Low entropy

In human thermodynamics, low entropy is a hugely misused term referring loosely to a number of different things, such as: fossil fuel (material entropy), ordered states, ordered thinking (mental entropy), high efficiency, sunlight, plants, food, etc. In one sense, through the principle of elementary disorder, low entropy is often seen as synonymous with order.

In 1944, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger famous argued that life is something that “lfeeds on negative entropy”.

In 1971, Romanian mathematician Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, in his The Entropy Law and the Economic Process, reinterpreted Schrodinger's idiom into the following form: [1]

Life does not feed on mere matter and mere energy but—as Schrodinger aptly explained—on low entropy.”

Other example usages, some possibly Schrodinger or Georgescu-Roegen independent, include:

Open thermodynamic systems—like a building or a living being—require a supply of low entropy for maintenance.”
Luis Fernandez-Galiano (1982) [2]

“Enjoyment of life increases as we go from low entropy (boring, predictable) to high energy (exciting, unpredictable). In theory, low entropy means high efficiency. We could say that coal and oil are low entropy.”
Robert Handscombe and Eann Patterson (2004) [3]

“Life needs a low entropy resource – photosynthesis – to survive and reproduce.”
John Schmitz (2007) [4]

“The deeper sanctions of U.S., Japanese, Chinese,and European governance are perfectly aware of the long-long run demand to capture low entropy in outer space,and they keep a close eye on each other’s Mars activities.”
Peter Pogany (2009) [5]

(add discussion)

The term “low entropy”, in short, is something, in thermodynamics, that has become lost in translation, since its original formulation by German physicist Rudolf Clausius in 1865, as heat leaving or entering a body divided by the absolute temperature at the boundary:

S = \frac{Q}{T} \,

In this sense, low entropy is like saying “low heat”, which is nonsensical.

See also
Anti-entropy difficulties
Low entropy state

1. (a) Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas. (1966). Analytical Economics: Issues and Problems (pg. 82). Harvard University Press.
(b) Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas. (1971). The Entropy Law and the Economic Process (pg. 192). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
2. Fernández-Galiano, Luis and Carino, Gina (translator) (2000). Fire and Memory: On Architecture and Energy. MIT Press (written: 1982).
3. Handscomebe, Robert D. and Patterson, Eann A. (2004). The Entropy Vector: Connecting Business and Science (low entropy, pgs. 29, 43, 51, etc.). World Scientific.
4. Schmitz, John E.J. (2007). The Second Law of Life: Energy, Technology, and the Future of Earth as We Know It. William Andrew Publishing.
5. Email comment from Peter Pogany to Libb Thims (29 Sep 09).

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