Peter's Science and Religion Pages

Science & Religion

Entropy

One of the major concepts of physics is "entropy".

This is a measure of the disorder that a system has.

A pack of cards arranged ace,2,3.. of hearts then ace,2,3.. of diamonds etc is ordered.

When you shuffle them the order disappears, i.e. its entropy has increased.

Entropy depends on probability.

In a jigsaw puzzle there is only one way in which the pieces are correctly fitted, but there are thousands of disordered states.

If you shake a correctly fitted jigsaw a little bit you will see entropy increase because there are many more disordered states than ordered ones.

In any change from one state of reality to another, the best we can do with entropy is to hold its change to zero.

In an overwhelming number of cases, entropy will increase.

Energy (the ability to set things into operation) is associated with highly ordered states (low entropy).

As energy is released so disorder increases.

In whatever we do we are using energy (from food), so as we live and breathe we are increasing the entropy of the universe and so contributing to the end of the universe.

Growth processes seem to violate this principle.

Consider how a baby grows from a tiny cell to a large highly ordered being.

S/He does not grow in isolation.

S/He grows in a womb where the mother provides energy.

Setting up an entropy balance sheet shows that:

the "debits" from the decrease in order, ("burning" food), outweigh the "credits" of the increase in order.

We get our energy ultimately from green plants.

Green plants use the energy from the Sun to create order by building up structures such as sugars.

However the plants (like us) always use up more energy than they create.

The prime energy source for all the planet is the Sun and it will run out of energy in a few Gigayears..

Now where did the Sun get its energy from?

Contact: Peter Eyland