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View Diary: Taking a stroll down Entropy Lane (32 comments)

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  •  the question for me is always--where is it going? (1+ / 0-)
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    because if Einstein is right you can't destroy energy. Isn't that correct?
    and there is no "outside" to this system, seeing as how the "system" in question is the universe. So the energy that is lost one place must be taken up in another place, yes?

    There are some things that are unforgivable. Your willingness to play political games while people suffer and die is one of them--Onomastic

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 11:13:08 AM PST

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    •  Einstein asserted (2+ / 0-)
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      turdraker, Pluto

      Mass = Energy.  

      By a factor of the speed of light (squared).

      Matter and Energy are two sides of the same coin.

      But the "order" imposed on either system, that's what I'm getting at.

      Why isn't the Universe some grand non-descript electron fog,
      for as far as the mind can see.

      Why are there pockets of stability, favorable to Life,
      as short-lived as it may be?

      And thirdly, why don't we make the most of those opportunities (ie chaotic interludes)

      while the energy-trapping is good?

      Isn't it time to fix the Filibuster?
      -- Here's how.

      by jamess on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 11:24:15 AM PST

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      •  And ultimately, (2+ / 0-)
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        jamess, Pluto

        the universe will expand to the point that light/energy from the sun cannot reach the planets in sufficient quantities for life to continue.  There is an inevitable end to the process.  Whether the expanded universe will eventually contract back in on itself and restart the process is anyone's guess, but it's too many trillion years in the future for me to spend time worrying about it.  ; )

        "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

        by Neuroptimalian on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 11:39:54 AM PST

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      •  Electron fog... (1+ / 0-)
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        That would be incredibly unstable and charge-imbalanced.  We kind of did end up with a fog of hydrogen and helium atoms, though (and a few other elements in minor proportion).

        The initial expansion and Big Bang of the Universe wasn't entirely homogenous because of quantum effects in the small space that expanded into our Universe.  Tiny energy differentials got writ very large in the resulting Universe.

        Sound waves also seem to have played some role here, compressing parts and expanding others.  The medium was dense enough at that point to work with them--today, not so much.

        Those areas of higher density are visible today as the patterns and areas where galaxies developed.  Material in the other areas is either too dispersed or fell into the higher density areas via gravitational attraction.

        The densest areas could become the first stars, which themselves tended to blow up rather spectacularly, sending shock waves through their regions and condensing other stars from the mix.

        Gravity's still at work today--the Andromeda Galaxy and ours will collide, touching off an era of extreme star formation as dust clouds interact and press into each other.  It won't be a healthy period to live in either galaxy, but the end result will be billions of stars with potentially habitable planets in a very large elliptical galaxy formed from the remnants of both galaxies combined.

        (-6.25, -6.77) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

        by Lonely Liberal in PA on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 01:59:14 PM PST

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    •  Negentropy (2+ / 0-)
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      Pluto, jamess

      Order created in one place is accounted for by disorder in another. It's a mathematical concept, but seems to me to have a philosophical component as well: the less disorder you create in the surrounding environment, the longer your order will survive, which is why solar and wind energy are superior to fossil fuels.
      But that's just my take.

      "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

      by northsylvania on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 12:35:10 PM PST

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      •  Negative-entropy (1+ / 0-)
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        Nice take, northsylvania.

        I'm making the leap to the "philosophical component" entropy too.

        Of course, I've always thought there was a bit more to Life,

        than a haphazard cacophony of random events.

        Knowledge can live on, even when the individual thinking machine,
        cashes in its chips.

        Isn't it time to fix the Filibuster?
        -- Here's how.

        by jamess on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 12:55:50 PM PST

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    •  It spreads out (1+ / 0-)
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      Getting more even, like a drop of water-soluble dye in a glass of water.  Eventually the entire glass is an even tint with only small variations.

      There's lots of energy in the heat of a room's air, but it's dispersed evenly.  You can't get any work out of it internal to the system, meaning that it's at high entropy.

      If you run a line outside to the cold December air and run something that uses the room's heat and the outside cold to produce energy, you'd take the heat from the room and transfer it outside (you have to do this to get work out of it).

      The room gets a lot colder.  The outside warms a tiny bit (tiny because it's huge).  Eventually, you disperse the heat of the room and can't do any more work with it.

      The Universe, as a whole, does the same thing.  The Sun's heat disperses through space.  Space itself expands.  Eventually, the Sun runs out of fuel and the last of its heat leaves in dribs and drabs over time.  The remnants cool toward the background temperature, and you can't get any more work out of it.

      Once all the energy sources are gone and the heat disperses too thinly to use, that's it--end of game.  There'll always be minor differentials, more and more minor as time goes on, requiring more and more efficient systems to get even tiny drabs of energy from them.

      Earth's life, as it is now, wouldn't survive well without its star (hydrothermal vents being an exception to that rule).  We're not built for micro-Kelvin differential exploitation, but that doesn't mean that someday something might not be.

      (-6.25, -6.77) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

      by Lonely Liberal in PA on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 01:34:19 PM PST

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