Darwin-L Message Log 1:84 (September 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

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<1:84>From wis@liverpool.ac.uk  Fri Sep 10 05:37:18 1993

From: Bill <wis@liverpool.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: entropy, order and chaos
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 93 11:37:06 BST

> To add my own two cents worth to the discussion on entropy as a
> directional force, isn't there a theory that entropy is not a dead-
> end, but a force that eventually leads to new order? The argument,
> as I understand it, goes somewhat like this: orderly matter degrades
> into entropy (chaos), which can build up as heat, for example, until
> there is so much of this entropy/heat that it shoves the system back
> into a higher state, and thus into new order. I believe this idea
> came from Ilya Prigogine's book _Order Out of Chaos_, but my
> understanding of the work may be very flawed. Can someone explain to
> me how close to the mark I am on this? And what effect would this
> concept have on theories of directionality caused by entropy?
> Mark VanderMeulen
> (t80mav1@niu.bitnet)

Hello List Readers!

As my introduction, I think I'll just describe myself as a paleomechanic
and then leap into the fray. My understanding of entropy has always been
that it is very much a global concept rather than a local one. True, the
laws of thermodynamics predict a universal increase in the level of
entropy but at the local level of our planet, because of the flow of
energy through the system, you actually get an increase of order
(reduction in entropy) mostly due to the activities of life. Of course
this energy flow won't continue forever. When the sun eventually fades
away, then the true course of the universe should re-assert itself.

However, if you subscribe to the oscillating universe theory, once the
Universe contracts back in on itself, we get lots of energy flowing
through systems again and plenty of chance for more increases in order -
so we won't permanently be out of jobs :->.

Bill Sellers


Remember, it's never too late to have a happy childhood!

__________wis@liverpool.ac.uk______________ ( )_( )
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