Sunday, March 27, 2011

Breaking the 2nd Law

The second law of thermodynamics, very roughly stated, is that the order of an isolated system will tend to decrease. Put another way, things fall apart, rot, decay. Gases dissipate. Suns explode and, eventually, disappear. The cinder blocks under the car in my front lawn will eventually crumble and the car itself will rust away in a few hundred years and the polymers it contains in a few thousand.

But I'm not sure I buy that. It seems to ignore the rather startling fact that there is a consciousness in the universe positing all of this. It seems to ignore the fact that out of the chaos of a gas cloud, a solar system coalesced, formed a planet, and on that planet through some chain of events, atoms linked into molecules of the right type, and those molecules of a certain sort tended to amass into "active" complex proteins and enzymes and whatnot, and all that mess finally organized into me typing this idea out on a laptop.

I know nothing about the proper way to measure entropy. I probably can't afford an entropometer. But it seems rather sensible that the amount of order in a single paramecium or simple bacteria  is rather large. The complex interaction of dna, proteins, lipids, etc... that provide for material intake, metabolism, and pro-creation of those little buggers is astounding. The "order" in a single bacteria cell must counteract the disorder in an exploded sun, in the entropy balance.

When considering the massively astounding amounts of order and on-going pro-creative activity on this planet, it seems quite possible it outweighs all the disorder in the balance of the universe.

This makes me wonder about time.

I have read that entropy is a demonstration of the "arrow of time". What has happened to that arrow since this big bag that gave rise to all this freaking order and information of elements arranged just so on our modest little marble in space?

How can anyone say with a straight face that "entropy tends to increase" when the very sentence comes from the one of the still most astoundingly organized information filled object know to us... the human brain cum consciousness.

I sure have a lot to learn about proper discussions of entropy, but I think scientists who insist entropy tends to increase need to look in the mirror and explain what they see, or even that they see, or even that there is a mirror.