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View Diary: Taking a stroll down Entropy Lane (32 comments)

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  •  It spreads out (1+ / 0-)
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    jamess

    Getting more even, like a drop of water-soluble dye in a glass of water.  Eventually the entire glass is an even tint with only small variations.

    There's lots of energy in the heat of a room's air, but it's dispersed evenly.  You can't get any work out of it internal to the system, meaning that it's at high entropy.

    If you run a line outside to the cold December air and run something that uses the room's heat and the outside cold to produce energy, you'd take the heat from the room and transfer it outside (you have to do this to get work out of it).

    The room gets a lot colder.  The outside warms a tiny bit (tiny because it's huge).  Eventually, you disperse the heat of the room and can't do any more work with it.

    The Universe, as a whole, does the same thing.  The Sun's heat disperses through space.  Space itself expands.  Eventually, the Sun runs out of fuel and the last of its heat leaves in dribs and drabs over time.  The remnants cool toward the background temperature, and you can't get any more work out of it.

    Once all the energy sources are gone and the heat disperses too thinly to use, that's it--end of game.  There'll always be minor differentials, more and more minor as time goes on, requiring more and more efficient systems to get even tiny drabs of energy from them.

    Earth's life, as it is now, wouldn't survive well without its star (hydrothermal vents being an exception to that rule).  We're not built for micro-Kelvin differential exploitation, but that doesn't mean that someday something might not be.

    (-6.25, -6.77) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

    by Lonely Liberal in PA on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 01:34:19 PM PST

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