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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Re: Issues
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1369  Tuesday, 21 May 2002

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 May 2002 07:54:49 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1340 Re: Issues

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 May 2002 14:19:26 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 13.1356 Re: Issues

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 May 2002 12:52:08 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1322 Re: Issues


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Monday, 20 May 2002 07:54:49 -0500
Subject: 13.1340 Re: Issues
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1340 Re: Issues

I have only one comment to offer on thermodynamics and entropy. I
remember reading in the National Geographic some years ago a very
simplified account of the latest version of the Big Bang Theory.
According to this, there was a crucial moment (some infinitesimal
fraction of a moment, actually) when all the energy/matter in the
universe was ready to explode, but might have imploded (or something)
and disappeared into a Black Hole (or something).  "Fortunately," the
writer said, the cosmic golf ball exploded, creating the Universe As We
Know It.

Honestly, that "Fortunately" still warms the cockles of my heart. It may
not make much sense scientifically, but its logical, mystical and
spiritual implications are staggering. I have had many pleasant moments
imagining myself in the beyond telling Geoff and Will about it.

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Monday, 20 May 2002 14:19:26 +0100
Subject: Re: Issues
Comment:        SHK 13.1356 Re: Issues

"The apparent "progress" of evolution does not contradict Newton's
second law", I wrote.

I apologize for this aberration. Somehow I managed to confuse laws of
thermodynamics with laws of motion. Newton was only concerned with the
latter.

I ran this question by my brother, who is completing a PhD in
high-energy particle physics, and he told me:

1) That "Thermodynamics, especially the second law, is (I think) down to
Boltzmann, (who commited suicide cos no-one believed his crazy
theories...)". He added, soberingly, "so be careful when refuting
scientists' ideas, it carries a weighty responsibility" ( ! ). [Ludwig
Boltzmann 1844-1906; he is certainly associated with thermodynamic
theory, but I don't know if the laws are his. I think my brother is
being ironic when he refers to his "crazy theories", but am too ignorant
to know for sure.]

2) "These laws describe how energy gets used and transferred from one
form to another, how concentrations of energy are dispersed to create
'energetic' equilibrium, so I'm not really sure how Darwin is 'really'
related. I guess you could argue that an equilibrium is reached when the
fittest animals have survived competition and each occupies its own
niche, forming a stable food web or something (ecological heat death?)."

And finally:

"I found this:
http://www.2ndlaw.com/evolution.html
but haven't read it, so it might be crap."

I think it is one of those anti-Darwinian screeds to which Dave Kathman
alluded. So yeah, probably "crap".

m

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Monday, 20 May 2002 12:52:08 -0400
Subject: 13.1322 Re: Issues
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1322 Re: Issues

Gabriel Egan responded to Martin Steward:

> No, it's more orderly in the objective sense of requiring more energy to
> make it. That's why Marcus introduced the apparent problem of the second
> law of thermodynamics.

But that would make a garbage dumb more orderly than a human eye. An eye
is more orderly because it is more structurally complex, and more energy
is required not to make it, but to retain the structural integrity of
genotype and phenotype.

> There's an advantage to simple systems: they take less energy to build,
> leaving more energy for reproduction. But complex systems have tended to
> win the struggle to reproduce because, all other things being equal, a
> creature with a sophisticated eye has a better chance than one with a
> simple eye.

This is untrue on two counts: 1) bacteria are much more effective
reproducers. 2) a human eye would no better survive in a bacterial
environment than vice versa.

> > There is no progress or regression in
> > the natural world.
>
> On the contrary, the world around us, for all its faults, is more
> complex and admirable than the primeval soup.

On the double contrary: there is both progress and regression running in
counterpoint--eros and thanatos--evolution and entropy, but entropy is
dominant and the arrow of time moves towards chaos.

As Steve Roth points out, the evolution of life seems to contradict
entropy. He concludes that probably:

"2. There is an intentional force promoting the development of
complexity, and/or the environment in which that development is
likely/possible."

or

"3. The second law of thermodynamics is wrong"

Neither is necessary. 2 sounds like Nietzsche's Will to Power or Hegel's
Idea, but the evolution of life only requires that in the heightened
energy states of the early universe, natural selection and survival of
the fittest takes place in life supporting environments. Unlike written
texts (smoothly incorporating into list topic), evolution requires no
intentionality and does not contradict Newton's law, but, as was pointed
out by Prof. Steward and again by Dave Kathman, entropy is merely
reversed locally by borrowing energy from outside the system. Recent
theoretical physics, however, suggests that the molecular structure of
matter in this universe seems overwhelmingly to conspire to create life
pecifically by inevitably leading to the introduction of the carbon atom
able to bond with many other elements especially in the form of amino
and nucleic acids. See:

Barrow and Tipler. The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. 1986
Martin Gardiner. The New Ambidextrous Universe. 1990
Rifkin and Howard. Entropy. 1980

Clifford

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