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Saturday, September 25, 2010

What the Second Law Does Not Say

This post is part of a series, Nonsense and the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

The Second Law does not say it is impossible for heat to be transferred from a cold body to a hot body.  The second law does not say that "disorder" must increase on the earth or anywhere else.  Life is not a counter-example to the second law; life is an example of the second law in action.

One has to be very careful about applying statistical results to a single molecule or a few molecules and remembering that increasing entropy applies to irreversible changes, not reversible ones. The second law says nothing about disorder. The second law does not prevent evaporative coolers from operating.

The second law does not contradict radiative transfer theory or global warming. The second law does not contradict conservation of energy.  In applying the second law to  cosmology, one should tread cautiously.

Subsequent posts in this series elucidate what the second actually does say and how it is misinterpreted. The next post in this series is entitled What the Second Law Does Say.

  1. Introduction
  2. What the Second Law Does Not Say
  3. What the Second Law Does Say
  4. Entropy is Not a Measure of Disorder
  5. Reversible Processes
  6. The Carnot Cycle
  7. The Definition of Entropy
  8. Perpetual Motion
  9. The Hydrogen Economy
  10. Heat Can Be Transferred From a Cold Body to a Hot Body: The Air Conditioner
  11. The Second Law and Swamp Coolers
  12. Entropy and Statistical Thermodynamics
  13. Fluctuations
  14. Partition Functions
  15. Entropy and Information Theory
  16. The Second Law and Creationism
  17. Entropy as Religious, Spiritual, or Self-Help Metaphor
  18. Free Energy
  19. Spontaneous Change and Equilibrium
  20. The Second Law, Radiative Transfer, and Global Warming
  21. The Second Law, Microscopic Reversibility, and Small Systems
  22. The Arrow of Time
  23. The Heat Death of the Universe
  24. Gravity and Entropy
  25. The Second Law and Nietzsche's Eternal Recurrence
  26. Conclusion


David Pierce said...

"The second law does contradict radiative transfer theory or global warming." Are you missing "not"?

Rich said...


Libb Thims said...

The second law has a great deal to day about disorder. In fact the entire field of quantum mechanics is based on this premise. Visit the eoht wiki to learn more.

Rich said...

I disagree with that comment. Entropy is not disorder. QM is really not based on such a premise. It is more based on Dirac's quantum condition. I am not sure if you are trolling or are serious. Please see: