Saturday, March 31, 2018

Entropy and thermodynamics

Hello fellow amphibians, today it’s time for another Physics class to spin your creativity, and I thought I would talk about entropy and thermodynamics. I will not bother you with details:

Thermodynamics is a funny subject. The first time you go through it, you don't understand it at all. The second time you go through it, you think you understand it, except for one or two small points. The third time you go through it, you know you don't understand it, but by that time you are so used to it, it doesn't bother you anymore.”
 — Arnold Sommerfeld, when asked why he had never written a book on the subject (c.1950)

Thermodynamics is so one of the most misunderstood subjects I know of. and many many well educated do not even understand it’s basic. At the core is entropy.

Let’s look at a dictionary:

Entropy is a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system's thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.

Remember that when we talk about disorder it’s not always what you might think at first, if you want to be confused on a higher level watch the video

Entropy is a measure randomness, and the second law of Thermodynamics actually says that the amount of disorder can only increase for a system.

That sounds a lot like my desk… *smiles* .

Entropy is closely connected to temperature which is the average energy of the particles in the system. You probably remember something about temperature is all about the molecules moving faster. Actually when I started to read about thermodynamics I realized that temperature was a lot harder to understand than entropy.

It actually takes work to bring order to disorder (the same with my desk). That actually sounds very reasonable, and it has fundamental consequences.

Entropy is why cool objects warms up and warm objects get cooler, It makes a car engine run (it’s not magic, it’s thermodynamic) where the heat from burning gasoline is converted to mechanical energy but at the same time heats up the surrounding air.

That’s why using electricity made from coal to heat the house is stupid. There are fundamental conversions where energy is lost.

Today I would like you to write a poem on entropy and the energy it takes to bring order to thing, talk about the waste of creating entropy (indeed it has a lot to do with climate change too). Write about heat and how it changes. Get warmed up to the thoughts and remember,

Entropy will always increase.


Kerry O'Connor said...

Hi Bjorn, I always enjoy the process of turning science into poetry, which you afford us... I am a failed science student who never lost her fascination for the subject.

I had to reset your post, as something went awry with the blogger formatting. I hope the page loads correctly now, and that nothing has been lost (in the way that energy is neither created nor destroyed)

Kim M. Russell said...

Hi Bjorn! You know how much I enjoy messing with physics in poetry. I just hope my little poem isn't too cheesy.

Fireblossom said...

In high school, the one class I hated beyond all others was physics. You're giving me flashbacks. Sorry, friend, i just can't send my muse in that direction.

Jim said...

Entropy increase or dectease and theirvquantity is proportional to various inputs. Most formulas take into account of one or two or a few input factors. I am a firm believer in the oldies laws of spontaneous human combustion and the law of large numbers (favorite is that if a body gets too large in population it becomes out of control). I once wrote a computer program for solving simultaneous equatons to infinity Nth degree of unknowns. But I've lost that recipe and can't bake that cake again.
ad nauseam.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Gah! A foreign language! LOL. Will be interesting to read the responses.

brudberg said...

Ha... I do understand the challenge of writing in a foreign language, believe me. I will get back with my entry later, but it's enough to just write about disorder.

Brendan said...

Thanks for the challenge, Bjorn -- It evoked memory of the first thing I read by Thomas Pynchon, the short story "Entropy," probably in the early years of college. We don't have a culture which rests on a shared literature any more, so apologies to the group if seems obscure. Another short story that pushes it toward our time is "Gerald's Party" by Robert Coover. I can't help thinking we are lost in the heat death of the '60s, mind at the end of a tether which has us all some suburban take on Mephistopheles' poodles ... Signs of a broken equation. Happy Easter!

tonispencer said...

Excellent prompt. You know how I love "sciency" stuff. I don't know how close I came but damn, I wrote a long one.