Readers Write: Re: evolution and entropy

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Editor:

One phrasing of the second law of thermodynamics is: “The entropy of a closed system cannot decrease.”

Entropy can be identified as a measure of usable energy. This leads to the notion that things invariable proceed from order to disorder. Stuff left alone falls apart. But all of this applies to a “closed system.” There is no flow of energy or material into or out of a closed system.

However, the fact is that life (or the Earth, for that matter) is not a closed system. The Sun’s radiation and the decay of radioactive material all provide energy input.  Clearly, a fruit of a summer tomato plant has more “order” and “energy” than the spring seed from which it grew. Surely, this is order out of disorder.

More profoundly, a serious question in cosmology is whether the expanding universe itself is open or closed.

In contemplating the notion of “evolution,” one is advised not to dwell on either your Bible or on your “Introduction to College Physics” book.

Byron Edwards, Ph.D.

Idyllwild

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