Steve Reuland posted Entry 1959 on January 31, 2006 08:16 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1954

That expression could describe South Carolina state Senator Mike Fair and Governor Mark Sanford. It is somehow more fitting than “peas in a pod”. As I reported previously (here and here), the curriculum standards dealing with evolution are under assault in SC by Sen. Fair, who is being coached behind the scenes by the Discovery Institute. But now Gov. Sanford has thrown his hat in the ring for the side of ID, and in the process, has managed to demonstrate exactly why politicians should quit trying to second-guess scientists: He has no clue what he’s talking about.

The newly formed South Carolinians for Science Education has transcripts up of an interview Sanford did for a local TV station. They even have the audio, if you’re one of those who likes to have a voice to associate with crazy statements. (If you’re a SC resident, please register and/or get on the mailing list while you’re at the site; official means of joining will be available in the near future.) Below the fold I’ve reproduced the relevant portion of Sanford’s interview, and included some discussion.

Newswatch – WIS – TV – January 29, 2006

Host: David Stanton
Guest: Gov. Mark Sanford

DS: What do you think about the idea of teaching alternatives to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in public schools… for instance Intelligent Design.

MS: I have no problem with it.

DS: Do you think it should be done that way? Rather than just teaching Evolution?

MS: Well I think that it’s just, and science is more and more documenting this, is that there are real “chinks” in the armor of evolution being the only way we came about. The idea of their being a, you know, a little mud hole and two mosquitoes get together and the next thing you know you have a human being… is completely at odds with, you know, one of the laws of thermodynamics which is the law of, of.. in essence, destruction.

Whether you think about you bedroom and how messy it gets over time or you think about the decay in the building itself over time. Things don’t naturally order themselves towards progression…. Uuummm.. in the natural order of things. So, it’s in fact, it’s against fairly basic laws of physics… and so I would not have a problem in teaching both… Uh, you saying this is one theory and here’s another theory.

It’s sad to even have to say it, but let’s set the record straight. First of all, if you follow the human lineage all the way back to a single celled organism, at no point along the line will you see anything resembling a mosquitoe. Mosquitoes are insects, and insects didn’t evolve until the Devonian, long after the arthropods (the phylum to which insects belong) and chordates (our own phylum) went their separate ways.

Now that we’ve gotten Sanford’s rotten understanding of phylogenetics out of the way, we get to the best part, which is his claim concerning the 2nd law of thermodynamics. This argument is so bad that only the most die-hard creationists still use it; even the ID people have had enough sense to drop it completely. The 2nd law doesn’t say that order never comes from disorder. If it did, pretty much all instances of, you know, order would be hard to explain. That would include, among other things, life itself. How does Sanford think a single-celled zygote becomes a human being; or an acorn becomes a mighty oak tree; or a single bacterium, placed in a sugar solution, becomes billions of bacteria? These are all examples of order coming from disorder. And the 2nd law of thermodynamics doesn’t preclude them unless you have a closed system, which the Earth manifestly is not.

Today’s Charleston Post and Courier carried a front page article about this embarrassing episode. Among other things, the author pulled the journalistically brilliant move of, well, asking a physics professor:

But intelligent design isn’t provable by experimentation and thus doesn’t meet a definition for a teachable science topic, according to College of Charleston physics professor Bob Dukes and biology associate professor Robert Dillon Jr.

Dillon is a founding member of South Carolinians for Science Education, which a group of scientists and educators formed after state legislators made statements similar to Sanford’s and in an effort to address contention over the final approval of state biology teaching standards.

The pair took the governor to task for his televised statements. They argued that there aren’t “chinks” in the armor of evolution, and said a later citation of the second law of thermodynamics was taken out of context.

In his Sunday statement, for example, the governor said, “The idea of there being a, you know, a little mud hole and two mosquitoes get together and the next thing you know you have a human being is completely at odds with, you know, one of the laws of thermodynamics.”

“That’s what the governor is confused about,” Dukes said. “The earth is not a closed system and we can get order from disorder.”

It’s great to have some push-back against this nonsense. If you are from SC, feel free to notify your local op-ed page that you really don’t want Sanford making your children as scientifically illiterate as he is. And don’t forget to check the SCSE page for more info.

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Comment #76570

Posted by Rich on January 31, 2006 8:31 PM (e)

Format snafu?

Comment #76571

Posted by Steve Reuland on January 31, 2006 8:34 PM (e)

Fixed.

Comment #76572

Posted by Anton Mates on January 31, 2006 8:39 PM (e)

one of the laws of thermodynamics which is the law of, of.. in essence, destruction.

The Law of Destruction!

I wish I’d learned about that in thermodynamics class. It sounds exciting.

Comment #76573

Posted by H. Humbert on January 31, 2006 8:49 PM (e)

The law of destruction? Does that have anything to do with the fact that whenever a creationist talks about science, they will always destroy their own credibility?

Comment #76578

Posted by Fross on January 31, 2006 9:05 PM (e)

What a day for I.D. news. First I read that the I.D. movement is suddenly embracing common descent, and now I read that they believe it all started with two mosquitoes getting it on in mud hole. They’ll come up with anything to attack the law of destruction.

Comment #76583

Posted by Apesnake on January 31, 2006 9:30 PM (e)

I think the Law of Destruction involves the fall of Adam and Eve.

Ah, you don’t believe
it’s about the Eve of Destruction?

Comment #76584

Posted by Rodney wilson on January 31, 2006 9:33 PM (e)

Ooooh, ok, Gov. Sanford used Senator Fair’s Biology standard, indicator B-5.7 revised:

Critically analyze the methods and assumptions used to construct phylogenetic trees and identify evolutionary relationships.

It’s weird. It seems Fair is being tutored by DI, while Sanford is studying under Kent Hovind. Nice combo.

Comment #76591

Posted by Albion on January 31, 2006 9:51 PM (e)

If a person really thinks that a major biological theory contravenes a basic physical law, he ought to be wondering how come the physics research community hasn’t pointed it out. Physicists have no particular need to defend evolution from attack.

Unless the EAC is a lot more widespread than just biologists, of course. The entire scientific community must be part of it. No wonder creationists feel so embattled.

And I wonder if the good governor knows that common descent is actually OK with the IDsts. At this rate the major effect of Kitzmiller will be to give a shot in the arm to the good old young-Earth creationists when people start being afraid that ID is making them jettison too much of what really matters to them.

Comment #76593

Posted by Ed Darrell on January 31, 2006 9:54 PM (e)

Hmmmm.

I recommend South Carolinians for Science Education should invite the governor and Sen. Fair to visit a local library: This one: The C. Warren Irvin Collection, at the University of South Carolina. http://www.sc.edu/library/spcoll/nathist/darwin/darwin.html I know for a fact that they do not know what is going on in their state, and as elected officials it is their job to learn.

Hmmm. Then: Somebody ought to alert these guys to the South Carolina Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (go see here: http://www.scidea.org/default.asp). It’s laced with research projects based on evolution, and with researchers advancing evolution. Last November the group got a $17 million grant from NIH – this is big stuff for the state. And when alerting them, somebody should ask them why they want to kill such research by being stupid about high school curricula.

Both of these guys should be invited to answer questions at graduate school seminars. I recommend they start locally, at the University of South Carolina, here: http://cricket.biol.sc.edu/evolution.html.

It looks to me that, as with other states in the Bible Belt, evolution is big business in South Carolina. I’ll bet there is a billion dollars of research on South Carolina agriculture alone, every year, that is related to evolution and grounded in evolution theory. Farmers need to know that their governor and senator are out for them. Teachers need to know that these guys are out to frustrate their teaching the best information to kids. Parents and seniors should know that these guys are taking basic stands opposing key medical research done in South Carolina, for South Carolinians.

They’re politicians – I’m sure they’d love the opportunity to meet South Carolinians and explain themselves on this issue.

Comment #76597

Posted by Karl on January 31, 2006 10:07 PM (e)

Before all of you get involved in arguing about this post, please fill me in on some of the abbreviations and insider terminology that you use: e.g. IMHO, below the fold, on the bathroom wall(or something)!?

Comment #76604

Posted by argy stokes on January 31, 2006 10:25 PM (e)

For Karl

ID=Intelligent Design
DI=Discovery Institute
YEC= Young Earth Creationism
OEC= Old Earth Creationism
IC= Irreducible Complexity
CSI= Complex Specified Information
FSM= Flying Spaghetti Monster
GotG= God of the Gaps
SLOT= Second Law of Thermodynamics
EAC= Evil Atheist Conspiracy
RM= Random Mutation
NS= Natural Selection

There are plenty more.

Or were you asking for the specifics you mentioned?
IMHO (also IMO or IMNSHO)= In my humble opinion (and variants thereof)
Below the fold= the stuff in the article that doesn’t appear on the main page, which you have to click on “continue reading” to read.
The Bathroom Wall= Home of Carol Clouser and John A Davison, and off-topic comments that annoy the moderator.

Comment #76607

Posted by Ritchie Annand on January 31, 2006 10:54 PM (e)

There really is a lot of abuse of the second law of thermodynamics, so much so in the colloquial use of “disorder”.

There are a couple of interesting sites dedicated to a discussion of the second law and entropy. This one is a pretty good “conversational” discussion of all aspects of the law.

There’s also this site, and in particular the [somewhat jargon-laden but good] article, Disorder - A Cracked Crutch talking about how “disorder” is not a synonym for entropy, and numerous cases of increased entropy with decreased “disorder”.

Comment #76608

Posted by Flint on January 31, 2006 10:58 PM (e)

Sounds like the same old battle for minds and hearts, between those who consider the evidence decisive, and those who consider it irrelevant. Wherein we once again illustrate the near-impossibility of communication between those who want to be right with respect to reality, and those who want to be right in the eyes of God (their version). The former requires that you know a great deal, and the more the better. The latter requires that you know as little as possible and misunderstand even that. (The latter is MUCH easier. Your ‘arguments’ needn’t be informed, accurate or even coherent. All that’s required is that you avoid stumbling on the actual merits. But if you do, that’s OK, you can pretend you didn’t see them.)

Comment #76609

Posted by Karl on January 31, 2006 11:00 PM (e)

Thank you Argy.

Comment #76611

Posted by Steve Reuland on January 31, 2006 11:14 PM (e)

I thought about updating the original post to include this tidbit, but decided that it’s probably best included as a comment.

It turns out that scientific illiteracy is not new to Sanford; he managed to display plenty of it back when he was a US Congressman. This is funny:

In a discussion on the House floor this month over another piece of N.S.F.-related legislation, Rep. Marshall (Mark) Sanford, a South Carolina Republican, warned foundation officials that he would push an amendment to the spending bill that would seek to punish the agency for studies of “questionable scientific value.” He specifically cited one study that he said was about automatic-teller machines. The next day, Mr. Sanford outlined his concerns in a letter to his colleagues titled “Poker and Pool at the NSF? Stop Playing Games with Taxpayers’ Money,” which zeroed in on two foundation-sponsored studies about billiards.

N.S.F. officials quickly pointed out, however, that Mr. Sanford had many of his facts wrong. The study that he thought was about automatic-teller machines – it had “A.T.M.” in its title – was, in fact, about asynchronous transfer modes, a principle of high-speed networks that is crucial for transferring large amounts of data between laboratories.

The studies about “billiards” were not about the parlor game, the N.S.F. said, but about the term in physics and atomic theory that conceptualizes how atomic particles carom off one another when energized. The research is now used to study how air flows around aircraft, or how water flows around ships.

And the $193,554 study that Mr. Sanford’s letter describes as being about “social organization through poker,” N.S.F. officials said, was meant to develop a theory about how individuals determine which of their resources they will risk to gain the benefits of joining a group.

Fool.

Comment #76613

Posted by Tice with a J on January 31, 2006 11:29 PM (e)

“That’s what the governor is confused about,” Dukes said. “The earth is not a closed system and we can get order from disorder.”

YES! Say it loud, Bob Dukes! Remind them about the Sun!
Yeah, it really, really annoys me when people bring up the 2nd-law argument.

Comment #76614

Posted by Tiax on January 31, 2006 11:39 PM (e)

By the sound of things, if anyone did come from two mosquitoes in a mudhole, it was Governor Sanford, and you wouldn’t have to trace his lineage back too far to find them.

Comment #76618

Posted by Yellowstone Scott on January 31, 2006 11:59 PM (e)

If the SLoT works the way the creationists claim it does … well, doesn’t that put God out of business, too?

Comment #76622

Posted by GvlGeologist on February 1, 2006 12:12 AM (e)

I was going to write that it’s just not possible that Gov. Sanford is that much of an idiot (and IDiot); that he must be playing to his constituency. But then I read comment #76611 by Steve Reuland.

Wow.

What a moron. How did he manage to get elected? I wonder what the educated Republicans who voted for him think now. Truly a sad commentary on South Carolina.

Comment #76644

Posted by Dude on February 1, 2006 1:06 AM (e)

I also, at times, do not understand how people this ignorant get elected to public office.

Then I remember that all you have to do these days is MAKE ignorant statements like this to convince a majority of voters to vote for you.

It isn’t a matter of the ignorant being elected, it is a matter of the ignorant doing the electing.

Comment #76645

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 1, 2006 1:07 AM (e)

While the Hon. Governor clearly has a lot to learn about evolution and thermodynamics, the second law of thermodynamics does legitimately enter into areas with religious overtones, as was amply demonstrated on another thread recently.

The argument goes as follows: The universe as a whole must be a closed system. Thus the second law is applicable to it. That implies that the entropy of the universe is expected to continue to increase with the passage of time (time’s arrow). So rolling the tape backward, to ever earlier points in time, should reveal a universe with ever decreasing entropy. Since entropy cannot be negative, the process must come to an end at some point. Since we cannot reasonably propose an inert universe in which no significant physical processes take place, this can only mean that the universe had a true beginning, with no physical processes of any type prior to its appearance.

This begs the question of what was the “cause” whose “effect” was the appearance of the universe. Whatever that entity was, if the laws of physics hold, its entropy remained constant, most likely at or near zero, going back infinitely in time, without the second law being violated. Some folks see “God” in this entity.

Comment #76654

Posted by Jim Harrison on February 1, 2006 1:49 AM (e)

Carol’s argument has two flaws, both fatal:

1. Nobody knows whether or not the universe is a closed system.

2. If you simply roll the tape backwards, i.e. use the ordinary physics equations to retrodict the entropy of earlier stages of the universe, you’ll wind up figuring that the entropy of the past was greater than the present. Entropy should increase in both temporal directions.

Mechanics doesn’t know anything about the arrow of time. Of course, we know that the entropy was once greatly less than it is now; and we use that knowledge to guide the application of the laws. It doesn’t follow from ‘em, however. I recommend that Carol read a serious treatise or even a reliable popularization on thermo some time. Acually knowing something would be a delightful change for her. And after she figures out how it works, she can inform us where in the Book of Psalms (correctly translated) we can find these important facts along with an acrostic version of Maxwell’s equations. Selah.

Comment #76657

Posted by Tiax on February 1, 2006 1:56 AM (e)

While I don’t want to drag this too far off-topic, it is my understanding (and someone with more expertise either back me up or contradict me as the case may warrant) that the laws of the universe as we know them don’t really apply as you get really really close to the singularity going back in time, so entropy may not have had to be decreasing in the very young universe.

In any case, this potential discussion has no particular relevance to what the governer is saying here, nor is it relevant to any debate on evolution.

Comment #76671

Posted by BWE on February 1, 2006 2:41 AM (e)

and so I would not have a problem in teaching both… Uh, you saying this is one theory and here’s another theory.

And next we’re going to make paper snowmen class. Won’t that be fun. Markie, please stop eating the glue.

Comment #76692

Posted by hehe on February 1, 2006 4:36 AM (e)

It’s official! ID denies the Big Bang!

http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/748

http://internationalreporter.com/news/read.php?id=845

Comment #76704

Posted by Peter Henderson on February 1, 2006 6:19 AM (e)

Gov.Sanford’s comments about mosquitoes and presumably the second law of thermodynamics (in the interview he doesn’t know which law he is referring to since he states that it is “One of the laws of thermodynamics”) just shows how little he knows about science in general. But unfortunately he is not alone. I reckon there are a lot of people who think as he does and it just shows how much influence creationists like Ken Ham or Kent Hovind are having on people’s understanding of science. It doesn’t matter how many court cases,like Dover for example, end in victory for science, it is not going to change the mindset of people like Gov. Sanford.

When someone who is highly qualified postulates arguments like those the Gov. has just used most people don’t have the scientific knowledge to question them. I heard similar view on evolution a while back from professor Kevin Farmer of Oklahoma University. “You take a
rock,water it for millions of years, and after a while it becomes a person.Better be careful which rock you sit on” (hoots of laughter from the congregation). It just shows that scientists have not got their message across to the general public when nonsense like Prof Farmer’s comments and Gov. Sanford’s are so well received. Creationists seem to be winning the battle !

Comment #76714

Posted by idioteraser on February 1, 2006 8:12 AM (e)

Wait is this the Kevin Farmer of the Oklahoma College of Pharmacy? Do you have a more detailed reference of that quote?

Kevin Farmer from his teaching and publications isn’t someone who would have any real knowledge of science. His courses are about marketing pharmaceuticals and managing a pharmacy. Sure stuff people should know but it doesn’t make him qualified to speak on biology.

Comment #76718

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 1, 2006 8:41 AM (e)

Jim Harrison,

Thanks for your sarcastic recommendations. But you are ridiculously wrong on both “fatal” counts, as is usual for most big mouths.

First, the “universe” by definition is a closed system. There is not a shred of evidence for multi-verses.

Second, entropy does provide an arrow for time and increases only in one direction. Your statimg otherwise just shows that your understanding of entropy is exceeded by that of the Governor.

Comment #76722

Posted by Peter Henderson on February 1, 2006 9:03 AM (e)

Idioteraser:
Professor Farmer was a guest on the Victory in Jesus programme, which is hosted by tele-evangelist Billy Jo Daugherty and the quote was from one of their shows a couple of months back which I came across while I was channel hopping.

The guy was introduced as someone who was an authority on pharmacy. OK, so maybe he isn’t an expert on other sciences, but in order to do pharmacy he surely must have taken some reasonably advanced courses on Biology. I was really taken aback at what he said especially coming from someone so well educated. I’ve heard Hovind coming off with the same nonsense i.e. evolutionists say that people evolved from rocks etc.

The statement by Gov. Santon about mosquitoes in my view was in a similar vein. I’m surprised he didn’t say “better not step on any mosquitoes in case they might eventually end up as people”

Comment #76723

Posted by Peter Henderson on February 1, 2006 9:13 AM (e)

Carol;Re entropy. Someone correct me if I’m wrong but here are some of my recollections about the second law of thermodynamics: The example given was water. When ice turns into water there is an increase in disorderliness and therefore an increase in entropy. The same thing happens when water turns into steam. Surely this means that the process of increasing entropy can be reversed since steam can condense and water can freeze ? My memory of these lectures was nearly thirty years ago so I could be wrong but this is what I remember.

Comment #76725

Posted by PvM on February 1, 2006 9:22 AM (e)

Clauser wrote:

First, the “universe” by definition is a closed system. There is not a shred of evidence for multi-verses.

Other than the theoretical possibility thereof. In other words, multiverses follow from well supported theories.
Do multiverses exist? Some argue, quite convincingly, that they do.

The idea of a multiverse – an ensemble of universes – has received increasing attention in cosmology, both as the outcome of the originating process that generated our own universe, and as an explanation for why our universe appears to be fine-tuned for life and consciousness. Here we carefully consider how multiverses should be defined, stressing the distinction between the collection of all possible universes, and ensembles of really existing universes that are essential for an anthropic argument. We show that such realised multiverses are by no means unique. A proper measure on the space of all really existing universes or universe domains is needed, so that probabilities can be calculated, and major problems arise in terms of realised infinities. As an illustration we examine these issues in the case of the set of Friedmann-Lema\^{\i}tre-Robertson-Walker (FLRW) universes. Then we briefly summarise scenarios like chaotic inflation, which suggest how ensembles of universe domains may be generated, and point out that the regularities which must underlie any systematic description of truly disjoint multiverses must imply some kind of common generating mechanism. Finally, we discuss the issue of testability, which underlies the question of whether multiverse proposals are really scientific propositions.

What if the universe is open?

Comment #76728

Posted by Russell on February 1, 2006 9:30 AM (e)

…concerning the 2nd law of thermodynamics. This argument is so bad that only the most die-hard creationists still use it; even the ID people have had enough sense to drop it completely.

Yes, but it seems to me Dembski’s mathematical prestidigitations are just an attempt to take the same arguments, fog them up with a lot of impenetrable jargon, and present them as if they’re something new.

Comment #76730

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on February 1, 2006 9:38 AM (e)

You guys just won’t cut the governor any slack. He’s got a legit point: If we’re descended from mosquitoes, why are there still mosquitoes?

Comment #76732

Posted by AD on February 1, 2006 9:44 AM (e)

First, the “universe” by definition is a closed system. There is not a shred of evidence for multi-verses.

Define “closed” as you are using it, please.

I think that’s where the problem might be here.

Also…

“the total entropy of any thermodynamically isolated system tends to increase over time, approaching a maximum value.”

Pulled from wiki, which is probably accurate enough here for our purposes. Obviously, the earth cannot be considered a thermodynamically isolated system, and thus, it is invalid to apply this law to anything other than specific instances on the earth. Also, notice the statement of “tends”, as the implication is that in a widespread diverse system, there are likely going to be individual points of “interest”, by which I mean while on average the whole system might trend in one direction, that does not constrain every individual point to do so. Certainly, there is no statement of the timeframe in which this must happen.

Lastly, this is specifically a physics principle that is often misapplied outside the discipline. Please don’t abuse it with trying to jigger it into evolution. That’s usually just as valid as claiming electrons can only reproduce by meiosis or mitosis, to steal from biology and go to physics.

Comment #76733

Posted by Greg H on February 1, 2006 9:49 AM (e)

At the risk of both angering the moderator, and raising my blood pressure, I will attempt to illustrate the ways in which Carol is mistaken on how entropy actually works. It is my understanding that this has been attempted before, but sometimes it only takes one straw to break the camel’s back.

The basic entropy equation is expressed thus:
The change in entropy (deltaS) is equivalent to the change in the heat constant (deltaQ) divided by temperature. Or,
deltaS = deltaQ/T

So if we examine Carol’s argument about the arrow of time, we realize that her argument is flawed, because she fails to account for one thing.

There is no reference to time in these equations. Entropy doesn’t care what time it is. The delta’s do care about elapsed time, but since that can never be negative (even when you run the tape backwards, you are still passing time - the idea of a negative elapsed time is nonsensical, like the idea of travelling negative distance) we can safely ignore it, which is why the equations don’t include a value for it. Or if you prefer we can show that it would be cancelled out of the equation anyway, but I’m hoping we don’t need to go that far.

Comment #76735

Posted by Andy H. on February 1, 2006 10:01 AM (e)

Comment #76723 posted by Peter Henderson on February 1, 2006 09:13 AM
Someone correct me if I’m wrong but here are some of my recollections about the second law of thermodynamics: The example given was water. When ice turns into water there is an increase in disorderliness and therefore an increase in entropy. The same thing happens when water turns into steam. Surely this means that the process of increasing entropy can be reversed since steam can condense and water can freeze ?

What the second law says is that the total entropy of a closed system tends to increase over time. There can still be local decreases of entropy within the closed system.

Comment #76736

Posted by AC on February 1, 2006 10:08 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

What if the universe is open?

God As First Cause will just be pushed back one more step. He is a emotional logical necessity, after all.

If you doubt this is possible, how is it there are MOSQUITOS + CHIMPS??

Comment #76747

Posted by Rolf Manne on February 1, 2006 10:44 AM (e)

I have taught statistical thermodynamics a couple of times although I am not an expert. The theory is really developed for gasses consisting of a very large number of particles.

A closed system is one with a fixed number of particles but it may still interact by transfer of energy with the surroundings. In the latter case it may be in thermal equilibrium, that is have a constant temperature.

An open system is one which can exchange particles with the surrounding.

An isolated system is one which neither exchanges energy nor particles with the surrounding. In addition, if it has fixed external parameters, which are usually called “volume”, the second law says that the entropy of the system will grow for spontaneous processes.

If one were to treat the universe as a closed system it would have constant energy and tend to maximize its entropy, at least according to classical mechanics. I don’t think this is helpful in a discussion of evolution. What is important is that the earth is not an isolated system as defined above, and a living organism is not.

For non-isolated systems there are other thermodynamic quantities that take the place of entropy in the second law. Two of them are called the Helmholtz and Gibbs free energies. They go to a minimum for spontaneous processes. Thus when water freezes to ice at a constant temperature energy is given off to the surrounding. This compensates for the simultaneous loss of entropy.

Comment #76752

Posted by Ginger Yellow on February 1, 2006 11:06 AM (e)

Even setting aside the vital closed/open system distinction, why is it so hard for these people to grasp that bedrooms, buildings and junkyards aren’t self-replicators?

Comment #76756

Posted by Greg H on February 1, 2006 11:24 AM (e)

I like to think that it’s because they’re ignorant of the science, and simply don’t understand. i feel the real answer may be that they’re being disingenious and counting on the populace to be the ignorant ones.

Comment #76762

Posted by JONBOY on February 1, 2006 11:55 AM (e)

Carol, Is the universe by definition a closed system? It was my understanding that we do not know for sure,whether the the universe as a whole, is a closed system or not.As far as the conditions preceding, and at the very moment of the “big Bang”, we do not know if the the universe was closed or open(to another larger system)or whether the First Law, or in fact any of the other laws, even applied under such extreme conditions.
If entropy moves in one direction, does life,say on earth,increase or slow down the rate of entropy increase?I would think it may slightly increase it.This would be based on the fact that life has increased the light absorbency of the earth,and that could led to the thermalization of some light energy that(might) otherwise be travel ling through space in a somewhat lower entropy form.
This is just my opinion Carol,and I will leave out the sarcasm

Comment #76765

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 1, 2006 12:09 PM (e)

PvM,

Even if we grant the possibility (and that is all it is, a theoretical possibility with no basis in data whatsoever, usually something scientists ignore) that other universes exist, the argument I outlined above would still be applicable to the aggregate of all universes. So all you are doing is pushing the issue outward in space and time.

Greg H,

The BASIC entropy equation is not the one you wrote but S = K log Omega, where Omega represents the total number of states available to the system in phase space.

AD,

A closed system is one that is not interacting with anything outside the system. This certainly is applicable to the universe as a whole, it is certainly not applicable to the earth.

You can replace “tends to increase” with “is EXTREMELY likely to increase” in the case of large system. In the case of the universe as a whole it is a virtual certainty that its entropy will increase.

Comment #76768

Posted by Rolf Manne on February 1, 2006 12:30 PM (e)

A few years ago I looked up the original papers by J. Willard Gibbs, published in the Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences in the 1870’s. He opened with a German quotation from the originator of the concept of entropy, Rudolf Clausius (1822-1888) saying that the energy of the world is constant and the entropy tends to a maximum.

If Carol Clouser makes the same statement she is thus in the best possible company. However, as I wrote earlier today, this is just not relevant in a discussion of evolution. Also, it is not important for the discussion which form of entropy one uses, the one from classical thermodynamics used by Greg H, or the one from statistical mechanics that I have taught and which Carol pushes.

Comment #76774

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 1, 2006 12:53 PM (e)

Rolf Manne,

The delta S equation cited by Greg H. is a utilitarian statement about change in entropy (S) which leaves open the definition of S and the possibility of an arbitrary additive constant. Now that we know that the quantity S in that equation and in the equation I cited refer to the same thing, and since the latter offers a direct definition of S, the latter is the more informative statement when analyzing issues such as we are here doing.

Comment #76776

Posted by k.e. on February 1, 2006 12:58 PM (e)

Yeah yeah yeah first there was nothing then it exploded.

Somehow I fail to see why projecting some sort of belief back through time (think about it) explains the fact we were born and then die.

Unless of course you try to introduce physics into religion where you end up with nothing more meaningful than

Black Holes are where God is dividing by zero

There is this farmer who is having problems with his chickens. All of the sudden, they are all getting very sick and he doesn’t know what is wrong with them. After trying all conventional means, he calls a biologist, a chemist, and a physicist to see if they can figure out what is wrong. So the biologist looks at the chickens, examines them a bit, and says he has no clue what could be wrong with them. Then the chemist takes some tests and makes some measurements, but he can’t come to any conclusions either. So the physicist tries. He stands there and looks at the chickens for a long time without touching them or anything. Then all of the sudden he starts scribbling away in a notebook. Finally, after several gruesome calculations, he exclaims, ‘I’ve got it! But it only works for spherical chickens in a vacuum.’

Anyway Entropy isn’t what it used to be….

Comment #76780

Posted by Lou FCD on February 1, 2006 1:08 PM (e)

…So I was gonna try and do an experiment involving chickens in a vaccuum, but my wife says she doesn’t want to deal with the feathers when she does the carpets…

Just the view from a Carpenter’s son.

Comment #76782

Posted by CJ O'Brien on February 1, 2006 1:10 PM (e)

Agreed that this has nothing whatever to do with evolution.

However, I have always had trouble with the concept of “the entropy of the universe.” Carol says, “the universe is a closed system, by definition.” Now, setting aside multiverses and other cosmological exotica, let’s take this as granted.

Doesn’t this make the universe unique among “systems”? i.e. the only truly closed system? And therefore, not really even a “system” in the sense that its entropy can be measured? Or perhaps I’m making a philosophical distinction without a difference.

Would someone care to set me straight, in terms an armchair philosopher can understand?

Comment #76784

Posted by Mr Christopher on February 1, 2006 1:15 PM (e)

Any truth to the rumor that the mosquitoe will soon be the offical state bird of South Carolina?

Comment #76791

Posted by Greg H on February 1, 2006 1:41 PM (e)

However, Carol manages to overlook the actual point I was trying to make in her haste to correct which formula I was using…even when you run the clock backwards, as Jim Harrison pointed out in Comment 76654, you still get positive entropy values.

Using Carol’s own equation, Omega must be a natural number, the log of which is also always positive. Since K is a positive constant, this means that S can only take on values >= 0. After all, you can’t very well end up with a negative number from multiplying two positives. Thus, as Jim first pointed out, back when you were accusing him of sarcasm, etc, Carol, you can’t get negative entropy values by simply backing up the time tape. As Jim so succintly put it,

Entropy should increase in both temporal directions.

and using the standard equations (regardless of which one we pick), we find that it, indeed, would.

Comment #76793

Posted by Moses on February 1, 2006 1:45 PM (e)

Comment #76722

Posted by Peter Henderson on February 1, 2006 09:03 AM (e)

Idioteraser:

Professor Farmer was a guest on the Victory in Jesus programme, which is hosted by tele-evangelist Billy Jo Daugherty and the quote was from one of their shows a couple of months back which I came across while I was channel hopping.

The guy was introduced as someone who was an authority on pharmacy. OK, so maybe he isn’t an expert on other sciences, but in order to do pharmacy he surely must have taken some reasonably advanced courses on Biology.

I don’t want to talk too much about it, but the answer is “no.” It’s a lot of Organic Chemistry, math, learning about medicines, etc., but very little biology. A typical PhD track program, at a quality ACPE-certified school, only has a couple of introductory level biology courses in the undergraduate portion of the program (and I looked at multiple catalogs, all from quality schools). (I also know this is true from a personal verification perspective, but because of certain personal life situations I won’t elaborate.)

I will say this, in organic chemistry, those guys are experts. And that’s a tough, tough field. But biology, that’s just not a core competency of their degree… And they are no more qualified to be “experts” on evolution than any rigorous major (business, engineering, math, economics, blah, blah, blah) of the college where I went.

Comment #76795

Posted by Jim Harrison on February 1, 2006 1:45 PM (e)

If we didn’t know better, the arguments for the second law would make us conclude that entropy was greater in the past just as it will be in the future. You can’t retrodict the big bang or, to take about our local situation, even the existence of the sun by abstract thermodynamic arguments. You have to know about the big bang and the sun to explain why entropy was already decreasing in the past. Carol’s argument is thus question begging since it assumes what it sets out to prove. Of course if you know already that the Universe is closed, you don’t need to argue for that either. Theological thinking is infested with circularity.

I had hoped that somebody with better credentials than I would step in to reinforce this point about the time independence of entropy. You don’t have to be a deep thinker to understand the logic of it, however. A simple reprise of the argument can be found in Roger Penrose’s The Road to Reality (pp696-699) and many other treatments of entropy–a lot of my physics books are currently in storage or I’d scrounge up a less scary reference.

Comment #76796

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on February 1, 2006 1:46 PM (e)

Any truth to the rumor that the mosquitoe will soon be the offical state bird of South Carolina?

Residents of various states have made that claim

No wonder bumper stickers from Minnesota to Louisiana proclaim the insect their “state bird.”

but I can’t find a record of South Carolina having joined in. Maybe they could contribute a mud hole though.

Comment #76805

Posted by Moses on February 1, 2006 2:15 PM (e)

Ironically, while I took tons of science electives in college, I managed to miss physics… Astronomy, Geology, Biology, Oceanography, etc., I’ve got coming out the wazoo… But no physics.

So I’ve never really been able to completely evaluate this web-page on the 2nd Law, but, it just seems that it runs contrary to what Carol and the Fundies assert about the applicability of the 2nd Law (and their interpretations of the 2nd Law). It seems cogent and well written and does make sense with what armature physics I’ve picked up over the years and chemistry courses I’ve taken. But, I just don’t know for sure…

The second law of thermodynamics and evolution

Introduction

Many fundamentalist Christians see the theory of evolution as a threat to their faith, evidently because it is not explicitly included in Genesis. (They also misunderstand the scientific application of the word “theory” that the chemist uses in discussing atomic theory or the kinetic molecular theory of gases, ideas as unquestioned by all chemists as evolution is by professional biologists.) This is tragic because it cuts off sincere individuals who are not scientists from understanding the powerful relevance of one of the most important concepts in all of science.

Most disquieting to chemists who are interested in thermodynamics are the misleading statements about the second law and chemistry that creationist spokespeople have made. A few emphases from previous pages in the present Web site and from www.secondlaw.com that bear on this unfortunate situation are developed below. At the end of this page are superior links to presentations of the second law of thermodynamics and its irrelevance to creationists’ arguments against evolution.

“A watch must have required a watchmaker; a car could not have formed itself from parts.”

(The following includes some excerpts from the previous section, “Obstructions..”)

The above statements in italics from creationists are certainly true, but they have nothing to do with the behavior of atoms and molecules. Car parts in a junkyard don’t speed inside the yard at a thousand miles an hour, constantly colliding with each other, fusing together with a similar part (or different ones) so violently that enormous quantities of energy are given out – enough to make them white hot.

Why give a silly illustration like that? Anyone knows that it is not an inherent quality of metal parts to spontaneously join with similar or quite different parts to form complex new arrangements. Yet, this IS precisely the normal behavior of most of the chemical elements that constitute the world and the universe. The value of the second law of thermodynamics is that it quantitatively describes the energetic aspects of the chemical elements and the compounds they form. The chemical potential energy (the enthalpy of formation) that is bound in most of the 20,000,000 known kinds of molecules is less than that in their elements. Thus, energetically , the second law says that the majority of compounds now known could spontaneously form from the corresponding elements. In complete contrast, watches or cars are not lower in thermodynamic energy than the total energy of their individual components. Therefore, the second law says that it is totally inappropriate to compare them with the behavior of chemical compounds and elements.

Incessantly moving at a few hundred to two thousand miles an hour at ordinary temperatures. hydrogen and many other atoms behave in a fashion that is impossible for car parts: Most atoms spontaneously “bond” when they vigorously collide, forming extremely powerful associations in very specific ways. These new arrangements can be molecules so stable that temperatures of thousands of degrees can’t tear them apart again. Molecules are not atoms randomly stuffed in a package. When three or more atoms join to form a molecule, they are arranged in precise order, normally unchanging over time, and with a relatively fixed geometric relationship.

Finally, many kinds of molecules can strike other kinds very violently and produce totally new types of molecules – another mode of formation of new complex ordered structures due to the same innate nature of atoms to form strong bonds and spread out energy to the surroundings. Amino acids when simply melted with other amino acids (to make them move more rapidly) form huge new compounds. These are NOT useful or valuable proteins. The process simply illustrates the probability of the existence of complex gigantic substances in nature. Though not proteins, they are “proteinoid” in that they have hundreds to thousands of amino acid units firmly joined in the same kind of bonds that hold proteins together.

A simple example of the spontaneous behavior of elements is the reaction of hydrogen gas with oxygen (that was tragically illustrated when the Hindenburg dirigible burned in 1937). Hydrogen atoms have such a great inherent tendency to form strong bonds with oxygen to yield water that a small energy of activation, in the form of a spark affecting only a relatively few molecules, causes the two substances to start to react, resulting in an enormous evolution of energy. This is exactly as the second law predicts: some of the energy in a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen becomes spread out (so much and so rapidly that it is an explosion) when the lesser energetic compound, water, is formed. Yet, water is more complex than the simple elements and its atoms are arranged in an exact geometric pattern.

There are millions of compounds that have less energy in them than the elements of which they are composed. That sentence is a quiet bombshell. It means that the second law energetically FAVORS — yes, predicts firmly — the spontaneous formation of complex, geometrically ordered molecules from utterly simple atoms of elements. Popular statements such as “the second law says that all systems fundamentally tend toward disorder and randomness” are wrong when they refer to chemistry, and chemistry precisely deals with the structure and behavior of all types of matter.

To summarize this important conclusion that is known by very few who are not chemists: Energetically, the second law of thermodynamics favors the formation of the majority of all known complex and ordered chemical compounds directly from their simpler elements. Thus, contrary to popular opinion, the second law does not dictate the decrease of ordered structure by its predictions. It only demands a “spreading out” of energy when such ordered compounds are formed spontaneously.

Also, to repeat a caution: The foregoing only describes energetic relationships involving the second law. It does not mean that most complex substances can be readily synthesized just by mixing elements and treating them in some way. The second law has nothing to do with pathways or procedures of synthesis.

Most complex molecules may require the expertise of one or of many chemists to put them together in a laboratory. However, so far as the second law of thermodynamics is concerned, not only water but cholesterol, DNA, the anti-depressant in St. John’s Wort and millions of other complex substances contain less energy than their constituent elements. Therefore, thermodynamically, their formation from those elements would be a spontaneous process, energetically favored by the second law.

“The Law of Disorder”

As part of their attempts to challenge evolution, some religious writers have included comments to the effect that the second law – what they have called “the law of disorder” – strictly prohibits the chance formation of complicated stuctures from simple parts, including complex molecules from simple ones. This site, and especially http://www.secondlaw.com, have shown repeatedly that it is fallacious to view the second law as a predictor of disorder. The second law concerns energy, not patterns of objects. The second law states that energy tends not to be restricted to one or a few energy levels in atoms and molecules, but to be dispersed to as many such levels as possible – rephrased in homely terms involving molecules, “Intense or concentrated energy tends to spread out and diffuse”.

In that spreading-out process, macro objects sometimes are displaced and moved to random arrangements that humans subjectively define as “disorder”. A violent wind not only can break a window in a building and blow the papers in an office all over a square mile, but also destroy the building itself. However, this is an incidental consequence of dispersing and spreading out of the energy in a tornado, not an event that is due to the innate nature or behavior of inanimate objects themselves in the absence of such an energy flow. Moving common objects around so they fall in disorder is a singular and accidental aspect of the universal tendency of energy to diffuse, not the general thrust or meaning or requirement of the second law that applies to objects.

Further, as described in the first section of this website, the second law is a tendency, not an instantly effected edict. Its predictions might not come true for millions or billions of years. These kinds of delay are due to the second law being obstructed and hindered by what chemists call “activation energies”. All the biochemicals in our bodies except inorganic substances are protected and kept from oxidation or other disastrous reaction by activation energies. Almost all the materials from which our orderly prized artifacts are made are similarly kept from rapid oxidation in air. The second law is a powerful generality, but it is often blocked (to our human advantage) in chemical substances, chemical reactions, and physical events in everyday life.

“The second law says that complicated molecules can’t form spontaneously”

(This question is treated in greater detail and more technically in the last half of the previous section, “Obstructions to the second laws make life possible…”)

Of course, the most complex substances that we know are produced by organisms. The photosynthetic example often cited by creationists is as follows: Trees make sugars and cellulose as well as the green chlorophyll and other colored chemicals that we see in Fall leaves, among hundreds of other compounds. They use energy from sunlight by means of intricate chemical processes to synthesize the complex higher-energy content substances just mentioned from lesser energy compounds like carbon dioxide and water. But the second law says that the opposite process – of higher-energy compounds changing into lesser-energy substances – is what tends to happen by itself, spontaneously, without outside aid from any energy source. Therefore, photosynthesis is a thermodynamically non-spontaneous process.

Religious writers are familiar with the general process of photosynthesis but are unskilled in dealing with chemical thermodynamics. They claim that the second law not only says that it is impossible for more complex substances to be spontaneously formed from simpler materials, but also a non-spontaneous process like photosynthesis that produces complex substances requires the presence of an organism, such as a plant.

Neither claim is true. As has been discussed adequately in a previous portion of this essay about the second law and evolution, “A watch must have … a watchmaker”, the spontaneous formation of millions of far more complex compounds than their elements is energetically favored by the second law. This is true whether the new molecule is more or less complicated than its starting materials because the second law is concerned only with energy. All other requirements or consequences are not within the purview of the law.

It is equally erroneous to state that complex substances cannot be formed non-spontaneously from simpler without the intervention of an organism, “a patterning mechanism”. Again, as has been discussed, the formation of patterned molecules is inherent in the nature of atoms combining with one another, no external template or help from a living organism is required by any physical law. “Non-spontaneous” simply means the addition of energy to a system of elements or compounds during the process of forming a new compound. Chlorophyll and substances as complex as chlorophyll have been synthesized in the laboratory, in glass vessels without the presence of any organisms in the reaction. Although that process was extremely difficult and took many person-years to complete, the principle was clear long before the chlorophyll project was undertaken: The non-spontaneous syntheses of greater-energy, complex substances from lesser-energy simple molecules without the aid of organisms is not prevented by the second law. It is just not favored. Over the past two centuries, millions of complex substances — admittedly less so than chlorophyll — have been made similarly in laboratory glassware without the need for organisms.

The spontaneous and non-spontaneous formation of complex compounds in space

Finally, it should be recognized that both spontaneous and non-spontaneous reactions to form complex substances are common in outer space. The two most prevalent elements there are hydrogen and carbon with considerably smaller quantities of oxygen and nitrogen. Although relatively few atoms or molecules are present per cubic inch, in untold quadrillions of cubic miles of space there are many millions of tons of each.

Organic compounds are those substances that contain carbon. (Because they differ so much from organic compounds in their properties, carbon monoxide, dioxide and the carbonates are not included.) The simplest organic compounds, called alkanes and composed only of carbon and hydrogen, contain portions or sections with one carbon atom holding two or three hydrogen atoms. Spectroscopic evidence for these characteristic alkane sections has been found throughout space. All alkanes are all lesser in energy than their elements. (Structures are in: http://www.nyu.edu/pages/mathmol/library/hydrocarbons/ ). Therefore, the second law says irrefutably that they could be formed spontaneously from carbon and hydrogen with the net evolution of energy. Their structural pattern is not vastly complex but it is far more so than that of individual elements.

Far more complicated types of compounds that contain either carbon and hydrogen alone, or those elements with oxygen, have been detected in space: PAHs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The thermodynamic category of formation of the two groups of PAHs are different. IF oxygen is present in the PAH ( and this cannot yet be decided spectroscopically ) the substances are less energetic than the carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen elements from which they were formed. Thus, they were formed spontaneously strictly in accord with the second law of thermodynamics.

It is an amusing sidenote that the anti-depressant ingredient in St. John’s Wort, listed as hypercin and the precise structure given in the Merck Index, is an oxygen-containing PAH. These are complex substances that are important here on earth. It is still questionable, of course, that molecules with this precise structure are in space, but it is energetically completely possible that it and many comparable materials may be present there.

PAHs composed only of carbon and hydrogen contain more energy within their molecules than do elemental carbon and hydrogen. Therefore, their synthesis from the elements is thermodynamically non-spontaneous. Nevertheless, these PAHs detected in space would have been formed “automatically”, i.e., without any organismic intervention (!). Energy would have been supplied to the process, probably via powerful bursts of radiation from many kinds of stellar and similar sources.

Even more convincing evidence of the existence of PAHs in space and in other parts of the universe is their presence in meteorites that have fallen to the earth. Extremely careful isolation of carbon-containing substances from some meteorites has proved the presence of specific polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Cyanide compounds, formed from the elements of carbon and nitrogen, have been shown by spectroscopy to be prevalent in all comets, along with ice (spontaneously formed from hydrogen and oxygen). All cyanides are considerably higher in energy content than carbon and hydrogen and thus they must have been formed non-spontaneously thermodynamically.

In summary, there is ample evidence for the existence of complicated, orderly molecules in outer space. They were formed without an organism’s assistance because no such organisms have been found associated with them in meteorites and, of course, none can thrive in the energetic conditions of outer space. The “automatic” formation of complicated, orderly substances both spontaneously and non-spontaneously is simply the consequence of normal chemical laws and the second law of thermodynamics. (The intense energy sources in space make possible non-spontaneous synthesis there.)

Anyway, what I think he’s saying is that a lot of “2nd Law” people should shut up because what they “know” doesn’t apply to chemistry in the way they’re trying to fit it and the 2nd law doesn’t preclude the formation of complex molecules (order) from atoms (even if they gain energy, though most don’t) and most of the 2nd argument is from their bloody arrogant ignorance.

Comment #76806

Posted by H. Humbert on February 1, 2006 2:17 PM (e)

I thought in A Brief History of Time Hawkings argued that entropy was the reason why we perceived time as having a direction?

Comment #76808

Posted by JONBOY on February 1, 2006 2:21 PM (e)

I have a few questions, if anyone would like to enlighten my poor understanding of the subject
(1) Is there a precise quantum definition of entropy as the trace of a particular matrix.
(2) What is the “coarse graining” idea.
(3)Is there a concise way to convey the full description of the quantum system
(4) If there is no concise way,would our partial descriptions have entropy.
Please try to make your answers simple enough for a amateur to comprehend.

Comment #76809

Posted by J-Dog on February 1, 2006 2:30 PM (e)

Based on the direction the Gov wants the state to take, and of course on recent feedback from the Catholic Church, I think “hellhole” rather than “mud hole” would be a much more appropriate descriptive term. It’s very tempting to be able to condemn the ID idolaters to anathema!

It would be great to be able to run against the Gov in the next election, use the same false dichotomy argument that IDers are so fond of, and turn it around on them! “So, SC Voter, are you going to vote for the current Gov and Satan, or are you going to vote for God and the forces of science and righteousness!” Can I get an Amen! Halle-fing-luyah!

Nah, I can’t be like them, I just wish there was a hell so they could go there and stay there.

Comment #76812

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 1, 2006 2:42 PM (e)

Posted by H. Humbert on February 1, 2006 02:17 PM (e)

I thought in A Brief History of Time Hawkings argued that entropy was the reason why we perceived time as having a direction?

IIRC He did. So did Brian Greene in The Fabric of the Cosmos.
I think that the reasons they went to such lengths to explain it is that by formula entropy should increase in either time direction, but in fact it does not.

The conclusion was the that at the big bang the universe was in an incredibly low entropy state and this gives an “arrow of time”.

Of course they were talking about the total entropy in the universe. Nothing at all to do with evolution where it is irrelevant.

Comment #76814

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 1, 2006 2:52 PM (e)

Greg H,

I have said all along that entropy cannot be negative. Indeed, that was key to my original post (#76645). But it must increase one way in time, going forward, and decrease the other way, going backward. That is precisely the problem. Going backward it must decrease and cannot pass zero.

Comment #76822

Posted by Greg H on February 1, 2006 3:26 PM (e)

Carol,

Then your point was about as clear as the mud in that hole with the mosquitoes. What you said was:

So rolling the tape backward, to ever earlier points in time, should reveal a universe with ever decreasing entropy. Since entropy cannot be negative, the process must come to an end at some point.

and:

Second, entropy does provide an arrow for time and increases only in one direction.

Which seems to indicate that if we could somehow run time in reverse we should see entropy decrease, even though the mathematical formulas all say otherwise.

If you’d like to go back and clarify your point so that this apparent contradiction is all cleared up and we can understand what you really meant to say, that might be helpful.

Comment #76824

Posted by Julie Stahlhut on February 1, 2006 3:37 PM (e)

Mr. Christopher wrote:

Any truth to the rumor that the mosquito will soon be the offical state bird of South Carolina?

I think the official state bird of South Carolina has just been flipped at that state’s public school teachers and students.

Comment #76831

Posted by Henry J on February 1, 2006 3:49 PM (e)

Re “Which seems to indicate that if we could somehow run time in reverse we should see entropy decrease, even though the mathematical formulas all say otherwise.”

Do the formulas take into account the changing volume of the universe? Seems to me that (1) a larger volume would at least have a higher maximum possible entropy, and (2) as one “rewinds” toward the big bang that maximum would approach zero asymptotically.

Henry

Comment #76832

Posted by AD on February 1, 2006 3:57 PM (e)

Carol,

First, entropy is increasing in both directions.

Second, that paper explained it far better than I could have (not being a physicist), but the point is that it’s inappropriate to make the 2nd law argument about evolution to begin with. It’s not relevant.

Basically, if your point is that the second law in any way, shape, or form has any impact on evolution, you are quite simply wrong. The law does not deal with processing genetic information in an earth-based environment, which is what evolution talks about. The law deals with energy exchange at the molecular level in precisely closed systems only (which the earth is not, and which the creatures on the earth are not subject to).

Sorry to break the news.

Comment #76834

Posted by Flint on February 1, 2006 4:14 PM (e)

Carol isn’t being permitted to carry her logic forward as she deserves. So to give her a hand, I’ll force the pace a bit:

God exists.

Therefore, there must be some evidence of this.

Since we really don’t have any direct evidence, we must search very diligently for indirect evidence.

We observe that as time passes, entropy grows.

Therefore, in the past entropy was less.

Therefore, if we consider deep enough into the past, entropy shrinks to zero or below.

But that can’t happen naturally, and our universe really IS here.

Therefore goddidit. Therefore god exists. Hooray, we found evidence.

Comment #76838

Posted by CJ O'Brien on February 1, 2006 4:30 PM (e)

Carol never answers my questions. I don’t know if that’s because they’re inconvenient, or incoherent.

But maybe someone else could take a stab: in a nutshell, is it useful to speak of the entire universe as “a system” upon which one can perform thermodynamic calculations?

Comment #76840

Posted by Kevin Brunt on February 1, 2006 4:33 PM (e)

Surely the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is a sort of addendum to Conservation of Energy?

Conservation of Energy says that if you heat some water and then cool it back to its original temperature, the amount of energy taken out will be the same as that put in. The 2nd Law says that not all of the energy that you put in is given back to you - the universe “keeps” some of it.

It’s a bit like a bank; if a bank were to be run backwards, savings accounts would become overdrafts and and vice versa, so the interest rates paid by the bank would be larger than the ones paid to the bank. For the universe, this would mean that a cyclic process would gain energy rather than lose it (which is what a perpetual motion machine would need.)

The 2nd Law is the Universe’s equivalent of a loan arrangement fee.

Comment #76842

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 1, 2006 4:39 PM (e)

Posted by AD on February 1, 2006 03:57 PM (e)

Carol,

First, entropy is increasing in both directions…

That is not what Stephen Hawking and Brian Greene are saying.
They both claim entropy should increase in both directions but does not and it is this that gives time a direction.
Am I missing something?

PS. I find trying to think of entropy confusing. It brings double negatives up.

Comment #76843

Posted by steve s on February 1, 2006 4:40 PM (e)

Comment #76572

Posted by Anton Mates on January 31, 2006 08:39 PM (e)

one of the laws of thermodynamics which is the law of, of.. in essence, destruction.

The Law of Destruction!

I wish I’d learned about that in thermodynamics class. It sounds exciting.

Comment #76573
Posted by H. Humbert on January 31, 2006 08:49 PM (e)

The law of destruction? Does that have anything to do with the fact that whenever a creationist talks about science, they will always destroy their own credibility?

LMAO. (applause)

Comment #76845

Posted by Henry J on February 1, 2006 4:51 PM (e)

Re “But maybe someone else could take a stab: in a nutshell, is it useful to speak of the entire universe as “a system” upon which one can perform thermodynamic calculations?”

I wouldn’t think so, but I’m not a physicist (or cosmologist).

Plus the question appears to me to make the assumption that (space-time as we know it) equals (the entire universe). It might for all I know, but imo we shouldn’t assume it does. (And I gather that modern physics suggests that there’s more out there than the space-time we live in, even if it hasn’t proven it to date.)

Henry

Comment #76846

Posted by steve s on February 1, 2006 4:53 PM (e)

Comment #76736

Posted by AC on February 1, 2006 10:08 AM (e)

If you doubt this is possible, how is it there are MOSQUITOS + CHIMPS??

Cute!

BTW, what is it going to take to get Carol Clauser discussing thermodynamics out of half the threads on Panda’s Thumb?

Comment #76847

Posted by CJ O'Brien on February 1, 2006 4:58 PM (e)

the question appears to me to make the assumption that (space-time as we know it) equals (the entire universe)

Yes, it does, because I’m granting Carol’s assertion that “the universe is a closed system, by definition.”

What I’m interested in is, does that make any sense to someone who does thermodynamics, or statistical physics?

Comment #76848

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on February 1, 2006 5:07 PM (e)

I’ve got this great idea for a tv show! We’ll call it Second Law & Disorder, and it’ll be all about how American society is structured by explosions and car chases.

Hollywood: have your little people call my little people…

Comment #76849

Posted by Henry J on February 1, 2006 5:08 PM (e)

Re “BTW, what is it going to take to get Carol Clauser discussing thermodynamics out of half the threads on Panda’s Thumb?”

A reversal of entropy?

Comment #76852

Posted by steve s on February 1, 2006 5:23 PM (e)

the only good thing about Carol’s endless thermo discussions is, it reminds us how unlike the IDers we are. If she annoyed Dave Springer (DaveScot) like this, he already would have banned her 30 or 40 times, banned anyone named Carol, banned all the IP addresses in her state, banned the word “thermo”, and eventually driven to her house and chopped down her phone lines with an axe.

Comment #76855

Posted by William E Emba on February 1, 2006 5:33 PM (e)

CJ O'Brien wrote:

But maybe someone else could take a stab: in a nutshell, is it useful to speak of the entire universe as “a system” upon which one can perform thermodynamic calculations?

In general relativity, the usual framework for discussing the entire universe, the answer is usually no. Even worse, just the question of defining total energy of the universe is highly problematic. Making sense of entropy is actually an area of intense research in quantum gravity and string theory, which has to be done first in order to talk about the entropy at the Big Bang in any meaningful.

So the short answer is, no, it is not useful. Yet.

So people who do talk about it, in all seriousness, are either engaged in high level research, or are blithering idiots. I’ll let you guess which category Carol falls into.

Comment #76856

Posted by Leon on February 1, 2006 5:33 PM (e)

The law of destruction? Does that have anything to do with the fact that whenever a creationist talks about science, they will always destroy their own credibility?

I think it’s the 2½th Law of Thermodynamics: in a closed mind, the amount of credibility always decreases over time.

Comment #76857

Posted by Jim Harrison on February 1, 2006 5:37 PM (e)

Nobody is disputing that entropy has been increasing for a very long time in the observable universe. Green and Hawking and my aunt Sally know that. The question is whether the the laws of thermodynamics by themselves allows us to infer that entropy was less in the past. They don’t. There’s no mystery about any of this. It’s in all the textbooks.

Comment #76863

Posted by JONBOY on February 1, 2006 5:59 PM (e)

Not only did Carol not answer my questions no one else did!Comm #76808
Where they so pointless? be honest I can take it.
Also Carol said “so all you are doing is pushing the issue outwards in space and time” Is that like, If things that are complex require a designer,then it follows that the designer must be even more complex , and therefor would require an even more complex designer, add infinity?

Comment #76868

Posted by BWE on February 1, 2006 6:09 PM (e)

Do you get the feeling this guy pickes up a $20 daisy dukes now and then and then feels bad about his sin? He can’t let go of his mosquitos problem because he needs someone to forgive him?

Comment #76872

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 1, 2006 6:47 PM (e)

Greg,

My original point was expressed very clearly and would so appear to any open mind. Why don’t you just admit that you did not read it with the due care it deserved? Go back and read it again, perhaps a few more times, if that’s what it takes for you to understand it.

Henry J,

As the volume of the universe increases with time due to its expansion, the number of available states increases and so must its entropy.

AD,

I did not speak of evolution. And you are wrong about entropy increasing in both directions. It’s as simple as that!

CJ Obrien,

There is absolutely no reason not to consider the universe as a “system”. Any complete collection of particles interacting with each other constitute a system, requiring that the conservation laws and the second and third laws of thermodynamics hold for said collection or “system”.

William Emba,

Your gratuitous insults cannot save your post from utter irrelevancy. Relativistic considerations for the universe at the big bang will not and cannot effect the key aspects of the argument I presented above since every step in the argument must still hold.

Comment #76873

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on February 1, 2006 6:50 PM (e)

This begs the question of what was the “cause” whose “effect” was the appearance of the universe. Whatever that entity was, if the laws of physics hold, its entropy remained constant, most likely at or near zero, going back infinitely in time, without the second law being violated. Some folks see “God” in this entity.

Thank you for sharing (yet again) your religious opinions with us.

Why, again, should science give a flying fig about them …?

Comment #76874

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on February 1, 2006 6:52 PM (e)

Carol never answers my questions.

Carol never answers ANYBODY’s questions. That’s because Carol isn’t here to “discuss” or to “listen”. She’s here to (1) preach and (2) shill for Landa’s book. (shrug)

Comment #76877

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 1, 2006 6:56 PM (e)

JONBOY,

I did not think your questions were addressed to me.

Depending on what your questions mean, they are either too involved for the brief snippets of time I have for PT or too simplistic to be answerable at all.

Comment #76880

Posted by ben on February 1, 2006 7:00 PM (e)

Depending on what your questions mean, they are either too involved for the brief snippets of time I have for PT or too simplistic to be answerable at all.

At least none of us need to waste any valuable time trying to figure out whether Carol is an arrogant, off-topic, prosyletizing ass.

Comment #76881

Posted by Steviepinhead on February 1, 2006 7:06 PM (e)

Like the man said, Carol doesn’t answer questions. Setting forth reasons for not answering questions is still: not answering questions.

In case I’m not being clear: asking Carol questions is pointless–she doesn’t answer them.

Except when she does, very occasionally.

So maybe the rule is this: Carol doesn’t answer the questions she doesn’t like.

Which many of you might well wish to translate as: Carol doesn’t answer the hard questions.

Comment #76889

Posted by Marshall on February 1, 2006 7:38 PM (e)

The second law of thermodynamics applied on the universal level tends to break down, since most of the celestial bodies and our own planet area examples of coalescing material. If we look at the second law of thermodynamics viewing a space of particles, it’s much more likely that we’ll find them spread out from each other than all clumped together as our earth, yet here we are. Regardless of whether the universe is closed or open, it doesn’t imply that the disorder is spread equally. In addition, if we rewound the tape we would see particles flying away from each other a clear increase in entropy.
Greene makes the point when talking about ice cubes in water: if you were to happen on a glass of half melted ice cubes, it was far more likely that the half melted cubes started as just water and colesced into half melted cubes. Our knowledge of mechanics is blind to whether or not time moves in a particular direction and our notions of causality.
While it’s true that our universe is expanding, it’s because SPACE itself is expanding, not adding new space, so the number of states would still be the same. (Imagine pennies on the surface of a balloon)
Lastly, our universe is not necessarily ALL there is, there are a lot of physics theories being tested on our universe as due to multiple P-branes (from string theory) colliding.

Comment #76892

Posted by William E Emba on February 1, 2006 7:58 PM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

Your gratuitous insults cannot save your post from utter irrelevancy.

The insult, singular, was not gratuitous. There is no known way of talking about the entropy of the universe and with respect to the Big Bang as a whole. It is an issue of intense research among theoreticians, and has been for the last thirty or so years. Yet you know better? Of course not.

Relativistic considerations for the universe at the big bang will not and cannot effect the key aspects of the argument I presented above since every step in the argument must still hold.

The part of your argument where you talk about “entropy” as if the word has a known meaning in the Big Bang general relativistic context is completely obliterated. Your argument, in other words, is simply the standard Creationist 2nd Law gibberish, but done at a higher level. The typical Creationist has no conception of what the 2nd Law says, yet speaks about its implications with triumph and certainty. You are speaking of a situation where nobody has any real knowledge of what the 2nd Law says, and all talk is therefore at best conjecture and speculation. Yet you speak of proof.

Go back to misreading Rashi.

Comment #76894

Posted by CJ O'Brien on February 1, 2006 8:05 PM (e)

There is absolutely no reason not to consider the universe as a “system”.

My line of thinking on this is, there is such a reason. Being that if we’re to accept the universe as a whole is a system, amenable to thermodynamic calculations, it’s utterly unique among such systems by virtue of being the only truly “closed” system, AND it comprises all other systems. My layman’s understanding of entropy and SLoT is related to the concept of work, and the necessity of having “someplace else” for the associated waste heat (increase in entropy) to “go” when work is done by a system. The universe taken as a whole has no such place, (again granting its closed nature) and so, can’t be meaningfully viewed as doing work or having “an entropy.”

That “the overall entropy of the universe is increasing” I completely agree with, only I’d put it more like, “the universe, viewed as an aggregate of thermodynamic systems of greater or lesser ‘openness’, houses more and more entropy as time passes.”

Comment #76897

Posted by Marshall on February 1, 2006 8:31 PM (e)

My layman’s understanding of entropy and SLoT is related to the concept of work, and the necessity of having “someplace else” for the associated waste heat (increase in entropy) to “go” when work is done by a system.

That’s the FLoT.

Comment #76900

Posted by CJ O'Brien on February 1, 2006 9:18 PM (e)

CJ O’Brien:

My layman’s understanding of entropy and SLoT is related to the concept of work, and the necessity of having “someplace else” for the associated waste heat (increase in entropy) to “go” when work is done by a system.

Marshall:

That’s the FLoT.

OK. Well, my understanding needs some work, or at least I’m not demonstrating what understanding I do have.

FLoT says only that energy is conserved, correct? Meaning that it may change form, but it is never ‘used up’, or, conversely, created ‘for free’. SLoT requires that there be a fundamental and incontrovertable asymmetry in how the energy changes form, and it was that asymmetry I thought I was trying to get at when I posted the above.

*trundles off to garage, and perpetual motion project*

Comment #76907

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on February 1, 2006 9:55 PM (e)

*trundles off to garage, and perpetual motion project*

I hope it makes beer.

:)

Comment #76916

Posted by Marshall on February 1, 2006 10:41 PM (e)

CJ

The second law and entropy in general should be viewed more as a statistical interperetation rather than a physical property. Entropy is not a property of matter, but rather a statisical quantity to differentiate between more likely and less likely states. It’s not like energy or mass, which are intrinsic aspects of objects in our universe, but rather a number (pardon the lack of units) to signify how likely or unlikely its state is. If the universe were definitely closed and we ignored gravity and other extra forces and started from a specific time, following the evolution of the universe, the laws of physics would evolove much like Carol describes, a complete increase in entropy.
But that’s not realistically what has happened in the past. Through astronomy measurements, the universe has gone through periods of high disorder, but also of high order, but not necessarily according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Gravity completely throws off the second law when objects gravitate towards each other as well. The point is that the statement that the entropy of the universe is always increasing is not accurate with what we observe.

Comment #76918

Posted by Henry J on February 1, 2006 10:54 PM (e)

Marshall,
Re “While it’s true that our universe is expanding, it’s because SPACE itself is expanding, not adding new space, so the number of states would still be the same. (Imagine pennies on the surface of a balloon) “
That doesn’t sound right to me. More space means more locations at which any given particle might be at a given time, which means a larger number of possible states, which means greater entropy.

Henry

Comment #76920

Posted by Marshall on February 1, 2006 10:58 PM (e)

This is why you fact check: sorry about the gravity comment, it’s actually the opposite, but the fluctuations in entropy still exist and the origin of the universe must still be low entropy. The entropy of the universe over time hasn’t always been increasing however, consistent with the last comment. Black holes, BTW, have the largest entropy.

Comment #76925

Posted by Ed Darrell on February 1, 2006 11:06 PM (e)

So, science guys, help out here: The ID guys are arguing that cells can’t get “more complex” because the second law of thermodynamics makes it a physical impossibility?

Would this not apply to all elements of cell growth, were their claim accurate?

Doesn’t the ID version of the SLOT argument mean that making babies is impossible?

Comment #76929

Posted by Marshall on February 1, 2006 11:22 PM (e)

Ed,

First of all a cell is not a closed system (to wit: osmosis). The essential problem with the second law is mostly from its use as an arguement from incredulity. People tend to associate the second law as “Nothing could never come about more complicated than what it is unless it started that way and never changed”. The open system aspect is crucial: we receive energy from the sun, the cells interact chemically with their surroundings. I won’t say too much more, because it’s out of the scope of my knowledge of chemistry and biology, but that’s the general claim.

Comment #76931

Posted by Henry J on February 1, 2006 11:31 PM (e)

Re “Doesn’t the ID version of the SLOT argument mean that making babies is impossible?”

Yep. It’d prevent life from existing, or at least prevent it from growing or reproducing, before it had any affect on evolution of that life.

Henry

Comment #76936

Posted by Caledonian on February 1, 2006 11:49 PM (e)

Ah, but as everyone knows, the gestation and birth of babies is one’s of life’s everyday miracles! Clearly the Intelligent Designer is necessary to make each and every baby grow in defiance of the Second Law… and all of those spontaneous abortions, birth defects, and improper development is just part of the ID’s incomprehensible plan.

Comment #76941

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on February 2, 2006 12:06 AM (e)

One other major problem with Carol Landa’s argument is that she assumes a linear regression. In other words, she’s assuming something similar to simple subtraction - as you subtract, common sense says you eventually hit negative numbers. However, if entropy in negative delta t approaches any fixed limit asymptotically (zero or a positive number), there is never a time when entropy actually equals zero.

And therefore, no need to postulate a supernatural first cause (at least for this particular line of reasoning). That doesn’t mean that there isn’t one, of course, just that it isn’t necessary. As far as I’m concerned, Carol is entitled to her religious opinion. But any assertions by her regarding that opinion is merely proselytizing - nothing scientific about them.

Besides, she is a proven liar, which makes any statement by her immediately suspect. Suspect, but not automatically false.

Comment #76949

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 12:48 AM (e)

To all those who threw mud my way for not answering JONBOY’s questions: here are his words (#76808): “I have a few questions, if anyone would like to enlighten my poor understanding of the subject…” These questions were addressed to everyone here. I don’t see ANYONE here responding, including the big mouths, Lenny, Steviepinhead, etc. I at least addressed some comment to him, you guys did NOTHING AT ALL. And you critcize me?

CJ Obrien,

Your point about systems needing to dump heat as they do work is true but actually strengthens my argument (which I never said was a “proof” for anything). The systems that does the dumping is never considered by itself to be a closed system, and its entropy may actually decrease. It is the combination of the dumper and dumpee (and the source of any heat taken in)that constitue the closed system and it is for this combination that the SLOT kicks in and states that the entropy of the whole system must increase. Clearly the absence of a dumping ground renders the universe even more strongly a closed system.

Comment #76954

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 1:06 AM (e)

All the counter-arguments based on gravity and bodies clumping together amount to nothing but absurdities when we consider the universe as a whole, which is a closed system and its entropy should therefore continue to increase (going forward in time). The only argument to offer a semblence of substantial challenge is the one about the universes’s entropy decreasing asymptotically to zero or some other positive number as we look back to ever earlier points in time.

But, alas, this argument too does not resolve the matter. Becuase it potulates that for an infinite amount of time the change in entropy was just about zero, despite the fact that the universe is a dynamic system with the high likelihood that many types of energy transformations were occuring within it. And if we postulate that this process stopped and did not go on forever (going back in time) we return to the rest of the argument of my original post (#76645).

Comment #76956

Posted by Anton Mates on February 2, 2006 1:13 AM (e)

Marshall wrote:

Gravity completely throws off the second law when objects gravitate towards each other as well.

Actually, I think entropy goes up more or less as expected when that happens. The objects’ initial gravitational energy gets partly converted into gravity waves as they head in, and partly into heat once they collide–that does the trick. I think. It’s been a while since thermo class.

Ed Darrell wrote:

Doesn’t the ID version of the SLOT argument mean that making babies is impossible?

Yup. When this is pointed out they usually change the subject and start talking about how babies are made using pre-existing genetic information, or some such, but cells evolving greater complexity would require new information. Of course this has nothing to do with the SLoT, but since most ID supporters seem to consider “order,” “low entropy,” “complexity,” “information” and “blessings from God” to all be basically the same thing, they don’t know that.

Carol Clouser wrote:

To all those who threw mud my way for not answering JONBOY’s questions: here are his words (#76808): “I have a few questions, if anyone would like to enlighten my poor understanding of the subject…” These questions were addressed to everyone here. I don’t see ANYONE here responding, including the big mouths, Lenny, Steviepinhead, etc. I at least addressed some comment to him, you guys did NOTHING AT ALL. And you critcize me?

Hey, I’d love to answer them. I just have no idea what any of the answers are. Sorry, Jonboy.

Comment #76961

Posted by Marshall on February 2, 2006 1:35 AM (e)

Carol

Point taken going back to your first post, it’s an interesting philisophical topic which should be discussed. However you can’t apply the law in the same context evolution and draw a reasonable conclusion, which I believe is the nature of this entire arguement. The fact that he uses the phrase law of destruction, when clearly it applies to systems we can experimentally verify as being closed systems, leads me to believe he’s not listening to scientists about these “chinks”. This is far from a “new” objection to evolution from this position. Just ask Lenny.

Comment #76962

Posted by Marshall on February 2, 2006 1:36 AM (e)

Anton

see #76920

Comment #76966

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 1:56 AM (e)

Marshall,

I agree completely that evolution and entropy considerations do not go together. As a result of this type of misuse of the SLOT by some religious fundamentalists, the whole subject now comes with baggage and scientists react viscerally to any suggestion that the SLOT treads on ground with possible implications for religion and philosophy. But I for one refuse to be intimidated by others’ nonsense.

They say I lie is effective only if it has a kernel of truth to it. The governor’s lies and that of others with regard to the SLOT and evolution travel so well becuase people sense that deep down somewhere there are SLOT implications for religion. My point here was that they just MAY BE on to something.

Comment #76970

Posted by Marshall on February 2, 2006 2:38 AM (e)

They say I lie is effective only if it has a kernel of truth to it. The governor’s lies and that of others with regard to the SLOT and evolution travel so well becuase people sense that deep down somewhere there are SLOT implications for religion. My point here was that they just MAY BE on to something.

Perhaps in the origin of the universe, but it doesn’t take much to show that the SLoT has little implication for the Earth/evolution, since neither qualifies for the law itself. It’s like applying energy conservation to a completely inelastic collision from dynamics. You can’t apply it because it doesn’t reflect the physical situation. If the SLoT bothers scientists from biology as a serious criticism, it should be investigated, and to my knowledge it has and shown to be fallacious.

Comment #76987

Posted by Andy H. on February 2, 2006 4:47 AM (e)

Comment #76840 posted by Kevin Brunt on February 1, 2006 04:33 PM

Surely the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is a sort of addendum to Conservation of Energy?

Conservation of Energy says that if you heat some water and then cool it back to its original temperature, the amount of energy taken out will be the same as that put in. The 2nd Law says that not all of the energy that you put in is given back to you - the universe “keeps” some of it.

That is not true – if you heat and cool the water just by heat transfer rather than by performing work, you will recover all of the energy that you put in. The 2nd Law is not an exception to the principle of the Conservation of Energy.

The 2nd Law often involves work as well as heat. Probably the most popular statement of the 2nd Law is – “It is impossible to construct an engine which, operating in a cycle, does nothing but extract heat from a single reservoir and perform an equivalent amount of work.”

Suppose that a closed system consists of (1) two gas reservoirs at two different temperatures and (2) a simple engine, say a Carnot engine. The engine can perform work by operating in a cycle in which heat is drawn from the hotter reservoir and ejected to the colder reservoir. But in this process, the hotter reservoir will be cooled and the colder reservoir will be heated, until a point is reached where both reservoirs are at the same temperature and are no longer capable of performing work. But energy is conserved – the internal energy of the closed system at the end will be the same that the system had in the beginning. Energy has not disappeared – it is just that the energy has become unavailable for performing work. The two reservoirs were capable of performing work when the gas molecules were separated into higher velocity molecules in the hotter reservoir and lower velocity molecules in the colder reservoir, but when both reservoirs are at the same temperature, both reservoirs have molecules of the same velocities (these velocity comparisons assume that the two reservoirs have gases of equal molecular weight) and the reservoirs are no longer capable of performing work – however, the sum of the internal energies of both reservoirs does not change.

As for the idea of a negative entropy, there is no absolute value of entropy because entropy values are based on changes in entropy, so it is possible to have negative values of entropy, depending on what entropy state is chosen as the zero datum.

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is one of the most abstruse laws in science. It is one of the few scientific laws that cannot really be adequately described by mathematical equations and it is often described verbally by statements such as the one I gave above.

The 2nd Law has concepts such as heat, work, and engine efficiency that obviously have no bearing on the origin of species. I think that what makes the 2nd Law appealing to critics of evolution theory is that this law has concepts of “order” and “disorder.” Among natural systems, biological systems tend to increase order whereas nonbiological systems tend to reduce it, giving the impression that biological systems defy the 2nd Law. But as has been pointed out here, biological systems are not closed systems. In photosynthesis, for example, green plants receive an input of energy from the sun. It should be apparent that the 2nd Law is not a good criticism of evolution theory.

I think that Gov. Sanford’s ignorant statements about intelligent design show that this concept should be taught in public schools rather than censored.

Comment #77006

Posted by Moses on February 2, 2006 8:24 AM (e)

Comment #76852

Posted by steve s on February 1, 2006 05:23 PM (e)

the only good thing about Carol’s endless thermo discussions is, it reminds us how unlike the IDers we are. If she annoyed Dave Springer (DaveScot) like this, he already would have banned her 30 or 40 times, banned anyone named Carol, banned all the IP addresses in her state, banned the word “thermo”, and eventually driven to her house and chopped down her phone lines with an axe.

ROTFLMAO

Comment #77009

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 8:36 AM (e)

Andy H wrote:

“As for the idea of a negative entropy, there is no absolute value of entropy because entropy values are based on changes in entropy, so it is possible to have negative values of entropy, depending on what entropy state is chosen as the zero datum.”

As I was reading your post I kept thinking what a clear and organized presentation you were making, until I got to the above quote, which is wrong and false. Entropy is a well defined quantity not based on changes in itself, and no arbitrary constant is permitted that would render it negative EVER. The defining equation is S = k log Omega. There is a certain arbitrariness to S based on your chosen size for each cell in the phase space. But it cannot be negative.

Comment #77011

Posted by Ginger Yellow on February 2, 2006 8:56 AM (e)

Caledonian wrote:

Ah, but as everyone knows, the gestation and birth of babies is one’s of life’s everyday miracles! Clearly the Intelligent Designer is necessary to make each and every baby grow in defiance of the Second Law… and all of those spontaneous abortions, birth defects, and improper development is just part of the ID’s incomprehensible plan.

You may jest, but despite their protestations about religion the comments of almost all the IDists strongly suggest they subscribe to vitalism.

Comment #77014

Posted by Moses on February 2, 2006 9:19 AM (e)

Comment #76925

Posted by Ed Darrell on February 1, 2006 11:06 PM (e)

So, science guys, help out here: The ID guys are arguing that cells can’t get “more complex” because the second law of thermodynamics makes it a physical impossibility

I’m a science dilettante, but from what I’ve learned that’s simply not true. There are tens of millions of chemicals compounds known to man. Most of their bonding naturally follows the tendencies set forth by the 2nd law (when they’re not obstructed). For example, hydrogen and oxygen, with just the smallest of help, will explosively combine into water while releasing heat. However, without that spark to get the reaction going, you’re just not going to get much beyond the odd collision that is of high-enough energy to form a spontaneous water molecule. But get over that energy threshold and you’ve got a Hindenburg disaster on your hands.

That reaction is clearly following the 2nd law which, based on the chemical properties of atoms and molecules predicts the spontaneous formation of complex, organized molecules from simpler, less-organized molecules and atoms when their net energy will be less than the component energy in the raw materials. DNA is another molecule that, in its state, has LESS ENERGY than the atoms from which it is made which means in follows their interpretation of the 2nd law. Cholesterol is another molecule that follows this rule. So is anti-depressant chemical in St. John’s Wort. So is rust. Thermite, used in certain military demolitions, follows this rule. And MILLIONS and MILLIONS of others including all the alkanes (a simple organic molecule) found in space from various Carbon/Oxygen collisions.

OTOH, the 2nd Law does not PROHIBIT the formation of more complex, more energetic molecules. It just says that additional energy (in the form of some concentration) had to come from somewhere for this gain in energy to happen. Which is precisely what life does. It takes free chemical, solar and/or geothermal energy and either converts simpler molecular compounds to a higher energy molecule (like a sugar or protein) or breaks a complex molecule (like sugar or protein) down to release the energy.

Now, in a direct response, I think the whole 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (and it’s sideman “Entropy”) is inappropriate and inapplicable for discussions of evolutionary biology. It is a law of energy with applicability in physics and chemistry problems. Not evolutionary Biology and has about as much applicability as Kepler’s laws of planetary motion for understanding life.

Comment #77021

Posted by AC on February 2, 2006 10:04 AM (e)

Carol wrote:

The only argument to offer a semblence of substantial challenge is the one about the universes’s entropy decreasing asymptotically to zero or some other positive number as we look back to ever earlier points in time.

But, alas, this argument too does not resolve the matter. Becuase it potulates that for an infinite amount of time the change in entropy was just about zero….

Infinite amount of time? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t -

And if we postulate that this process stopped and did not go on forever (going back in time) we return to the rest of the argument of my original post (#76645)

That’s certainly more consistent with time itself being undefined or nonexistent at some point -

Since we cannot reasonably propose an inert universe in which no significant physical processes take place, this can only mean that the universe had a true beginning, with no physical processes of any type prior to its appearance.

“Prior” to its “appearance”?

This begs the question of what was the “cause” whose “effect” was the appearance of the universe. Whatever that entity was…

Entity?!

…if the laws of physics hold, its entropy remained constant, most likely at or near zero, going back infinitely in time, without the second law being violated. Some folks see “God” in this entity.

I think I’m going to drop this class and request a refund.

Comment #77023

Posted by Andy H. on February 2, 2006 10:13 AM (e)

Comment #77009 posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 08:36 AM

Andy H wrote:
“As for the idea of a negative entropy, there is no absolute value of entropy because entropy values are based on changes in entropy, so it is possible to have negative values of entropy, depending on what entropy state is chosen as the zero datum.”

As I was reading your post I kept thinking what a clear and organized presentation you were making, until I got to the above quote, which is wrong and false. Entropy is a well defined quantity not based on changes in itself, and no arbitrary constant is permitted that would render it negative EVER. The defining equation is S = k log Omega. There is a certain arbitrariness to S based on your chosen size for each cell in the phase space. But it cannot be negative.

In the entropy table for steam, saturated water at 32 degrees F was arbitrarily chosen as the zero datum, so ice would have negative values of entropy –

“The values of enthalpy and entropy given in these tables are measured relative to the properties of saturated liquid at 32°F. Hence, the enthalpy (h) of saturated liquid and the entropy (s) of saturated liquid have values of approximately zero at 32°F.”
— from http://www.tpub.com/content/doe/h1012v1/css/h1012v1_74.htm

Comment #77026

Posted by Andy H. on February 2, 2006 10:15 AM (e)

Comment #77009 posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 08:36 AM

Andy H wrote:
“As for the idea of a negative entropy, there is no absolute value of entropy because entropy values are based on changes in entropy, so it is possible to have negative values of entropy, depending on what entropy state is chosen as the zero datum.”

As I was reading your post I kept thinking what a clear and organized presentation you were making, until I got to the above quote, which is wrong and false. Entropy is a well defined quantity not based on changes in itself, and no arbitrary constant is permitted that would render it negative EVER. The defining equation is S = k log Omega. There is a certain arbitrariness to S based on your chosen size for each cell in the phase space. But it cannot be negative.

In the entropy table for steam, saturated water at 32 degrees F was arbitrarily chosen as the zero datum, so ice would have negative values of entropy –

“The values of enthalpy and entropy given in these tables are measured relative to the properties of saturated liquid at 32°F. Hence, the enthalpy (h) of saturated liquid and the entropy (s) of saturated liquid have values of approximately zero at 32°F.”
— from http://www.tpub.com/content/doe/h1012v1/css/h1012v1_74.htm

Comment #77028

Posted by William E Emba on February 2, 2006 10:17 AM (e)

Moses wrote:

Now, in a direct response, I think the whole 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (and its sideman “Entropy”) is inappropriate and inapplicable for discussions of evolutionary biology.

This is a common point of view, but it’s probably backwards. Entropy increase is quite often the driving force behind increased organized complexity. Roughly speaking, an increase in order within pockets generally allows for greater and faster increase in disorder elsewhere. This is why, for example, the greatest species diversity is in the tropics.

Eric Schneider and Dorion Sagan Into The Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, And Life (2005) provides a semipopular introduction to this topic. The main thrust of the book is that the 2nd Law is ultimately the origin of evolution in the first place. They like to summarize the 2nd Law in nonequilibrium thermodynamics as “nature abhors a gradient”. See their website http://www.intothecool.com, links, and blog.

As I previously posted here, Darwin and evolution were key inspirations to Boltzmann. He developed the statistical interpretations of thermodynamics by trying to understand the role of randomness in natural selection. But it has taken a long time to return to its origins.

Comment #77034

Posted by Sam Lewis on February 2, 2006 10:56 AM (e)

Thermodynamic was not my favorite (or best) subject in college, but I’d like to give this a shot. First (as I remember it) the classical statement of the second law:

For any closed system undergoing a reversible process, the unavailability of energy to do work (entropy) increases at the system approaches thermodynamic equilibrium.

Someone correct me if I got that wrong.

It seems to me that the very early universe was at (or very close to) equilibrium. Wouldn’t that make for high entropy?

However, on this issue I must support the nutjob creationists. If I had that much trouble with Thermodynamics (1, 2, Lab and Statistical Thermo), the dinosaurs couldn’t have understood it. How could they not violate the 2nd Law. QED.

Comment #77035

Posted by Ken Shackleton on February 2, 2006 10:56 AM (e)

The whole order/disorder interpretation of the second law is completely false. The second law states that you cannot have a NET reduction of entropy in any process; more simply….it means that any process will have a net reduction of energy available to do work [entropy being the measure of energy no longer available to do work].

Think about waste heat from your car….no amount of engineering will make a car 100% efficient in converting gasoline to usable energy….some of the energy from burning gasoline will always be lost as waste heat…this is the second law at work.

This does not equate [necessarily] to disorder. Liquid [chaotic] water will become ice [an ordered crystal] of its own accord by simply cooling it. This alone defeats the whole order/disorder argument.

Comment #77036

Posted by Greg H on February 2, 2006 10:56 AM (e)

Carol,

If reading your original post with due care was all that was required to understand, why did no fewer than three people argue against it?

Could it be that - quite possibly - it was erroneous?

Your original point was that running time backwards would yield less entropy in the universe until it reached some zero point, because entropy responds to time. While this has been empirically observed, the equations and the math do not support your assumption. While entropy imparts a direction to time, it exists outside of it, and should, according to the math, increase in either temporal direction. The equation you used is right in front of you:

S = (K)logOmega.

This equation cannot - repeat CANNOT - yield a negative number - EVER. Why? Because K is a positive constant, and logOmega cannot be less than 0. Why is that hard for you to grasp?

Empirically, we can say, yes the Entropy of Universe was less than it is now, but simply reversing time would not necessarily return us to the same state, contrary to statements.

I have no problem understanding what you’re trying to say. What I fail to understand is why you keep saying it when no fewer than three people have illustrated the error of your message.

As Dr Lenny would say (shrug).

Comment #77047

Posted by Arden Chatfield on February 2, 2006 12:39 PM (e)

If reading your original post with due care was all that was required to understand, why did no fewer than three people argue against it?

Could it be that - quite possibly - it was erroneous?

No, no, no. You don’t understand. Carol doesn’t make errors. Whenever you think she’s made a mistake, it’s really just because you don’t understand the actual real meaning of one of the words in her original posts.

Either that, or it’s not really an error, but simply a miracle.

Comment #77048

Posted by Arden Chatfield on February 2, 2006 12:42 PM (e)

the only good thing about Carol’s endless thermo discussions is, it reminds us how unlike the IDers we are. If she annoyed Dave Springer (DaveScot) like this, he already would have banned her 30 or 40 times, banned anyone named Carol, banned all the IP addresses in her state, banned the word “thermo”, and eventually driven to her house and chopped down her phone lines with an axe.

I also hear DaveScot now tracks down the home addresses of banned posters and sows their lawns with salt so that nothing will ever grow again.

Comment #77050

Posted by AD on February 2, 2006 12:47 PM (e)

That is not what Stephen Hawking and Brian Greene are saying.
They both claim entropy should increase in both directions but does not and it is this that gives time a direction.
Am I missing something?

Yes, and so was I, which was my context. Mathematically, the equations demonstrate positive entropy in both directions. I was speaking in abstract math terms, not real-world observed terms, so I think that’s why what I said was confusing.

Point is, you can’t use the equation to support the argument because, in fact, it doesn’t. Greg H is making the same kind of point with the postive * postive = positive argument as well.

Not to mention the fact that the second law is being misappropriated and misapplied thanks to context has been ignored repeatedly. Once again, it says nothing about local phenomenon within closed systems, order, or non-closed systems. This is about as relevant as saying that because it’s clear that if my heart rate goes to 5,000 beats per minute I will explode that my car’s enging will explode when I run it at 5,000 RPM.

In context, I think it’s obvious Carol can’t admit when she is wrong and continues to make worse and worse arguments to cover it up. A huge portion of science is, in fact, being wrong and admitting it so you can use that to find something right. A lost point, perhaps, on some.

Comment #77054

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 2, 2006 1:02 PM (e)

Posted by Greg H on February 2, 2006 10:56 AM (e)

Carol,

If reading your original post with due care was all that was required to understand, why did no fewer than three people argue against it?

Could it be that - quite possibly - it was erroneous?

Your original point was that running time backwards would yield less entropy in the universe until it reached some zero point, because entropy responds to time. While this has been empirically observed, the equations and the math do not support your assumption. While entropy imparts a direction to time, it exists outside of it, and should, according to the math, increase in either temporal direction. The equation you used is right in front of you:

S = (K)logOmega.

This equation cannot - repeat CANNOT - yield a negative number - EVER. Why? Because K is a positive constant, and logOmega cannot be less than 0. Why is that hard for you to grasp?

Empirically, we can say, yes the Entropy of Universe was less than it is now, but simply reversing time would not necessarily return us to the same state, contrary to statements.

I have no problem understanding what you’re trying to say. What I fail to understand is why you keep saying it when no fewer than three people have illustrated the error of your message.

As Dr Lenny would say (shrug).

But look

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 1, 2006 01:07 AM (e)

While the Hon. Governor clearly has a lot to learn about evolution and thermodynamics, the second law of thermodynamics does legitimately enter into areas with religious overtones, as was amply demonstrated on another thread recently.

The argument goes as follows: The universe as a whole must be a closed system. Thus the second law is applicable to it. That implies that the entropy of the universe is expected to continue to increase with the passage of time (time’s arrow). So rolling the tape backward, to ever earlier points in time, should reveal a universe with ever decreasing entropy. Since entropy cannot be negative, the process must come to an end at some point. Since we cannot reasonably propose an inert universe in which no significant physical processes take place, this can only mean that the universe had a true beginning, with no physical processes of any type prior to its appearance.

This begs the question of what was the “cause” whose “effect” was the appearance of the universe. Whatever that entity was, if the laws of physics hold, its entropy remained constant, most likely at or near zero, going back infinitely in time, without the second law being violated. Some folks see “God” in this entity.

Again

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 08:36 AM (e)

Andy H wrote:

“As for the idea of a negative entropy, there is no absolute value of entropy because entropy values are based on changes in entropy, so it is possible to have negative values of entropy, depending on what entropy state is chosen as the zero datum.”

As I was reading your post I kept thinking what a clear and organized presentation you were making, until I got to the above quote, which is wrong and false. Entropy is a well defined quantity not based on changes in itself, and no arbitrary constant is permitted that would render it negative EVER. The defining equation is S = k log Omega. There is a certain arbitrariness to S based on your chosen size for each cell in the phase space. But it cannot be negative.

As far as I am aware, running time backwards would decrease the entropy.
The maths are against low entropy and they are not time dependent.
But (as I understand it) either entropy in the universe would decrease if time was run backwards or the universe has only just now popped into existence.

Comment #77057

Posted by BWE on February 2, 2006 1:12 PM (e)

Ok, this is the right thread to post this in.

Here’s my take on the situation, ID lost in Dover, California became a joke, Kansas, well, it’s full of Kansans, (No offense) and ID is pushing common descent. That means this whole3 forum is just a place for funny antectodes and anteaters until ID or the whackos throw up some more idiocy that needs to be put down like a game of whack a mole using an 8 pound sledge. We’re in a holding pattern. Like a cat waiting outside a mouse hole. So go ahead Carol, delight us with your comedic genius. We need entertainment while we wait.

I am very much taking you seriously by the way and that is in no way intended to be an insult. I really love the SLoT. I mean, it isn’t relevant but I do love it. I think alot about how energy is added to systems to keep them from falling apart. Have you seen a tidepool in the pacific Northwest? Entropy is often 1 degree away from winning. I like to look at it as a war between the biotic and the abiotic, with energy being the weapon of the biotic and entropy being the weapon of the abiotic. Like a chinese soldier with a halberd fighting a mongol with a broadsword. (I just like chinese soldiers and Mongol warriors, who knows? )

Comment #77061

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 1:39 PM (e)

Greg H wrote:

“This equation cannot - repeat CANNOT - yield a negative number - EVER. Why? Because K is a positive constant, and log Omega cannot be less than 0. Why is that hard for you to grasp?”

How many times have I said exactly that in this thread?

Either you cannot read or you are just a dense liar who refuses to read.

In either case, it is an utter waste of my time talking to you.

Comment #77064

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 1:48 PM (e)

Stephen,

Thanks!

Comment #77068

Posted by Greg H on February 2, 2006 2:07 PM (e)

Stephen,

First, let me say, in case anyone is confused, I am not a scientist.

That said, there’s only one problem with your premise:

But (as I understand it) either entropy in the universe would decrease if time was run backwards or the universe has only just now popped into existence.

Empirically, I would agree with you - this matches what we have observed in the Universe at large. However, the equations that we use to study entropy disagree, so there is no real evidence to support the idea that entropy should necessarily decrease just because time runs backwards. The math says that entropy increases regardless of the flow of time, and I think it’s dangerous to assume that backing things up would necessarily lead us to a lower entropy value.

The original equation that I positied, which Carol then dismissed out of hand, was the equation that determines the change in entropy, deltaS. That equation was:

deltaS = deltaQ/T

If we expand all of this out what we end up with is:

(S0-S1/t) = ((Q0-Q1)/t)/T

Where S is the entropy, and t is the elapsed time. Even if we assume that we can have a negative elapsed time (which is a philosophical debate I choose not to start at this time), it doesn’t really matter as the values for t will cancel each other out when you do the math, thus indicating that the time doesn’t matter to the equation.

Following from that, we can’t really posit the notion that entropy must necessarily decrease just because time starts running backwards. As far as all of the equations that we posses tell us, it should increase, no matter which way time runs.

Comment #77070

Posted by Greg H on February 2, 2006 2:10 PM (e)

Carol,

Then please explain for the group where you get the mathematical support for the idea that moving time backwards would yield a reduction in entropy?

Comment #77071

Posted by k.e. on February 2, 2006 2:13 PM (e)

Carol you have hit the nail on the head for once.
God is negative entropy in imaginary time(which as we all know is real) before matter existed ?
One other point, that would be in the original unexpurgated Hebrew bible (The one without the penguins) right?
OK we’ve got it, can we move on.

Comment #77075

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 2, 2006 2:25 PM (e)

Posted by Greg H on February 2, 2006 02:07 PM (e)

Stephen,

First, let me say, in case anyone is confused, I am not a scientist….
Following from that, we can’t really posit the notion that entropy must necessarily decrease just because time starts running backwards. As far as all of the equations that we posses tell us, it should increase, no matter which way time runs.

I am not a scientist either. I admit that in a way I am arguing from authority.
I am only using a couple of popular science books here. A Brief History of Time and The Fabric of the Cosmos.

From the latter, Brian Greene concurs with your maths and actually states that, the universe is far more likely to have just popped into existence right now than to have developed over time from an even lower entropic state (by maths alone). However he goes on to say, that if that was the case, everything we know about the universe from memory and records did not happen so could not be relied upon.

Where he disagrees with you though is that if the big bang did happen approx 16 Bill years ago, then reversing time would lead to lower entropy.

Comment #77083

Posted by Greg H on February 2, 2006 3:19 PM (e)

I’ve read some of Greene’s work (although not the one you reference - perhaps a library trip is in order), and BHoT at least three times, and I too find myself arguing from authority based on these books.

But again, I think it’s dangerous to ignore the math, but that’s just me.

Comment #77086

Posted by CJ O'Brien on February 2, 2006 3:35 PM (e)

CJ Obrien,

Your point about systems needing to dump heat as they do work is true but actually strengthens my argument (which I never said was a “proof” for anything). The systems that does the dumping is never considered by itself to be a closed system, and its entropy may actually decrease. It is the combination of the dumper and dumpee (and the source of any heat taken in)that constitue the closed system and it is for this combination that the SLOT kicks in and states that the entropy of the whole system must increase. Clearly the absence of a dumping ground renders the universe even more strongly a closed system.

Well, for the sake of this discussion, I’ve been granting the closed status of the universe. And, to be honest, I don’t really have a horse in the race. Call it incredulity, but I just don’t see how it’s useful to speak of “total entropy” on a universal scale. The laws of thermodynamics are properties of collections of stuff in a universe with certain kinds of physical laws, not properties of universes themselves. It seems like a category error to me.

But the discussion has been somewhat enlightening for me, and clarified my own perhaps muddy view of what I have long considered a fascinating subject. Thanks, to everbody, for your patient responses.

Comment #77089

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 2, 2006 3:47 PM (e)

Posted by Greg H on February 2, 2006 03:19 PM (e)

I’ve read some of Greene’s work (although not the one you reference - perhaps a library trip is in order), and BHoT at least three times, and I too find myself arguing from authority based on these books.

But again, I think it’s dangerous to ignore the math, but that’s just me.

The Elegant Universe? He (Greene), is pretty good (LOL. Not that I am qualified to judge).

The chapter in “The Fabric of the Cosmos” I am referring to is #6.
Don’t forget this has nothing to do with biology or evolution, he is referring to the Universe (although Biology/Evolution would not get far without one).

He also explains why SLoT is not relevant to Evolution. Well it is, but is not violated due to the Sun.

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 01:48 PM

Stephen,

Thanks!

NP. I think people started commenting without reading.

Comment #77097

Posted by Steviepinhead on February 2, 2006 4:16 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott noted:

Don’t forget this has nothing to do with biology or evolution, he is referring to the Universe (although Biology/Evolution would not get far without one).

…which leads us to the Pinhead Corollary: if it takes a universe for the Flying Spaghetti Monster to evolve mere matter into pizza and pasta, then I’ll take a universe, already. Just make it snappy, and use plenty of the red onions!

Comment #77103

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 2, 2006 4:26 PM (e)

Posted by Steviepinhead on February 2, 2006 04:16 PM (e)

…which leads us to the Pinhead Corollary: if it takes a universe for the Flying Spaghetti Monster to evolve mere matter into pizza and pasta, then I’ll take a universe, already. Just make it snappy, and use plenty of the red onions!

What is a snappy Universe?
Is it a cyclic universe where the retraction phase is much quicker than the expansion?

Comment #77106

Posted by Steviepinhead on February 2, 2006 4:36 PM (e)

Stephen:

What is a snappy Universe?
Is it a cyclic universe where the retraction phase is much quicker than the expansion?

Stevie: Indubitably, my good sir. Which leads to a sufficiency of oscillation and, um, entropic reverb, er, great enough to slice all those red onions to a fare-the-well.

Comment #77108

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 2, 2006 4:55 PM (e)

Posted by Steviepinhead on February 2, 2006 04:36 PM (e)

Stephen:

What is a snappy Universe?
Is it a cyclic universe where the retraction phase is much quicker than the expansion?

Stevie: Indubitably, my good sir. Which leads to a sufficiency of oscillation and, um, entropic reverb, er, great enough to slice all those red onions to a fare-the-well.

Well the FSM had better be careful with his noodly appendages on the shrinking phase.

Comment #77111

Posted by Moses on February 2, 2006 5:09 PM (e)

Comment #77075

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 2, 2006 02:25 PM (e)

I am not a scientist either. I admit that in a way I am arguing from authority.

There’s nothing wrong, per se, of citing authority. In fact, unless you made the discovery, pretty much everything will (or at least should) come from some authority as part of your learning experience.

It seems to me, the real sin is arguing from inappropriate authority. Or using “faux authority” as a proxy for a solid argument/competency and/or to shout down dissenting opinions; when in fact, you’ve got nothing.

Comment #77117

Posted by Steviepinhead on February 2, 2006 5:23 PM (e)

Stephen:

Well the FSM had better be careful with his noodly appendages on the shrinking phase.

Stevie: Now here’s one of the occasions where Carol may actually have a point (and, no, I don’t mean a pinhead kind of point, though I don’t think we can absolutely rule that out), for a change–these supraluminal, superdeluxe, superlative-type beings somehow seem to have the mysterious ability (well, “ability” may be a little strong; perhaps, “unspecific exo-phenomenal non-characteristic” might be more accurate) to like, get sideways with time and space, such that they can (well, “can” may be a little strong; perhaps “weave transubstantial psuedo-causal correlational potentialities” might be more accurate), er, extract the relevant non-portions of their incorporeality from any direct psuedo-interactions with the more blatantly, um, physical aspects of reality.

In short, the FSM just momentarily “disentangles” (I’m skipping a lot of details here, because–just like Carol–I don’t really have all dang “eon” to dumb these Really Complex Simplifications down to phrases compressed enough for you pterrible pt’ers to grasp and, besides, even if any of you were willing to pony up for the Tremulous Tome wherein all this is writ in an unverifiable but voraciously lingual linguini, still none of you could be expected to follow the ineffable flows and folds and penumbras of the One True Logos even if I could be bothered to cite from the truly-translated version of the ultra-technical hypno-jargon) his noodly appendages from the Quantum Mechanical antiphonal trans-phasal fibrillations of consensual universality just long enough to avoid any embarassing conniptions.

I trust that’s clear. Because all my words are never less than clear, I’m never wrong, and even if they weren’t or I were, we’re not.

But, if not, too bad, ‘cause you’ve used up the one mini-eon I have budgeted for dallying with you mere mortals during this particular cycle of blogosity.

Comment #77119

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 2, 2006 5:32 PM (e)

Posted by Steviepinhead on February 2, 2006 05:23 PM (e)
….…..

Bah! Unbeliever! All that sophistry does not impress me.
Everyone knows, a simple pirate costume solves any problem.

Comment #77120

Posted by Steviepinhead on February 2, 2006 5:42 PM (e)

But, felonious heretic, as is plain as plain could be, that’s exactly what I said, in language so lucid that mud itself would not dare to cling to my cling-free, stain-resistant, and pleasingly-plaid eye-patch!

If only the blind would but open their eyes, they could see!

Comment #77135

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 2, 2006 6:30 PM (e)

Posted by Steviepinhead on February 2, 2006 05:42 PM (e)

But, felonious heretic, as is plain as plain could be, that’s exactly what I said, in language so lucid that mud itself would not dare to cling to my cling-free, stain-resistant, and pleasingly-plaid eye-patch!

If only the blind would but open their eyes, they could see!

LOL. I concede.

Comment #77138

Posted by Steviepinhead on February 2, 2006 6:35 PM (e)

Well, thanks, I think, but of course Carol won’t.

And maybe that’s a good thing. Boring trolls may be better than no trolls at all, from the perspective of humor, if nothing else.

Comment #77142

Posted by Jim Harrison on February 2, 2006 6:40 PM (e)

In the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is under arrest.

Comment #77163

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 8:22 PM (e)

CJ O’brien wrote:

“Call it incredulity, but I just don’t see how it’s useful to speak of “total entropy” on a universal scale. The laws of thermodynamics are properties of collections of stuff in a universe with certain kinds of physical laws, not properties of universes themselves. It seems like a category error to me.”

The second law of thermodynamics is actually quite unique among the laws of science in a manner that makes it outstandingly strong and yet also endows it with a built in weakness. In addition to the empirical data to support it, this law also has the principles of probability and statistics behind it. It could actually be established in the absence of any experiments and data, just based on sound mathematics. Deep down it actually is a probabilistic statement. It does not really state that entropy MUST increase, just that it is highly likely to do so. This weakness has tempted many an innovative engineer to try and defeat it, all to no avail. Yet the probabilistic statement it makes is backed by more than raw data. It is actually supported by mathematics.

The same statistical analysis that leads to the SLOT for, say, engines and local phenomena, forces us to apply it to the universe as a whole, even if no direct data exist for that conclusion. (After all we don’t have many universes to inspect.) This is on top of the general principle in science that nature is guided by rules that are applicable to the entire universe.

The net result is that the SLOT raises some very thorny issues pertaining to the universe and its existence, as described in my original post here.

Comment #77166

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 2, 2006 8:36 PM (e)

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 08:22 PM (e)

The second law of thermodynamics is actually quite unique among the laws of science in a manner that makes it outstandingly strong and yet also endows it with a built in weakness. In addition to the empirical data to support it, this law also has the principles of probability and statistics behind it. It could actually be established in the absence of any experiments and data, just based on sound mathematics…

Carol,
Why do you not give ATbC a try?
You can start your own thread over there. TBH. I would not mind discussing a few things with you. Over here it is more difficult as it tends to derail threads.

BTW. That was not a reflection on that post.

Comment #77195

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 3, 2006 12:20 AM (e)

Stephen,

You certainly are welcome to post any commentary at ATBC and I will be more than happy to deal with them, as time permits. I do prefer, however, and would encourage you to consider, posting here where the multitudes may perhaps benefit from the interaction.

Comment #77286

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 3, 2006 10:48 AM (e)

I do prefer, however, and would encourage you to consider, posting here where the multitudes may perhaps benefit from the interaction.

This blog is not a free-for-all, and it is not to be the preferred venue for whatever argument you choose just because it has more traffic than AtBC. Thread closed.