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Parasomnium
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Message 646 of 1273 (542668)
01-11-2010 5:50 PM
Reply to: Message 637 by Dr Adequate
01-11-2010 10:02 AM


On the Second Law of Thermodynamics...
On the Second Law of Thermodynamics
by Means of Mammals and Fleas
or
The Preservation of Good Ideas in the Struggle for Sanity
Imagine a sealed room with a flea infested panda sitting next to a flealess tiger. Imagine further that the fleas jump from one to the other randomly. Obviously, in the beginning there will be more fleas jumping from the panda to the tiger than vice versa. But as more and more fleas jump to the tiger, some fleas will be jumping back to the panda. Eventually, a situation will be arrived at with equally as many fleas on the panda as there are on the tiger. The fleas keep jumping to and fro, but the situation overall will be in equilibrium. The system (comprised of the panda, the tiger and the fleas) has gone from minimal entropy (i.e. minimal disorder: all fleas on the panda) to maximal entropy (i.e. maximal disorder: fleas equally distributed between both animals).
Will there ever again arise a situation in which there are more fleas on the panda than there are on the tiger, or the other way around? If the situation stays exactly as described above then the answer is no, it will never happen. But what if we add some energy to the mixture, what will happen then? Well, let's try. We'll open up the sealed room and set fire to the tiger. The fleas on the tiger don't relish being burnt and jump to the panda more readily. The fleas on the panda no longer smell a fresh tiger nearby, but a smouldering one, and they forego the jump. The result is that the fleas end up, en masse, on the panda. It's amazing what a little heat can do.
There is grandeur in this view of science, with its several laws, having been originally thought of by Some Scientists in some form or other; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the laws of Another Scientist, from so simple a beginning, endless science most beautiful and most wonderful has been, and is being thought of.

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science." - Charles Darwin.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 637 by Dr Adequate, posted 01-11-2010 10:02 AM Dr Adequate has not replied

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