On the web since 1997
EntropyW. J. Rayment / Home Humor -- Whenever we work to create order, we create chaos elsewhere. This is known as entropy. I first noticed this tendency when attempting to make order of a closet. I put every shirt on its own hanger, properly spaced. Hats were stacked in a corner. Ties were mounted just so. Shoes, slippers and other footwear had its spot on the floor. Old games were neatly piled one on top of the other. A pair of binoculars was mounted neatly over a box of old photographs. Ah, yes, it was a far cry from the deep, dark and dank nether region the closet had been.
The accomplishment of my goal proved quite satisfying until I had opportunity to look about me.
In order to straighten the closet, I had completely messed up the room around it. This involved strewing books, trash and clothes over dressers, mirrors, valets, beds, maidservants, wives (well - I mean wife), floors and every other available horizontal surface.
Of course, my singular wife would not let me leave the mess. I was now compelled to straighten the bedroom, but inevitably this led to the complete disorganization of the rest of the house, from the kitchen to the living room from the attic to the basement I inevitably created chaos in every nook and cranny in my attempt to bring total order to one room.
In the course of this work, I came to truly understand the law of entropy. It is the dirty little secret of entropy that there is always more chaos resultant from the order obtained. In political terms you can see how making the trains run on time in Germany could result in World War II!
In physical terms, the order on our own tiny planet is only created by the total chaos that occurs on the sun. This may seem a fair stretch on first glance, but it is not so wild when one considers that all the movement and energy on this planet is ultimately derived from the sun. Everything that fuels our existence, from the photosynthesis carried on by plants, to the "fossil" fuels we burn to move our cars, to wind power to hydroelectric power. Even the tiny electrons that motivate the dials on our watches so we know when to watch the umpteenth rerun of "The Three Stooges" which is scheduled to be bouncing off a satellite.
The only earthly energy that we possess that does not derive ultimately from the sun is nuclear power and it could be easily argued that using nuke power creates its own form of chaos.
Indeed, it is the contention of those who subscribe to the theory of entropy that, ultimately, in the long haul, over millions, nay trillions upon trillions of years that the universe shall, via its constantly creating more chaos than order, spread itself so thin that there will be nothing but a huge universe with every atom a hydrogen atom equidistant, the same temperature of absolute zero. For all "intents" and "purposes" the universe will be pretty much useless and uniform in its chaos.
All this, of course, presupposes that the universe is ever expanding. Scientists, physicists and philosophers argue at length on this problem, most of them merely creating a considerable amount of chaos to create a great deal of confusion. For there is an alternate theory that the content of the universe is so great that the gravitational force of all matter contained there-in will only allow a certain amount of expansion. At that point the universe will begin to collapse upon itself. What then? Do we suddenly get more order than chaos?
It is hard to know the answer. Imagine, if you will, that you are in a zone that is at the twilight of the universe. This would be in the evening twilight, by the way. We are in the collapsing universe. All matter except for your tiny ship has collapsed into a ball the size of a grapefruit. Okay, donít laugh. Physicists tell us that this is exactly the size the universe would be if we could put all its mass together and figured in the crunching effects of its cumulative gravity. It would be pretty tight quarters in this ball; instead of being spread out among the infinity of space, all this matter would be condensed into a tiny spot. Every atom would be touching and we would have one super heavy grapefruit.
Your ship is inevitably orbiting this grapefruit, because there is nothing else to do. It is impossible to break the gravitational force of all this matter so you just travel around and around. But to stay alive, you must consume energy and every bit of energy that you use throws off a little more chaos to be consumed by the black hole of a grape fruit.
All excess oxygen, even the food upon which you once thrived must be used. No more ice cream, cake, candy, or carrots or peas or roast beast or pizza. You are down to living on beans and a couple vitamin pills. Every scrap of matter must be used. You even shave your head and pluck the hairs from your eyelashes. It takes a few thousand more years, but now every scrap of matter and anti-matter is gone. There is only you, the bare hull of a ship and that little grape fruit that you have been orbiting since the dawn of time.
Do you steer the ship directly for the center of the grape fruit? Perhaps. Yes. You have thought about it long and hard, done calculations on a scrap piece of paper (you tossed your calculator into the atomic drive long ago), and you come to the conclusion that if you leap into the atomic converter that there will be enough energy on impact to blow that grapefruit all to pieces and start the whole process all over again.
Well, this scenario does assume quite a lot. That you can live forever and that you have access to a space ship with atomic drive and that the universe will ultimately collapse upon itself. I find the notion far more intriguing than the entropy ideaÖthat is that the universe will ultimately spread out infinitely.
Again, it is hard to know which direction it is going, but that hardly changes the simple fact (well, theoretical fact) that we must create chaos if we are to have order. So what does this mean for the average Joe who would rather fire a bowling ball down a lane and watch the pins scatter, only to be reset perpetually by the pin machine? What does it mean to the housewife who canít compel her normally pliable husband to clean out the closet, and so must do the job herself?
There is a philosophic answer to cleaning a messy room. You do not have to bring chaos to the rest of the house or even the basement or attic just to clean a closet. Take your chaos piece by piece, put it into a garbage can and let the trash-man deliver it to the dump.