Entropy

| 32 Comments

Photograph by Roger Lambert.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention.

Lambert - Entropy Shore Formation.jpg

Entropy – scene from an eroding shoreline on Lake Champlain, Vermont, demonstrating a naturally ordered stone deposition being disarrayed by the natural disorder of the tree roots above it.

32 Comments

But it has no complex specified information!

I’m wondering what Mike Elzinga is going to have say about the caption.

It’s a cool picture, though.

Were those layers of shalestone laid down over hundreds of millions of year, or during Noah’s Flood?

That is indeed a lovely picture; and it illustrates why the term “entropy” is so badly misused in the last 30 to 40 years. Matter does this stuff routinely; misuses of entropy be damned.

At least the Wikipedia article acknowledges that there are efforts to get the concept straight; and that retired chemist Frank L. Lambert’s efforts among the chemists are beginning to pay off. It’s really not that difficult. However, the consequences of these misconceptions steer people in the wrong directions when they are investigating why complex systems behave the way they do.

From the Wikipedia article:

In recent years, in chemistry textbooks there has been a shift away from using the terms “order” and “disorder” to that of the concept of energy dispersion to describe entropy, among other theories. In the 2002 encyclopedia Encarta, for example, entropy is defined as a thermodynamic property which serves as a measure of how close a system is to equilibrium; as well as a measure of the disorder in the system. [2] In the context of entropy, “perfect internal disorder” is synonymous with “equilibrium”, but since that definition is so far different from the usual definition implied in normal speech, the use of the term in science has caused a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding.

Mike Elzinga said: At least the Wikipedia article acknowledges that there are efforts to get the concept straight …

In the context of entropy, “perfect internal disorder” is synonymous with “equilibrium”, but since that definition is so far different from the usual definition implied in normal speech, the use of the term in science has caused a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding.

Sigh, and we are also now stuck with treating the term “information” as one of those items whose tendency to mislead has overwhelmed its convenience.

I think we see in these matters a sort of “semantic ratchet”. Broad terms that we once casually used without too much worry end up being misused as a lever by crackpots, becoming so corrupted in the process that we have to discard them.

Mike Elzinga -

I’ve been meaning to mention that my old freshman General Chemistry text book had a picture of a brick wall crumbling to illustrate “entropy”.

(However, the chapter basically just built up to and emphasized Gibbs energy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibb%27s_free_energy; there wasn’t any philosophizing, just that one picture.)

The rocks look like stacks of petrified books, though there isn’t any way to really get a sense of scale from the picture. Somebody owes the Royal Library of Atlantis one heck of an overdue book fine…

harold said:

Mike Elzinga -

I’ve been meaning to mention that my old freshman General Chemistry text book had a picture of a brick wall crumbling to illustrate “entropy”.

(However, the chapter basically just built up to and emphasized Gibbs energy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibb%27s_free_energy; there wasn’t any philosophizing, just that one picture.)

Cartoonist Sidney Harris had one on this also.

It’s the top right cartoon here. :-)

Deklane said:

The rocks look like stacks of petrified books, though there isn’t any way to really get a sense of scale from the picture. Somebody owes the Royal Library of Atlantis one heck of an overdue book fine…

And the ID/creationists have been reading the wrong book all this time.

mabus has escaped the mental facility again.

who has the net?

I wonder if the Canadian authorities will finally arrest this fucker and start taking his threats seriously before he actually hurts someone?

probably not.

ichthyic I am going to CRUCIFY you today.…

what I picture when you say that…

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/be[…]edy-sketches

are you crushing my head now?

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

I got scared by this dmab person. I’m not one for censorship but please censor him. Yuk. anyways. It seems the chemist books are coming under the same successful intellectual threat from creationism as everyone else. They are changing historic words because of fear of misinterpretation. HMM. I fail to see why clearly laid sediment layers are any different then the tree roots etc in interpretation of origins? Whats the point here?

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Ask yourself, Byers, why are there many narrow layers, not one great single lump? Why is this pattern common, everywhere on earth we look? Why, in fact, do we never find one single great slough where a mighty flood, subsiding, dumped all the sediments at once?

Could it be that in this particular location (and many others) there was not one great inundation, but many small ones? But that very large amounts of time were required to lay them down separately, so that they remained visibly distinct?

But that’s not all. Now there’s a tree growing in it, pushing its roots through a number of the layers.

Suppose, in the fullness of time - a century or so, maybe more - the tree dies and as its roots rot slowly away, they are replaced by infill sediments that themselves harden into stone over more ages? Would this be a “multistratum” fossil, the sort that damfool YECs like you think invalidates the geological table and the ancient dating of the earth?

Why, yes, it would!

Would it actually be an invalidation of the geological table and the ancient dating of the earth?

Why, no, it would not!

In fact, it would be more evidence for it.

That’s the point here, moron.

But most of the matter of the tree and its roots came from carbon dioxide in the air, so formation of the solid tree represents a local decrease in entropy.

jah

j a higginbotham said:

But most of the matter of the tree and its roots came from carbon dioxide in the air, so formation of the solid tree represents a local decrease in entropy.

jah

A better way to express this would be to say that the concentration of carbon takes place because the 2nd law of thermodynamics continues to work.

There is a lot going on within a plant; and it can only be so because of the laws of thermodynamics and energy-driven processes.

Mike Elzinga said:

That is indeed a lovely picture; and it illustrates why the term “entropy” is so badly misused in the last 30 to 40 years. Matter does this stuff routinely; misuses of entropy be damned.

Weird. I was taught that “entropy” essentially was “[thermal]energy unavailable to do work”. There were no words about “order” or anything like that. Then again, I learned about the concept from a geochemist for whom I also worked modelling condensation in the early solar nebula.

dT=dH-TdS (sorry, I cannot create the “delta” symbol in this forum so have used “d”) was all I needed to know…and is all I think I need to know now. At times I really do wonder where (and when) the concept of “order” was introduced.

Oclarki said:

Weird. I was taught that “entropy” essentially was “[thermal]energy unavailable to do work”. There were no words about “order” or anything like that. Then again, I learned about the concept from a geochemist for whom I also worked modelling condensation in the early solar nebula.

dT=dH-TdS (sorry, I cannot create the “delta” symbol in this forum so have used “d”) was all I needed to know…and is all I think I need to know now. At times I really do wonder where (and when) the concept of “order” was introduced.

The association of entropy with disorder started really taking off during the 1970s and 80s. The creationists were primarily responsible for pushing it; but there were other contributing popularizations as well.

Before that, few in the public claimed to understand entropy; but at least they knew that thermodynamics had something to do with not allowing perpetual motion machines and 100% efficiency.

But after the creationists started bombing the media with their literature, everybody seemed to “know” about entropy. Most were wrong.

Mike Elzinga said:

The association of entropy with disorder started really taking off during the 1970s and 80s. The creationists were primarily responsible for pushing it; but there were other contributing popularizations as well.

Ah…that explains it.…my learning came before the takeoff.…

It is too bad, though…to me (at least) the concept of entropy is really simple and reasonable. No invoking of physical order necessary.

Robert Byers said:

I got scared by this dmab person. I’m not one for censorship but please censor him. Yuk.

What’s the matter, Byers? I’d think you and dmab would be ideal roomates, because you are both crazy. This reminds me of how Young Earth Creationists react when you remind them that the Bible indicates that the Earth is flat and a stationary object. They will LIE outright and say that it doesn’t!

Dave Luckett said:

Ask yourself, Byers, why are there many narrow layers, not one great single lump? Why is this pattern common, everywhere on earth we look? Why, in fact, do we never find one single great slough where a mighty flood, subsiding, dumped all the sediments at once?

Could it be that in this particular location (and many others) there was not one great inundation, but many small ones? But that very large amounts of time were required to lay them down separately, so that they remained visibly distinct?

But that’s not all. Now there’s a tree growing in it, pushing its roots through a number of the layers.

Suppose, in the fullness of time - a century or so, maybe more - the tree dies and as its roots rot slowly away, they are replaced by infill sediments that themselves harden into stone over more ages? Would this be a “multistratum” fossil, the sort that damfool YECs like you think invalidates the geological table and the ancient dating of the earth?

Why, yes, it would!

Would it actually be an invalidation of the geological table and the ancient dating of the earth?

Why, no, it would not!

In fact, it would be more evidence for it.

That’s the point here, moron.

Nope. no need for time lapse for different layers. They just indicate diffeent flows. The flows within a single event can do this also and more likely this and then all fossilzed together. not layer, fossilize, layer, fossilize etc, etc, etc. Creationists welcome these formations and in fact if they were not found we would be criticized on how a great chaotic flood could be so uniform and not have crazy interactions like in modern floods or rivers.

I’m not a moron as someone else said i’m crazy. Species matters. anyways either species would not have the capacity to recognize itself and so the comment seems less to be informative but rather just unkind.

Uh-huh. One flood, many narrow layers of very fine sediment, all “fossilising” at once (I suppose you mean compacting into sedimentary rock), all together, only remaining separate, without a sign of turbidity patterns, and this happened in 4500 years.

Is there a bridge you also want to sell me, Byers?

Robert Byers said:

Nope. no need for time lapse for different layers. They just indicate diffeent flows. The flows within a single event can do this also and more likely this and then all fossilzed together. not layer, fossilize, layer, fossilize etc, etc, etc. Creationists welcome these formations and in fact if they were not found we would be criticized on how a great chaotic flood could be so uniform and not have crazy interactions like in modern floods or rivers.

I’m not a moron as someone else said i’m crazy. Species matters. anyways either species would not have the capacity to recognize itself and so the comment seems less to be informative but rather just unkind.

We know a heck of a lot about modern depositional environments and the physical and chemical nature of the sediments deposited within them. They are out there in the natural world, readily available for our scrutiny, from a regional scale down to a microscopic scale. We can establish (and indeed have established), through direct observation and measurement, robust associations between sediment transport and deposition mechanisms and sediment features and structures.

When we examine sedimentary rocks, we see features and structures that are identical to those observed and measured in modern depositional environments, all the way down to the microscopic scale. The age of the rock does not seem to matter: structures and features are well preserved throughout the sedimentary rock record, from the Precambrian all the way up through modern times, and all are virtually identical to those observed in modern depositional environments. Consequently, our comprehensive knowledge of modern depositional environments allows us to understand in great detail the environments in which the sedimentary rocks were deposited.

It should be readily apparent that modern sediment transport and deposition mechanisms do not include a single short-term world-wide flood such as that depicted in Genesis. Thus, we really do not need the occurrence of such a flood to explain the structures and features observed in modern sediments.

This raises an interesting question, though. If a single short-term world-wide flood is not necessary to explain the structures and features observed in modern sediments, why is such an event necessary to explain identical structures and features in sedimentary rocks? In other words, why is the Noachian flood a better explanation for sedimentary rocks when it is clearly not a viable explanation for modern sediments that contain identical structures and features?

And therein lies the challenge for you and all young-earth creationists: provide substantive studies that clearly demonstrate why the short-term world-wide Noachian flood is a better explanation for the observed structures and features in sedimentary rocks. Merely claiming that those rocks could have been formed by such a flood is not compelling enough, since such a claim does not mean that the flood explanation is actually any better than the conventional geologic explanations.

Robert Byers said:

Nope. no need for time lapse for different layers. They just indicate diffeent flows. The flows within a single event can do this also and more likely this and then all fossilzed together. not layer, fossilize, layer, fossilize etc, etc, etc. Creationists welcome these formations and in fact if they were not found we would be criticized on how a great chaotic flood could be so uniform and not have crazy interactions like in modern floods or rivers.

I’m not a moron as someone else said i’m crazy. Species matters. anyways either species would not have the capacity to recognize itself and so the comment seems less to be informative but rather just unkind.

Byers,

Please explain why there are no sediments anywhere that contain trilobite, dinosaur and human remains. How did the magic flood sort these all out? Why are they always sorted in the exact same order? Why are mollusc fossils always sorted in the same order with non-overlapping distributions, even between species that are morphologically very similar? Why is the pattern observed exactly consistent with the nested hierarchy of genetic similarity seen between all living things? Why is the order exactly what is predicted by descent with modification? Why are the rocks billions of years older than the supposed magic flood. Why are there intermediates between major groups found in exactly the strata predicted by the theory of descent with modification?

Until you can answer every one of these questions and give an explanation with more predictive and explanatory power, then descent with modification will continue to be the answer accepted by all rational beings. If you have no better explanation and still stubbornly refuse to accept this, then yes, you are indeed a moron. i’m not being unkind, i’m stating a fact, deal with it moron.

Robert Byers said:

…I’m not a moron as someone else said i’m crazy. …

You do realize, don’t you, that that sentence says that you’re ADMITTING THAT YOU’RE CRAZY? (Actually, you probably don’t realize that.) And you can neither capitalize nor punctuate with any sense or consistency.

Oclarki said:

Robert Byers said:

Nope. no need for time lapse for different layers. They just indicate diffeent flows. The flows within a single event can do this also and more likely this and then all fossilzed together. not layer, fossilize, layer, fossilize etc, etc, etc. Creationists welcome these formations and in fact if they were not found we would be criticized on how a great chaotic flood could be so uniform and not have crazy interactions like in modern floods or rivers.

I’m not a moron as someone else said i’m crazy. Species matters. anyways either species would not have the capacity to recognize itself and so the comment seems less to be informative but rather just unkind.

We know a heck of a lot about modern depositional environments and the physical and chemical nature of the sediments deposited within them. They are out there in the natural world, readily available for our scrutiny, from a regional scale down to a microscopic scale. We can establish (and indeed have established), through direct observation and measurement, robust associations between sediment transport and deposition mechanisms and sediment features and structures.

When we examine sedimentary rocks, we see features and structures that are identical to those observed and measured in modern depositional environments, all the way down to the microscopic scale. The age of the rock does not seem to matter: structures and features are well preserved throughout the sedimentary rock record, from the Precambrian all the way up through modern times, and all are virtually identical to those observed in modern depositional environments. Consequently, our comprehensive knowledge of modern depositional environments allows us to understand in great detail the environments in which the sedimentary rocks were deposited.

It should be readily apparent that modern sediment transport and deposition mechanisms do not include a single short-term world-wide flood such as that depicted in Genesis. Thus, we really do not need the occurrence of such a flood to explain the structures and features observed in modern sediments.

This raises an interesting question, though. If a single short-term world-wide flood is not necessary to explain the structures and features observed in modern sediments, why is such an event necessary to explain identical structures and features in sedimentary rocks? In other words, why is the Noachian flood a better explanation for sedimentary rocks when it is clearly not a viable explanation for modern sediments that contain identical structures and features?

And therein lies the challenge for you and all young-earth creationists: provide substantive studies that clearly demonstrate why the short-term world-wide Noachian flood is a better explanation for the observed structures and features in sedimentary rocks. Merely claiming that those rocks could have been formed by such a flood is not compelling enough, since such a claim does not mean that the flood explanation is actually any better than the conventional geologic explanations.

The formations come from processes. In fact today there are few examples of formations coming from anything except water dynamics. Nothing else is moving. Modern processes are not laying layers of sediment upon each other. No where on earth can it be shown that sediment is in process to becoming rock. Despite the need to say this was the continuous and ancient origin of all sedimentary rock. The biblical flood is needed to explain sedimentary layers below the k-t line. Not just another option.

Robert Byers said:

The formations come from processes. In fact today there are few examples of formations coming from anything except water dynamics. Nothing else is moving. Modern processes are not laying layers of sediment upon each other. No where on earth can it be shown that sediment is in process to becoming rock. Despite the need to say this was the continuous and ancient origin of all sedimentary rock. The biblical flood is needed to explain sedimentary layers below the k-t line. Not just another option.

And yet, you refuse to provide proof to your false claims, and you refuse to demonstrate how the Biblical Flood is capable of explaining the sedimentary layers below the KT Boundary, especially since a world-wide flood does not explain why dinosaurs and ichthyosaurs are not mixed together with people, horses, gorgonopsids, anthracosaurs, anthracotheres, whales, trilobites or placoderms.

The formations come from processes.

duh. that’s like saying: air comes from chemistry.

In fact today there are few examples of formations coming from anything except water dynamics. Nothing else is moving.

except air (dunes for one example), and land (uplifts, for one example), and animals (forams for one example, diatoms for another).

as usual, your grasp of geology is as good as your grasp of any other branch of science.

that is to say, entirely made of fail.

I thought about mentioning that glaciers also move, but I suppose that would qualify as a type of water dynamics? (Unless this is the guy who thinks ice isn’t water?)

Henry

Robert Byers said:

The formations come from processes.

No kidding. Those depositional “processes” result in characteristic features in the deposited sediments…and in sedimentary rocks. The tricky bit is that if you want to establish your “flood” as a viable scientific explanation for the sedimentary rocks that we observe, you need to demonstrate that your “flood” is the only reasonable explanation for those process-derived features.

In fact today there are few examples of formations coming from anything except water dynamics. Nothing else is moving.

A misleading claim at best. There are a number of examples of non-“water dynamics” depositional environments. Think Sahara.…Kalahari.…Great Sand Dunes.… Saudi Arabia..and other modern environments where sediment transport and deposition are mainly aeolian. Then compare the features and structures of the clearly aeolian dunes in those areas to…oh…say the Jurassic Navajo Sandstone so prominently exposed in Zion National Park. Look familiar?

Modern processes are not laying layers of sediment upon each other. No where on earth can it be shown that sediment is in process to becoming rock.

This claim is beyond misleading. sedimentary “layers” are forming in many, many places. That those layers are not becoming “rock” as quickly7 as you demand is not important. What is important is that the features of those layers also occur in actual sedimentary rocks, and so can be used to infer the depositional environment of those rocks. Now.…what features would be expected in “flood”-derived sedimentary rocks that could distinguish the “flood” from other depositional environments?

Despite the need to say this was the continuous and ancient origin of all sedimentary rock. The biblical flood is needed to explain sedimentary layers below the k-t line. Not just another option.

Why exactly is your “flood” needed to explain pre-Tertiary sedimentary rocks? Be specific. To support such a claim you need to demonstrate that the depositional environment of your “flood” would cause the specific features observed in sedimentary rocks. You also need to demonstrate that no other depositional environments would cause those features.

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