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Defining Entropy

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Posted by Alan on March 22, 2002 09:48:02 UTC

Richard Feynman gives the best analogy:

Imagine you have been swimming. You pick up a towel to dry yourself, but the towel is wet. You try other towels but they are all wet. To start with, some of them are more wet than you and some are less wet.

Eventually the wetness gets evenly distributed around you and the towels, so the share of wetness is now evenly spread around and you cannot get any drier.

Similarly, energy can get evenly spread around such that it is not available to do work anymore.

Entropy is a measure of the even-spread of energy, the "disorder" of having it all spread about evenly.

It also corresponds to "area" somehow in Stephen Hawking's analysis of blackholes.

In the mind of a Chess player; there is an analogy to this. A particular game-plan may be achieved by a variety of move-sequences. But at some stage in the game that plan may disintegrate, as the various moves have all got "spread about" other game-plans that distracted him along the way.



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