“I’ll give you a hint,” Mr. Symons says, eying me eagerly. “Give us your thoughts on entropy.”
“Entropy? Well, entropy is the …” I pause and take a moment to collect my thoughts. “The existence of entropy is confirmed by the second law of thermodynamics, which was first formulated by Rudolf Clausius in the pre-Enlightenment year of 1850. It asserts that when two isolated systems … those in separate but nearby regions of space … are allowed to interact via some catalyst, they exchange both matter and energy until equilibrium is reached. The law asserts the system of lower entropy—that’s the one of higher stability—will always trend toward the system of higher entropy. That being the one of lower stability.”
“Go on,” says Mr. Symons, regarding me with great interest.
His face appears somewhat kinder now, and feeling assured by his low persuasive drawl, I continue.
“Well, entropy predicts order will give way to disorder, that control will always end in chaos. Mountains will be reduced to hills, hills will ultimately crumble into dunes, and dunes will be blown around as sand in the desert storms. The more organized a thing is, the quicker it will descend into disarray. Entropy also gives time its direction. It’s irreversible, always moving forward. Nothing in the universe violates this law. That’s it!”
There, well said. That seemed easy enough.
I breathe a little easier, satisfied at a job nicely done, and issue them with a cordial smile of self-congratulation.
Mr. Symons’ eyes narrow, all the kindness suddenly gone from his face. “Hmmm. Most interesting,” he says, his words hanging in the air long enough to chip away at my newfound confidence. Lingering long enough to instill an element of doubt in my thinking. And then— “Tell us about your research into … social entropy.”
Entropy by Michael McGinty