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According to the Laws of Thermodynamics, entropy, the measure of the disorder in a closed system, and its direction -- toward increasing disorder -- cannot be reversed.  This theory is not in question, even when the nature of closed systems is at issue.  The increase in entropy is contained in the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and effectively states that the arrow of time (time theoretically being one-directional) requires everything to proceed toward ever increasing chaos, such that all structures are ultimately doomed.   

However, in an open system, there can be an influx of energy into the system capable of reinvigorating the structure -- in full accord with the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  Energy input can decrease entropy, and can simultaneously increase order.  Furthermore, the more structured a system, the more energy is required to increase the structure, or even to maintain the status quo -- what in physics is termed “equilibrium”.  

Entropy is not purely a physics term.  It can also be applied to everything from gardens to societies.  Gardens, for example, which are extremely ordered, i.e. all tomato plants, are highly susceptible to disorder simply because one tomato bug could do in the whole garden.  But when the garden has a multitude of different plants, then there is greater stability.  Less order implies greater stability.  More order implies greater instability, unless there is an energy input into the system.  Societies which are highly regimented need a massive input of energy (covert and overt police/laws on every corner, propaganda and public relations for every contingency, and the tools to accomplish all of the above). These are the basic requirements just in order for the society to continue to function.  In effect, the more laws a society or culture has, the more energy is needed to fuel the laws’ enforcement, and the greater the instability of the society.  Which is why communism in Russia failed to keep up with the rest of the world.  

The classic example of entropy increasing is the case where one adds a drop of red dye to a glass of clear water.  The previous organization or structure of the system (undiluted dye in one container and water in another) is quickly reduced to just pinkish water.  The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that no matter how long one waits, the dye will never form itself again into a single droplet, effectively separated from the remainder of the solution, which would again be clear water.   

If, on the other hand, we try a similar experiment using muddy water, and let the solution set for a length of time, we might be surprised to find -- contrary to expectations -- that the mud and water are separating.  Is this a violation of the Second Law?  No.  What we failed to consider in the second case was the effect of gravity and its differential effect on mud and water.  The gravitational energy becomes the input of energy we needed to “reverse entropy”.  The key is that the muddy water was not in a closed system.  

All of this sounded pretty good in physics, until one day along came Maxwell’s Demon.  The drama began with a thought experiment of a two-sectioned box separated by a wall with a door.  Inside the box were molecules of widely different energies.  At the outset of the experiment, all the hot molecules (those racing about at the top speeds) were in one side, and all the cold molecules (those moving about much more sluggishly) were in the other side.  The door in the separated wall is opened, and eventually both sections of the box contain on average equal numbers of hot and cold molecules.  This is in accordance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  In fact, left to itself, the box will never again consist of one section full of only hot molecules and the other section only cold molecules.  

James Clerk Maxwell -- known for his famous Maxwell’s Equations of Electrodynamics -- then suggested that there might be a means by which a hypothetical demon might be at the door between the two sections of the box.  This demon would see a hot molecule coming from the right side and open the door to allow its passage.  At the same time, any cold molecule approaching the door from the left side, the demon would again allow passage.  But in the case of hot molecules coming from the left, or cold ones from the right, the demon would close the door.  Maxwell did not actually envision a “demon”, but instead some unknown means by which the entropy of the system could be reversed.  

The solution to Maxwell’s Demon was that the demon needed to know if an approaching molecule was hot or cold.  In this way, physicists brought into the equation, information, which then became a form of energy in the sense that information could be used to reverse entropy.  Information could also be used to slow the rate at which entropy was increasing.  Practically speaking that would mean that the more efficient a device is, the slower the rate at which entropy increases.  

A mundane example might be the invention of the bicycle.  Walking from point A to point B will require a certain amount of energy.  But if a thought leads to the creation of a bicycle, then the same trip can be accomplished with much less energy. Thus the efficiency of the method of transportation is improved by information, and this slows the rate at which entropy is increasing. 

Physicists stopped the thought process at this point.  Everything was now working, even with the possibility of any unknown process such as Maxwell’s Demon.  

But obviously, information implies consciousness.  Suddenly there’s trouble in River City!  And it begins with “C”.  For Consciousness.  From the viewpoint of Entropy, can this fundamental measure of a system, can its direction be reversed by consciousness?  Taking the tact used to explain away Maxwell’s Demon, yes.  That’s it.  Q.E.D. (“Thus it is conclusively proved.”)  Consciousness reverses entropy.   

The human mind is a masterpiece of organization and organizing ability.  Everything gets sorted into the appropriate cubby holes -- affectionately known as schemas -- the epitome of increasing order.  The human mind, of course, operates on energy, but the reliance on food intake as the sole energy source constitutes a highly questionable assumption.  If in addition we are living in a Connective Universe, Consciousness may be tapping into the Zero-Point Energy, or using Hyperdimensional Physics to advantage.  

Perhaps now is the time for physics to include consciousness in the equation.  Or at least for those physicists who are...  well, you know... conscious.  

Because all systems within the universe are open, i.e. everything’s connected, and there are no closed systems smaller than the universe.  Thus entropy in a local system can be reversed, order can increase.  The Second Law is passé.  

Which leaves only the question of reversing entropy on the scale of the universe -- apparently, the only possible closed system from our vantage point.   

This has been beautifully addressed in Isaac Asimov’s short story, “The Last Question,” http://www.asimovonline.com/oldsite/sf_fantasy_story_list.html#The Last Question.  Inasmuch as Arthur Clarke considered this story, “the best science fiction story ever written”, you might make the effort to find it in the library.  

And if you need to know how to find a library in Indianapolis...  Stay on the Inter Net.  

Connective Physics         Laws of Thermodynamics

Forward to:

Mach’s Principle         Alice in Barium-Titanate Land



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