|The entropy species|
In November, 1956, Isaac Asimov published a short story entitled: "The Last Question" (HTML) (PDF).
On June 16, 1965 Bob Dylan recorded "Like A Rolling Stone" (video below) which was released in the album "Highway 61 Revisited," an album which also contained the song "Highway 61."
In 1934-1961 Arnold J. Toynbee wrote "A Study of History," which chronicled the dynamics of 19 "major" human civilizations through their "birth" and "death."
In January of 1845 Edgar Allan Poe published "The Raven," a narrative poem that touches upon the "birth" and "death" of the mysterious energy of romance, and some of its consequences.
All of those works, in one way or another, are concerned with the notion of entropy.
Entropy is a subject of physics as well as being a subject concerning the scope of the existence of human civilization, and even the scope of the existence of the current configuration of the universe itself.
In this post, today, I want to discuss some of the similarities in the concept of entropy, as they apply to our personal vision of ourselves. as well as some ways they apply to human civilization's vision of itself.
Since the title of today's post contains the word "BS," I will not neglect to include some of those notions along the way, so as to make an attempt to answer the question formed by the title.
It is About Dynamics of Energy
The concept of the laws of thermodynamics goes back in time to a point before the advent of quantum mechanics, so that "law" has had to have epigenetic evolutionary change over that span of time.
Nevertheless, some "old timey" science still adheres to some of it (If Cosmology Is "Off," How Can Biology Be "On?").
One way of looking at the concept of entropy is the "birth" and "death" of "useful energy" (compare Big Bang with Heat Death of the Universe).
Everything in between is a matter of the dynamics of entropy (in fact, the Big Bang itself could have been an entropic event).
Entropy of Energy
Oil Is Not Energy
BS is rife and epidemic in U.S. culture to the point that we have a right to BS as a matter of law (It Takes A Culture To Raise A Compulsive Liar).
That includes Oil-Qaeda sponsored lies about no entropy, i.e. never running out of poison crude oil, even on our finite planet with finite resources (The Peak of The Oil Lies - 6).
Nevertheless, Oil-Qaeda will get to "Nevermore" one way or another.
Energy is Not Endless-Energy
Which leads to the notion of renewable, clean, and yes, endless energy (no entropy).
One of the laws of thermodynamics has to do with a perpetual motion machine, which is a myth and an illegality.
But with BS, perpetuity itself is also very difficult to grasp as a myth.
Unless one grasps that a perpetual motion machine is a mythical machine that creates new, previously non-existent energy in order to re-power itself.
Some scientists took a look at entropy and saw easily that poison crude oil was limited, i.e. while there is enough of it to kill us all, there is not enough to keep us going forever.
So they naturally looked elsewhere for perpetuity.
One of those scientists was Freeman Dyson, who came up with a hypothesis that advanced civilizations would develop what is now called a "Dyson Grid" or a "Dyson Sphere" (Mystery Bubble - Signal, Grid, or What?, Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 40).
Such a grid or sphere is a system which is designed to harness the energy of the sun / star at the center of a solar system.
This is what "The Last Question" (by Asimov) details, in the sense that they tapped the solar energy of their sun.
To do so they used vast computer controlled systems placed in space:
For decades, Multivac had helped design the ships and plot the trajectories that enabled man to reach the Moon, Mars, and Venus, but past that, Earth's poor resources could not support the ships. Too much energy was needed for the long trips. Earth exploited its coal and uranium with increasing efficiency, but there was only so much of both.(ibid, link in first sentence of this post). I won't spoil it for you, so read it all, because it is quite interesting.
But slowly Multivac learned enough to answer deeper questions more fundamentally, and on May 14, 2061, what had been theory, became fact.
The energy of the sun was stored, converted, and utilized directly on a planet-wide scale. All Earth turned off its burning coal, its fissioning uranium, and flipped the switch that connected all of it to a small station, one mile in diameter, circling the Earth at half the distance of the Moon. All Earth ran by invisible beams of sunpower.
Entropy of Civilizations
This brings up the work of a once-very-popular historian, as I mentioned in the Introduction, who made this observation:
"In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown."(A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee). This is the type of entropy that is not a matter of pure physics.
It is, rather, something within the province of the realm known as social decay (A Decline Of The American Republic).
A type of decay which Freud attributed to group dynamics, and a psychology that was in need of still non-existent therapy (Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch).
Entropy of The Cosmos
There was once an accepted theory called the oscillating universe theory which is no longer favored, however, a hybrid version has now been advanced with a similar result in mind.
The scientists who have advanced it describe hypotheses which ostensibly argue that the universe is perpetual (Autopoiesis: It's Not Just For Machines Anymore).
However, the predominant theory now is still:
The heat death of the universe is a historically suggested ultimate fate of the universe in which the universe has diminished to a state of no thermodynamic free energy and therefore can no longer sustain processes that consume energy (including computation and life). Heat death does not imply any particular absolute temperature; it only requires that temperature differences or other processes may no longer be exploited to perform work. In the language of physics, this is when the universe reaches thermodynamic equilibrium (maximum entropy).(Heat Death of the Universe, links & formatting removed). This is an old back and forth debate in science.
Entropy of BS
A new paradigm in science is that the universe is mostly composed of abiotic matter, which takes the form of molecular machines (The New Paradigm: The Physical Universe Is Mostly Machine).
Therefore, it is subject to the laws of thermodynamics.
Nevertheless, some of us seem to be heading toward the Supreme BS Court in order to get the Cosmic Justices there to overturn the laws of thermodynamics.
The strategy is to thereby make everything immortal (like Oil-Qaeda did with oil through BS).
BTW, that is where everything ended up in the answer to "The Last Question" in Asimov's fiction (the same temperature).
As to Bob Dylan and Edgar Allan Poe, my take on their work, alluded to in the Introduction, is that "nevermore" and "like a rolling stone" are just artful ways of describing "entropy" (down hill until rolling nevermore).
As for BS, its users will have to pass The Test too.
50 Yr, Anniversary of "Like A Rolling Stone"
Like A Rolling Stone, by Bob Dylan, lyrics here.