The Second Law of Thermodynamics

Since heat is one of the most common forms of energy in the Universe, and since its action can be seen on bodies everywhere, the science of thermo-dynamics (heat-motion) received very early development in physics.

A French physicist Sadi Carnot proposed in 1824 that all physical work takes place because of the flow of heat from hot to cold bodies. This has generally been accepted as the beginning of the second law of thermodynamics. Mathematical investigations of thermodynamics over the years revealed that all physical work in the Universe results in an increase in a factor called entropy. Since the Universe is always at work (fusion of atoms, motion of bodies), the entropy of the Universe keeps on increasing every moment.

Entropy is a mathematical measure of disorder. This means that any work in the Universe results in a net increase in disorder in the Universe, so that if the Universe is left untouched, it will eventually reach the state of maximum disorder, a state of death known as the Entropy Death.

While many people are under the impression that the Universe is "evolving", actually it is running down every moment like a clock wound up some times back. Just as a clock moves towards an eventual standstill if it is left to itself after winding it once, the Universe is also moving to that state where all order will be lost.

This is the reason why clothes fade in sunlight. The ultraviolet light destroys chemicals when it randomly interacts with chemical dyes. The same is the reason why medicines have expiry dates and why it says that the cap should be closed tight and that the medicine should be kept away from direct sunlight. The natural tendency of matter and energy, when they randomly interact with each other, is to increase entropy by destroying order. There is no exception to it.

While the Universe as a whole is running down, it is possible for isolated segments of it to increase its order by creating a greater disorder outside itself. This is again an application of the second law of thermodynamics. A good example is an air-conditioner. Even when the tendency of a room is to become hot, an air-conditioner can keep the inside of the room cold by throwing the heat from inside to the atmosphere outside. The total heat dissipated into air by the air-conditioner in that process is greater than the amount of heat it takes for throwing outside because a lot of heat is generated through the air-conditioner’s own working.

In other words, if a mechanism is available, to isolate a body (insulation of the room) from external heat, and if a mechanism is available to pull out heat from inside this isolated body (the insulated room) to throw it outside the system, then a room can be cooled. This is not a violation of the second law, but rather an application of the law using a very cleverly contrived system.

Taking heat and throwing it out of the insulated room is the simplest of simple cases (where one can create order in the face of the second law) but it does explain the basics. Here are the things needed if order is to result in the face of the second law:

1. A carefully contrived mechanism to isolate the system (room) that prevents random external energy (heat) from entering it.

2. A carefully contrived mechanism to draw heat from inside and transfer it to a body outside, which would then radiate it (through the radiator and the air-cooling or water cooling system).

The most simple living cell needs a million systems more complex than the above to sustain it. The information coded on DNA and the associated RNA, enzymes, and numerous other entities do this work. No amount of expounding can explain the complexity of the mechanism needed to sustain life in the presence of the second law of thermodynamics which would reduce everything to mere disjoint atoms.

Summary: When matter and energy interact freely, without interference, and blindly, entropy (disorder) always increases irrespective of whether the system is open or closed. A carefully contrived system, and a complex mechanism is needed anywhere for creating order out of chaos. Where there is a system, information is needed to drive that system, such as the information that resides on DNA.

No amount of speculation, guesswork, or wishful thinking can do away with the necessity of a complex system if one has to create order out of chaos in the face of the second law of thermodynamics.

[Here is the article I promised. Try to pick holes in it, if you can. I might not be able to respond fast at times becasue I will be traveling for a full two weeks]

[Dr. Johnson C. Philip is a physicist, with expertise inter alia in Quantum-nuclear Physics, and has worked extensively on the inner quark-structure of Protons and Neutrons. He has also specialized in Christian Apologetics, Biblical Archeology, Journalism, Alternative Medicines, and several other fields]

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