot coffee.

Entropy, however, does not automatically transfer into a meaning of disorder. The mistake is that disorder and entropy are the same thing, and that as time goes by, disorder is created from order. 

Imagine an ice cube, slowly melting, as the heat rises and the ice absorbs the heat, the molecules become more and more active within the water. Is this disorder being created? What about the object that supplies the heat? If you are using a match to melt the ice, then as the heat goes out from the match, the match becomes more ordered, because the state that heat exists in, one of “disorder” is transferred to the ice. 

The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that total entropy must increase. But this doesn’t require that disorder increase. So there you have in the example of the ice melting, and the match getting cooler, that the disorder of the heat condition is merely transferred, but the total amount of order and disorder on both counts increases and decreases respectively. There is NO lasting state of disorder. 

Entropy has nothing to do with disorder. Many people believe erroneously that indeed it does have everything to do with disorder. There is, of course, a correlation, but not an identification.  When it rains, you use an umbrella to counteract the falling rain. But if you stayed home when it rains, the umbrella does not get wet. Therefore, there is no direct correlation between rain and  your umbrella. 

The identification of disorder and entropy has led to a silly thing called negentropy. This is an assumption that negative entropy exists and balances things out in order to allow ordered life to be able to appear. Negentropy is flawed in many ways. Order and disorder are NOT automatically identified with entropy. It violates one sided conservation laws. There are also mathematical flaws, the function describing our intuitive notion of disorder is unique when positive. 

Despite all this, there are those who have tried to use negentropy as an explanation in describing how life was begun by natural processes. Life, however, is complex, not ordered. The conditions needed to create life by a natural process require a loss of complexity. Ice is ordered and not complex because it is made up of millions of tiny units that are identical to each other. If we describe one, we will describe them all. When ice turns into water, the information needed to describe ice is actually less than that of the water’s description, because the atoms now move in independent fashions not seen in the ice state.   Life is more like water, we need vast amounts of information to describe life because of its complexity, and therefore negentropy is just plain wrong.

The more ordered something is, the less complex it is. Living cells are highly complex structures. It requires vast amounts of information to describe a living cell. To explain life’s origins, we must explain the source of information contained within each cell. Whatever brought life into being did not lose information but created it. Entropy that  relates to the creation of life is concerned with the information inside of nucleotides along DNA strands, not the distribution of levels of energy. 

Life itself is not ordered, it is complex. An increase in the organization of a structure requires the systematic increase in information. Information is not produced by natural processes in the degree that is necessary to produce life. 

So let’s take a look at this in brief...

1) The Second Law of Thermodynamics require entropy to increase. 

2) Entropy is not disorder.

3) Negentropy cannot be identified with disorder.

4) Ordered molecules present less information.

5) Living cells are not ordered - they are complex.

With the passage of time, the world becomes less focused for the observer. This deterioration manifests in the act of having less available energy for useful work. Useful work requires directed motion in space. Over time, motion continues unobserved and thus less information is gathered for the description of whatever the object of focus used to be. I understand, that sounds like words  strung together for no reason, but this is because of wrong perceptions about the nature of our perceived reality. 

Basically, because of our limited states in reality, we will always lose information, never gain it. Therefore all measurements will yield incomplete information, uncertainty increases with the passage of time. Entropy is this uncertainty. 

Entropy is the way we measure the degree to which we observe the deterioration of energy into less useful forms over time. Decay corresponds to the progressive decline of an observer’s  ability to extract useful work from the system due to an increasing uncertainty as to objects from the past he once was certain of. Blah, blah, blah.

Entropy is the loss of information used to describe an object, and involved in its inception. It is NOT a move toward disorder and energy loss. Matter is transformed, energy is transferred. Disorder is actually an illusion of the limited perspective.

1 comment:

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