Re: Anthropological items

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. (
Date: Fri Jul 12 2002 - 15:01:43 EDT

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    I must comment on the cogency of your response to my statements. You
    first present an argument from authority. As to the relevance of the
    authority, I note that Ludwig Boltzman "... proposed that the second law
    does not hold absolutely: it is a statement of relative possibilities."
    (Dictionary of the History of Science [Princeton, 1981], p. 181) "This
    statistical redefinition of the second law of thermodynamics was crucial
    in Max Planck's formulation of the black body law in 1900. It implies,
    against the original formulation of the second law of thermodynamics,
    that entropy can decrease, though it almost always does not..." (Ibid.,
    p. 400) Somehow, I feel that what is accepted as a scientific law trumps
    some guy, even one from Harvard.

    The relevance of Ross's statement as a rebuttal depends on the principle
    that what holds for the whole holds for every element therein, also known
    as the fallacy of division. The fact is that any plant, and even
    cyanobacteria, collect CO2 and H2O plus various other more or less
    randomly distributed materials and order them as carbohydrates, lipids,
    proteins and other more complex compounds in elaborate structures. Even
    if, on the whole, entropy increases in open systems, there are pockets
    where order increases.

    Your last paragraph shows that you grasped my opening statement about
    order. Since I specified only energy, you recognized that a bright enough
    light, or a loud enough sound, or sufficient heat, that is, any adequate
    input of pure energy, is sufficient to sort your papers and place them
    properly in file cabinets. Few would have caught on so quickly.

    Thanks for presenting the foundations of your approach so clearly.

    On Thu, 11 Jul 2002 19:51:12 -0400 "Jay Willingham"
    <> writes:
    Dr John Ross of Harvard University , in Chemical and Engineering News,
    July 27, 1980, p. 40, states:
    "Í there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics.
    Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second
    law applies equally well to open systems. Í There is somehow associated
    with the field of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics the notion that the
    second law of thermodynamics fails for such systems. It is important to
    make sure that this error does not perpetuate itself."
    Open systems still have a tendency to disorder.
    The open systems argument does not help evolution. Raw energy cannot
    generate the specified complex information in living things. Undirected
    energy just speeds up destruction. Just standing out in the sun wonÝt
    make you more complex ˇ the human body lacks the mechanisms to harness
    raw solar energy. If you stood in the sun too long, you would get skin
    cancer, because the sunÝs undirected energy will cause mutations.
    (Mutations are copying errors in the genes that nearly always lose
    information). Similarly, undirected energy flow though an alleged
    primordial soup will break down the complex molecules of life faster than
    they are formed.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: D. F. Siemens, Jr.
    Sent: Thursday, July 11, 2002 6:50 PM
    Subject: Re: Anthropological items

    I have talked to physicists specifically on the notion of entropy and the
    argument that the 2nd Law prohibits the evolutionary development of
    increased complexity. If your claim about entropy were correct, it would
    be impossible for your papers to be filed, for the order is increased
    thereby. In physical language, this is decreased entropy in your files.
    What is required for the task of straightening things up is that some
    energy be expended to produce the ordered result. As a consequence, the
    total entropy of the universe has been increased very slightly. The 2nd
    Law provides that, in a closed system, entropy increases. The earth is
    not a closed system: it gets energy from the sun. This indirectly
    provides the energy required for your continued order. If you were
    transformed into a closed system, no input, you would quickly cease to
    function and, in time, minute organisms would reduce your order further
    until they too reached the end of their order--nothing from you that they
    could continue to input.

    One of my physicist friends commented that entropy is somewhat difficult
    to understand, so that a lot of nonsense is presented in its name. He
    added that entropy is a probabilistic concept, one aspect of which is
    presented in Maxwell's demon. Dr. David Campbell may not be a physicist,
    but he's got entropy right. You have believed a lie.

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