i just wanted a photo of entropy

entropy menI was watching this neat BBC program with physicist Brian Cox talking about entropy. He gives a pretty good demo showing how time moves in one direction because entropy is always increasing. Things that are made to run backwards through time—like this scene in the video for "Amish Paradise"—look weird because the entropy in those instances seem to be decreasing (note how Weird Al’s hat jumps into his hand… that’s what physicists call spooky action [ok, not really]).

Entropy is crazy. I am trying to figure out what it is. I’m also trying to figure out what it really is. As far as I can figure, it’s a measure of disorder in any given system. That doesn’t quite do it justice, though, because we can’t take a direct measurement of entropy. You can take some energy measurements and approximate the entropy, but that’s really about it. It’s also worth mentioning that the actual equation for entropy involves probabilities… meaning if you’re looking for a definite value, you are out of luck.

So, I guess entropy is something that we made up to help describe the most likely amount of order in a system, which is fine, but isn’t very helpful when looking back at how much Dr. Cox and other theorists rely on the term to describe the world around us. I mean, you can’t use something mysterious to explain why something mysterious happens. That’s magic, not science.

Anyway, I’m trying to sort this whole mess out and I think there is something to learn from how life began. After all, isn’t the origin life some sort of break from the second law of thermodynamics? This order from disorder. Light from darkness. The breaking of the symmetry of classical physics… It sounds pretty epic and I’m going to write more about it soon.

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