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Brain, Mind, Consciousness & AI Message Board › Entropy - Second Law of Thermodynamics

Entropy - Second Law of Thermodynamics

Mark H.
Group Organizer
Albuquerque, NM
Post #: 17

I received your reply, but can't find a place in Meetup to respond to it. So I'm creating this new comment here. You wrote: “when a star dies, this contributes to the overall entropy of the universe as a whole and thus lends to the theoretical heat death?”

Yes, this reflects my understanding of entropic action. Energy moves along a gradient from higher to lower concentrations. Energy flows enable local negentropic action (ordering, struturing, life, etc.), but the average dispersal of energy (often equated with disorder) in the metasystem, or universe, always increases. Open systems receive energy flows from external sources. Energy flows on earth originate from solar radiation and gravitation. Except for solar energy sources and the relatively small amounts of matter and energy Earth releases into space, Earth operates as a closed system. We are currently able to make use of only a minute fraction of the available energy flows available in hydrocarbons and all other sources. From our perspective, the remainder is wasted (dissipates to lower energy concentrations without our having put them to work to increase local order), or is converted to toxins we release into our closed system, limiting our further options (degrees of freedom). Ultimately, our habits and practices will either (a) contribute to our locally increased order's (life's) collapse--i.e., biospheric death, and/or (b) create existential crises that force us to up our game, becoming much better at harvesting and smartly leveraging energy flows. In the larger closed metasystem (the universe), the second law of thermodynamics appears to hold, meaning that average energy concentration inexorably decreases.

Entropy and negentropy can also be thought about in information terms, as articulated by mid-Twentieth Century scientist Claude Shannon. You can investigate this by googling "information theory," "entropy," and "Shannon."

Many scientists and science fiction authors have speculated on the relationship between energy mastery (mastery of negentropy) and civilization maturity. Usually, civilization maturity is rated using the Kardashev scale. Basically, the more fully a civiliazation can put available energy to effective use, the more mature it is. We are quite primitive on this scale.

More fringy notions include Frank Tippler's interpretation of de Chardin's omega point theory, in which he asserts (among other things) that super-advanced civilizations, seeking maximum efficiency in a highly entropic universe, will relocate themselves into simulated realities, where the only energy needed will be to power information exchanges. He's talking about intelligent life at the threshold of heat death, where infinitesimally small energy gradients will be exploited to power information processing cycles. The universe will appear (to a hypothetical observer) to be essentially dead—with all energy gradients flattened. But naturally arising irregularities at the quantum or superstring level (there are multiple theories) will be able to perpetually fuel the infoverse in which the simulated civilization continues. Each operation of this universe-computer may stretch out over vast periods of time, but the simulated entities within it would perceive everything clipping along at a steady pace. Weird and heady stuff, but it seems feasible, given that some intelligent, engineering entities survive their own early self-destructive tendencies to become extra-solar beings. Adding to the overall weirdness of such ideas, and leading some to speculate that we already exist in the near-heat-death simulated universe, a computing error-correction code attributed to Shannon was recently discovered embedded in the underlying functions of the universe!
A former member
Post #: 1
Wow! Thank you so much, Mark! You confirm a lot of what I have learned, thought, seen. Sorry I took so long to see this. And I would love to make the Meetups but I have nay vehicle. I am a paid hourly can driver and work from noon to 8 Monday through Friday. I do often have free time with company gas and so could make 6:00 Meetups although I might get called at any time before or during to do a run, and the location in the extreme northeast takes me to a rather extreme corner of the grid if I go there. So could happen and although the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few I would be very agreeable to Meetups on Saturdays especially near downtown or Nob Hill. Just sayin'. Mike.
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