Thermodynamics Essay, Research Paper
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
The Second Law of Thermodynamics has several variations. One version says that
some heat is always wasted when converting heat into mechanical energy. In other words
all heat can not be completely converted into mechanical energy. Another states that heat
normally flows from high to low temperatures. So why do hot cups cool off, well the
answer lies in the fact that the universe is expanding. Say the universe started off infinitely
small and infinitely dense, then expanded at an exponential rate as fluctuations in density
increased, eventually forming galaxies. This explanation of the universe would explain the
existence of the thermodynamic arrow of time. Because the universe is expanding,
disorder is increasing. It can t be stopped. No one and nothing is powerful enough to
break the laws of thermodynamics. Albert Einstein once said, Thermodynamics is the
only physical theory of general nature of which I am convinced that it will never be
overthrown. If you want to know what s going on in the physical world, you simply
have to look at the heat.
To understand the forward flow of time, suppose that God decided that the
universe should finish in a state of high order but that it didn t matter what state it started
in. This would mean that disorder would increase with time. One could observe a broken
bottle gathering itself together on the floor and jumping back up onto the table. Such
beings would have a psychological arrow of time that is backward. This means that I
could take a warm Pepsi, set it on the counter and the colder particles in the room would
become closer together and surround the bottle thus cooling the Pepsi. This makes the
second law of thermodynamics questionable. Disorder increases with time because we
measure time in the direction in which disorder increases.
Why don t we see broken things gathering themselves together, or food being put
back together after we have just eaten it? Taking into consideration the two universal
metaphysical beliefs concerning irreversibility and time, it is assumed that there must exist
at least one physical process that is truly irreversible. Once the process is found, it will
either be responsible for the moving forward of time or it will lead us to the physical
process which really is. What is a necessary condition to define irreversible, is that nature
has to have such a preference for a final state that the reverse process becomes
meaningless. Time moves forward and heat dissipates in the universe.
The laws of science do not distinguish between the forward and backward
directions of time, it is the arrows of time that distinguish the past from the future. The big
bang theory of the universe says that the universe started off in a smooth and ordered state
which began to expand or become disordered. The strong thermodynamic arrow of the
expanding universe is necessary for the existence of intelligent beings. For example, in
order to live, people have to eat food, which is an ordered form of energy, and convert it
into heat, which is a disordered form of energy. So it is tough to tell whether time is
infinite or not. It all depends on the future of the universe. As long as the universe
continues to expand, time will move forward. If the universe were to contract in the future
time would run in reverse.
After all of these thoughts, looking at the second law in terms of words like
probability and tendency are becoming increasingly accepted. To the common man those
makes sense that there is a greater chance for the Pepsi to stay warm or the food to stay in
my stomach but for those imaginative scientist, there are those slight probabilities that the
reverse could happen.
In conclusion, Thermodynamics although it has is skepticism and many interpreted
meanings turns out to be one of the strongest discoveries to science known today. If
things have the slight probabilities to go in reverse, although they have a tendency to go
towards disorder, and move towards order then the universe would began to go back in
time. This as we know it might be the end of human or for that matter life all together to
stop. Reversed time can not support life. So when you see the glass be put back together
and lifted onto the table next to you after you have just knocked it off, you know what is
about to happen.
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