Entropy in everyday life

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wegs, May 20, 2019.

  1. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,770
    I ran across a curious quote earlier:

    The ultimate purpose of life, mind, and human striving: to deploy energy and information to fight back the tide of entropy and carve out refuges of beneficial order —Steven Pinker

    I decided to read up on entropy, in terms of what does it mean for everyday life?

    It got me to thinking - is this why we feel off when there's disorder in our lives, and we work to bring order back into it? (Although, some people might enjoy living in chaos, it's not a sustainable state.) Entropy increases on its own, so energy is required to bring back order. I don't know why, but I've never really considered entropy on a granular level, in terms of my personal challenges and triumphs. Not only does entropy affect my life, but it explains it.

    Life has problems, and struggles - but if we're honest, that stems from the law of probability. I've never looked at science quite like this - that it could make sense of my life in a very intimate way. There is a scientific explanation for the struggle...the occasional disorder. When life isn't going quite as we had hoped, when our best prepared plans are dashed - that is entropy.

    So, entropy is at work, when I'm experiencing trials and tribulations. It's as simple and complicated, as that.

    Have you considered entropy in this way?
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
    TabbyStar likes this.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,638
    In certain contexts, frequently. For example, when I have done some house maintenance or tidied the garden I often feel I'm pushing back against the 2nd Law. (Though of course I am not really, just moving entropy around and increasing it somewhat overall). And when things go wrong I sometimes think the 2nd Law is against me. When my son was tiny, he had some coloured bricks with letters, numbers and mathematical signs on. After a particularly chaotic session I arranged a few of them to make S=k ln W and took a photo. (Turns out he is a historian and not a scientist at all, however.)
     
    TabbyStar likes this.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 69 years old Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,254
    NO

    Disorder is not entropy

    Wheny you tidy stuff up you use energy

    When you mess stuff up you use energy

    Energy gets you coming and going

    Since the Universe is a closed system, only so much matter, only so much energy, and you cannot make any more of either, you use it, you loose it

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,770
    You know where I'm coming from. In these scenarios, you are ''pushing back'' against the 2nd Law, right? If you never worked on your garden, weeds would take over. The weeds represent disorder,and entropy pulls us into that disorder. Without your effort, your garden will not flourish. By expending your own energy, you overcome the disorder that would eventually become your garden. The reason this intrigues me is it offers a scientific explanation for why life can sometimes be complicated, despite our best efforts, and without effort, we shouldn't expect order in our lives. ''I'm a good person, why is this happening to me?'' is a common question people ask when life turns upside down (metaphorically). Everyone's life goes through periods of disorder, but that disorder won't magically disappear; it requires our energy to bring order back into our lives.

    I know; Entropy is a measurement of disorder. It is associated with a tendency towards disorder.

    But things don't remain ''tidy,'' so you have to continue to expend energy to keep it that way.

    Order doesn't just happen, we have to create it. I've never really thought about it in an everyday, how-does-this-apply-to-my-life kind of way. It would seem obvious that we have to play an active role in producing an orderly life, but when you’re dealing with a problem, sometimes you don’t see it that simply and you dwell on it, procrastinate, maybe even grow resentful that your life is uncomfortable. But seeing it as having a simple science explanation, may help me to act sooner than later, if that makes sense?
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
    TabbyStar likes this.
  8. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    13,108
    Fighting entropy is my secret rationale for cleaning up.

    If that screw gets separated from the device it belongs to, the connection between the two - that bit of information - is lost from the universe.
     
    TabbyStar and wegs like this.
  9. geordief Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,169
    `
    Disclaimer:entropy baffles me quite a bit.

    So can I ask (if your post was serious of course) whether entropy can be seen as relative?

    If the connection between the screw and the device has no effect on one observer does he/she not view it as information in that case?
     
  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    13,108
    I dunno about relative entropy. But I do see it as a lost piece of information regardless of who the observer is.
    The screw is now worse than useless; it is simply an object that takes up space in a drawer and will never find its way back to order again once the connection is lost.

    My pool pump now has five 1 1/4" Robertson bolts and one 1 1/2" Phillips bolt. Meanwhile, there is a single 1 1/4" Robertson bolt on its own lonely and divergent trajectory through space time. One can imagine the universe preforming its entropy wiles upon my pump over millions of years until its got six different bolts and a casing made out of a 1 gallon paint can.
     
    exchemist likes this.
  11. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,770
    Lol

    Science is going to help me break my procrastination habit! Who knew.
     
    TabbyStar likes this.
  12. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,770
    I have questions about entropy, one being:

    How is entropy increasing when making popcorn, for example?

    And another:

    When entropy increases, and we expend energy, is there a reverse reaction happening, at the same time?
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
  13. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,770
    One more:

    So, entropy only increases spontaneously? And it only decreases with energy input (iow, non-spontaneously)?

    That’s confusing me.
     
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    13,108
    Not everything increases entropy.
    It applies to a closed system (no energy input).
    When you look at any given system (such as making popcorn) you have to examine if there are inputs to the system, such as power.
    We can locally reverse entropy, here on Earth, because we get our input from the Sun.
     
    TabbyStar likes this.
  15. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    13,108
    Yes. A clay brick will slowly disintegrate as the atoms jostle and vibrate.
    The number of atoms spontaneously sticking to a brick to reform it are vastly exceeded by the atoms falling off.
     
    wegs likes this.
  16. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 69 years old Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,254
    Everything AGES

    AGE causes stuff to deteriorate (entropy) at work

    No need for energy input as
    Thank you DaveC

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
    TabbyStar likes this.
  17. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,770
    Okay, I think I'm getting this.

    So, using house cleaning as an example. On average, it likely takes more effort/energy to clean an entire house (than it does to make it a mess), and if we don't clean for a few weeks, then it becomes messy. Would the resulting mess be considered spontaneous? The house becoming messy = entropy increasing.

    Does that seem accurate?

    ((Thank you for your help in explaining this.))
     
  18. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    13,108
    What is the unit of "aging"? What is the mechanism by which it acts upon things to increase entropy?
     
  19. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    13,108
    If you were to enclose the entire house in a bubble so you could measure the forms of energy in it, you would find a clean house, but slightly less "fuel" (in whatever form - probably chemical energy stored in your stomach), and slightly more heat.
    You have organized your house, but at the cost of turning chemical energy into heat. The amount of energy in the system hasn't changed, but you can't recover that heat to perform work. It is useless.
    Eventually, in a closed system, you will starve.

    In an open system (say, with the sun shining - on your tomato seeds), you are still converting chemical energy to heat when you organize, but there is plenty of energy entering the system through your window.
    Unfortunately, that will only last another 5 billion years or so, and the sun will slowly dissipate its energy as unrecoverable heat.
     
    wegs likes this.
  20. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,770
    Okay, this is so helpful - thanks!

    So, why do we care about measuring the amount of energy unavailable to do work?
     
  21. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    13,108
    We do?
     
  22. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,770
    ha Well, someone probably does, I think?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    13,108
    Well, it's a good way to show that the energy in a closed system doesn't change - like if you're trying to understand entropy...

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     

Share This Page