Jay Labinger

Jay LabingerIn hmolscience, Jay Alan Labinger (c.1946-) is an American organometallic chemist noted—in literature thermodynamics—for his 1995 Society for Literature and Science presentation “Metaphoric Usage of the Second Law: Entropy as Time's (double-headed) Arrow in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia”, on the thermodynamics of English playwright Tom Stoppard’s 1993 play Arcadia, and—in literature chemistry—for his 2010 The Routledge Companion to Literature and Science section on “Chemistry”, discussing founding works such as German polymath Johann Goethe's 1809 Elective Affinities up to modern commentators such as Roald Hoffmann. [1]

Literature & Science | Two cultures

See also: Two cultures department; Literature and Chemistry: Elective Affinities
Into the early 1990s, Labinger began to become increasingly interested or “distracted”, as he puts it, in the literary, historical, and cultural aspects of science. In 1995, for instance, he organized a “Society for Literature & Society Conference”. Labinger has also written a number of articles on the divided two cultures issue, particularly, it seems, in regards to the problem of “compartmentalization”, frictional heat (see: social heat) generated between the two groups, and the lack of interest in practicing scientists to venture into the humanities. [2]

In 2001, Labinger contributed three articles to and was a co-editor of the 2001 book The One Culture? A Conversation about Science, the abstract of which is: [3]

“So far the "Science Wars" have generated far more heat than light. Combatants from one or the other of what C.P. Snow famously called "the two cultures" (science versus the arts and humanities) have launched bitter attacks but have seldom engaged in constructive dialogue about the central issues. In The One Culture?, Jay A. Labinger and Harry Collins have gathered together some of the world's foremost scientists and sociologists of science to exchange opinions and ideas rather than insults. The contributors find surprising areas of broad agreement in a genuine conversation about science, its legitimacy and authority as a means of understanding the world, and whether science studies undermines the practice and findings of science and scientists.”

(add discussion)

Quotes | Employed
The following are note quotes employed:

“The second law in its objective-physical form (freed from all anthropomorphism) refers to certain mean values which are found from a great number of like and ‘chaotic’ elements. This law has no independent significance, for its roots go down deep into the theory of probabilities. It is therefore conceivable that it is applicable to some purely human and animate events as well as to inanimate, natural events, provided the variable elements present constitute adequate haphazard for the calculus of probabilities.”
Joseph Klein (1910), The Physical Significance of Entropy [6]

“[He] found in entropy or the measure of disorganization for a closed system an adequate metaphor to apply to certain phenomena in his own world. He saw, for example, the younger generation responding to Madison Avenue with the same spleen his own had once reserved for Wall Street: and in American ‘consumerism’ discovered a similar tendency from the least to the most probable, from differentiation to sameness, from ordered individuality to a kind of chaos. He found himself, in short, restating Gibbs' prediction in social terms, and envisioned a heat-death for his culture in which ideas, like heat-energy, would no longer be transferred, since each point in it would ultimately have the same quantity of energy; and intellectual motion would, accordingly, cease.”
Thomas Pynchon (1960), “Entropy” [8]

“Although information theory is more compre­hensive than is statistical mechanics, this very comprehensiveness gives rise to objectionable consequences when it is applied in physics and chemistry. It remains true, nevertheless, that information theory can be of value in a heuristic sense. Notions about ‘loss of information’ can sometimes be intuitively useful. But they can also, like the comparable concept of ‘disorder’, give rise to mistakes. It needs to be kept in mind that thermodynamic entropy is fully objective and the same must apply to any other ‘entropy’ which is used as surrogate.”
Kenneth Denbigh and John Denbigh (1985), Entropy in Relation to Incomplete Knowledge; see: information entropy (quotes) [4]

“When time goes forward there is a role for chance, because small or random fluctuations near a bifurcation point can cause a system to take a different path than it otherwise would. But when time runs backwards along the same track it took before, every juncture point is already predetermined, and hence chance can play no farther part in the system's evolution.”
Katherine Hayles (1990), Chaos Bound: Orderly Disorder in Contemporary Literature and Science; paraphrase of Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers (Order Out of Chaos, 1984) [7]

Quotes
The following are noted Klein quotes:

“Just a quick search of a library's (University of California) holdings for titles with the word "entropy" turned up dozens of books on topics not explicitly con­cerned with thermodynamics, such as the environment, information theory, traffic patterns, etc. Also included are at least half a dozen works of fiction, as well as a score for a piece entitled ‘Entropy’ for woodwind trio (which, alas, I have not yet heard). To what extent do these various endeavors represent rigorous application of the second law, as opposed to approximate or even metaphoric usage? Nobody questions the rigorous applicability of the second law to heat engines. The inevitable ‘heat death’ of the universe, too, is little questioned. However, there is rather less immediate concern about the conclusion that we're all going to die in some billions of years than about the potential implications for the fate of man and society over a more relevant time scale. Are those implications rigorous? If not, are they nonetheless of value in the realms to which they are applied?”
— Jay Labinger (1995), “Metaphoric Usage of the Second Law” (pg. 31) [5]

“It has been noted that there are risks attendant upon imprecise usages, and the second law is no exception. Indeed, it gives us some prime examples, such as the creationists’ entropic argument against evolution or Jeremy Rifkin's appallingly neo-Luddite ‘new world view’, which misapplies the second law in about every way possible.”
Jay Labinger (1995), “Metaphoric Usage of the Second Law” (pg. 31) [5]

Joseph Klein’s [human applicability assertion] suggests that a minimum requirement for applicability of the second law is a sufficiently large number of elements—an Avogadro's number of people, perhaps? [see: social Avogadro number]—as well as hinting at issues such as free will versus random actions.”
— Jay Labinger (1995), “Metaphoric Usage of the Second Law” (pg. 32) [5]

Education
Labinger completed his BS in 1968 at Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA, and his PhD in 1974 with a dissertation on “Mechanistic Studies on the Oxidative Addition of Alkyl Halides to Low-valent Transition Metal Complexes” under John Osborn at Harvard University, after which he did postdoctoral work and instructorship at Princeton University with Jeffrey Schwartz. In 1986, he became the administrator of the Beckman Institute and a chemistry professor at Caltech. His research interests have concentrated in the area of organo-transition-metal chemistry and catalysis.

References
1. (a) Labinger, Jay A. (1995). “Metaphoric Usage of the Second Law: Entropy as Time's (double-headed) Arrow in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia”, Presented at Nov meeting of the Society for Literature and Science, Los Angeles; in: The Chemical Intelligencer, Oct. 31-36, 1996.
(b) Labinger, Jay. (2010). “§4: Chemistry” (pdf), in: The Routledge Companion to Literature and Science (editors: Bruce Clarke, Manuel Rossini) (pgs. 51-62). Routledge, Abingdon (UK); Taylor & Francis, 2011.
2. Labinger, Jay A. (1995). “Science as Culture: A View from the Petri Dish”, Social Studies of Science, 25:285-306.
3. Labinger, Jay A. and Collins, H. (2001). The One Culture? A Conversation about Science (§1: Awakening a Sleeping Giant?; §2: Split Personalities, or the Science Wars Within; §3: Let’s Not Get Too Agreeable) (pdf). University of Chicago Press.
4. (a) Denbigh, Kenneth and Denbigh, John S. (1985). Entropy in Relation to Incomplete Knowledge (abs) (pg. 117). Cambridge University Press.
(b) Labinger, Jay A. (1995). “Metaphoric Usage of the Second Law: Entropy as Time's (double-headed) Arrow in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia”, Presented at Nov meeting of the Society for Literature and Science, Los Angeles; in: The Chemical Intelligencer (pg. 32), Oct. 31-36, 1996.
5. Labinger, Jay A. (1995). “Metaphoric Usage of the Second Law: Entropy as Time's (double-headed) Arrow in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia”, Presented at Nov meeting of the Society for Literature and Science, Los Angeles; in: The Chemical Intelligencer (pg. 31), Oct. 31-36, 1996.
6. (a) Klein, Joseph F. (1910). Physical Significance of Entropy: or of the Second Law (humans, pg. 89-90). D. van Nostrand.
(b) Labinger, Jay A. (1995). “Metaphoric Usage of the Second Law: Entropy as Time's (double-headed) Arrow in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia”, Presented at Nov meeting of the Society for Literature and Science, Los Angeles; in: The Chemical Intelligencer (pg. 32), Oct. 31-36, 1996.
7. (a) Hayles, N. Katherine. (1990). Chaos Bound: Orderly Disorder in Contemporary Literature and Science (pg. 98-90). Cornell University Press.
(b) Labinger, Jay A. (1995). “Metaphoric Usage of the Second Law: Entropy as Time's (double-headed) Arrow in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia”, Presented at Nov meeting of the Society for Literature and Science, Los Angeles; in: The Chemical Intelligencer (pg. 34), Oct. 31-36, 1996.
8. (a) Pynchon, Thomas. (1960). “Entropy”, in: Slow Learner (pgs. 88-89). Little, Brown, 1984.
(b) “Entropy”, in: Slow Learner (pgs. 88-89). Little, Brown, 1984.

External links
Jay A. Labinger (faculty) – Caltech.
Labinger (non-technical articles) (pdfs) – BeckmanInstitute.Caltech.edu.
Labinger, Jay A. – WorldCat Identities.


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