Thursday, July 01, 2010

Entropic Chaos Factor

The title of this post is a description of Lisbeth Salander, one of the principal characters in Stieg Larsson's "Millennium Trilogy" and it's ascribed to her in the book by her sometimes lover, Mimmi Wu.

The series started with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo though the "entropic chaos factor" description occurred in the second volume The Girl Who Played with Fire. The girl referred to in both titles is Salander.

But back to the entropic chaos factor description. It's a phrase that just plays havoc in the mind. At least my middle aged male mind. But let's examine the individual words a moment. In common language chaos and entropy are often interchanged as if the meanings are the same. For example a party might be described as chaotic because there seems to be little order exhibited there. In science jargon this would not be accurate though. What's really meant is that the party exhibits a high level of entropy.

Entropy is a tendency for closed systems to lose order. To put it another way, in the absence of energy supplied from outside, systems always become more random. This is the basis for the second law of thermodynamics which states that in general the total entropy of any system will not decrease other than by increasing the entropy of some other system.

The confusion results from people often believing that chaos means random. And I suppose it does in common conversation but when you use a short string of words like "entropic chaos factor" it just seems like you're defaulting to the specialized language of science. Or something like that.

3 comments:

srp said...

Entropy is so NOT what is on my mind today... the breeze and the cool and the promise of a night temperature of 57 degrees has my mind in a whirl. It will be over by Sunday so I am enjoying it while I can.

PS: Played with the little frog... does he not sing for his supper?

magz said...

Well gol-dang golly G, I'm plum tickled to find mah ole pal still bloggin... and still lovin werdz.
(The Magz has Returned: a bit battered and very very rusty, but thrilled to get my very 1st hi-speed connection done here at the same ole farm.
Big grins to you!

I have a lot to catch up on in here.

kenju said...

Have you read the trilogy? I am about to start the first in the series.