Does the second law of thermodynamics cause aging?

Does the second law of thermodynamics cause aging?

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What is the current understanding as to why organisms age and die? In the following explanation on Ask an Engineer, entropy is not even considered (despite it being answered by an engineer). Unless you consider

accumulation of damage to an organism over time

as a result of entropy ?

In the end, is the eventual death of any organism a result of how the laws of universe? In the paper Aging of the brain, entropy, and Alzheimer disease, the author states that

Increasing entropy, manifest through a complex network of interacting ARCs, is seen as the fundamental driving cause of neural and cognitive decline in the elderly

where the abbreviation ARC stands for age-related changes.

Second law of thermodynamic and ageing

The second law of thermodynamic applies to closed system. Organisms are not closed system. The second law of thermodynamic is a fundamental principle of our universe and any biological processes do follow the principles of physics. However, stating that biological ageing is (partially) caused by the second law of thermodynamic suggests a big misunderstanding of what the second law of thermodynamic is.

To have a better understanding of the second law of thermodynamic, check up the wikipedia article or one of the many other sources of information on the subject and ask questions on Physics.SE if needed.

Ageing and its evolution

The evolution of ageing (or senescence) is a big subject and has already been subject of a large number of questions on Biology.SE. Have a look at the questions tagged . Below are two examples of post that will interest you:

  • Why do we age? or Do we have a theory of senescence?

  • Why does evolution not make our life longer?

There is also a wikipedia page on the evolution of ageing.

Note btw that biological immortality and negligible senescence do exist.



I’ve written extensively about this subject and about Maxwell demons and the curious case of the linkage of Heisenberg’s uncertainity principle to the second law of thermodynamics. My belief is that all topologic insulators, especially the one buried in mitochondria, are very tiny Maxwell demons that can skirt the second law of thermodynamics by making the ledge of that larger in ways we do not observe. This occurs because of the scale of the changes that increase this energy ledge are mush smaller than the macroscopic objects that human can process with their senses. Recently physicists are now beginning to realize that small quantum systems do not act like a cup of hot cup of coffee or a star in space. Two recent studies are now aligning with many of the things I teach my members.

Your mitochondria are a lot smaller than a cup of coffee and a star………just saying. HYPERLINK

The second recent study in H-theorem was written that also supports my beliefs. Hyperlink.

The second law of thermodynamics was really brought to prominence by Ludwig Boltzman in the 1870’s. Boltzmann published his celebrated kinetic equation and the H-theorem that gave man the statistical foundation of the second law of thermodynamics.

On his grave stone in Zentralfriedhof, Vienna is carved S = k (x) log W. This simple equation describes entropy or disorder of a system. S is the randomness or entropy, W describes the various ways of arranging the atoms in the system, and k is a fixed number now known as the Boltzman constant. When you look at his equation as a biologist, it becomes apparent the arrangment of the atoms in cells is the critcal determinant of how life does what it does.

The physics of organisms are the key to the understanding biology. This equation shows that the second law of thermodynamics that deals with heat transfers appears to always hold and be axiomatic. This is true in closed system and those at equillibrium, but it does not apply to open systems or to systems built to be far from equilibrium. All living cells are open systems built far from equillibrium.

Sir Alfred Eddington, the famous astronomer who proved that Einstein’s theory of relativity was true , said that any theory that is found to contravene the second law of thermodynamics has no hope of being true in 1915. This belief hold until today. The problem with this idea is that life has apeared to skirt the second law of thermodynamics by physicists since the second law was penned. Physicists, without saying it aloud, have said if there is a God, the deity certainly must be a thermodynamicist.

100 years after Boltzman death, Vlatjo Vedral anaylzed Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle at the basis of quantum theory, and found that the Boltzman’s law is essentially another mathematical way of explaining the Boltzman law of thermodynamics. The “uncertainity principle” fundamentally tells us how much information can be extracted from a physical system. This means that the uncertainity principle and the second law of thermodynamics both must link to information theory directly.

Biology is solely based upon putting these two equations to work in hydrated proteins. If one studies proteins sans the water, the results will not be equivalent. The study of regular biochemistry in most books is based upon the subtraction of water to study the proteins in isolation. In science today, this bio-chemical paradigm is being replaced by the new scicnce of topology. In October of 2016, the Nobel Prize for physics was given for the science of topology. Molecular biology is really the study of the physics of organisms and how cell organization puts quantum weirdness to work to build life.


Most people are not aware that the basis of the entire food web on earth is due to photosynthesis. Let us examine why this is so critical to get wellness right.

All food is a light story at its foundation because of the “Rubisco enzyme” at the core of photosynthesis.

The secret nature employs in planning for the future invasion of food to the Earth surface was like all projects that initially seem overwhelmingly complex complex and difficult. Nature broke up all the steps into deft smaller tasks, trillions of them in reality in plants. This principle of organization in nature is ubiquitous and applies at all scales of nature. If you have any big task, and you want to get it done, just breaks it up into smaller packets or chunks. Make sure the chunks of information and data are meaningful, implementable, and doable packets using nature’s laws and success will follow. This idea makes time management of any task much easier when you think about it. In the macrosciopic world we need quality assurance programs in place to make sure each step is done properly. In the quantum world we do not need any such program because each packet/chunk is a quanta of energy. Since the chuncks are pre-packaged and precise cells do not need to worry about the process breaking down. Mother Nature’s laws do not falter, so organizing time for cells really is all about the clock mechanism and not the actual work done by energy at each step. This makes it ridiculously precise and efficient. This is likely why every gene has a molecular clock in front of it, that is ultimately controlled by one central clock that begins in our eye where light interacts with melanopsin and retinol coupling. Why?

You only need to manage time to get the single packet/chunk done correctly when atoms are organized this way. When you get success with one packet/chunk it is reenforced because their you build a “molecular satisifaction” or probability that completion will happen. Recall that nature works exclusively on probabilities of things occuring. This mechanism happens in a leaf and in our brains. The more success we have on the timing of small quanta of information in the brain the more neurochemical satisfaction occurs at the completion of each stage. So how does “molecular satisfaction” correlate to the creation of a very complex food web using light frequencies as the quanta/packets/chunks of data?

The leaf is where chlorophyll and chloroplast are located. Chloroplast, like mitochondria were derived from bacteria in an endosymbiosis that occured in plant cells about 30-50 million years before it happened in animals cells to make the mitochondria. This is why the Rubisco protein is the basis of all life on Earth. The leaf’s chloroplast is the most remarkable technology nature has ever built. It uses topology and excitons to get the job of life done. Sunlight lands on the surface of a leaf in quantized packets of energy we call light photons. Every second a leaf spends in bright sunlight, the leaf gains trillions of photons. The photons come in all colors or frequencies because the sun’s light varies by location altitude and time of day. For example, the AM sunrise color temperature is 1800K while the sunset is 16,000K. Both contain visible and infrra red sunlight. But the color temperature of solar light varies tremendously from sun rise to sunset. This is tied to the blue light present within the light. For example, at my 28 latitude in winter time we have only 13% blue light in our light but in summer time it rises to 26%. This has huge implications on the types of foods than can and cannot grow at times of the year. That light signal must be coherent via the skin in eye to register properply in the gut and mitochondria. Color temperatures over 5000 K are called “cool colors” by indoor lighting convention, and are bluish white, while lower color temperatures (2700–3000 K) are called warm colors which are yellowish white through red.

Many people are confused by the use of “K” or Kelvins and not the use of centigrade or Farenheit. The color temperature of the electromagnetic radiation emitted from an ideal black body, like the sun, is defined as its surface temperature in Kelvin, or alternatively in mireds, which is a micro-reciprocal degrees (Kelvin). This permits the definition of a standard by which light sources are compared by the lighting industry to natural sunlight.

The Sun closely approximates a black-body radiator. The effective temperature, defined by the total radiative power per square unit, is about 5780 K. The color temperature of sunlight above the atmosphere is about 5900 K. This is usually the color temperature of sunlight at solar noon and not all day. Solar variation is important to cells.

As the Sun crosses the sky, it may appear to be red, orange, yellow or white depending on its position in the sky. This varies by altitude and latitude. I believe the major variation today is now effected by population density as well. The changing color of the Sun over the course of the day is mainly a result of scattering of light in our atmosphere and is not due to changes in black-body radiation. The blue color of the sky is caused by Rayleigh scattering of the sunlight from the atmosphere, which tends to scatter blue light more than red light. The reason is simple. Scattering of light is inversely proportional to the 4th root of the wavelength of light. Since blue light has more power than red light, it scatters most and this is why the sky is blue on Earth. Blue light also bends more than any other frequency that enters the anterior chamber of the eye, so this cause a blue light aberration. It means that blue light is focused anterior to the retina in the eye BY DESIGN. This is why the melanopsin receptor and a large amount of retinol are in these areas of the retina. They form the non image portion of vision known here as the “eye clock” mechanism. This is why excessive blue light causes blurred vision acutely, and if it is chronic it will elongate the globe to cause myopia and many other disease related to thinning of the retina.

Some early morning and evening light (golden hours) has a lower color temperature due to increased low-wavelength light scattering by the Tyndall effect. This effect is especially pronounced with the increase in small dust particles in the atmosphere after the eruptions of Mount Tambora in 1815 and Krakatoa in 1883, which gave rise to intense red sunsets around the world. This finding also gives us a clue that around the KT- event 65 million years ago, any sunlight that pentrated the atmosphere’s particle also likely gave rise to red light and a lower color temperature. This may explain why the animals who survived the KT event all had a high mitochondrial capacity. Mitochondria favor red light chromophores or antenna’s for red light. Cytochrome c oxidase, the Q-cycle, and the ATPase are all specialized red light antenna’s, we call chromophores, because they have heme like proteins in their mitochondria and used hemoglobin to assimilate sunlight into their blood plasma.

When visual blur occurs it elongates the eye to cause myopia and leads to cataracts, macular degeneration, and aging increases in mitochondria because blue light destroys the central retinal pathways of melanopsin that link to melatonin. Melatonin controls all mitochondrial DNA transcription in tissues hence why altered melatonin leads to diseases of aging via mitochondrial heteroplasmy rates.

Daylight has a spectrum similar to that of a black body with a correlated color temperature of 6500 K (D65 viewing standard) or 5500 K (daylight-balanced photographic film standard).


Almost every photon of sunlight that is red, is captured by leaf’s chloroplasts. This tells us the system likely was optimized to red frequencies as well,because of the environmental thermodynamic givens tied to the frequencies of our sun’s light. It turns out 42% of the light that falls to Earth is in the IR- A frequency light. It appears when particulate matter is present in the atmosphere red light is still the favored frequency of things alive below on Earth.

When light strikes an electron in a leaf the first stop the electron exciton makes is the antenna. This is an assembly of hundreds of thousands of chlorophyll molecules. When the chlorophyll is hit by the photon, one electron within chlorophyl becomes excited, it forms an exciton and it uses this energy to bounce through the antenna to the bridgeing area. This region is composed of a complicated arrangement of more chlorophyll molecules. Its like an area of of intertwined mazes of rope bridges that, if you can find the path through, will lead to the most important area, called the reaction center.

Once the exciton is at the reaction center, the exciton electron creates a permanently separated charge that can be stored by the leaf in water. This stored energy is like a battery or capacitor. In leafs, that energy is stored in water and can be used later to do physiologic work of photosynthesis. There is one “quantum catch” in this process. The reaction center is nearly impossible destination to get to on time. If it does not get there on time the energy stored is lost as heat. We call this thermalized loss to the environment.

The exciton only has about 1 nanosecond to get across the chlorophyll bridges before heat is lost in the system. So how does a leaf circumvent this maze? It uses “quantum weirdness” to circumvent time using excitons. In this way chlorophyll makes excitons to increase the ledge of the second law of thermodynamics. Excitons are particles that don’t really ever exist in the classical sense of human understanding, and because of this, excitons never experience time as we do. Because excitons do not experience time, the path to the reaction center is very easy to decipher before the sun’s energy is lost as heat.

Gregory Scholes is a botanist who wrote a 2010 paper in Nature that shocked the world. When he removed the photosynthetic centers in leaves and shined laser light on them his experiments showed that leaves accomplish their goal by allowing the absorbed energy from the sun in the leaf to reside in two different places at once. This quantum process has a name. It is called quantum superposition. It turns out RBC’s, the blood plasma, and the Q-cycle in mitochondria use the exact same process used in leaves to circumvent time in our mitochondrial respiratory proteins.

So, what aspect of quantum mechanics allows this effect to occur? Quantum superposition appears bizarre and counterintuitive to our common sense, but its scribed into quantum mechanics of how reality is built. The mathematics describes the position of the exciton only in terms of the “probabilities” of finding it in various different places. The uncertainty principle and the second law of thermodynamics do exactly the same thing using statistical mechanics as their guide. This means that both laws, are saying the exact same things, using different semantics, to get their point across. It turns out in a leaf, under certain circumstances, an exciton from chlorophyll can occupy multiple positions at once in reality to transform sunlight into the entire food web on EARTH!

I think people forget that chloroplasts and mitochondria both were stolen bacteria at one point in life’s journey. When you realize this it makes sense why both would use the “exciton mechanism” to allow energy flow from the sun to cells in wireless fashion.

It also turns out that the remarkable efficiency of photosynthesis in algae where DHA first appeared 650 million years ago, and their evolutionary descendants plants, also deploy quantum superposition so that energy can simultaneously travel along all possible paths of the bridging maze of chlorophyll to reach the reaction center. In fact, experiments have now shown that the exciton always gets to the reaction center before time expires. In otherwords, it never fails in experiment. This is why it is a basic LAW of nature and quantum mechanics. Excitons can explore all paths to the reaction center, simultaneously, without any time delay ever occurring. This trick has also been found in bacteria like Chlorobium tedium. Science knows bacteria where here before plants and eukaryotes. It appears this quantum trick has been used by life from genesis 3.8 billion years ago.

It is so exciting because it clearly has now raised the spectre to modern cell biologists that animals, like humans, also can use the very same process in many cell systems. Biology has yet to realize this, but the new field of quantum biology has found much evidence for the effects in many skin and blood systems. I believe this process occurs in the skin’s melanin and eumelanin. It also happens in carotenoids and in the cells suspended in blood. Once the excitons are collected by these reaction centers the energy is transfered to water where protons tunneling transfers the signal at the speed of light to mitochondria at cytochrome 1. Here it enters the Q-cycle to affect cytochrome c and the ATPase which are both red light chromophores and both tied to ATP production. Water is also a red light chromophore. I believe the phosphorus in our skin, proteins, and blood cells is critical to charge separating water into protons cables to transfer the energy and information from our surfaces to the mitochondria below. This process occurs just as it does in leaves. The difference is the distance and reaction center in animal cells are the Q-cycle and the the last two cytochromes.

Modern technology’s semiconductors have not yet figured out yet how to do what plants or animals do in solar panels. Solar photo electric conversion has a poor efficiency and the reason is simple. Humans have not designed a chlorophyll, hemoglobin, DHA like molecule that can do what cells can do. Technology is a slave to time while cells are not. The current generation of photovoltaic panels only converts 20% of light falling into them. The use of graphene is likely going to improve this situation. If you have a lot of money there is new technology that boost the efficiency now to 35-40% but it will cost you 100,000 per square meter to get it. The current efficiency in a plant’s leaves is between 90-99% depending upon season, incident light, and water content of the leaves. I do want you to understand that this super efficiency in plants is not converting 90% of light power into stored chemical energy. Only 5% of the energy is stored in chemical bonds, the rest is buried in water to build a strong exclusion zone in the leaf. Water is critical to the quantum efficiency of photosynthesis. This stored energy in water is the basis of life on Earth, because photosynthesis is basis of the entire food web and it is 100% linked to quantum weirdness.

Erwin Schrodinger told us in his 1944 book that life seemed somehow to break the second law of thermodynamics. This flummoxed him, because he also said, despite life’s uncertainty, life is clearly stable or it could not exist. That is reality. Understanding reality means we have to accept “holes in reality” that things like excitons create. Life is capable of reproducing offspring who are stable and they appear to transmit their moving subatomic particles in a reliable way to create a functional offspring. In this sense, life appears to skirt the second law by using the subatomic wierdness in leafs and mitochondrial to create a perpetual motion machine for electrons and protons and it all driven by incident sunlight. He also remarked in his book that in order for life to maintain its stability and sustain the living state without throwing its future into chaos it had to control the flow of heat from hot to cold and cold to hot by being much larger than its constituent parts of atoms and subatomic parts. Life has to be built on a scale that would hide all these weird quantum effects, using the Quantum Zeno effect of our 5 main sensory receptors that feed data from environmental waves to our thalamus.

Schrodinger was fascinated by the size of the first gene extracted from fruit fly’s in the 1940’s. He guessed that a gene would be have to larger than biologists expected in the 1940’s to bury the quantum effects. The biologists who found the fruit fly’s gene’s found them to contain only a couple of hundred of atoms in diameter and later those genes would be found not exceed a few million atoms in length. Schrodinger was right in his guess, but wrong in his reasoning. He knew that cells had to much bigger than the genes that controlled them to work on large enough scales to avoid the downsides of quantum theory. However, it never occured to him, before he died, that the upside of quantum weirdness might actually be quite useful to life. Photons hit semiconductive proteins to make “ holes in reality ” that create life using the most counterintuitive parts of quantum theory.

(1) Gregory D. Scholes, Graham R. Fleming, Alexandra Olaya-Castro and Rienk van Grondelle, “Lessons from nature about solar light harvesting.” Nature Chem., 2011, 3, 763–774.

(2) Jessica M. Anna, Gregory D. Scholes, and Rienk van Grondelle “A Little Coherence in Photosynthetic Light Harvesting.” Bioscience, 2014, 64, 14–25.

(3) Francesca Fassioli, Rayomond Dinshaw, Paul C. Arpin, and Gregory D. Scholes “Photosynthetic light harvesting: Excitons and coherence.” Royal Society: Interface, 2014, 11, 20130901.

(4) Gregory D. Scholes and Edward H. Sargent “Boosting Plant Biology.” Nature Mater., 2014, 13, 329–331.

(5) Elisabetta Collini, Cathy Y. Wong, Krystyna E. Wilk, Paul M. G. Curmi, Paul Brumer, and Gregory D. Scholes, “Coherently wired light-harvesting in photosynthetic marine algae at ambient temperature.” Nature, 2010, 463, 644–648.

(6)Scientific Reports. 2016. H-theorem in quantum physics G.B. Lesovik, A.V.Lebedev, I.A.Sadovskyy, M.V. Suslov & V.M. Vinoku.

(7) Chanelle C. Jumper and Gregory D. Scholes “Life—Warm, wet and noisy? Comment on “Consciousness in the Universe: A Review of the ‘Orch OR’ Theory” by Hameroff and Penrose.” J. Physics of Life Reviews, 2014, 11, 85–86 .

The Discovery of Entropy

The identification of entropy is attributed to Rudolf Clausius (1822–1888), a German mathematician and physicist. I say attributed because it was a young French engineer, Sadi Carnot (1796–1832), who first hit on the idea of thermodynamic efficiency however, the idea was so foreign to people at the time that it had little impact. Clausius was oblivious to Carnot’s work but hit on the same ideas.

Clausius studied the conversion of heat into work. He recognized that heat from a body at a high temperature would flow to one at a lower temperature. This is how your coffee cools down the longer it’s left out — the heat from the coffee flows into the room. This happens naturally. But if you want to heat cold water to make the coffee, you need to do work — you need a power source to heat the water.

From this idea comes Clausius’s statement of the second law of thermodynamics: “heat does not pass from a body at low temperature to one at high temperature without an accompanying change elsewhere.”

Clausius also observed that heat-powered devices worked in an unexpected manner: Only a percentage of the energy was converted into actual work. Nature was exerting a tax. Perplexed, scientists asked, where did the rest of the heat go and why?

Clausius solved the riddle by observing a steam engine and calculating that energy spread out and left the system. In The Mechanical Theory of Heat, Clausius explains his findings:

… the quantities of heat which must be imparted to, or withdrawn from a changeable body are not the same, when these changes occur in a non-reversible manner, as they are when the same changes occur reversibly. In the second place, with each non-reversible change is associated an uncompensated transformation…

… I propose to call the magnitude S the entropy of the body… I have intentionally formed the word entropy so as to be as similar as possible to the word energy….

The second fundamental theorem [the second law of thermodynamics], in the form which I have given to it, asserts that all transformations occurring in nature may take place in a certain direction, which I have assumed as positive, by themselves, that is, without compensation… [T]he entire condition of the universe must always continue to change in that first direction, and the universe must consequently approach incessantly a limiting condition.

… For every body two magnitudes have thereby presented themselves—the transformation value of its thermal content [the amount of inputted energy that is converted to “work”], and its disgregation [separation or disintegration] the sum of which constitutes its entropy.

Clausius summarized the concept of entropy in simple terms: “The energy of the universe is constant. The entropy of the universe tends to a maximum.”

“The increase of disorder or entropy is what distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time.”

— Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

Does Life Violate The Second Law of Thermodynamics? Implications of 'Virtual Closed Systems'

The second law is defined specifically for closed systems. In a closed system the amount of available energy to do work will decrease over time. This mirrors the definition of entropy, also defined for closed systems, as "the quantitative measure of the amount of energy not available to do work." (1), [1b] ) (American Heritage Dictionary, Schrodinger 1944).

The classic argument actually is that life does not violate the second law of thermodynamics because it (life) is NOT in a closed system (2). We live in an open system, with our sun providing ample energy to power life on planet earth. (but also, to drive the earth’s systems of dissipation)

Consider also, that in a closed system, a perpetual energy machine is not possible, as it will continuously generate a small quantity of entropy in each iteration, regardless of its efficiency. The generation of lower forms of energy means that it will eventually exhaust the available supply and cease to operate. (3)

But here is a very interesting question: Is a perpetual energy machine possible in an open system? (4) If it is not possible, which we can assume is experimentally verifiable, then does this actually infer that the so called "open" system is not really open? (I use a proposition or rule that if the experimental results or effects or identical, their causes must be equivalent. (5) [see Newton's Rules of Philosophy, Principia (2 nd Edition 1713)].

There are two primary assumptions based on apparent experimental results or observational experience, to support the assertion that life does not violate the second law: 1) life avoids so-called "heat death" by constantly absorbing energy from the sun. If this energy inputted into the system were to cease, then obviously life would cease, and 2) the earth is always viewed as an open system (6).

My point regarding the perpetual energy machine, is that it is possible that despite the fact that it might not be possible to formally show that we exist in a closed system, [based on (6.1)] the experimental observations of non-perpetual energy machines, and passive heat transfer, strongly imply that it BEHAVES as though it is a closed system. What then would be the difference? [So I invoke here the principal of equivalence. If two systems have identical effects, their causes must be equivalent. (5)]

If life is in essentially the same kind of system as the perpetual energy machine, which (we can assume for the purpose of this argument), then we would therefore have the same kind of problem for both (7). (By this rule, a “living machine” doesn't get a pass any more than any other machine). By the implication of this rule, or postulate we have now justified a new hypothetical space, in which a “closed system” may in fact exist within an open system, and we can consider the consequences of such a “virtual” system in Fig 1.

  1. We can however, imagine another condition, “ Condition II ”** in which the system theoretically began with some organized matter. However, since we postulate (based on equivalence principal) the model applies to machines, inanimate matter as well as Living Machines”. And postulate that this is now a Virtual Closed system, with an entropy boundary, so any initial organized matter present at t=0 would undergo “heat death” or decay (inside that space enclosed by the entropy boundary).

In this regard, and in consideration of the principal of virtual closed systems, we have experimental evidence, that perpetual energy machines also are impossible in so called "open systems" [again on earth no perpetual machine is possible, not even one that runs on solar energy (14)*. [*a proposition based on a virtual entropy system proposed here, in which the machine therefore has no means of reducing its own entropy] as well as evidence, chemically, that energy from the sun does no useful work on the system. (14) ..And we are again, also defining “open systems” such that these are composed of smaller closed systems, in which energy flows in and out through an entropic horizon (15). This can account for why an “open system” still works to pose a theoretical limit on the possibility that a machine can self-regulate its interior entropy- (16)]

Thus, based on this new theory, it appears that living systems composed of molecules, do violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics (17) based on condition I and II either the system was never at disequilibrium S(inside)=S(outside) or it would decay rapidly, to reach this state), and further, this is based on the preponderance of experimental evidence, e.g the failures in laboratories to show otherwise (see Zeravcic 2014, Attwater 2013, Weissbuch 2009, C Huber 1998, Haldane 1929) ) . Though this is not strictly true. Living systems (which are natural, self-replicating systems) composed of molecules also appear to violate a number of other laws, including Fick's law of diffusions and Fourier's law of passive heat flow. Living cells have systems for removing entropy, and they have existed for a very long time, for all intents and purposes, in perpetuity.(18) With this new model it can hopefully be better understood why that is.

  1. The second law is stated more formally as “the change in entropy of the system will always increase, OR it is always positive. δS=δQ/T𕟲 . (Schrodinger, “What is Life” 1944) “(Chapter 6 LIVING MATTER EVADES THE DECAY TO EQUILIBRIUM ) When a system that is not alive is isolated or placed in a uniform environment, all motion usually comes to a standstill very soon as a result of various kinds of friction differences of electric or chemical potential are equalized, substances which tend to form a chemical compound do so, temperature becomes uniform by heat conduction. After that the whole system fades away into a dead, inert lump of matter. A permanent state is reached, in which no observable events occur. The physicist calls this the state of thermodynamical equilibrium, or of ‘maximum entropy.'” So we can see that the ME or MEP was already clearly stated in 1944 by Schrodinger.
  1. “The general struggle for existence of animate beings is not a struggle for raw materials – these, for organisms, are air, water and soil, all abundantly available – nor for energy, which exists in plenty in any body in the form of heat Q, but of a struggle for entropy, which becomes available through the transition of energy from the hot sun to the cold earth.” Boltzmann, L. (1886). The second law of thermodynamics. Populare Schriften, Essay 3, address to a formal meeting of the Imperial Academy of Science, 29 May 1886, reprinted in Ludwig Boltzmann, Theoretical physics and philosophical problem, S. G. Brush (Trans.). Boston: Reidel.
  2. “Newton’s Rules of Reasoning in Philosophy” (from Principia, editions 2nd (1713) and 3rd (1726) tans. A Motte 1729: Rule 2: “Therefore to the same natural effects we must, as far as possible, assign the same causes.”
  1. One can, based on the “time equivalence” principal, (I show elsewhere) conclude that everything (in true isolated, inanimate natural systems), is at thermodynamic equilibrium, the only constraints would be the amount of time and perhaps the scale of the system in question. This means that in essence, there is no such thing as “thermodynamic equilibrium” in an absolute sense or a physical sense, it cannot be observed or defined. It is an artificially imposed, relativistic statement, unlike the law of gravity or even of heat dispersion itself (Claudius), or diffusion (Fick’s law). Equilibrium is not a dynamic itself, it is not a tendency, unlike other physical laws. Actually, entropy states just the opposite, natural systems tend toward non-equilibrium. Equilibrium is simpliy an observed state, a “shelf” or “paused state” in dis-equilibrium, which is principally why I don’t believe it is experimentally or observationally justifiable to claim that any system finds a state of maximum dissipation or equilibrium, that is adding or imposing artificial conditions. We can imagine, that it is physically analogous to a similarly absurd claim that a body at rest, a ball lying on a table for example, is a new physical or preferred state. There is no such law nor does this information make any predictions, and equilibrium of moving molecules in a coffee cup are analogous to any other motion. And further still, where does one find these equilibria? Find these in nature do you? There are no “coffee cups” with their molecules at equilibrium which is an exasperating point, when such an experiment is then used to correlate to systems in nature, it is simply “begging the question” further. This is yet another experiment to show the fallacious logic that is currently used to support the use of current equations and models, these apply IF one can assume such an equilibrium can exist (one arbitrarily established by an imposed force or introduced force), these apply (conditionally) IF some level of organization, of order exists in order to replicate once, as many sources have presumed in their underlying hypothesis for the origin of life based on thermodynamic principals. There is no evidence to make this assumption, and that assumption (hopefully) is not made here in this paper presently.
  1. Jeremy L. England, (2013) "Statistical physics of self-replication" doi:10.1063/1.4818538, v 139 J. Chem. Phys.
  2. England, 2013 ,”New Physics Theory Of Life”, Natalie Wolchover, Quanta Magazine ( Jan 22, 2014) “Although entropy must increase over time in an isolated or “closed” system, an “open” system can keep its entropy low — that is, divide energy unevenly among its atoms — by greatly increasing the entropy of its surroundings.”… “Life does not violate the second law of thermodynamics. ”
  3. My comment relating to how energy from the sun effects force balance on earth, thermodynamically. In Quantum Magazine, May 5, 2015 at 4:08 pm “To C.H. (commentator), May 2, 2015. It is not that I'm saying things are in balance in so much as I say that the force applied is in balance (in the cases mentioned). There is an oppositive force of equal magnitude , I'm making that claim for specific reasons discussed. I should probably state that it applies to the equilibrium condition, though it's implied when I state 'normal force' N-bank. As I diagrammed a bit more clearly: In such a force diagram, we're not talking about conditions for "all of time" or even 1 billion years, but it is assumed for example, that a book resting on a table is in equilibrium, in an interval (of virtual time), and thus experiences an equal and opposite force pushing back. However, we also know that the third law applies in non equilibrium, the net force does not have to be equal magnitude since it is only proportional to the mass , ball 'A' can impose a force, 'ma' but ball "B", a smaller 'ma' so the net force might be highly scewed in the other direction, and b will go backwards, hence non equilibrium. But if you notice I am also making the case" for molecular based theory of a macro state, which you'll notice is being negated by constructal Law and Bejan basically states "it isn't necessary to consider molecular theory to obtain macro behaviour", which I paraphrase, but he's dispensing with particles and I'm showing why that's wrong.But returning to equilibrium condition, let's assume the river bank is more or less in equilibrium, in this state the force opposing the water is equal and opposite. The interesting notion is the causality of how that equilibrium was achieved. If you consider that the greater source of non equilibrium is the sun, and if we imagine there are packets" of this energy incident on our planet, which translate to the motions of storms and.. rivers then any non equilibrium from that equilibrium state, is thus some unit of that packet, it is not ridiculous to say it is molecular scale, as you're aware of planetary scale weather theories based on molecular theory, ie how well CO2 absorbs sunlight, or how water dipole effects its heat absorption more than say, co2 (no dipole) or any other gas really. But the big point of my derivation, its implication, is only to state that the non equilibrium is due to these packets- the non equilibrium of the river is caused by Fluxes in these energies, NOT by the river itself, nor by the change in the river bank. There is no such thing as constructal law governing a river as we have just defined the rivers motion as the sum of these "pushes" from the sun, (being counterbalanced by normal forces of the bank and river bottom) so these are as much relevant to the rivers (acting) force than what we observe (on earth). a river is not a discreet, defined thing in terms of this physics.(I should also say that this kind of "being a stickler for precision", in causality is relevant to the thermo issues here, but also to the problem of equating animate and the inanimate..which you'll note is assumed in the article above, and by maximal flow laws).
  1. G. Sewell, A Second Look at the Second Law, Appl. Math Lett. (2011) “Anyone who has made such an argument is familiar with the standard reply: the Earth is an open system, it receives energy from the sun, and entropy can decrease in an open system, as long as it is “compensated’’ somehow by a comparable or greater increase outside the system…”Of course the whole idea of compensation, whether by distant or nearby events, makes no sense logically: an extremely improbable event is not rendered less improbable simply by the occurrence of ‘‘compensating’’ events elsewhere.”
  1. Brig Klyce, (updated 2015), “Sometimes people say life violates the second law. This is not the case..we know of nothing in the universe that violates that law.”
  2. Nick Lane “New Research Rejects 80-year Theory of ‘Primordial Soup’ as the Origin of Life” “Textbooks have it that life arose from organic soup and that the first cells grew by fermenting these organics to generate energy in the form of ATP. We provide a new perspective on why that old and familiar view won't work at all,” said team leader Dr Nick lane from University College London. “We present the alternative that life arose from gases (H2, CO2, N2, and H2S) and that the energy for first life came from harnessing geochemical gradients created by mother Earth at a special kind of deep-sea hydrothermal vent – one that is riddled with tiny interconnected compartments or pores.”
  3. JBS Haldane (1929) Primordial Soup theory.
  4. Avshalom C. Elitzur (1994) Let There Be Life: Thermodynamic Reflections on Biogenesis and Evolution.” “…The evolution of any type of self-replicating systems, even the simplest ones, is shown to be highly efficient in extracting, recording and processing information about the environment. A variety of related issues yield some surprising conclusions when discussed in the thermodynamic context.
  5. Claudia Huber and Gunter Wachtersha“Peptides by Activation of Amino Acids with CO on(Ni,Fe)S Surfaces: Implications for the Origin of Life” 31 JULY 1998 VOL 281 SCIENCE
  6. S. W. Fox and K. Dose, 1977 “Molecular Evolution and the Origin of Life” Dekker, New York.
  1. See Kleidon’s “ Life, hierarchy, and the thermodynamic machinery of planet Earth” Axel Kleidon doi:10.1016/j.plrev.2010.10.002
  2. John Whitfield, Complex systems: Order out of chaos Nature 436(7053):905--907 (August 2005) “Can the behaviour of complex systems from cells to planetary climates be explained by the idea that they're driven to produce the maximum amount of disorder?”
  3. See Kleidon’s et al, (page 4) “The following two papers deal with hydrological processes on land. Zehe et al. (2010) evaluate the effect of preferential flow associated with biogenic soil structures on hydrological fluxes using nonequilibrium thermodynamics. They show that these structures act to maximize dissipation of chemical potential gradients within the soil.” (Axel Kleidon et al. Maximum entropy production in environmental and ecological systems Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B (2010) 365, 1297�)
  1. Pascal R, Pross A: The nature and mathematical basis for material stability in the chemical and biological worlds, J Syst Chem 2014, 5:3
  2. Isabelle Weissbuch et al., “Racemic β-Sheets as Templates of Relevance to the Origin of Homochirality of Peptides: Lessons from Crystal Chemistry”Acc. Chem. Res., 2009, 42 (8), pp 1128� DOI: 10.1021/ar900033k
  3. James Attwater “In-ice evolution of RNA polymerase ribozyme activity” Nature Chemistry, 2013. DOI: 10.1038/NCHEM.1781 Note: Their conclusion regarding RNA replication (2013) in an associated press release of the paper was the following: "It's great progress, but the result still comes far short of a molecule that can copy itself. For one thing, the ribozyme tended to stop short of the end of the molecule it was copying, mostly because the two fell out of contact."
  4. Strother, 2007, “Lectures” Boston College site:
  1. I respond (5.5.15) on Quanta see Emily Singer “How Structure Evolved in The Primordial Soup” April 146, 2015
  1. This paper makes testable assertions, a primary one being that the construction of constructs, i.e. in nature, via absorption of external energy, the sun or geothermal, might result in products but these products are not of the sufficient entropy to lead to other products. As the model shows, the entropy is always higher outside the horizon, than inside, which is measurable [entropy must drop externally, (the net entropy i.e. the sun or of space) before molecules can propagate outwardly or heat can flow]. The difference is that this “Virtual Closed System” Fig 1 is occurring within an OPEN system, with copious energy (sunlight) entering from the outside. [No one ever observes that the chemicals on their shelves “improve” with age. Nor do the products they generate. The downhill tendencies, the entropy of these bench chemistries are already well known and not surprising to most chemists. One would expect even more accelerated entropy production in nature.] They have excessive entropy contained within these systems, and the reason for this it is hypothesized, is the lack of a normal force, Fn. Regarding the self-assembly from inanimate, there have already been attempts made over 100 years ago by Traube in “La biologie Synthetique” (1912) in bizarre experiments with manganese. So other researchers have been attempting and failing in this for over 100 years.
  1. The consequence of the presence of this normalization force is that the passive flow of heat would then do work, and further, that it would generate a different form of heat, heat which has even less capacity (a net capacity) to do less work on the system than before, or perhaps none at all. The passive flow of heat from the sun, and the earth’s convective belts, should in principal do no useful work, against the surrounding system. Thus it would generate no quantity of this ‘heat’ a lower capacity for work. This ‘normalizing force’, F L would also have with it a proportional unit of heat, Q L , generated at a specific rate of heat production ΔQ L per unit change in time. We might view the “test subject” or test matter or structure inside the entropy horizon (either conforming to its outer surface, or surrounding it as the sphere diagramed) as a hypothetical ‘structure’ composed of essentially force vectors in motion presumably from the convective forces set in motion by the sun’s energy. If we then imagine that the convective forces are essentially Brownian à macroscopic turbulence and massive vortex, and that some small quantity of this can be envisioned that is moving through a space, then we might imagine any one of these as having a potential to form order but also a potential to decrease it. The probability would be equal for both states. We also note that the ‘test subject’ does no work against its surroundings, since the Fn this vector, is a resultant of surrounding vectors, much like a stream of energy flowing. The appearance of order of crystallization in such a conveyor system, can be calculated to be of higher order but this is an imaginary, non relevant value (as we’ve defined earlier), as its reference is virtual (to a hypothetical system in which it is not formed). In reality, the crystal formation is simply lower order, ‘in flow’ or ‘in stream’ vectorally, with its surroundings. Based on this diagrammatic experiment, we would not expect that such massive crystalline formations would in any way generate F subL against its surroundings. Rather, we’d expect that any quantity of order set up by these vectors, or artificially added to the system and placed within the entropy horizozn, to exhibit some loss of order, irreversibly over time, such that the energy it radiates is of lower capacity to do work on the surroundings. But we note also, that in th is case, no F L is present.


Regarding (1), (2) we have [1] "When a system that is not alive is isolated or placed in a uniform environment, all motion usually comes to a standstill very soon as a result of various kinds of friction differences of electric or chemical potential are equalized, substances which tend to form a chemical compound do so, temperature becomes uniform by heat conduction. After that the whole system fades away into a dead, inert lump of matter. A permanent state is reached, in which no observable events occur. The physicist calls this the state of thermodynamical equilibrium, or of ‘maximum entropy.'” (Schrodinger 1944) And also [21].

(3) "..In a closed system a perpetual energy machine is not possible, as it will continuously generate a small quantity of entropy in each iteration."

Note: by “lower form of energy” we are referring to different forms of energy, which include the kind that can do useful work on the system. ‘Useful energy’, is reasonably defined as that which gives direct kinetic power, but also enables the hypothetical device, as this form of energy (which I refer to as having ‘relative entropy’ also diminishes with time from a system that includes the machine. A perpetual energy machine makes more kinetic energy than it consumes, but we also must consider a different kind of ‘energy’ making device. A machine also, cannot make this other form of energy which minimizes its relative entropy, the energy that enables the machine, this applies in a closed system. Useful energy, would contain this quantity available to do useful work on the system, that required to for example, reverse ‘wear and tear’ on the machine. But if this theory is correct, then this also would be in limited supply in a closed system, and its entropy would increase, thus the need to acquire ‘negative entropy’. The question does the EsubA have this negative entropy, is a critical one. It has been assumed that it does, hence the model of the open system, but this thesis claims specifically that evidence is negative for that conclusion, and this takes different forms, negative data for spontaneous self-replication and also the new theoretical model proposed here and its experiments. *and what is clear is that any of these solar generators, including wind powered generators, extract kinetic heat exclusively, none of these machines can extract the other form of energy, which has ‘relative entropy’ sufficient to enable continuous operation and reverse degeneration i.e. wear and tear. The same rules apply to perpetual energy or motion machines. No one historically has been concerned with anything but the classic energy part, it is always thought ‘well, we’ll supply the manpower! Getting it to ‘make’ energy would be feat enough and of course it is physically impossible. However, what has not been considered theoretically is the other form of energy dealt with here, (it is a theoretical question) of this being limiting in closed systems, specifically in the case of the Second Law. So that concept is fully developed and explored here.. as well as its very theoretical implications to the question of life.)

**And the other meaningful aspects of this paper are the following. Spontaneous generation. chemistry duplicating life, has been attempted by many chemists for over a century, these efforts have failed. But even very sophisticated attempts are being reported in the field of so-called, ‘self-replicating’ machines or molecules. What these fail to appreciate I believe, are these two thermodynamic aspects, the useful kinetic energy or potential energy, and the ‘relativistic entropy.’ In every case of so called self-replicating molecules, the system works in a sort of ‘chemical menagerie” , (which is orchestrated by the experimentor), and then ceases. Why? Because the kinetic energy component, the useful work energy reaches equilibrium, but so does the relative entropy, which is in a sense, the lack of any pumping mechanism to remove entropy. So this paper shows that these self-replicating chemistries are no different than other chemistries, and are no more like life in the sense that they can escape a closed system, than any other set of molecules. The theoretical model I propose would clearly immply that these also, are impossible particularly in isolated, natural systems. How are we to regard these negative experiments and this theory? That in my mind, has tremendous implications.

(3). Surprisingly, what this also supposes is that, whereas there might exist a gradient of potential energy in nature between various locales, (a heat gradient) we do not find gradients of this other form of energy, relativistic entropy, in which it is higher outside of a region and lower somewhere else, i.e. across the entropic horizon’, and so can drive repair or other functions in a system. So S (inside) = S (outside) the barrier of a virtual closed system, as we note in Fig 1. In ‘Condition II’ we find that the relativistic entropy is higher inside, initially, but this is an artificially imposed condition by experimentors.

(4) "Is a perpetual energy machine possible in an open system? If it is not possible, which we can assume is experimentally verifiable, then does this actually infer that the so called "open" system is not really open?" [3] (see Principia "Rules of philosophy" Newton 1713)

(6) Why life DOES NOT violated Second Law: "1) life avoids so-called "heat death" by constantly absorbing energy from the sun. If this energy inputted into the system were to cease, then obviously life would cease, and 2) the earth is always viewed as an open system." See [1], [2] (Boltzmann, 1886), [8, 8.1, 8.2], [15,16,17], [21]

(7) "..the experimental observations of non-perpetual energy machines, and passive heat transfer, strongly imply that it BEHAVES as though it is a closed system." and "By this rule, a “living machine” doesn't get a pass any more than any other machine). By the implication of this rule, or postulate we have now justified a new hypothetical space, in which a “closed system” may in fact exist within an open system, and we can consider the consequences of such a “virtual” system in Fig 1."

The virtual closed space of Fig 1, is justified by the portability of the machine across a larger region [which might be fixed by certain parameters, and might even be an open system]. It justifies the physicality of such a system experimentally or empirically, by its occupation of space. If we knew nothing about the contents of the virtual space [it occupies], and only what it ‘does’ this would be sufficient to justify its existence. Hence the ‘equivalence’ rule applied to virtual closed systems, I’ve invoked here.)

2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

"The atmospheric greenhouse effect, an idea that many authors trace back to the traditional works of Fourier 1824, Tyndall 1861, and Arrhenius 1896, and which is still supported in global climatology, essentially describes a fictitious mechanism, in which a planetary atmosphere acts as a heat pump driven by an environment that is radiatively interacting with but radiatively equilibrated to the atmospheric system. According to the second law of thermodynamics such a planetary machine can never exist." ( Gerhard Gerlich )

Skeptics sometimes claim that the explanation for global warming contradicts the second law of thermodynamics. But does it? To answer that, first, we need to know how global warming works. Then, we need to know what the second law of thermodynamics is, and how it applies to global warming. Global warming, in a nutshell, works like this:

The sun warms the Earth. The Earth and its atmosphere radiate heat away into space. They radiate most of the heat that is received from the sun, so the average temperature of the Earth stays more or less constant. Greenhouse gases trap some of the escaping heat closer to the Earth's surface, making it harder for it to shed that heat, so the Earth warms up in order to radiate the heat more effectively. So the greenhouse gases make the Earth warmer - like a blanket conserving body heat - and voila, you have global warming. See What is Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect for a more detailed explanation.

The second law of thermodynamics has been stated in many ways. For us, Rudolf Clausius said it best:

So if you put something hot next to something cold, the hot thing won't get hotter, and the cold thing won't get colder. That's so obvious that it hardly needs a scientist to say it, we know this from our daily lives. If you put an ice-cube into your drink, the drink doesn't boil!

The skeptic tells us that, because the air, including the greenhouse gasses, is cooler than the surface of the Earth, it cannot warm the Earth. If it did, they say, that means heat would have to flow from cold to hot, in apparent violation of the second law of thermodynamics.

So have climate scientists made an elementary mistake? Of course not! The skeptic is ignoring the fact that the Earth is being warmed by the sun, which makes all the difference.

To see why, consider that blanket that keeps you warm. If your skin feels cold, wrapping yourself in a blanket can make you warmer. Why? Because your body is generating heat, and that heat is escaping from your body into the environment. When you wrap yourself in a blanket, the loss of heat is reduced, some is retained at the surface of your body, and you warm up. You get warmer because the heat that your body is generating cannot escape as fast as before.

If you put the blanket on a tailors dummy, which does not generate heat, it will have no effect. The dummy will not spontaneously get warmer. That's obvious too!

Is using a blanket an accurate model for global warming by greenhouse gases? Certainly there are differences in how the heat is created and lost, and our body can produce varying amounts of heat, unlike the near-constant heat we receive from the sun. But as far as the second law of thermodynamics goes, where we are only talking about the flow of heat, the comparison is good. The second law says nothing about how the heat is produced, only about how it flows between things.

To summarise: Heat from the sun warms the Earth, as heat from your body keeps you warm. The Earth loses heat to space, and your body loses heat to the environment. Greenhouse gases slow down the rate of heat-loss from the surface of the Earth, like a blanket that slows down the rate at which your body loses heat. The result is the same in both cases, the surface of the Earth, or of your body, gets warmer.

So global warming does not violate the second law of thermodynamics. And if someone tells you otherwise, just remember that you're a warm human being, and certainly nobody's dummy.

Basic rebuttal written by Tony Wildish

Update July 2015:

Update October 2017:

Here is a walk-through explanation of the Greenhouse Effect for bunnies, by none other than Eli, over at Rabbit Run.

Last updated on 7 October 2017 by skeptickev. View Archives

If we say that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is about the measure of microstates which are possible in a certain macrostate, then why do some people also say aging has to do with the second law?

The question might sound dumb, but I have heard the example about the ice melting or the scrambled eggs, but I don't see how aging is a "measure of the microstates that are likely for a macrostate"? I have also heard about the arrow of time a lot of times

Generally because they are using the pop-sci definition of entropy instead of the stat mech definition.

I’m definitely not an expert, but my understanding is that it’s just an analogy. I don’t understand the aging part of it though, has anyone else heard this and have a more complete answer?

Check out this veritasium vid on aging. I think it may answer some of your questions. It has to do with our epigenome and our cells ability to remember Or something like that. Oh also biological age and actual age are different things I guess.

Entropy isn’t really disorder

There are more ways for a system to be disordered than there are for it to be ordered. One way to view aging is it involves more disorder - an aged system is usually not as well ordered as it was when younger.

One way to view aging is it involves more disorder - an aged system is usually not as well ordered as it was when younger.

This pushes the disorder analogy for entropy—never a great analogy because of the subjectivity of "disorder"—well beyond its limits.

My grandmother has lost a little weight since middle age, and her body temperature runs a little cooler. Since she's older, does she have a higher thermodynamic entropy? Far from it.

The only thing we could say is that the entropy of the entire universe, including my grandmother, has increased over time—but this doesn't necessitate the concept of disorder.


It is a common notion among recent creationists that the second law of thermodynamics came into being at the time of the Fall. This is not something that is clearly taught in Scripture, but rather it stems from a particular view of the Fall and the nature of the curse. This idea goes beyond what the Bible actually tells us, and so ought to be viewed with some suspicion. There were numerous processes present in the original creation that today we easily recognize involved the second law of thermodynamics. To account for this fact, supporters of this position suggest that some form of the second law of thermodynamics existed from creation but that it was amended at the time of the Fall to its full implementation that we have today. Alternately, some other process allegedly in force was withdrawn at the time of the Fall. Unfortunately, these ideas have not been developed to explain how it might have worked. Absent this development, this idea is just further conjecture to salvage what was conjecture to begin with. It would be most helpful if supporters of this approach would develop this further.

Many years ago, Barnes proposed that the second law of thermodynamics existed during the Creation Week or at the very least came into existence late that week. However, this idea received scant attention and almost no published support. This idea has merit, and it ought to be further developed. I hope that my effort here will spur further discussion of this important topic.

Biological Evolution Represents Increasing Order

The human brain is the most ordered form of matter that has yet been discovered, even more complex than our most sophisticated machines (at least so far). While it’s a mistake to assume that this complexity was the goal of evolution, it’s also true that evolutionary processes represent increasing order over time.

Multi-cellular organisms are more ordered than single-cell organisms, and single-cell organisms are more ordered than a soup of organic chemicals, and so on. Evolution builds on itself, and an evolutionary process can create another evolutionary process.

But if order decreases over time, how is this possible? Doesn’t evolution violate Thermo II? This is certainly a popular criticism of the idea of evolution, particularly among creationist thinkers.

But no, it doesn’t, and the reason why, is simply that Earth is not a closed system. Our planet is continuously bathed in energy from the sun, and it is this energy that ultimately drives evolution. Plants soak up sunlight, animals eat the plants, and other animals eat the plant-eaters, and so on. Over long periods of time these species change, and that’s what we call evolution. All the energy, however, comes from our star (well, almost all).

If we view the solar system as (approximately) a closed system, then Thermo II holds for the solar system, because the entropy of the sun itself is increasing over time as it converts matter into energy. Because the sun is so much bigger than the earth, the entropy increase of the sun over time vastly outweighs the increasing order playing out over time on Earth due to evolution.

Does the second law of thermodynamics cause aging? - Biology

Thermodynamics is a branch of physics which deals with the energy and work of a system. Thermodynamics deals only with the large scale response of a system which we can observe and measure in experiments. In aerodynamics, the thermodynamics of a gas obviously plays an important role in the analysis of propulsion systems but also in the understanding of high speed flows. The first law of thermodynamics defines the relationship between the various forms of energy present in a system (kinetic and potential), the work which the system performs and the transfer of heat. The first law states that energy is conserved in all thermodynamic processes.

We can imagine thermodynamic processes which conserve energy but which never occur in nature. For example, if we bring a hot object into contact with a cold object, we observe that the hot object cools down and the cold object heats up until an equilibrium is reached. The transfer of heat goes from the hot object to the cold object. We can imagine a system, however, in which the heat is instead transferred from the cold object to the hot object, and such a system does not violate the first law of thermodynamics. The cold object gets colder and the hot object gets hotter, but energy is conserved. Obviously we don't encounter such a system in nature and to explain this and similar observations, thermodynamicists proposed a second law of thermodynamics. Clasius, Kelvin, and Carnot proposed various forms of the second law to describe the particular physics problem that each was studying. The description of the second law stated on this slide was taken from Halliday and Resnick's textbook, "Physics". It begins with the definition of a new state variable called entropy. Entropy has a variety of physical interpretations, including the statistical disorder of the system, but for our purposes, let us consider entropy to be just another property of the system, like enthalpy or temperature.

The second law states that there exists a useful state variable called entropy S. The change in entropy delta S is equal to the heat transfer delta Q divided by the temperature T.

For a given physical process, the combined entropy of the system and the environment remains a constant if the process can be reversed. If we denote the initial and final states of the system by "i" and "f":

Sf = Si (reversible process)

An example of a reversible process is ideally forcing a flow through a constricted pipe. Ideal means no boundary layer losses. As the flow moves through the constriction, the pressure, temperature and velocity change, but these variables return to their original values downstream of the constriction. The state of the gas returns to its original conditions and the change of entropy of the system is zero. Engineers call such a process an isentropic process. Isentropic means constant entropy.

The second law states that if the physical process is irreversible, the combined entropy of the system and the environment must increase. The final entropy must be greater than the initial entropy for an irreversible process:

Sf > Si (irreversible process)

An example of an irreversible process is the problem discussed in the second paragraph. A hot object is put in contact with a cold object. Eventually, they both achieve the same equilibrium temperature. If we then separate the objects they remain at the equilibrium temperature and do not naturally return to their original temperatures. The process of bringing them to the same temperature is irreversible.

Free Response

Imagine an elaborate ant farm with tunnels and passageways through the sand where ants live in a large community. Now imagine that an earthquake shook the ground and demolished the ant farm. In which of these two scenarios, before or after the earthquake, was the ant farm system in a state of higher or lower entropy?

The ant farm had lower entropy before the earthquake because it was a highly ordered system. After the earthquake, the system became much more disordered and had higher entropy.

Energy transfers take place constantly in everyday activities. Think of two scenarios: cooking on a stove and driving. Explain how the second law of thermodynamics applies to these two scenarios.

While cooking, food is heating up on the stove, but not all of the heat goes to cooking the food, some of it is lost as heat energy to the surrounding air, increasing entropy. While driving, cars burn gasoline to run the engine and move the car. This reaction is not completely efficient, as some energy during this process is lost as heat energy, which is why the hood and the components underneath it heat up while the engine is turned on. The tires also heat up because of friction with the pavement, which is additional energy loss. This energy transfer, like all others, also increases entropy.


  1. Darrin

    Good article, I learned a lot!)

  2. Everard

    the very valuable message

  3. Tokora

    You are wrong. I'm sure. I am able to prove it.

  4. Astolpho

    Rather valuable phrase

  5. Kinnard

    I find that you are not right. I can prove it.

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