From: "Robert Curry"
To: "Ken Carl"
Subject: evolution
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 01:02:15 -0500

>you prove my case perfectly, I am an engineer. What
>are your credentials? I have a BSME from the University
>of Akron and am working on my masters.

To refresh your memory, you stated, "[Evolution] defies the laws of thermodynamics in tremendous ways. How about the law that says that all matter moves from order to chaos?"

Since there is no such "law" (as I have already informed you previously), let's skip the parading of credentials in order to cut to the chase.

You may possibly suffer from an oversimplified concept of the second law of thermodynamics, which correctly states that entropy never decreases (though it may remain constant, as for instance when a gas expands adiabatically and reversibly, thus exhibiting an ideally isentropic process).

Nothing whatsoever in thermodynamics states that an increase in entropy implies a local decrease in order everywhere, however. For the moment, I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to discover a few counterexamples to the claim that entropy necessarily implies isotropically greater disorder. Education begins, after all, with challenges to think more clearly by working things out for yourself first. (I will of course provide examples upon request if need be, but I do not wish to eliminate the opportunity for you to save face by correcting your own mistaken notions independently.)

This should be a relatively simple challenge, in any event. Please try to give it some thought before submitting some emotional knee-jerk response.

(The exercise is open to all those reading this, too, as I would be pleased to see what unexpectedly new responses might be forthcoming from what is a remarkably creative selection of people.)

>Are you out of High school yet. You obviously have
>never had and physics!

Good grief. Such ignorance is surpassed only by the unwarranted arrogance being put on display there.

Well, I shouldn't be too hard on you for falling for a common misconception, I suppose, especially since it is true that even college level physics texts will often introduce the concept (on an elementary level) by illustrating entropy as a more "disordered" molecular state. The problem with that pedagogical approach, in my opinion, is that it results in exactly the misconception you are suffering from when that is as far as one gets.

Finally, Ken, you may find it helpful to consider the physical units of entropy applied in several diverse applications before making any egregiously erroneous dogmatic statements on the subject. Or you may not, depending on your level of education. It is thus far quite unclear what a BSME actually contributes to an education in physics.

I'm looking forward to what would ideally be an intelligible and constructive reply dealing with the implications of thermodynamics on matters of order and disorder, considering both their local and global aspects (sometimes considered "open" and "closed" systems, respectively).

--- Robert Curry
St. Petersburg, Florida


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