Entropy (arrow Of Time)
Entropy is the only quantity in the physical sciences (apart from certain rare interactions in particle physics; see below) that requires a particular direction for time, sometimes called an arrow of time. As one goes "forward" in time, the second law of thermodynamics says, the entropy of an isolated system will increase. Hence, from one perspective, entropy measurement is a way of distinguishing the past from the future. However in thermodynamic systems that are not closed, entropy can decrease with time: many systems, including living systems, reduce local entropy at the expense of an environmental increase, resulting in a net increase in entropy. Examples of such systems and phenomena include the formation of certain crystals, the workings of a refrigerator and living organisms.
By contrast, all physical processes occurring at the microscopic level, such as mechanics, do not pick out an arrow of time. Going forward in time, an atom might move to the left, whereas going backward in time the same atom might move to the right; the behavior of the atom is not qualitatively different in either case. In contrast, it would be an astronomically improbable event if a macroscopic amount of gas that originally filled a container evenly spontaneously shrunk to occupy only half the container.
Certain subatomic interactions involving the weak nuclear force violate the conservation of parity, but only very rarely. According to the CPT theorem, this means they should also be time irreversible, and so establish an arrow of time. This, however, is neither linked to the thermodynamic arrow of time, nor has anything to do with our daily experience of time irreversibility.
|Arrow of time: Why did the universe have such low entropy in the past, resulting in the distinction between past and future and the second law of thermodynamics?|
Read more about Entropy (arrow Of Time): Overview, An Example of Apparent Irreversibility, Mathematics of The Arrow, Maxwell's Demon, Correlations, The Arrow of Time in Various Phenomena, Current Research
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... Some processes which involve high energy particles and are governed by the weak force (such as K-meson decay) defy the symmetry between time directions ... However, all known physical processes do preserve a more complicated symmetry (CPT symmetry), and are therefore unrelated to the second law of thermodynamics, or to our day-to-day experience of the arrow of time ...
Famous quotes containing the word entropy:
“Just as the constant increase of entropy is the basic law of the universe, so it is the basic law of life to be ever more highly structured and to struggle against entropy.”
—Václav Havel (b. 1936)