Skip navigation.

Harold's Home

XML version of this site

PHP Scripts

CLI fun
Mail on 404
HB-NS (NewsScript)


APOD to Desktop
Dreamweaver Extensions


Other stuff
Central Grinder

OOOk Default:

VJ stuff
VJ Tools
Sample Movies


The stupidity, it burns
Haha, the wedge idiots of Uncommon descent don't understand the 2nd law of thermodymamics.
No big surprise there, but the boldness with which they close the argument is beyond belief. You're no longer able to comment on the post "In the Beginning and Other Essays on Intelligent Design" which is a crying shame as I have some thoughts on that.

I'll repost the final comment by Granville Sewell which is simplistic and stupid in the extreme:
“Entropy” is understood by physicists as a measure of disorder; so I define “order” to be the opposite of entropy, period. Thus where entropy is quantifiable, as in thermal entropy (or entropy associated with the distribution of anything else that diffuses), it is simply the negative of entropy. Where entropy is not so quantifiable, I still define it as the opposite, so that when entropy increases, eg, when a building is demolished, “order” decreases. I could have made the whole argument in terms of “entropy”, only used the term “order” because I thought it was less confusing to talk about order increasing than about entropy decreasing, but apparently that didn’t help. Go back and re-read, everywhere you see “order increases” read “entropy decreases” and vice versa, and it should be clearer.

But I don’t understand how you could think the “creation of a spaceship out of a lump of metal” would constitute a decrease in order, everyone else would consider this a decrease in disorder, ie in entropy.

What mr. Sewell appears to not understand (or refuses to understand given his first paragraph which is redundant to say the least) is the simple fact that spaceships do not appear out of nowhere simply by the input of energy (from the sun I assume). They are built by beings that use fossil fuels to extract, refine and smelt metals from the earth. These beings build upon scientific and engineering knowledge gathered throughout millennia to construct craft that are capable of interplanetary flight. Sewell's argument is akin to the blind watchmaker argument, which has been countered ages ago.

As The Panda's thumb states about this: [...]in a closed system entropy does increase, but the biosphere is not a closed system — it is utterly dependent on inflows of energy, mostly from the sun, and the entropy increase from the outflow of energy from the sun far exceeds the decrease of entropy by reproduction and by evolution.

How do you think fossil fuels got here? How do you think a spacecraft engineer fuels his/her metabolism and lifestyle (food, housing, ipods)? How do you think an engineer refines metals? How do you think (s)he evolved? Do you think that burning fossil fuels gives you a net loss or even an equilibrium of entropy? If so you should have failed basic physics in high school (or equivalent if you're not an American like I am).

Any step requiring energy constitutes a loss of energy and therefore an increase in entropy. Photosynthesis is stupendously, remarkably efficient, but there is still a loss of energy and thus an increase of entropy. Fossil fuels are created, ultimately, by photosynthesis so there's your first (and second) loss. Burning fossil fuels to first build and then power your spacecraft gives you another series of losses. Also you need to power the thought (and associated cost) that goes into building and piloting a spacecraft and before you know it less than 1/10.000th (I'm being optimistic here as I disregard the whole cost of life's history, if we accept that whole evolution thing,) of the energy of the sun put into plants is put into the construction of your spaceship. It's all of a level a high school student should understand to be honest.

By the way I am not the harold commenting (4th) on The Panda's Thumb thread, though I do agree with what he says as far as I understand it, he seems like a smart person, worthy of the name harold, though I would have written it with a capital H :).

Show all items | Read all items

About, copyright, privacy and accessibility | Mail