Sciency Words: Entropy

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Science fiction uses scientific language as a form of artistic expression.  With that in mind, today’s post is part of a new series here on Planet Pailly called Sciency Words.  Every Friday, I’ll bring you a new and interesting scientific word to help us all expand our scientific vocabulary.  Today’s word is:


Entropy: (noun) A measurement of the amount of disorder in a mechanical system.  This word comes to us courtesy of the second law of thermodynamics, which tells us that the entropy of any closed system will always increase.

Entropy is a term just begging to be used in art or literature.  It has so much potential in our post-modern world.  Imagine talking about the entropy of society or of the modern family or of the American political system.  In a million different ways, the world seems to be increasingly disordered, and as thermodynamics predicts the trend doesn’t seem reversible.

But the second law of thermodynamics is not as absolute as it sounds.  There is a chance—a very, very small chance—that entropy can spontaneously decrease.  So perhaps it can also be said, no matter how entropic our world may appear, that there is always a little bit of hope.

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Did you already know this word?  If so, please share another sciency word in the comments below.  That way, we can all keep expanding our sciency vocabularies together!

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