Entropy; That Sly Motherfucker

Last night; I received some news from someone close to me. The news was on such an epic scale that it will literally change everything about my life. The implications are astounding.

It was good news but epic all the same.

The realities dawned on me this afternoon. And I snuck off into my bathroom for a little cry. I looked at the walls and noticed that the damp in there was getting more and more prevalent. The paint was peeling. In several places all around the room; someone hasn’t properly prepared the surface. That room is always damp; towels used after a bath will not dry in the winter.

That’s entropy. (The paint; not the towels)

Entropy is a funny old thing. Maybe one of the most profound things in the Universe. It’s a game we can never win at; the dice are forever stacked against us however hard we try to pretend otherwise. As much as we try; we cannot win against entropy.

But what is it? And why is it so important?

Well… who the fuck knows? I certainly don’t. When I was an undergraduate Physics student I asked that very question in a tutorial to a waves professor. He blustered and huffed and puffed. Walked out of that session still none the wiser.
Very broadly; it is the universe attempting to bring order to itself. It is the universe trying to ‘smooth out’ all the energy that was present at the Big Bang and make it a homogeneous mass.

For example, imagine (and this one really is for @SpanishRed) that the Universe is a piece of rye bread. Is it possible to spread a layer of Nutella so thin that that the surface is infinitely smooth? Frictionless one might say. The Universe is the bread and the Nutella represents all the energy. The Big Bang created pockets of energy/mass much like children create pockets of toys clumped up in the living room. The ever weary parent every night attempts to sort the toys out and put them in their rightful place.

We can extend that to the weeds in the carefully tended garden; the dirty clothes heaped on the floor; the paint peeling in the bathroom.

We see it in ourselves.

I can feel entropy happening to me. I see it in my face. I feel it in my body. Time is running out; or, I feel entropy beginning to win. It creeps up on us. We see it sometimes as the ghost at the feast. Then it becomes to come closer… and closer… and closer.

Entropy is disorder. It is chaos. The sly motherfucker.

Or to put it another way; the more you put things together the more they fall apart.

Or even better, as MiniRen#1 put it last night, “Why should I wash my feet? They’ll only get dirty again?”

However;

Out of that disorder, order is also created. Sometimes randomly; like life itself. Or sometimes with sentience, as we try to do as humans. Tidying the toys, washing ourselves or painting the bathroom.

But we cannot win, you know.

All we can ever hope to do in our own small way is to attempt to create order. To know what decisions we are about to take. Do we take the left path or the right? Cause and effect. As time machines are fantasy and as I don’t have a mini black hole to power my attempted time shifts into the future, we take a punt; we flip a coin. We take a chance.

My favourite film is ‘Gone with the Wind’. At the beginning of that film we see the words:

“Do not squander time; for that is the stuff life is made of.”

So if I haven’t thoroughly depressed you by now, I’ll just leave with these words.

We are our own little pocket of order in a disordered Universe. Entropy will win but we can have a fine old time pretending that it won’t in the interim.

Happy gambling.

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