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Topic: Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?  (Read 16256 times)

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CloudBlue

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Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« on: January 06, 2005, 04:30:19 PM »
Hey guys. I think I posted this already but in the wrong subject board, and I am having trouble finding it anway so excuse me if I double post.

I think that the entropy of human civilization is definitely increasing.  Population is increasing, as are the number of small businesses in the industry.

Your thoughts, please?

Demotivator

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Re:Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2005, 05:00:04 PM »
I think Entropy  is decreasing if viewed just from poulation growth.
Humans are an ordered organism. Creation of more order decreases entropy.

However, there is an increase in entropy as a byproduct of population growth. More living beings create an increase of disorder in the universe by transforming food and materials to heat and energy and by dying.
So overall, humans contribute to increasing universal entropy.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2005, 07:53:45 PM by Demotivator »

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Re:Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2005, 04:51:03 PM »
Sorry for this late contribution to this thread, but it sparked an idea in my mind:

It is generally accepted that the entropy of the universe is constantly increasing.  Although humans are certainly an almost infintesimal amount of matter in the universe, as Demotivator pointed out, they are a relatively ordered collection of matter.  Logically, ordering matter consumes some amount of energy, and in turn it takes some energy to harness another form of energy, and the methods of harnessing energy tend to involve some reaction that disorders some other matter (e.g. combustion of hydrocarbons) , etc., etc.

This brings me to my question: is there enough energy in the universe to order all of the matter in the universe?  It seems to me (based on no evidence, just intuition) that the answer should be one of these:

1) No, there must be precisely enough energy as would be required to order all matter, but you could never do it because you couldn't order the final particle without disturbing the order of another particle.

2) No, for the reason in (1), but it may be possible to achieve a degree of order that is relatively high, therefore conserving some amount of entropy (e.g. controlling all matter into certain molecules, but not controlling the rotational degrees of freedom those molecules naturally possess.)

3) No, there amount of entropy is greater than the amount of energy (since entropy can arise from non-energetic relationships, such as arrangement in space)

I'm eager to hear any input on this.  I'm not a physical chemist, so I don't know any of the equations that would shed light on this problem.

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Re:Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2005, 05:50:50 PM »
I say No. Because the energy needed to make something ordered would cause disorder at the same time. Then we would need to order all the disorder we made by ordering and this continues on and on.
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Re:Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2005, 06:41:46 PM »
So you think it's (1) then Mitch?

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Re:Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2005, 07:25:46 PM »
Sort of. I think however more entropy has to be created than any amount of entropy destroyed by ordering.
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Re:Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2005, 10:30:10 PM »
So suppose that you could order something without disordering something else (certainly an impossibility).  Is there enough energy in the universe to order all the matter if that were the case?

Is it true that at absolute zero (zero energy) there would be no entropy?

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Re:Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2005, 10:46:09 PM »
Quote
Is it true that at absolute zero (zero energy) there would be no entropy?
I doubt it, its not like nuclear motion stops at absolute zero, although I've heard this repeated by many people who should know better.

Quote
So suppose that you could order something without disordering something else (certainly an impossibility).  Is there enough energy in the universe to order all the matter if that were the case?
I think so. But you know I'm only guessing at best. I think what we're basically discussing is a 100% efficient engine.
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Mr Amino

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Re:Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2005, 11:21:42 PM »
I think the answer would be yes if you believe in the big bang theory or a variation thereof.

I may be wrong but I think that the theory is that the universe was in a perfectly ordered state or infintesimally approaching it before the big bang.  Since energy can neither be created, nor destroyed it would seem that, theoretically, there is enough energy in the universe for it to exist in a perfectly ordered state.

An interesting variation on the big bang is the model that shows the universe expanding until it reaches a critical point of entropy at which time it begins to collapse upon itself.  The universe would shrink until it again reaches or approaches perfect order and the big bang will occur again.

Demotivator

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Re:Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2005, 01:26:44 PM »
Entropy is the amount of energy in the sytem that cannot be used to do work. So although the law of conservation of energy is maintained, the entropy need not be conserved. The increasing entropy of the universe is a result of transforming work energy to useless heat energy where the temp of the universe approaches equality everywhere.
So, the second law deltaS >= 0, means that for a reversible process (deltaS=0), the energy enpended can be recovered to do work (100% efficiency). But nature includes many irreversible spontaneous processes where energy cannot be recovered and in those cases deltaS > 0. Eventually, the universe "dies" when all useful energy is used up.  

So, ordering all matter is impossible once an irreversible process occurs since the energy wasted cannot be recovered.

Mr Amino:
This chap's argument is that high entropy equates with high homogeneity and gravitation does not decrease homogeneity.
http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/961223a.html


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Re:Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2005, 01:32:28 PM »
I know this is kind of gross, but it is on topic so here we go.   ;)  After drinking some two year old beer and having some pizza for dinner last night, I just tremendously increased the amount of entropy in the restroom here at work and in my colon.  So yeah, I think the entropy of human civilization is constantly going up because there is no way what I just did could be considered 'ordered'.   :P ;D
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Re:Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2005, 01:38:27 PM »
Ewwww.  :-X
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Re:Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2005, 02:51:02 PM »
"A real fart is beefy, has a density greater than or equal to the air surrounding it, consists

savoy7

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Re:Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2005, 02:07:08 AM »
this is going to get a little philosophical, but the word civilization opened that door.

I'm going to try to combine sociology, biology and chemistry with this explanation.

Is the entropy of Human Civilization increasing?

I'll define entropy as disorder.  In chemistry terms I would describe disorder as more particles or a higher state of disorder like a gas.  I KNOW THIS ISN'T A COMPLETE DEFINITION, but go with it to follow my flow of thought.  In biology, disorder could be related to biodiversity.  Biodiversity has many definitions, but I go with a diversifying gene pool.  Increase the genotypes, and one increases the amount of disorder.  In sociology, I would look at disorder as being an increase in cultures or institutions.

Therefore, with these definitions in place, I would state that human civilization is decreasing entropy.  I don't mean that the universe is, I mean only "human civilization."

Here's why:  I would say that the world is becoming monoculturalistic.  Face it, the Western civilizations are greatly influencing the cultures of the world.  Money is king.  If you want to obtain money, you have to sell a product that western civilization will buy.  I can see this at the local and at the international level.  At the local levels, I see Mom & Pop places being replaced by corporate america.  As I travel across the US, every city, looks like every city.  How many of you have eaten at:  McDonalds, Olive Garden?  Drank a Pepsi or Coke?  Gone to Starbucks?  Shopped at Best Buy or Walmart?  Own a Dell, Gateway or HP?  Do I need to continue?  Internationally, I see the same corporations.  McDonald's is everywhere (Fast Food Nation) for example.  If one wants a 1st world nation to buy your product or produce, you have to provide what they want?  This affects the local cultures and the biodiversity of the biosphere?

How's the biosphere affected?  In biology, natural selection doesn't exist as it use to be.  Now, it's more like economic selection.  If it doesn't hurt the economy or if it is highly marketable, that life (organism) exists.  We see forests being destroyed, for farm land.  We see fauna being destroyed for large scale production of a couple species (like cows, pigs and chickens).  This reduces the diversity on the gene pool.  

Chemically, the gene pool relates to DNA - & since DNA is a molecule - less entropy, more complexity.

Some say entropy has to increase (just one of many theories), so unless humans keep adding energy to the system, I predict it will have to diversify or break apart.  Are fossil fuels what we add to the system to maintain this level of entropy?  If they become scarce what will happen?  Is this what happened to the Roman Empire (on the science side - I mean I could read "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire" to get all the details)?


I'm not trying to get deep here.  It's just a thought.  Maybe someone could offer their views.  It might help me clarify my thoughts.

PS - Just thinking of this - biodiversity is increasing in a few groups of organisms - prokaryotes - disease resistent bacteria.  Even in other biological entities like viruses like HIV - with the mutation rate of it's reverse transcriptase.

savoy out

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Re:Entropy of Human Civilization Increasing?
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2005, 03:12:40 AM »
But there are more humans now, then at any time in human history, whether they are "genetically diverse" is an other issue.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2005, 03:13:07 AM by Mitch »
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