The Very Bad News and the Unexpectedly Good News of Entropy

For fifty years I have waited for the repeal of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which I first encountered as a vulnerable schoolboy. Entropy is the unutterably bad news of eventual, universal, ineluctable doom.

The Law, which I reproduce here in italics, is too sad to know:

In all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves the system, the potential energy of the state will always be less than that of the initial state.

Please disregard the Law. If you can. I have never managed to do so.

Its corollary – or perhaps its meaning – is entropy. Entropy is what increases when energy decreases. It is, as Hill and Thornley pointed out in Principia Discordia (via Wikipedia) “the most pessimistic and amoral formulation in all human thought.” This is a big statement that relegates Mein Kampf and Mein Electricity Bill to the ranks of the ordinary.

All predictions of physical science are subjugated by the Second Law. As Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington wrote in 1927 (inThe Nature of the Physical World, also via Wikipedia), “The law that entropy always increases holds…the supreme position among the laws of Nature…If your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.”

The quite unexpected good news filtered through to me only slowly, across the passing decades. The Law has financial corollaries: your income taxation liabilities will not endure forever. You need not hurry to pay off the mortgage – better to linger.

In respect of the environment, the Law promises an eventual end to global warming. Instead the big chill. The final freeze. “An isolated system will eventually come to a uniform temperature” – Wiki again.

As far as metaphysics is concerned, and metaphysics ought to be, very concerned – where have the rabbis and mullahs been, the priests, the popes, the theologians, the nuns, the godbotherers since the Law emerged? – entropy means “The end of all flesh has come before Me” (Genesis, not Wiki). It can only mean the messiah is a certainty. The date of arrival (see my earlier blogposts on the subject remains in contention.

My advice – cheer up and don’t tell the children. Lobby your Local Member and God for a repeal.

One thought on “The Very Bad News and the Unexpectedly Good News of Entropy

  1. Maybe the 2nd Law is inexorably true when summed over the whole system, but then whose mind can comprehend the whole? Entropy has never succeeded in explaining why little local pools of energy grow against the flow, so to speak: animal and plant life, trees and stars even, but most importantly little children. All the Law is able to say in these proliferating anomalies is that, yes, we will all die sooner later. But not before our turn is up, and our chance to store some potential energy in our love-handles for the next marathon.

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