Entropy – The Forgotten Universal Principle

A part of our roof becoming detached in a storm last week, and the crashing to the ground of concrete supporting the roof structures, reminded me of the principal of entropy which has been in my mind recently for different reasons. There are a number of definitions of entropy, but the one I am referring to is that entropy is the measure or description of the inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society. A number of tangible examples of entropy occur in our daily life, for example a house that is not lived in gradually disintegrates, our bodies if not exercised regularly function increasingly less optimally , and indeed an arm immobilised in plaster cast for a too long period withers and the immobilised muscle and other body tissues eventually dies. It can also be found in social systems, for example political parties which stay in power too long become inefficient and corrupt, businesses if maintained too long with a certain way of doing their core work eventually become outdated and redundant, social networks break down without maintenance and injected individual energy, and personal relationships wither and die if an individual does not pay them enough attention.

The reason or reasons why entropy exists or what its teleological purpose is not immediately clear, but what is self-evident that all systems or societies need injected energy and planned attention in order to be not only enhanced, but even maintained, in order to resist the underlying ‘force’ of entropy breaking it down. For those in any sphere of life who are resistant to change, or don’t make regular, if not constant effort to change their current life environment, should perhaps take note of this basic, often forgotten principle. The evidence of its actions are all around us, and the only mystery is why it is so unacknowledged, in contrast to its partner universal principles, evolution and homeostasis, in so many folk who it acts on and has the potential to damage in a continual way.

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About Alan (Zig) St Clair Gibson

Professor Alan (Zig) St Clair Gibson MBChB PhD MD - Deputy Dean (Research), Faculty of Science and Health, University of Essex, Colchester, United Kingdom View all posts by Alan (Zig) St Clair Gibson

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