In science, ectropy is an entropy antonym, conceptualized by some as a synonym or derivative of negative entropy or negentropy, loosely defined as the effect of ordering or a hypothetical organizing force. [1] The term was coined in 1910 by German physicist Felix Auerbach. [2] In modern terms, ectropy has come to be defined as the ability of living systems to use the environmental substances, rich in easily released energy, to maintain a given level of entropy and even to lower it. [3] In mathematical thermodynamics, ectropy has come to be defined as a measure of the tendency of large-scale dynamical systems to do useful work and grow more organized. [4]

The seed of the term 'ectropy' originated in the 1900 book Entropie der Keimsysteme und erbliche Entlastung (Entropy of Germ Systems and Hereditary Discharge) by German writer Georg Hirth. [7]

French philosopher Henri Bergson used the term ectropy, in circa 1906, believing that life-phenomena were exceptions to “ectropy”, a kind of anti-entropy or chaos-to-order principle. [8]

Influenced by Hirth, in the 1910 book Ektropismus oder die physikalische Theorie des Lebens (Ectropy and Physical Theory of Life), German physicist Felix Auerbach is said to have coined the term, in a dominant sense, when he compared the entropy of inert matter to what he called the “ectropy” of living form, linking it to the evolution and development of life. [2]

The the English version of the term “ectropy” was first used in the 1947 Brussels symposium Problemes de Philosophie des Sciences (Problems of the Philosophy of Science) where, following a mention of Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger’s 1944 theory that metabolism is fundamentally neither an exchange of matter now of energy but of entropy, one of the group stated that “let us use the term ectropy for minus entropy”. [5] The term was soon used in a similar sense by many others in the years to follow.

In 1972, author Edward Haskell argued that the term ectropy was suggested by American philsopher Willard Quine in the 1969 Twenty-first Anniversary Symposium of the Council for Unified Research and Education. Specifically, Haskell stated that "this term was suggested by W. V. Quine in discussions following this symposium: Entropy, he pointed out, is Greek for turning in; the opposite term should therefore be the Greek for turning out, namely ectropy." [5] Likewise, in 2005, authors Haddad, Chellaboina, and Nersesov suggest that the word "ectropy" comes from the Greek word εκτροπη (εκ and τροπη) for outward transformation and that it is the literal antonym of entropy (εν and τροπη) signifying an inward transformation. [6]

See also
‚óŹ Anti-entropy difficulties

1. (a) National Academy of Sciences. (1959). Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information, (pgs. 1034, 1041), Vol. 1. National Research Council.
(b) Haskell, Edward F. (1972). Full Circle: The Moral Force of Unified Science, (pgs. 19, 44-45). Gordon and Breach.
(c) DePaul, Victoria C. (2008). Creating the Intrapreneur: The Search for Leadership Excellence, (pg. 84-85). Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists.
2. (a) Auerbach, Felix. (1910). Ektropismus oder die physikalische Theorie des Lebens (Ektropismus or physical theory of life), Liepzig, W. Englemann.

(b) McMenamin, Mark A. S. (2000). The Garden of Ediacara: Discovering the First Complex Life, (pg. 276). Columbia University Press.
3. Clark, Robert P. (2002). Global Awareness: Thinking Systematically About the World, (pg. 86). Rowman & Littlefield.
4. Problemes de Philosophie des Sciences (Premier Symposium--Bruxelles, 1947), (pg. 33) by S. I. Dockx, H. J. Pos, E. W. Beth, H. D. Dubarle, J. Daujat, F. Gonseth, P. Destouches-Fevrier, E. A. Milne, H. Dingle, J. L. Destouches, L. de Broglie, F. Fiala, D. H. Salman, L. Cuenot, A. Dalcq, R. Collin. (published in 1948 by Hermann).
5. (a) Haskell, Edward. (1972). "Generalization of the structure of Mendeleev's periodic table," In E. Haskell (Ed.), Full Circle: The Moral Force of Unified Science chapter 2, (pg. 83). New York: Gordon and Breach.
(b) Ectropy (definition) – Ectropic Software Project, Georgia Institute of Technology.
6. Haddad, Wassim, M., Chellaboina, VijaySekhar, and Nersesov, Sergey, G. (2005). Thermodynamics - a Dynamical Systems Approach. (pg. 13). Princeton: Princeton University Press.
7. (a) Hirth, George. (1900). Entropie der Keimsysteme und erbliche Entlastung (Entropy of Germ Systems and Hereditary Discharge). Munich: G. Hirth’s Verlag.
(b) Entropy – Dictionary of Ideas.
8. Kragh, Helge S. (2008). Entropy Creation: Religious Contexts of Thermodynamics and Cosmology (pg. 190). Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

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