Entropy and New Epochs

Teaching P.W. Atkins’ Physical Chemistry for 4 years to pre-meds, and introducing engineers to their first college chemistry at the University of Central Florida, you would think I know something about the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and Entropy.  But I always re-analyze my appreciation for the uniqueness of entropy.

You know what entropy is?  It’s the stuff of science fiction and total environmental “death”.  The statistical definition of entropy, S, is the formula carved in Boltzmann’s headstone,

S= -klnQ

where k = Boltzmann’s constant, times  lnQ = the natural logarithm of the total number of available states or the probability of the same.

So, as I jogged this morning listening to Feynman’s lecture on Entropy, I was stumped briefly by what he exposed, which is on YouTube…

In Part 1 he points out that most things in the Universe are reversible, or appear so, except time:

Can we influence future events?  Of course!  Yes we can!

Can we influence past events?  Hmmmm. maybe not?!

Outside of time, then it seems everything is reversible? Actually not.  Not ‘yet.’ Not in our Universe. Then – at about minute 14,  he put something out their like an entre’ to religion or at least a God-based religion [you can hear and see him thinking carefully how to state this and the pitfalls around stating it.  This is something new and deep for him.  I can see the ideas coming into his mind], by stating:

  • ‘If in our Universe everything tends to disorder, and all energy and real states tend to disorder..How did it get ordered in the FIRST PLACE?’

Now that is a deep and profound question.  Immediately on second thought, one can discard any form of Diety as the reason, as it does not resolve the question.  One may ask, how was the Deity ordered?  Or is the Deity in complete disorder?

There are only two solutions to this physical question:

(1) As one Universe lives and dies in complete disorder and collapses, it gives rise through a Big Bang to yet another 4-dimensional  (3 space and 1 time dimensional) Universe that is smaller in both space AND time.  And this goes on and on forever in ever “smaller’ Universes.  The order comes through displacement to the former Universe.


(2)  As we live in a 4-dimensional Universe, as it lives and dies and collapses, what evolves or grows out of it may not be 4-dimensional.  It’s laws may not include a 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, until later.  It may, briefly, exists as a 5-dimensional universe or a 4-dimensional Universe with two-way time, or no time.  It may last long enough to order everything that was disordered.

I will leave that thought there, as I still haven’t taken a shower after the jog.


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