O Entropy… the ultimate fate of everything!
When tall, handsome and perspicacious, Prof. RC Paliwal taught me Thermodynamics at the College of Technology, GB Pant University in 1972, it was amongst the first courses that acted like a moat that must be crossed to enter into the citadel of engineering. I started learning how tangible things like steam and ice are “made” by moving heat energy in and out of water. It was in those days that I learnt a mysterious term called “Entropy.”
Prof. Paliwal called “Entropy” the ultimate reality of the engineering world, while teaching the second law of Thermodynamics. In an isolated system, that is not plugged into the environment, entropy keeps increasing as the system inexorably becomes less structured, less organized, less able to accomplish the outcome for which it was designed and eventually slides into an equilibrium that is gray, tepid, monotonous and eventually dead. Everything that comes together, falls apart.
Later, when I read, through translations of the words of the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi,
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to an animal,
… As a human, I will die once more,
Reborn, I will with the angels soar…”
another aspect of entropy became clear. Nothing is lost. . . everything is transformed. When clever people are trying to organize things, entropy is shaking its fist at their effort. English philosopher-scientist Sir Arthur Eddington (1882-1944) cutely declared entropy as “time’s arrow.”
Our bodies grow and function following genetic material from our parents. The DNA & RNA inherited by us makes codons, which make amino acids, which make proteins. And from the proteins our body is built and draws energy from food, air and water. As time passes, the body ages and finally dies. So, is entropy the Maya? Not an effect but the original cause!
A 2003 paper proclaimed that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is the First Law of Psychology. It was written by John Tooby, Leda Cosmides, and H. Clark Barrett at the University of California. They called evolution, a story of ceaseless repetition and endless reincarnation of consciousness trapped into physicality. Whenever one sees functional order, one is seeing the downstream contrivances of natural selection. If we make a human being a closed system – free from society – the second law of thermodynamics tells us that every individual would start out and end up a horrifying monstrosity.
It is a well-established fact now that gene activity can be turned off and on by environmental or extracellular factors such as sensory experience, social context, hormones, temperature, diet, and photoperiod. These factors make gene action dynamic, contingent, and bidirectional. Continuous exposure to light, especially blue light emitted by the black screens of TVs, computers and mobile phone screens is changing the present young generations and the future generations through them. The bad news is that an increasing number of young people are opting for living single lives.
Chasing and fleeing are not just sequences of muscle contractions – they are goal directed. A life without a goal is indeed an organic waste. When you are surfing the Internet – is it goal directed? If it is not, some faceless program soon sucks you into the entropy of “wanting” unnecessary things, which are mass produced for profit. How stupid is “liking” or “disliking” someone whom you have never met and would never meet!
Similarly, poverty of the masses is the entropy of wealth generation by the few. It is the default state of mankind and therefore, widespread. Generation of wealth is a goal directed organized activity. Matter does not arrange itself into “things”; we need “engineering” to make products. Products do not get sold on their own. We need “businesses” to make them reach the needy and “collect” from them the “price” to plough back into making more and better products. Of course, money wealth thus generated, at times turns into entropy of gold and diamonds hoarded by the rich.
So, make no mistake about the truth that human survival depends on how it controls natural evolution to its own advantage. When the coronavirus pandemic started, we could control it by the discipline of lockdown. Even a vaccine has been made in less than a year’s time. But then, we allowed entropy to enter into reckless behavior and a second wave of pandemic hit those areas where people allowed their pleasures and conveniences override caution.
Our biggest armory as humans is our cognitive, emotional, and moral faculties. These are provided to us by education, the family system and religion. We see that these three systems are infested with bugs unleashed by global corporations with long-term agendas and politicians out to grab levers of power.
Consequently, education is now seen as a gateway to get a job, a family has turned into a zero-sum give and take system and religion has regressed into rituals and cults. But worse still, our minds are getting polarized around our egos. Most of our emotions revolve around the pleasures and domination of others. Most of the educated, highly placed, affluent people of today are indeed highly insecure bundles of doubts.
There is a trend to think as a stereotype, and act by projecting our own wishes upon others. Our leaders are marshalling evidence that confirms their convictions while dismissing evidence that contradicts them. “The Nation wants to know,” is the new cliché. These are all engines of entropy. Unless these are checked, mankind is going to be buried under cognitive wreckage and the garbage of consumerism.
Swiss psychologist and philosopher, Carl Jung, famously said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Entropy is our fate but not our destiny. Billionaires, Nobel laureates, sportspersons, professionals and artists do not emerge out of entropy. They are products of discipline, sacrifice, training and sustained efforts toward definite goals.
When it is said that “the dust goes to dust,” it is not some random phenomenon. Cognitive evolution is the ultimate purpose of human life. So, live a conscious life. Know your place in the existential system. Control its processes, sense your internal milieu and interact with the outside environment, including people and institutions around you. Take only what is needed and dispose of what is not necessary. Even a little lowering of your guard, a little complacency, and you are “rushed and gushed” into the suction of the fiery mouth of consumerism, following the law of entropy.
MORE FROM THE BLOG
Is there an occult, divine or mystical relationship between a number and one or more coinciding events? In ancient Greece, Pythagoras propagated the idea that reality at the deepest level is essentially mathematical. He and many after him believed that a system of principles existed behind numbers…
I was born in 1955 in independent India. When I look back today, without hesitation, the best moment in public life I witnessed is the construction of a grand temple and the consecration of the idol of Shri Rama Lalla in Ayodhya on January 22, 2024…
The Tower of Babel is mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 11:1-9). The prideful ancient Babylonians wanted to build a mighty city and a tower with its top in the heavens. The work remained incomplete after they were cursed to speak different languages…