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Crotchfire



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 9:42 pm    Post subject: Entropy... Reply with quote

First off, I wonder if the latest spambot post was targeting me, somehow.

Anyway...

I've been thinking about entropy (the tendency of the universe toward disorder... or, to think of it another way, diffusion on a universal scale).

Entropy works in the direction of killing life, as life works toward acquiring energy so that it is useful... and entropy works toward redistributing energy randomly, so that it works toward homogenization, which when applied to a living thing, results in death.

Life had to start somewhere... but as life forms reproduce, more and more energy moves toward a usable state. The more life there is (and the more diversified the life is), the less homogenized is the energy, and as life spreads and evolves, energy becomes less and less homogenized. So my issue is, how can I reconcile entropy (I think it's the second law of thermodynamics) with these facts?

I suspect that the flaw is in my perception of things, but nonetheless, I was wondering if someone here could reconcile entropy with the patterns of life.

Any thoughts?
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe it's because I've got a hangover I'm misinterpreting this... but are you contemplating genocide? Razz
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, not genocide against PEOPLE, per say. Maybe just those damn ants in my mailbox.

Not getting many responses... so I suspect that there isn't all that much interest in physics :/
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never udnerstood the concept.

Exactly what evidence was there that the universe inevitably falls towards a homegenous soup?
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Entropy is most apparent when viewing the behavior of energy. If you start out with a conducting rod that has a temperature of 10 degrees celsius for half its length and a temperature of 30 degrees celsius for the other half of its length, the temperature at any given point on the rod will exponentially decay toward 20 degrees celsius.

In terms of matter, there is a underlying level of randomness to everything, if you go small enough.

The random movement of molecules gives us diffusion of gases and liquids.

Even solid matter has random vibration.

Random movement tends toward homogeneity in a system. Of course, there are limiting factors on this randomness, and these lessen the effect.

I'm not really an expert on this, however. I graduated with a degree in mathematics, not in physics. I'm just thinking about this for fun, because I'm that much of a nerd.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am more interested in the concept of entropy in terms of social structure in biology, as well as the human race.

All things eventually break down over a period of time, so it's interesting to see first-hand some things in today's world that are slowly breaking down through the laws of entropy.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

See, I don't think entropy can be applied to human social structures. Yes, systems break down, but it seems like the systems that rise up to replace the previous ones one become more and more complex, and over a very long period of time gradually become more efficient. Compare feudalism to our society, today. Does our society today seem like a step in the breakdown of long-term social structure? I perceive it as being ever more complex.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laws are only something that people use to simplify the universe, so many of them do not apply in a circumstances. Biology and biodiversity itself defy the concept of entropy, creating ever differentiating species.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Crotchfire wrote:
See, I don't think entropy can be applied to human social structures. Yes, systems break down, but it seems like the systems that rise up to replace the previous ones one become more and more complex, and over a very long period of time gradually become more efficient. Compare feudalism to our society, today. Does our society today seem like a step in the breakdown of long-term social structure? I perceive it as being ever more complex.


Isn't that the entire reason for entropy though? For things to move forward, things must also break down. I do not see entropy as you see it in the physics sense; I personally see it as a decline in systems through different factors, and the "diffusion" of energy could happen in many different ways. People stop believing, things start to become corrupt and so on and so forth.

I'm more of a sociology/biology person, myself. I was never really fond of physics. =)
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always believed that entropy was a universal inevitability. There is no way to reconcile it with the ongoing evolution and growing complexity of life as we know it. It is what it is: it's the breakdown of everything. Metal rusts and decays. Rocks are worn and abraded by wind and rain. Dirt erodes and tectonic plates shift. The center of the Earth cools and food spoils. Bacteria multiply until they are more numerous than their habitat can support and they die. Humans and every other living thing start dying the moment they are born. Your CD player will eventually stop spinning fast enough, your car will at some point lose its ability to process gasoline in a manner conducive to locomotion. Your hearing will fail and your eyesight will falter. Your body will become less able to heal itself from simple wounds. Your cellphone battery will no longer hold its charge. Your floppy discs will become corrupted by a random magnetic field. The tree in the park will stop renewing itself. Paper will yellow and crumble to dust.

Entropy is everywhere in every facet of existence. The sun will burn itself out just as surely as we will work our bodies to their end. I'm not sure there is a logical means by which one can reconcile life's patterns with entropy. I'm not even sure that life has patterns. Life is random. I mean, there are things that are set to happen, like the way birds hatch from eggs and the way leaves fall, but as far as evolution goes, random events can decide how a species develops. If the Earth's primordial oceans hadn't receded, we'd still be living underwater. But entropy would still occur.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Entropy... Reply with quote

Crotchfire wrote:
Entropy works in the direction of killing life, as life works toward acquiring energy so that it is useful... and entropy works toward redistributing energy randomly, so that it works toward homogenization, which when applied to a living thing, results in death.

Life had to start somewhere... but as life forms reproduce, more and more energy moves toward a usable state. The more life there is (and the more diversified the life is), the less homogenized is the energy, and as life spreads and evolves, energy becomes less and less homogenized. So my issue is, how can I reconcile entropy (I think it's the second law of thermodynamics) with these facts?


Life forms use energy in order to reproduce and maintain their structure. On Earth, we have a significant energy source, in the form of the sun. Most of the sun's energy is just dissipated in space or in the earth's atmosphere as heat. Only a very small percentage of that energy is used for photosynthesis. And although plants do use the sun's energy to create complex and energetic chemical structures (like DNA or ATP), they receive much more energy from the sun than they are able to store chemically. So although it is true that life does represent islands of complexity/concentrated energy, it's part of a vastly greater entropic process, i.e., the sun's fusion reaction.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 2:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to come late to this discussion, but I have been out of town, and my days were too full to even look at a computer. (Yes, I am aware this is blasphemy, and will duly accept the lightning.)

If it looks like entropy in not happening because life is happening, that just means you need to enlarge the system you are observing.

Any perceived decrease in the disorder of the life on the earth, for example, need only to be looked at within the context of the solar system as a whole. Except for the life occurring at the black smokers deep in the ocean, all life owes itself, either directly (photosynthesis) or indirectly (consumption of other life, which chains backwards eventually to photosynthesis) to the sun. Which is entropizing itself at a tremendous rate.

And the black smokers are contributing to the homogenization of the temperature at the earth's core.

So yes, life does reverse entropy, but only on a local level. To see the actually occurring entropy in any system containing life, keep zooming out by factors of 10, and it will eventually reveal itself.

Edit: Wow, I just noticed that Grimoire said all that just a few hours ago. Well, what he said.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 3:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed with Grimoire and complexnumbers.

The second law of Thermodynamics (which indeed you're talking about) only applies to closed, isolated systems. Since the earth is not strictly a closed system - it receives constant input from the sun, but entropy ensures that one day that will stop - the second law of thermodynamics is not violated by evolution anymore than (as someone said) the law of gravity is broken by jumping up.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed. I was just pointing out that the law isn't any more constant than gravity prevents things entirely from moving against it.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Munan wrote:
Agreed with Grimoire and complexnumbers.

The second law of Thermodynamics (which indeed you're talking about) only applies to closed, isolated systems. Since the earth is not strictly a closed system - it receives constant input from the sun, but entropy ensures that one day that will stop - the second law of thermodynamics is not violated by evolution anymore than (as someone said) the law of gravity is broken by jumping up.

Technically, the universe is a closed system. So yes, entropy will devour the whole frikken universe someday.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, the physicist is in the house!
Oh...wait...
It seems that everything has been answered. I guess I'll go find something else to do...
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haha snooze you lose.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 1:11 am    Post subject: Re: Entropy... Reply with quote

Crotchfire wrote:
First off, I wonder if the latest spambot post was targeting me, somehow.

Anyway...

I've been thinking about entropy (the tendency of the universe toward disorder... or, to think of it another way, diffusion on a universal scale).

Entropy works in the direction of killing life, as life works toward acquiring energy so that it is useful... and entropy works toward redistributing energy randomly, so that it works toward homogenization, which when applied to a living thing, results in death.

Any thoughts?


Hmm. Are you feeling to kill something... Or possibly, someone? No, just kidding. Anyway, what did you have in mind when thinking of this?
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Raziel



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simon_Says wrote:
Technically, the universe is a closed system. So yes, entropy will devour the whole frikken universe someday.


Because the universe is infinite, it will be an infinite amount of time before entropy takes full effect.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2006 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately it isn't infinite.

Big Bang theory you see.

Unless Steady State theory is proven, it'll be sorta like chaos in the Warhammer universe, you can try to curb the damage for a short while, but eventualyl it will devour all.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, well, virtually infinite then.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Something can't be virtually infinite... any finite quantity, no matter how large, is still infinitesimal compared to the infinite.

Math nazi to the rescue!

By the way, thanks for the clarification on the whole viewing the whole closed system, thing. I guess I overlooked our most obvious power source :/
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Crotchfire wrote:
Something can't be virtually infinite... any finite quantity, no matter how large, is still infinitesimal compared to the infinite.


Well, seen from a human point of view (and there is no other point of view that I have acces to) it looks pretty darn infinite. So, it's a matter of perspective, that was the only thing I wanted to say. I'm not a mathematician. I teach philsophy of art and do research in literary theory. Basically, that means I have a licence to hold paradoxical views and say irrational things - ask my students...
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never even heard of most of this stuff. Now my brain hurts from thinking and contemplating. Ow.

But as far as I can tell, it makes little sense to me.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Crotchfire wrote:
Math nazi to the rescue!

Where's Ipsa when you need her...
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