WIT Press


INCREASING ENTROPY: HEAT DEATH OR PERPETUAL HARMONIES?



Price

Free (open access)

Paper DOI

10.2495/DNE-V4-N2-83-96

Volume

Volume 4 (2009), Issue 2

Pages

13

Page Range

83 - 96

Author(s)

R.E. ULANOWICZ

Abstract

Classically, the increase of entropy implies an ineluctable dissipation of energy and materials into what is known as ‘heat death’. A strictly logical take on the Boltzmann entropy reveals, however, that the measure amalgamates order with disorganization. Hence, under some nonequilibrium circumstances, the production of order becomes an inevitable feature of increasing entropy. In particular, perpetual harmonies can emerge from the collapse of nonequilibrium configurations. Data from networks of trophic interactions in real ecosystems reveal a preferred balance between dissipation and order at an approximate ratio of 1:e – a phenomenon that possibly could inform the search for sustainable systems.

Keywords

autocatalysis, complexity, dissipation, dualism, ecosystems, entropy, heat death, indeterminacy, information, monism, nonequilibrium, second law, sustainability, thermodynamics