The Macroscopic Openness Connections To Thermodynamics

Although there is possibly a connection between thermodynamic (Chapter 2) and ontic openness, the relation between the two is definitely non-trivial and attempts to distinguish the two will therefore not be included here.

An energy flow can lead to organization (decrease in entropy, e.g., photosynthesis) or destruction (increase in entropy, e.g., a cannon ball, respiration). The same quantity of energy can destroy a wall or kill a man; obviously the loss of information and negentropy is much greater in the second case. Energy and information are never equivalent as demonstrated for instance through Brillouin's refusal of Maxwell's Demon.

The classical example of the mixing of gases in an isolated system shows us that there can be an increase in entropy without energy input from outside. The point is that energy (E ) and entropy (S ) are both state functions in classical thermodynamics, but energy is intrinsically reversible whereas entropy is not. Entropy has the broken time symmetry (Blum, 1951). In other words, entropy has an energy term plus a time term that energy does not have. Herein lies the physical connection to the concept of exergy dealt with in Chapters 2 and 6.

Energy and mass are conservative quantities, thus it follows that total energy and mass cannot change with time. They may transform to other types of energy and mass but the overall quantities remain the same that is they are reversible. Entropy has an intrinsic temporal parameter. Energy obeys spatial and material constraints; entropy obeys spatial, material, and temporal constraints.

If history and the succession of events are of scientific relevance, the concept of a state function should be revised at a higher level of complexity. The singularity of an event also becomes of particular importance: if a certain quantity of energy is spent to kill a caterpillar, at the same time we lose the information embodied in the caterpillar. But were this the last caterpillar, we could lose its unique genetic information forever. The last caterpillar is different from the nth caterpillar.

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