Wednesday, August 22, 2012
thought for the day/ Mechanical Universe on thermodynamics
When Physicists worked Newtonian mechanics, they didn't think they had to deal with temperature when working out force, energy, momentum vectors of masses. Yet, when they wanted to keep the conservation of energy in the 1800s, they had to learn and combine thermodynamics.
Today and the last so many decades, Chaos theorists wanted to say that mathematics role in science has been disproven. They wanted to say that the particle physicists obsession with analyses and breaking things down to ever smaller levels of reality is not the way to go. Well, this is true in some sense, but the chaos theorists wanted to show quantum chaos. But, they've come to see that thermodynamics doesn't exist at the quantum level(yes, the physicists combine thermodynamics in the description of the big bang, but they're talking about the thermodynamcis of particles at a macroscopic level and not what happens when an electron absorbs a photon). I bring this up because of my ideas(and Jacob Bronowski's) about certain ideas work in a network of ideas when nature is dammed up in certain ways. When dammed up in other ways, other ideas take hold. There is quantum chaos, but it's different from the chaos theory at our scale.
In this macro world with thermodynamics, some phenomenon arise - things like entropy.
are both related.
As the second video of this three says, thermodynamics suggesed a solution to the puzzle of time; but, Einstein's relativity theories and quantum mechanics absence of time suggests the problem of time is still a problem. My concern is actually what thermodynamics entropy means for life.
While most biologists were concerned with molecular biology and genetics at various times . . . not to mention bacteriology, and zoology, there was a few that observed that if the second law is true(which had been established back in the 1800s; it was one of the major accomplishments of the 1800 science), then how come we have Earth brimming with life? Life seems to be a counter example to the second law of thermodynamics. Life certainly seems like a water wheel driving another water wheel to make water flow uphill instead of downhill. As the second video shows, the efficiency gets better with the greater difference between the heat and cold loads. How does life do it? I'd suggest and so do many chaos theorists that chaos is at work in living beings.
A big part of the problem of human machines is they generally work as closed systems. And really, this is the effort, and this is what thermodynamics disproves; that a closed system cannot run forever; energy is produced out of thin air. But, in an open system, open to the flow of energy and matter, a given structure can be maintained and kept moving. Kind of like keeping a pencil on its tip, life keeps patterns going by means of feedback loops. There's two types of feedback loops - positive and negative. Positive feedback is like sending the output back into the loop that generated that output signal. This generaly results in an exponential growth and a blown up speaker. Negative feedback loops are like a thermometer that one can set at a given temperature, and the electronic circuit either turns on or off depending on whether the temperature is higher than a given temperature or lower. Notice, mammallian life generaly has an ability to keep the body at a certain livable temperature.
In chaos theory, unstable states are held stable by one or more negative feedback loops. Chaos theory can keep heat engines at greater efficiencies.
I and many chaos have this idea in the back of our heads that chaos in the brain is what allows us our free will thought, our creativity and the creativity of life. Our flexibility that you don't see in general human industrial machines.
I've probably taken on more than I can chew at one time; but, I hope I've made the idea of chaos theory solving the second law of thermodynamics puzzle to how life prospers on earth . . . plausible.
I'd like to end by pointing out that chaos theory has been developed technologicaly. They can use chaos, or they can go from a chaotic state to any number of the systems possible stable behaviors in any medium - chemical, mechanical, lasers, and electronic circuits. I've seen it used in nuclear fusion experiments, and for the electric circuits in today's electron microscopes utilising the latest inverse refractive optics. Electron microscopes have always been the twentieth centuries underrated technology.
Also, chaos theory does not mean the end of the mathematical description of nature. Chaos theory is as much an abstraction as the number two. A strange attractor, whether in chemical, mechanical, electronic systems, are abstractions also.