January 07, 2012

Gripe: Entropy

1. Thermodynamics.
a. (on a macroscopic scale) a function of thermodynamic variables, as temperature, pressure, or composition, that is a measure of the energy that is not available for work during a thermodynamic process. A closed system evolves toward a state of maximum entropy.
b. (in statistical mechanics) a measure of the randomness of the microscopic constituents of a thermodynamic system. Symbol: S
2. (in data transmission and information theory) a measure of the loss of information in a transmitted signal or message.
3. (in cosmology) a hypothetical tendency for the universe to attain a state of maximum homogeneity in which all matter is at a uniform temperature (heat death).
4. a doctrine of inevitable social decline and degeneration.
(from Dictionary.com)

Bear with me on this. While I did study the basics of Physics, it was in my senior year of high school about 25 years ago, so my understanding has become metaphorical over the years. Actually, my understanding probably started out metaphorical and generalized into inaccuracy. I love Physics and all the sciences, but I hit the Math wall hard, so this will be wonky at best.

I hate Entropy. As a control freak and perfectionist, uncertain, random, unusable energy is anathema. My tendency is always to specify and order as much as possible, to notice, classify, and remember, and Entropy, metaphorically at least, is an opposing force.  It seems to be in league with chaos and dissipation, my sworn enemies.

It's the phrase "a measure of the energy that is not available for work" that really singes my short hairs, and makes me wonder how the energy of mental concentration and focus are quantified.  Work is an applied transfer of energy, but it only counts as work if some change is made. As someone chronically short on energy -- I'm even an introvert, someone who social interactions drain of energy rather than stimulate -- the idea that there are physical forces withholding power built into the system just makes me feel exhausted.

Yes, I use the concept of Entropy as a rationalization of procrastination. When I cannot finish my work in a timely manner, I blame Entropy.  Yes, that's probably illogical to the point of insanity, but that's what's going on.

The forces of Entropy are winning.

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