Some things are really lost


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MSK brought up the matter of conservation of mass and energy under physical change. If you take the sum of Mass and Energy in the Universe, in current theory this scalar sum remains unchanged no matter what sorts of interactions are happening. This might mislead one into thinking that no matter what changes take place, there is an invariant substrate of existence which remains constant always.

Alas, not so. One quantity that is not conserved and can increase is entropy. This is (roughly speaking) the amount of disorder in a thermodynamic system. Let me give you an example. Suppose we had a tank held to constant temperature in which helium and argon gases live. (I use those gases to simplify matters. Being noble gas they will not interact chemically). There is a partition that keeps the helium to the left and the argon to the right. Now the partition is pulled and the molecules whiz about (I am assuming the constant temperature is well above absolute zero here). Before two long one has a total mixed up disordered mess of molecules of the two kinds of gas. In fact one might reach a mixture state that could have come from more that one initial state. I assumed helium on the left, argon on the right. O.K. do a mirror reversal of the initial states. One could still arrive at a mixed state that could have come from either of those possible initial states.

What has been lost. Order and the information concerning the initial states. There is no way of inferring what the initial state was from the mixed state. That information is gone, flown, verschwudit, disappeared and it cannot be retrieved again ever. So the notion that there is a total invariance at some level of existence simply does not hold up. There are irreversible thermodynamic processes. That is the way it is. Total disorder is not simply another form of order.

One can perhaps fantasize as did La Place that a super intelligent entity could keep track of every molecule in the tank and use classical physics to predict the motion of each molecule. One could time reverse this in principle. In fact, it is beyond the capability of any human agency. In a mole weight of gas there are about 10^24 molecules (Avagadro's Number). How about a thousand mole weights of the gas or a million. There are not enough atoms in the universe to construct a computer that can track each molecule individually. So the order is really, really gone. It not conserved. It is not preserved and it has not merely changed form. It has vanished. The order and (in the example, the initial state) cannot be recovered.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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MSK brought up the matter of conservation of mass and energy under physical change.


I didn't bring that up. You brought it up. I merely pointed to the obvious fact that conservation and transformation is about the same thing on Rand's level and not a point to gleefully show how wrong she was.

You were jumping for joy, fer Krisssake, and missing the obvious in a real "well duh" kind of manner. You are better than that.


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~ Isn't talking about a 'quantifiable' entropy little different than talking about the same re the size of a hole 'increasing'? Isn't this terminology really a bit playing with words, as in meaning that there is less, not more, condensation of matter?

~ Abstractly, to say that A has 'more' shortness compared to B than C has may be 'quantifiably' meaningful, but, in a vastly different way than 'quantifiable' usually means...such as

~ This use of 'quantizing'/etc reminds me of the idea of 'increasing' attenuation.

~ Now, 'measurable' I have no prob with. :)



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