left biblioblography: The Uncarved Block of Ice - Fun With Thermodynamics

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Uncarved Block of Ice - Fun With Thermodynamics

(Cross-posted at Godis4Suckers.net)

"Defining entropy as disorder's not complete,
'cause disorder as a definition doesn't cover heat.
So my first definition I would now like to withdraw,
and offer one that fits thermodynamics second law.
First we need to understand that entropy is energy,
energy that can't be used to state it more specifically.
In a closed system entropy always goes up,
that's the second law, now you know what's up."

"You can't win, you can't break even, you can't leave the game,
'cause entropy will take it all 'though it seems a shame.
The second law, as we now know, is quite clear to state,
that entropy must increase and not dissipate."

"Creationists always try to use the second law,
to disprove evolution, but their theory has a flaw.
The second law is quite precise about where it applies,
only in a closed system must the entropy count rise.
The earth's not a closed system, it's powered by the sun,
so fuck the damn creationists, Doomsday get my gun!
That, in a nutshell, is what entropy's about,
you're now down with a discount." - MC Hawking, Entropy

When first I began blogging, I had nary a clue about thermodynamics, outside of the laymen's version (energy can't be destroyed, etc). And almost inevitably, that worn out, tired canard gets trotted out for the umpteenth millionth time, you know the one, 'evolution violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics!' (Herein referred to as 2LoT) Never mind that there's just as many web links that prove this incorrect. Even the panspermiatists agree.

I can attest that I have at least one gray hair that can be named 2LoT - the problem is that it's always viewed (by the creationists, wouldn't you know?) as strictly linear - that is, it's a straight line from point A to B. But, as the first link says, "In fact, as hot systems cool down in accordance with the second law, it is not unusual for them to undergo spontaneous symmetry breaking, i.e. for structure to spontaneously appear as the temperature drops below a critical threshold. Complex structures, such as BĂ©nard cells, also spontaneously appear where there is a steady flow of energy from a high temperature input source to a low temperature external sink. It is conjectured that such systems tend to evolve into complex, structured, critically unstable "edge of chaos" arrangements, which very nearly maximise the rate of energy degradation (the rate of entropy production)."

Never mind that it applies to closed systems (which the earth most distinctly is not, and the universe? Jury's still out).

Theists typically place their deity outside the realm of falsifiability. That is, said critter is immortal, outside the Einsteinian laws of physics (i.e., beyond time and space, citation of Psalms 90:4), aforementioned beastie is immutable, perfect, ergo unchanging (which would make it impossible to interact with us 'imperfect' beings). Nor can we find an instance in nature where the creator is free of the laws of physics that bind the created. Not to mention that it would violate the 2LoT, would it not?

But wait! There's also the 3rd Law of Thermodynamics. Put simply, it's "as a system approaches absolute zero of temperature all processes cease and the entropy of the system approaches a minimum value." Therefore, said deity would have to be frozen, since there's no hint of entropy, right?

So, in order for there to be any kind of perfect deity, in the interests of symmetry and correlation with any of the laws of thermodynamics (note that the 3rd law stipulates that absolute zero cannot be reached, even though they've come within a billionths of a degree), said god would need to thaw itself out before it could ever, ever interact with said creation. And, since this god's entropy would be restored upon the exchange of heat for cold, it would be mutable, mortal, and imperfect, having been shorn of its superconductivity, superfluidity, and Bose–Einstein condensation.

Got all that? Short version: take gawd out of the freezer, and thaw it out. Oh, whoops, that was the hamburger I made from the sacred cow.

Anyways, next time you hear that hoary old chestnut about 2LoT, do feel free to bop them with this one. It should send them all a-flutter.

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garth2 said...

nice post. came over from pharyngula, you're goin in the feeds folder.
i knew when i saw MC Hawking that i'd dig it, coming from someone who drove 7 hours to see mc chris play and has "Straight Outta Stockholm" on his iPod.

Krystalline Apostate said...

garth2 - thanks for dropping by.
I'd honestly never heard of MC until I was boppin' around doing the research.
Good stuff.

Mesoforte said...

aforementioned beastie is immutable, perfect, ergo unchanging (which would make it impossible to interact with us 'imperfect' beings).

Not to mention that it would invalidate any attempt at a 'first cause' argument.

Krystalline Apostate said...

MF - ah yes, "Alas poor deity, I knew him well, a being of infinite regression."

Chris Bradley said...

It's actually been proven - y'know, as in someone won a Nobel Prize for it - that any complex chemical system with a lot of negentropy tends to become more complex.

Life, of course, is a complex chemical system with a lot of negentorpy.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Hey Chris - back from your trip?
Negentropy...hmmmm, intriguing...

Chris Bradley said...


Not yet. Just finding a little time to be online. Been busy here in AZ, but my friend is cooking dinner and I'm a little ragged and readin' stuff on the 'Net. ;)

Krystalline Apostate said...

Chris - ragged? Aren't you on vacation?