Elihu Fein

photo neededIn hmolscience, Elihu Herman Fein (c.1916-c.1996) was an American physicist noted, in human thermodynamics, for his 1970 article “Demography and Thermodynamics”, wherein building on the earlier population potential work of John Q. Stewart and William Warntz, he outlines, what Daedalus refers to as, a "molecular sociology". [1]

Overview

In 1970, Fein, in his “Demography and Thermodynamics”, gave the following abstract: [2]

“The use of physics for demographic analyses is not a form of alchemy. A brief reflection on the use of abstract structures to organize knowledge suggests a commonness to both social and physical science. Population distribution is examined using the structure of thermodynamics.”

Fein, on this abstract, earlier 1958 population potential work of John Q. Stewart and William Warntz, first derives a social ideal gas law, implicitly treating people as gas molecules; then on Warntz' suggestion that per capita income may be used as a measure of social activity, defines the total "social energy" of a demographic area as the per capita income multiplied by the population of the group.

Then, in final section "Demographic States as Points on an Adiabatic", attempts to do a first law and second law based derivation of society, defining entropy as the "molecular order of a system", i.e. the measure of social order, entropy change as resulting from the flow of wealth into our out of a system; concepts such as "social temperature", during which he attempts to assert that some demographic regions can be "economically cold" (as compared to "economically hot"), examples of which he seems to give as the southern states, as being economically colder.

In 1971, New Scientist published a review article on Fein, entitled “Molecular Sociology Arrives at Last”, in which he explains how social activity is analogous to molecular activity; uses concepts such as adiabatic and entropy in social systems; but cautions his readers, in that although his analogies seem to have validity, he emphatically states that “the conclusion is not that people act like molecules”, but that the goal is to understand ourselves and the world through abstract concepts. [3]

Difficulties on theory
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Education
Fein completed his MS, with a thesis on “A Comparison of the Stopping Power of Lead, Aluminum, and Carbon for High Speed Mesotrons”, at the University of Chicago in 1946. [4] In 1970 was associated with the Northeast Utilities Service Company in Hartford, Connecticut.

References
1. (a) Fein, Elihu. (1970). “Demography and Thermodynamics” (abs), American Journal of Physics, 38: 1373-80.
(b) Staff. (1971). “Molecular Sociology Arrives at Last”, New Scientist, pg. 286. Feb 11.
2. Fein, Elihu. (1970). “Demography and Thermodynamics” (abs), American Journal of Physics, 38: 1373.
3. Staff. (1971). “Molecular Sociology Arrives at Last”, New Scientist, pg. 286. Feb 11.
4. Fein, Elihu. (1946). “A Comparison of the Stopping Power of Lead, Aluminum, and Carbon for High Speed Mesotrons” (abs), thesis/dissertation, University of Chicago, Department of Physics.

External links
‚óŹ Fein, Elihu – WorldCat Identities.

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