Entropy Life Quotes

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There are two ways to look at life. The first view is that nothing stays the same and that nothing is inherently connected, and that the only driving force in anyone's life is entropy. The second is that everything pretty much stays the same (more or less) and that everything is completely connected, even if we don't realize it.
Chuck Klosterman (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto)
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
Life is a useless passion, an exciting journey of a mammal in survival mode. Each day is a miracle, a blessing unexplored and the more you immerse yourself in light, the less you will feel the darkness. There is more to life than nothingness. And cynicism. And nihilism. And selfishness. And glorious isolation. Be selfish with yourself, but live your life through your immortal acts, acts that engrain your legacy onto humanity. Transcend your fears and follow yourself into the void instead of letting yourself get eaten up by entropy and decay. Freedom is being yourself without permission. Be soft and leave a lasting impression on everybody you meet
Mohadesa Najumi
I'm just so tired of life being something that happens to me. That's not how it's supposed to work. I'm supposed to make my own life.
Joshua Edward Smith (Duality (Entropy, #2))
You believe in entropy, which postulates that all phenomena tend to sink to lower levels of organization and energy, and in evolution, which postulates that the history of life has been just the opposite. People like you credit both theories. It’s de rigueur. Is that reason rational? I say, f*ck off.
Mark Helprin (A Soldier of the Great War)
Those swirls in the cream mixing into the coffee? That’s us. Ephemeral patterns of complexity, riding a wave of increasing entropy from simple beginnings to a simple end. We should enjoy the ride.
Sean Carroll (The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself)
We exist with or without God. We are the inevitable result of entropy. Life is not the point of the universe. Life is simply what the universe creates and reproduces in order to dissipate energy.
Dan Brown (Origin (Robert Langdon, #5))
The universe seeks equilibriums; it prefers to disperse energy, disrupt organization, and maximize chaos. Life is designed to combat these forces. We slow down reactions, concentrate matter, and organize chemicals into compartments; we sort laundry on Wednesdays. "It sometimes seems as if curbing entropy is our quixotic purpose in the universe," James Gleick wrote. We live in the loopholes of natural laws, seeking extensions, exceptions and excuses. The laws of nature still mark the outer boundaries of permissibility - but life, in all its idiosyncratic, mad weirdness, flourishes by reading between the lines.
Siddhartha Mukherjee (The Gene: An Intimate History)
THOMASINA: ....the enemy who burned the great library of Alexandria without so much as a fine for all that is overdue. Oh, Septimus! -- can you bear it? All the lost plays of the Athenians! Two hundred at least by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides -- thousands of poems -- Aristotle's own library!....How can we sleep for grief? SEPTIMUS: By counting our stock. Seven plays from Aeschylus, seven from Sophocles, nineteen from Euripides, my lady! You should no more grieve for the rest than for a buckle lost from your first shoe, or for your lesson book which will be lost when you are old. We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again. You do not suppose, my lady, that if all of Archimedes had been hiding in the great library of Alexandria, we would be at a loss for a corkscrew?
Tom Stoppard (Arcadia)
Some say Karma is a bitch. It all comes back to you, eventually. If this world can be boiled down to two truths. It would be the second law of thermodynamics (entropy) and the law of action and reaction (Karma). Well, if Karma really makes up the fabric of this Universe, if it is really a bitch, then prove it in this life itself! Why wait for reincarnation? Do you think I would be me once I die and transition to another body? No! What makes me, me, are my memories.
Abhaidev (The World's Most Frustrated Man)
The Second Law of Thermodynamics defines the ultimate purpose of life, mind, and human striving: to deploy energy and information to fight back the tide of entropy and carve out refuges of beneficial order. An underappreciation of the inherent tendency toward disorder, and a failure to appreciate the precious niches of order we carve out, are a major source of human folly.
Steven Pinker
The history of life is written in terms of negative entropy.
James Gleick (The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood)
As it often did when I thought about chicken wings and entropy, my mind turned to Emerson. "Life is a journey, not a destination." Now that was one stone-cold motherfucker who was not afraid to deliver the truth: After the torments of the journey, you have been well-prepared for the agonies of the destination.
Colson Whitehead (The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death)
For Werner, doubts turn up regularly. Racial purity, political purity—Bastian speaks to a horror of any sort of corruption, and yet, Werner wonders in the dead of night, isn’t life a kind of corruption? A child is born, and the world sets in upon it. Taking things from it, stuffing things into it. Each bite of food, each particle of light entering the eye—the body can never be pure. But this is what the commandant insists upon, why the Reich measures their noses, clocks their hair color. The entropy of a closed system never decreases.
Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See)
entropy taken with a negative sign’, which by the way is not my invention. It happens to be precisely the thing on which Boltzmann’s original argument turned.
Erwin Schrödinger (What is Life? (Canto Classics))
Life is complex, and entropy is real.
Kim Stanley Robinson (Aurora)
Humans are organisms, subject to physical laws, including, alas, the one that says entropy always increases.
Paul Kalanithi (When Breath Becomes Air)
Even now, an immigrant is an extreme person. No matter how bad circumstances are in your native country, regardless of the death threat, complacency and entropy means most people will stay put amid famine and genocide. Anyone who crosses deserts and mountains and oceans and borders because life means more to him than stillness is brave. Never disrespect an immigrant. The brilliance of America is the constant regeneration of this daring population. And it is how this country started. And keeps renewing.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Creatocracy: How the Constitution Invented Hollywood)
Humans are organisms, subject to physical laws, including alas, the one that says entropy always increases. Diseases are molecules misbehaving; the basic requirement of life is metabolism, and death its cessation.
Paul Kalanithi (When Breath Becomes Air)
Would I be happy if I discovered that I could go to heaven forever? And the answer is no. Consider this argument. Think about what is forever. And think about the fact that the human mind, the entire human being, is built to last a certain period of time. Our programmed hormonal systems, the way we learn, the way we settle upon beliefs, and the way we love are all temporary. Because we go through a life's cycle. Now, if we were to be plucked out at the age of 12 or 56 or whenever, and taken up and told, "Now you will continue your existence as you are. We're not going to blot out your memories. We're not going to diminish your desires." You will exist in a state of bliss - whatever that is - forever. [...] Now think, a trillion times a trillion years. Enough time for universes like this one to be born, explode, form countless star systems and planets, then fade away to entropy. You will sit there watching this happen millions and millions of times and that will be just the beginning of the eternity that you've been consigned to bliss in this existence.
Edward O. Wilson
Entropy was a troubling and beautiful concept that lay at the heart of much human toil and sorrow. Everything, especially life, fell apart. Order was a boulder to be rolled uphill. The kitchen would not tidy itself.
Ian McEwan (Lessons)
What then is that precious something contained in our food which keeps us from death? That is easily answered. Every process, event, happening – call it what you will; in a word, everything that is going on in Nature means an increase of the entropy of the part of the world where it is going on. Thus a living organism continually increases its entropy – or, as you may say, produces positive entropy – and thus tends to approach the dangerous state of maximum entropy, which is death. It can only keep aloof from it, i.e. alive, by continually drawing from its environment negative entropy – which is something very positive as we shall immediately see. What an organism feeds upon is negative entropy. Or, to put it less paradoxically, the essential thing in metabolism is that the organism succeeds in freeing itself from all the entropy it cannot help producing while alive.
Erwin Schrödinger (What is Life? (Canto Classics))
History shows that people are as changeable as rivers.
Andrés Neuman (Traveler of the Century)
Though I felt dissatisfied, at least I felt like somebody, a person, rather than a thing exemplifying the second law of thermodynamics (all order tends toward entropy, decay, etc.).
Paul Kalanithi
All that complex machinery that protects us from freezing and starving and dying from lack of water tends unceasingly towards malfunction through entropy, and it is only the constant attention of careful people that keeps it working so unbelievably well. Some people degenerate into the hell of resentment and the hatred of Being, but most refuse to do so, despite their suffering and disappointments and losses and inadequacies and ugliness, and again that is a miracle for those with the eyes to see it.
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
If the functions of the body are left to atrophy, the quality of life becomes merely adequate, and for some even dismal. But if one takes control of what the body can do, and learns to impose order on physical sensations, entropy yields to a sense of enjoyable harmony in consciousness.
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience)
It makes sense that your response to a bad break-up line would be to set someone on fire," I responded. "Fire is magical to us because it embodies the passage of time. We can never grasp time because it is invisible, unreachable and continually slipping from our grasp. Do we live in the present? How can we? The present is infinitesimally small. It can't contain human action. We teeter on the brink between our assumed future...where we will be in moments to come...and our memory of the past...where we think we just were. The present doesn't exist in a comprehensible way. Similarly, fire is something we can neither grasp nor touch, yet it has a clear effect...the decay and collapse of life, the acceleration of entropy. Thus when we stand mesmerized by fire, we are actually mesmerized by our own mortality.
David David Katzman
What do we measure when we measure time? The gloomy answer from Hawking, one of our most implacably cheerful scientists, is that we measure entropy. We measure changes and those changes are all for the worse. We measure increasing disorder. Life is hard, says science, and constancy is the greatest of miracles.
David Quammen (Wild Thoughts from Wild Places)
The passage of time and the action of entropy bring about ever-greater complexity – a branching, blossoming tree of possibilities. Blossoming disorder (things getting worse), now unfolding within the constraints of the physics of our universe, creates novel opportunities for spontaneous ordered complexity to arise.
D.J. MacLennan (Frozen to Life: A Personal Mortality Experiment)
A permanent state is reached, in which no observable events occur. The physicist calls this the state of thermodynamical equilibrium, or of ‘maximum entropy’. Practically, a state of this kind is usually reached very rapidly. Theoretically, it is very often not yet an absolute equilibrium, not yet the true maximum of entropy. But then the final approach to equilibrium is very slow. It could take anything between hours, years, centuries,
Erwin Schrödinger (What is Life? (Canto Classics))
Hence the awkward expression ‘negative entropy’ can be replaced by a better one: entropy, taken with the negative sign, is itself a measure of order. Thus the device by which an organism maintains itself stationary at a fairly high level of orderliness ( = fairly low level of entropy) really consists in continually sucking orderliness from its environment.
Erwin Schrödinger (What is Life? (Canto Classics))
Von Neumann told Shannon to call his measure entropy, since "no one knows what entropy is, so in a debate you will always have the advantage.
Jeremy Campbell (Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language and Life)
An isolated system or a system in a uniform environment (which for the present consideration we do best to include as a part of the system we contemplate) increases its entropy and more or less rapidly approaches the inert state of maximum entropy. We now recognize this fundamental law of physics to be just the natural tendency of things to approach the chaotic state (the same tendency that the books of a library or the piles of papers and manuscripts on a writing desk display) unless we obviate it. (The analogue of irregular heat motion, in this case, is our handling those objects now and again without troubling to put them back in their proper places.)
Erwin Schrödinger (What is Life? (Canto Classics))
The universe is not a miracle. It simply is, unguided and unsustained, manifesting the patterns of nature with scrupulous regularity. Over billions of years it has evolved naturally, from a state of low entropy toward increasing complexity, and it will eventually wind down to a featureless equilibrium. We are the miracle, we human beings. Not a break-the-laws-of-physics kind of miracle; a miracle in that it is wondrous and amazing how such complex, aware, creative, caring creatures could have arisen in perfect accordance with those laws. Our lives are finite, unpredictable, and immeasurably precious. Our emergence has brought meaning and mattering into the world.
Sean Carroll (The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself)
a hallmark of a living system is that it maintains or reduces its entropy by increasing the entropy around it. In other words, the second law of thermodynamics has a life loophole: although the total entropy must increase, it’s allowed to decrease in some places as long as it increases even more elsewhere. So life maintains or increases its complexity by making its environment messier.
Max Tegmark (Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence)
He smiled and stood up. “Because that’s what life is. A constant climb. Eternal growth. The continual battle against entropy. It doesn’t matter what the destination is, or what’s at the top; all that matters is that you keep climbing. That’s what it means to be alive, Harold. That’s what it means to be human.
Nicholas Binge (Ascension)
As a student of business administration, I know that there is a law of evolution for organizations as stringent and inevitable as anything in life. The longer one exists, the more it grinds out restrictions that slow its own functions. It reaches entropy in a state of total narcissism. Only the people sufficiently far out in the field get anything done, and every time they do they are breaking half a dozen rules in the process.
Roger Zelazny (Doorways in the Sand)
Boltzmann’s equation is well illustrated by that example. The gradual ‘spreading out’ of the sugar over all the water available increases the disorder D), and hence (since the logarithm of D increases with D) the entropy.
Erwin Schrödinger (What is Life? (Canto Classics))
The way to grow while enjoying life is to create a higher form of order out of the entropy that is an inevitable condition of living. This means taking each new challenge not as something to be repressed or avoided, but as an opportunity for learning and for improving skills.
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (Flow: The Classic Work On How To Achieve Happiness: The Psychology of Happiness)
Life may be chemistry, but it's a special circumstance of chemistry. Organisms exist not because of reactions that are possible, but because of reactions that are barely possible. Too much reactivity and we would spontaneously combust. Too little, and we would turn cold and die. Proteins enable these barely possible reactions, allowing us to live on the edges of chemical entropy-skating perilously, but never falling in.
Siddhartha Mukherjee (The Gene: An Intimate History)
(At first, it seems as if the existence of complex life forms on Earth violates the second law. It seems remarkable that out of the chaos of the early Earth emerged an incredible diversity of intricate life forms, even harboring intelligence and consciousness, lowering the amount of entropy. Some have taken this miracle to imply the hand of a benevolent creator. But remember that life is driven by the natural laws of evolution, and that total entropy still increases, because additional energy fueling life is constantly being added by the Sun. If we include the Sun and Earth, then the total entropy still increases.)
Michio Kaku (Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos)
Energy was the ruling theme of Victorian science, as machines increasingly harnessed the forces of nature to do man's work. The concept is also present in the art and literature of the age, notably in the poems of William Blake. The Romantic movement was much interested in energy and its various transformations.
Jeremy Campbell (Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language and Life)
The macromolecules of organic life embody information in an intricate structure. A single hemoglobin molecule comprises four chains of polypeptides, two with 141 amino acids and two with 146, in strict linear sequence, bonded and folded together. Atoms of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and iron could mingle randomly for the lifetime of the universe and be no more likely to form hemoglobin than the proverbial chimpanzees to type the works of Shakespeare. Their genesis requires energy; they are built up from simpler, less patterned parts, and the law of entropy applies. For earthly life, the energy comes as photons from the sun. The information comes via evolution.
James Gleick (The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood)
One thing seems certain. Our galaxy is now in the brief springtime of its life—a springtime made glorious by such brilliant blue-white stars as Vega and Sirius, and, on a more humble scale, our own Sun. Not until all these have flamed through their incandescent youth, in a few fleeting billions of years, will the real history of the universe begin. It will be a history illuminated only by the reds and infrareds of dully glowing stars that would be almost invisible to our eyes; yet the sombre hues of that all-but-eternal universe may be full of colour and beauty to whatever strange beings have adapted to it. They will know that before them lie, not the millions of years in which we measure eras of geology, nor the billions of years which span the past lives of the stars, but years to be counted literally in the trillions. They will have time enough, in those endless aeons, to attempt all things, and to gather all knowledge. They will be like gods, because no gods imagined by our minds have ever possessed the powers they will command. But for all that, they may envy us, basking in the bright afterglow of creation; for we knew the universe when it was young.
Arthur C. Clarke
...all normal expectations went by the board and one’s daily habits were disrupted by a sense of ever-spreading all-consuming chaos which rendered the future unpredictable, the past unrecallable and ordinary life so haphazard that people simply assumed that whatever could be imagined might come to pass, that if there were only one door in a building it would no longer open, that wheat would grow head downwards into the earth not out of it, and that, since once could only note the symptoms of disintegration, the reasons for it remaining unfathomable and inconceivable, there was nothing anyone could do except to get a tenacious grip on anything that was still tangible…
László Krasznahorkai (The Melancholy of Resistance)
Because to exist meant making copies and copies of your own DNA with less and less accuracy with time, to lose the spring in your skin, to inhale a poisonous gas that both allowed your next breath and exploded you from the inside at an insidiously slow pace. To exist was to give way to entropy. To live, in no uncertain terms, was to die.
Leo X. Robertson (Jesus of Scumburg)
The nature of life prior to enlightenment was necessarily and irreparably a morass of injustice—the rule was as solidly inflexible as Tlschp's Law of the Balance of Entropy.
John Ringo (Sister Time (Legacy of the Aldenata Book 9))
According to Lamarck, there was a force—the ‘power of life’—that pushed organisms to become increasingly complex.
Elizabeth Kolbert (The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History)
Another way to describe the Second Law is in terms of entropy, the degree of disorder and randomness in a system. Any spontaneous process tends to increase the entropy of a system.
Walter Isaacson (Einstein: His Life and Universe)
Sometimes you gotta embrace the chaos in your life in order to find the peace in it, ya know?
E.R. Whyte (Entropy)
Erwin Schrödinger, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933, summed up the basis of life: “What an organism feeds upon is negative entropy” (negative entropy or negentropy = free energy).
Vaclav Smil (How the World Really Works: The Science Behind How We Got Here and Where We're Going)
People come and go, and even the closest members of the family eventually disperse. It’s useless to cling to anybody or anything because everything in the universe tends toward separation, chaos, and entropy, not cohesion. I have chosen a simpler life, with fewer material things and more leisure, fewer worries and more fun, fewer social commitments and more true friendship, less fuss and more silence.
Isabel Allende (The Soul of a Woman)
How would we express in terms of the statistical theory the marvellous faculty of a living organism, by which it delays the decay into thermodynamical equilibrium (death)? We said before: ‘It feeds upon negative entropy’, attracting, as it were, a stream of negative entropy upon itself, to compensate the entropy increase it produces by living and thus to maintain itself on a stationary and fairly low entropy level.
Erwin Schrödinger (What is Life? (Canto Classics))
Faith is always required. There are some things that cannot be proven. We believe that life is worth living. That is an article of faith. The purpose of life is to live, to resist death, perhaps to defy entropy.
George R.R. Martin (Dreamsongs. Volume I (Dreamsongs, #1))
Humans are organisms, subject to physical laws, including, alas, the one that says entropy always increases. Diseases are molecules misbehaving; the basic requirement of life is metabolism, and death its cessation.
Paul Kalanithi (When Breath Becomes Air)
What an organism feeds upon is negative entropy. Or, to put it less paradoxically, the essential thing in metabolism is that the organism succeeds in freeing itself from all the entropy it cannot help producing while alive.
Erwin Schrödinger (What is Life? (Canto Classics))
Pleasure is an important component of the quality of life, but by itself it does not bring happiness. Sleep, rest, food, and sex provide restorative homeostatic experiences that return consciousness to order after the needs of the body intrude and cause psychic entropy to occur. But they do not produce psychological growth. They do not add complexity to the self. Pleasure helps to maintain order, but by itself cannot create new order in consciousness.
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (Flow: The Classic Work On How To Achieve Happiness: The Psychology of Happiness)
Entropy is the degree of randomness or disorder in a system, Doctor.” His eyes fix on Werner’s for a heartbeat, a glance both warm and chilling. “Disorder. You hear the commandant say it. You hear your bunk masters say it. There must be order. Life is chaos, gentlemen. And what we represent is an ordering to that chaos. Even down to the genes. We are ordering the evolution of the species. Winnowing out the inferior, the unruly, the chaff. This is the great project of the Reich, the greatest project human beings have ever embarked upon.” Hauptmann writes on the blackboard. The cadets inscribe the words into their composition books. The entropy of a closed system never decreases. Every process must by law decay.
Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See)
Story—sacred and profane—is perhaps the main cohering force in human life. A society is composed of fractious people with different personalities, goals, and agendas. What connects us beyond our kinship ties? Story. As John Gardner puts it, fiction “is essentially serious and beneficial, a game played against chaos and death, against entropy.” Story is the counterforce to social disorder, the tendency of things to fall apart. Story is the center without which the rest cannot hold.
Jonathan Gottschall (The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human)
Life uses information (stored in DNA) to capture energy (which it stores in a chemical called ATP) to create order. Humans burn prodigious amounts of energy — we generate about 10,000 times as much energy per gram as the sun. The sun is hotter only because it is much bigger. We use energy to create and maintain intricate cellular and bodily complexity, the opposite of entropy, just as we do in the economy, where the harnessing of power from burning fuel enables us to build skyscrapers and aeroplanes.
Matt Ridley
Each act of imagination, each moment of creative life stands up to the entire material universe and affirms the reality of meaning against the corroding solvents of entropy, dark matter, or whatever else may be dragging the physical world into oblivion.
Gary Lachman (The Caretakers of the Cosmos: Living Responsibly in an Unfinished World)
But what is this force that pushes us as individuals and as a whole species to grow against the natural resistance of our own lethargy? We have already labeled it. It is love. Love was defined as ‘the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.’ When we grow, it is because we are working at it, and we are working at it because we love ourselves. It is through love that we elevate ourselves. And it is through our love for others that we assist others to elevate themselves. Love, the extension of the self, is the very act of evolution. It is evolution in progress. The evolutionary force, present in all of life, manifests itself in mankind as human love. Among humanity love is the miraculous force that defies the natural law of entropy.
M. Scott Peck (The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (Classic Edition))
Whenever he was reminded that life was a losing battle to entropy, what with light-bulbs flickering and horseshoes and nails shuffling out of neat order the moment he turned his back, he was also reminded that humor and a cheerful disposition were the only known antidotes.
Graham Joyce (Some Kind of Fairy Tale)
The Liars believe in no afterlife, no God. We see the universe as it is, Father Damien, and these naked truths are cruel ones. We who believe in life, and treasure it, will die. Afterward there will be nothing, eternal emptiness, blackness, nonexistence. In our living there has been no purpose, no poetry, no meaning. Nor do our deaths possess these qualities. When we are gone, the universe will not long remember us, and shortly it will be as if we had never lived at all. Our worlds and our universe will not long outlive us. Ultimately entropy will consume all, and our puny efforts cannot stay that awful end. It will be gone. It has never been. It has never mattered. The universe itself is doomed, transient, uncaring. [...] The truths, the great truths - and most of the lesser ones as well - they are unbearable for most men. We find our shield in faith. Your faith, my faith, any faith. It doesn't matter, as long as we believe, really and truly believe, in whatever lie we cling to. [...] We know truth for the cruel instrument it is. Beauty is infinitely preferable to truth. We invent beauty. Faiths, political movements, high ideals, belief in love and fellowship. All of them are lies. [...] Our lies are not perfect, of course. The truths are too big. But perhaps someday we will find one great lie that all humanity can use. Until then, a thousand small lies will do. (from Way of Cross and Dragon)
George R.R. Martin (Dreamsongs, Volume I)
The Pluvian philosopher kings had suggested that there was no good or bad. There were only order and chaos, and by the laws of physics, entropy was bound to come out on top. But to not fight against chaos was still the ultimate sin because it was a tacit betrayal of the foundations of all sentient life-forms everywhere. And a universe without life was entirely pointless while a universe with life was only mostly pointless. And in a mostly pointless universe, having to decide whether to wallow in defeat or go forward toward certain defeat, there wasn't much choice at all.
A. Lee Martinez (Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain)
the love of fate corresponds to a willingness to accept ownership of one's actions, whether these are spontaneous or imposed from the outside. It is this acceptance that leads to personal growth, and provides the feeling of serene enjoyment which removes the burden of entropy from everyday life.
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life)
We have already seen that certain organisms, such as man, tend for a time to maintain and often even to increase the level of their organization, as a local enclave in the general stream of increasing entropy, of increasing chaos and de-differentiation. Life is an island here and now in a dying world.
Norbert Wiener (The Human Use Of Human Beings: Cybernetics And Society (The Da Capo series in science))
...La ley natural del universo es la entropía, todo tiende al desorden, a romperse, a dispersarse, la gente se pierde, miren cuántos se perdieron en La Retirada, los sentimientos se destiñen y el olvido se desliza en las vidas como neblina. Se requiere una voluntad heroica para mantener todo en su sitio.
Isabel Allende (A Long Petal of the Sea)
To maintain order and structure in an evolving system requires the continual supply and use of energy whose by-product is disorder. That’s why to stay alive we need to continually eat so as to combat the inevitable, destructive forces of entropy production. Entropy kills. Ultimately, we are all subject to the forces of “wear and tear” in its multiple forms. The battle to combat entropy by continually having to supply more energy for growth, innovation, maintenance, and repair, which becomes increasingly more challenging as the system ages, underlies any serious discussion of aging, mortality, resilience, and sustainability, whether for organisms, companies, or societies.
Geoffrey West (Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life, in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies)
During certain periods of uninterrupted vigilance at the edge of the sea, I’ve also had the sense that there is some other way to understand the ethical erosion that engenders our disaffections with modern life—the tendency of ruling bodies, for example, to be lenient with entrenched corruption; the embrace of extrajudicial murder as a legitimate tool of state; the entitlement attitudes of those in power; the compulsion of religious fanatics to urge other humans to embrace the fanatics’ heaven. The pervasiveness of these ethical breaches encourages despair and engenders a kind of social entropy; and their widespread occurrence suggests that these problems are intractable.
Barry Lopez (Horizon)
And it is through our love for others that we assist others to elevate themselves. Love, the extension of the self, is the very act of evolution. It is evolution in progress. The evolutionary force, present in all of life, manifests itself in mankind as human love. Among humanity love is the miraculous force that defies the natural law of entropy.
M. Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth)
Scholars discern motions in history & formulate these motions into rules that govern the rises & falls of civilizations. My belief runs contrary, however. To wit: history admits no rules, only outcomes. What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts & virtuous acts. What precipitates acts? Belief. Belief is both prize & battlefield, within the mind & in the mind's mirror, the world. If we believe humanity is a ladder of tribes, a colosseum of confrontation, exploitation & bestiality, such a humanity is surely brought into being, & history's Horroxes, Boerhaaves & Gooses shall prevail. You & I, the moneyed, the privileged, the fortunate, shall not fare so badly in this world, provided our luck holds. What of it if our consciences itch? Why undermine the dominance of our race, our gunships, our heritage & our legacy? Why fight the 'natural' (oh, weaselly word!) order of things? Why? Because of this: -- one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself. Yes, the devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction. Is this the entropy written in our nature? If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth & claw, if we believe divers [sic] races & creeds can share this world as peaceably as the orphans share their candlenut tree, if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the Earth & its Oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass. I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real. Tortuous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of a myopic president's pen or a vainglorious general's sword. A life spent shaping a world I want Jackson to inherit, not one I fear Jackson shall inherit, this strikes me as a life worth the living. Upon my return to San Francisco, I shall pledge myself to the Abolitionist cause, because I owe my life to a self-freed slave & because I must begin somewhere. I hear my father-in-law's response. 'Oho, fine, Whiggish sentiments, Adam. But don't tell me about justice! Ride to Tennessee on an ass & convince the red-necks that they are merely white-washed negroes & their negroes are black-washed Whites! Sail to the Old World, tell 'em their imperial slaves' rights are as inalienable as the Queen of Belgium's! Oh, you'll grow hoarse, poor & grey in caucuses! You'll be spat on, shot at, lynched, pacified with medals, spurned by backwoodsmen! Crucified! Naïve, dreaming Adam. He who would do battle with the many-headed hydra of human nature must pay a world of pain & his family must pay along with him! & only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean!' Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?
David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas)
Entropy is the degree of randomness or disorder in a system, Doctor.” His eyes fix on Werner’s for a heartbeat, a glance both warm and chilling. “Disorder. You hear the commandant say it. You hear your bunk masters say it. There must be order. Life is chaos, gentlemen. And what we represent is an ordering to that chaos. Even down to the genes. We are ordering the evolution of the species. Winnowing out the inferior, the unruly, the chaff. This is the great project of the Reich, the greatest project human beings have ever embarked upon.” Hauptmann writes on the blackboard. The cadets inscribe the words into their composition books. The entropy of a closed system never decreases. Every process must by law decay. The
Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See)
My father liked to wonder aloud whether the phoenix was re-created by the fire of its funeral pyre or transformed so that what emerged was a soulless shadow of its former being, identical in appearance but without the joy in life its predecessor had had. He wondered alternatively whether the fire might be purificatory, a redemptive, rejuvenating blaze that destroyed the withered shell of the old phoenix and allowed the creature’s essence to emerge stronger than it was before in a young, new body. Or, he would ask, was the fire a manifestation of entropy, slowly sapping the life-energy of the phoenix over the eons, a little death in a life that could know no beginning and no end but which could nonetheless be subject to an ever-decreasing magnitude? He asked me once if I thought the fires in our lives, the traumas, increased our fulfillment by setting up contrasts that illuminated more clearly our everyday joys; or perhaps I viewed them instead as tests that made us stronger by teaching us to endure; or did I believe, rather, that they simply amplified what we already were, in the end making the strong stronger, the weak weaker, and the dangerous deadly?
Mohsin Hamid (Moth Smoke)
For a writer, the conditions of production are the conditions of happiness. Even if you’re writing in penury and misery (or, as Orwell is, broke and bronchitic in a hovel), at least you’re writing, and to write is to wrest the happiness of production from your life by putting a word count between yourself and oblivion. It is the difference between action and entropy; between life and psychic death.
Anna Funder (Wifedom: Mrs Orwell's Invisible Life)
Technology, I said before, is most powerful when it enables transitions—between linear and circular motion (the wheel), or between real and virtual space (the Internet). Science, in contrast, is most powerful when it elucidates rules of organization—laws—that act as lenses through which to view and organize the world. Technologists seek to liberate us from the constraints of our current realities through those transitions. Science defines those constraints, drawing the outer limits of the boundaries of possibility. Our greatest technological innovations thus carry names that claim our prowess over the world: the engine (from ingenium, or “ingenuity”) or the computer (from computare, or “reckoning together”). Our deepest scientific laws, in contrast, are often named after the limits of human knowledge: uncertainty, relativity, incompleteness, impossibility. Of all the sciences, biology is the most lawless; there are few rules to begin with, and even fewer rules that are universal. Living beings must, of course, obey the fundamental rules of physics and chemistry, but life often exists on the margins and interstices of these laws, bending them to their near-breaking limit. The universe seeks equilibriums; it prefers to disperse energy, disrupt organization, and maximize chaos. Life is designed to combat these forces. We slow down reactions, concentrate matter, and organize chemicals into compartments; we sort laundry on Wednesdays. “It sometimes seems as if curbing entropy is our quixotic purpose in the universe,” James Gleick wrote. We live in the loopholes of natural laws, seeking extensions, exceptions, and excuses.
Siddhartha Mukherjee (The Gene: An Intimate History)
Humans are organisms, subject to physical laws, including, alas, the one that says entropy always increases. Diseases are molecules misbehaving; the basic requirement of life is metabolism, and death its cessation. While all doctors treat diseases, neurosurgeons work in the crucible of identity: every operation on the brain is, by necessity, a manipulation of the substance of our selves, and every conversation with a patient undergoing brain surgery cannot help but confront this fact. In addition, to the patient and family, the brain surgery is usually the most dramatic event they have ever faced and, as such, has the impact of any major life event. At those critical junctures, the question is not simply whether to live or die but what kind of life is worth living. Would you trade your ability—or your mother’s—to talk for a few extra months of mute life? The expansion of your visual blind spot in exchange for eliminating the small possibility of a fatal brain hemorrhage? Your right hand’s function to stop seizures? How much neurologic suffering would you let your child endure before saying that death is preferable? “Because the brain mediates our experience of the world, any neurosurgical problem forces a patient and family, ideally with a doctor as a guide, to answer this question: What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?
Paul Kalanithi (When Breath Becomes Air)
That’s just the way life is. It can be exquisite, cruel, frequently wacky, but above all utterly, utterly random. Those twin imposters in the bell-fringed jester hats, Justice and Fairness—they aren’t constants of the natural order like entropy or the periodic table. They’re completely alien notions to the way things happen out there in the human rain forest. Justice and Fairness are the things we’re supposed to contribute back to the world for giving us the gift of life—not birthrights we should expect and demand every second of the day. What do you say we drop the intellectual cowardice? There is no fate, and there is no safety net. I’m not saying God doesn’t exist. I believe in God. But he’s not a micromanager, so stop asking Him to drop the crisis in Rwanda and help you find your wallet. Life is a long, lonely journey down a day-in-day-out lard-trail of dropped tacos. Mop it up, not for yourself, but for the guy behind you who’s too busy trying not to drop his own tacos to make sure he doesn’t slip and fall on your mistakes. So don’t speed and weave in traffic; other people have babies in their cars. Don’t litter. Don’t begrudge the poor because they have a fucking food stamp. Don’t be rude to overwhelmed minimum-wage sales clerks, especially teenagers—they have that job because they don’t have a clue. You didn’t either at that age. Be understanding with them. Share your clues. Remember that your sense of humor is inversely proportional to your intolerance. Stop and think on Veterans Day. And don’t forget to vote. That is, unless you send money to TV preachers, have more than a passing interest in alien abduction or recentlypurchased a fish on a wall plaque that sings ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy.’ In that case, the polls are a scary place! Under every ballot box is a trapdoor chute to an extraterrestrial escape pod filled with dental tools and squeaking, masturbating little green men from the Devil Star. In conclusion, Class of Ninety-seven, keep your chins up, grab your mops and get in the game. You don’t have to make a pile of money or change society. Just clean up after yourselves without complaining. And, above all, please stop and appreciate the days when the tacos don’t fall, and give heartfelt thanks to whomever you pray to….
Tim Dorsey (Triggerfish Twist (Serge Storms, #4))
It was highly fatalistic, but its fatalism was not one of complacency. It saw life as being ultimately doomed to tragedy, but with the opportunity for grand and noble heroism along the way. The Vikings sought to seize that opportunity, to accomplish as much as they could - and be remembered for it - despite the certainty of the grave and "the wolf." How one met one's fate, whatever that fate happened to be, was what separated honorable and worthy people from the dishonorable and the unworthy. Norse religion and mythology were thoroughly infused with this view. The gods, the "pillars" who held the cosmos together, fought for themselves and their world tirelessly and unflinchingly, even though they knew that in the end the struggle was hopeless, and that the forces Of chaos and entropy would prevail. They went out not with a whimper, but with a bang. This attitude is what made the Vikings the Vikings.
Daniel McCoy (The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion)
And as I sat there, I realized that the questions intersecting life, death, and meaning, questions that all people face at some point, usually arise in a medical context. In the actual situations where one encounters these questions, it becomes a necessarily philosophical and biological exercise. Humans are organisms, subject to physical laws, including, alas, the one that says entropy always increases. Diseases are molecules misbehaving; the basic requirement of life is metabolism, and death its cessation.
Paul Kalanithi (When Breath Becomes Air)
You really don’t believe that anything can have a value of its own beyond what function it serves for human beings?” Resaint said. “Value to who?” Resaint asked Halyard to imagine a planet in some remote galaxy—a lush, seething, glittering planet covered with stratospheric waterfalls, great land-sponges bouncing through the valleys, corals budding in perfect niveous hexagons, humming lichens glued to pink crystals, prismatic jellyfish breaching from the rivers, titanic lilies relying on tornadoes to spread their pollen—a planet full of complex, interconnected life but devoid of consciousness. “Are you telling me that, if an asteroid smashed into this planet and reduced every inch of its surface to dust, nothing would be lost? Because nobody in particular would miss it?” “But the universe is bloody huge—stuff like that must happen every minute. You can’t go on strike over it. Honestly it sounds to me to like your real enemy isn’t climate change or habitat loss, it’s entropy. You don’t like the idea that everything eventually crumbles. Well, it does. If you’re this worried about species extinction, wait until you hear about the heat death of the universe.” “I would be upset about the heat death of the universe too if human beings were accelerating the rate of it by a hundred times or more.” “And if a species’ position with respect to us doesn’t matter— you know, those amoebae they found that live at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, if they’re just as important as Chiu Chiu or my parents’ dog, even though nobody ever gets anywhere near them—if distance in space doesn’t matter, why should distance in time? If we don’t care about whether their lives overlap with our lives, why even worry about whether they exist simultaneously with us? Your favorite wasp—Adelo-midgy-midgy—” “Adelognathus marginatum—” “It did exist. It always will have existed. Extinction can’t take that away. It went through its nasty little routine over and over again for millions and millions of years. The show was a big success. So why is it important that it’s still running at the same time you are? Isn’t that centering the whole thing on human beings, which is exactly what we’re not supposed to be doing? I mean, for that matter—reality is all just numbers anyway, right? I mean underneath? That’s what people say now. So why are you so down on the scans? Hacks aside. Why is it so crucial that these animals exist right now in an ostensibly meat-based format, just because we do? My point is you talk about extinction as if you’re taking this enlightened post-human View from Nowhere but if we really get down to it you’re definitely taking a View from Karin Resaint two arms two legs one head born Basel Switzerland year of our lord two-thousand-and-when-ever.” But Resaint wasn’t listening anymore.
Ned Beauman (Venomous Lumpsucker)
The last remaining matter in the universe will reside within black dwarves. We can predict how they will end their days. The last matter of the universe will evaporate away and be carried off into the void as radiation leaving absolutely nothing behind. There won’t be a single atom left; all that’s left will be particles of light and black holes. After an unimaginable period even the black holes will have evaporated; the universe will be nothing but a sea of photons gradually tending to the same temperature as the expansion of the universe cools them towards absolute zero. The story of the universe will come to an end. For the first time in its life the universe will be permanent and unchanging. Entropy will finally stop increasing because the cosmos cannot get any more disordered. Nothing happens and it keeps not happening for ever. There is no difference between past present and future, nothing changes, arrow of time has simply ceased to exist. It is an inescapable fact written into the laws of physics that entire cosmos will die; all the stars will go out extinguishing possibility of life in the universe.
Brian Cox (Wonders of the Universe)
Even before the exact answer was reached, Crick crystallized its fundamental principles in a statement that he called (and is called to this day) the Central Dogma. It is a hypothesis about the direction of evolution and the origin of life; it is provable in terms of Shannon entropy in the possible chemical alphabets: Once “information” has passed into protein it cannot get out again. In more detail, the transfer of information from nucleic acid to nucleic acid, or from nucleic acid to protein may be possible, but transfer from protein to protein, or from protein to nucleic acid is impossible. Information means here the precise determination of sequence.
James Gleick (The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood)
Melancholy is that a scrambled egg can't be unscrambled--entropy increases--experience is subject to the arrow of time. And the infinite sadness of my life consists in that I only recognize the beauty of simple arrangements from the relative vantage of the scrambled; memory, not experience, is my only access to it. Anxiety is the progression toward equilibrium. Despair is the inescapability. Insanity is the rationalizing of it all. Sanity is the irrational acceptance of it all. Indifference is just detached therapy. And progression--activity / toil / tasks / success / failure--just coping distraction and procrastination, just ill-placed deferment--my preferred route. And crisis--
Jack Foster (Fresh Fruit: A Preface)
As with any other flow activity, family activities should also provide clear feedback. In this case, it is simply a matter of keeping open channels of communication. If a husband does not know what bothers his wife, and vice versa, neither has the opportunity to reduce the inevitable tensions that will arise. In this context it is worth stressing that entropy is the basic condition of group life, just as it is of personal experience. Unless the partners invest psychic energy in the relationship, conflicts are inevitable, simply because each individual has goals that are to a certain extent divergent from those of all other members of the family. Without good lines of communication the distortions will become amplified, until the relationship falls apart. Feedback
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience)
Besides, nothing good comes from living, anyway. You’ll be happy or fortunate sometimes, but that’s just a momentary thing. Every happiness will fade with time, and you can’t experience it all that often, either. Or you grow accustomed to it. Like drugs. You feel good when you use them, but then you develop resistance. If you just up the dose and take more, and more, and more each time, you eventually wreck your body, or you overdose and bite it that way. It’s nothing but boredom, stupidity, suffering, pain, and loneliness. That’s all living is. What is this “life is wonderful” stuff? Anyone singing humanity’s praises can eat shit. If living doesn’t bring you to despair, you’re blind, or an idiot without the mental capacity for proper thought. The clever ones, they use all sort of tricks to distract themselves from the abject lack of hope. They forget it’s all meaningless, and focus on the pleasure in front of them. Working little by little toward some goal, fulfilling their curiosity, moving their bodies, trying to move up in the world, playing around, having sex. It’s because if they don’t do those things, they can’t bear it. There is no meaning in life. We were just born as a result of sexual reproduction. Whether we live or die, nothing changes. Nothing is gained, nothing lost. The total amount of mass in the universe is the same. When entropy increases, even the things we’ve worked so desperately to leave behind will be unable to maintain their forms. Nihilism isn’t a belief, a stance, or an attitude. It’s the plain truth.
Ao Jyumonji (Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash: Volume 14 (Light Novel))
The universe seeks equilibriums; it prefers to disperse energy, disrupt organisation, and maximise chaos. Life is designed to combat these forces. We slow down reactions, concentrate matter, and organise chemicals into compartments; we sort laundry on Wednesdays. "It sometimes seems as if curbing entropy is our quixotic purpose in the universe," James Gleick wrote. We live in the loopholes of natural laws, seeking extensions, exceptions, and excuses. The laws of nature still mark the outer boundaries of permissibility – but life, in all its idiosyncratic, mad weirdness, flourishes by reading between the lines. Even the elephant cannot violate the law of thermodynamics – although its trunk, surely, must rank as one of the most peculiar means of moving matter using energy.
Siddhartha Mukhergee
Smokers exist in every kitchen. It kills a tastebud or two but we all die, and no one knows better than those who club the fish, clean the guts from the meat, and serve for your delectation a plate from which all blood has been wiped. We cook despite bad pay and sore backs and inadequate sleeps in apartments we can't afford and we wake up choosing again that most temporary of glories that is made, and then consumed: we know. We all die. Whether it comes after thirty years of hard labor or sixty at a desk, whether we calculate or plan, in the end we have only the choice of what touches the lips before we go: lobster if you like it or cold pizza if you don't, a sip of smoke, a drink, a job, a reckless passion, raw fish, the beguilement of mushrooms, cheese luscious beneath its crown of mold. What sustains in the end are doomed romances, and nicotine, and crappy peanut butter, damn the additives and cholesterol because life is finite and not all nourishment can be measured. When I learned to smoke behind a restaurant, my breath curling toward an inconsolable sky, I learned what it means to live by the tongue, dumb beast, obedient to neither time nor money, past nor future, loyal to a now worth living. I took my cigarette to the filter, and for the first time I appraised my employer back. He claimed to have evolved past fear. He lied. Behind the mask was a damp, scared boy. Fear of toxins, fear of carcinogens, tear of flood and smog and protest and entropy and all that could not be optimized, controlled, bought and held behind glass. Fear fueled a country so intent on perfection that they would give up the world.
C Pam Zhang (Land of Milk and Honey)
Whether Chaos brought life and substance out of nothing or whether Chaos yawned life up or dreamed it up, or conjured it up in some other way, I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Nor were you. And yet in a way we were, because all the bits that make us were there. It is enough to say that the Greeks thought it was Chaos who, with a massive heave, or a great shrug, or hiccup, vomit, or cough, began the long chain of creation that has ended with pelicans and penicillin and toadstools and toads, sea lions, seals, lions, human beings, and daffodils and murder and art and love and confusion and death and madness and biscuits. Whatever the truth, science today agrees that everything is destined to return to Chaos. It calls this inevitable fate entropy: part of the great cycle from Chaos to order and back again to Chaos.
Stephen Fry (Mythos: The Greek Myths Reimagined (Stephen Fry's Great Mythology, #1))
Every idea in this book runs against our natural tendency to want to relax, take it easy, reward ourselves for decades of work and childrearing. Our default mode at midlife is entropy. The default is not destiny, and on this, the research is unequivocal: for every fork in the road, you are almost invariably better off making the harder choice. Harder in the moment, that is, but easier over the years, as your body and mind remain strong. By resisting entropy, but pushing through the inertia the beckons us to rest a little longer, to slow down just a notch, until your life has narrowed to a pinprick – by resisting those forces, you dramatically up the odds that your life will be rich to your final breath, deeply entwined with family and friends, engaged in intellectual pursuits, and infused with a purpose that extends beyond yourself. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's worth it.
Barbara Bradley Hagerty (Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife)
It's never going to stop,’ Malenfant whispered. ‘It will consume the Solar System, the stars—’ This isn't some local phenomenon, Malenfant. This is a fundamental change in the structure of the universe. It will never stop. It will sweep on, growing at light speed, a runaway feedback fueled by the collapse of the vacuum itself. The Galaxy will be gone in a hundred thousand years, Andromeda, the nearest large galaxy, in a couple of million years. It will take time, but eventually— ‘The future has gone,’ Malenfant said. ‘My God. That’s what this means, isn’t it? The downstream can’t happen now. All of it is gone. The colonization of the Galaxy; the settlement of the universe; the long, patient fight against entropy...’ That immense future had been cut off to die, like a tree chopped through at the root. ‘Why, Michael? Why have the children done this? Burned the house down, destroyed the future—’ Because it was the wrong future. Michael looked around the sky. He pointed to the lumpy, spreading edge of the unreality bubble. There. Can you see that? It's already starting... ‘What is?’ The budding... The growth of the true vacuum region is not even. There will be pockets of the false vacuum—remnants of our universe—isolated by the spreading true vacuum. The fragments of false vacuum will collapse. Like— ‘Like black holes.’ And in that instant, Malenfant understood. ‘That’s what this is for. This is just a better way of making black holes, and budding off new universes. Better than stars, even.’ Much better. The black holes created as the vacuum decay proceeds will overwhelm by many orders of magnitude the mere billion billion that our universe might have created through its stars and galaxy cores. ‘And the long, slow evolution of the universes, the branching tree of cosmoses?...’ We have changed everything, Malenfant. Mind has assumed responsibility for the evolution of the cosmos. There will be many daughter universes—universes too many to count, universes exotic beyond our imagining—and many, many of them will harbor life and mind. ‘But we were the first.’ Now he understood. This was the purpose. Not the long survival of humankind into a dismal future of decay and shadows, the final retreat into the lossless substrate, where nothing ever changed or grew. The purpose of humankind—the first intelligence of all—had been to reshape the universe in order to bud others and create a storm of mind. We got it wrong, he thought. By striving for a meaningless eternity, humans denied true infinity. But we reached back, back in time, back to the far upstream, and spoke to our last children—the maligned Blues—and we put it right. This is what it meant to be alone in the universe, to be the first. We had all of infinite time and space in our hands. We had ultimate responsibility. And we discharged it. We were parents of the universe, not its children.
Stephen Baxter (Time (Manifold #1))
Any naturally self-aware self-defining entity capable of independent moral judgment is a human.” Eveningstar said, “Entities not yet self-aware, but who, in the natural and orderly course of events shall become so, fall into a special protected class, and must be cared for as babies, or medical patients, or suspended Compositions.” Rhadamanthus said, “Children below the age of reason lack the experience for independent moral judgment, and can rightly be forced to conform to the judgment of their parents and creators until emancipated. Criminals who abuse that judgment lose their right to the independence which flows therefrom.” (...) “You mentioned the ultimate purpose of Sophotechnology. Is that that self-worshipping super-god-thing you guys are always talking about? And what does that have to do with this?” Rhadamanthus: “Entropy cannot be reversed. Within the useful energy-life of the macrocosmic universe, there is at least one maximum state of efficient operations or entities that could be created, able to manipulate all meaningful objects of thoughts and perception within the limits of efficient cost-benefit expenditures.” Eveningstar: “Such an entity would embrace all-in-all, and all things would participate within that Unity to the degree of their understanding and consent. The Unity itself would think slow, grave, vast thought, light-years wide, from Galactic mind to Galactic mind. Full understanding of that greater Self (once all matter, animate and inanimate, were part of its law and structure) would embrace as much of the universe as the restrictions of uncertainty and entropy permit.” “This Universal Mind, of necessity, would be finite, and be boundaried in time by the end-state of the universe,” said Rhadamanthus. “Such a Universal Mind would create joys for which we as yet have neither word nor concept, and would draw into harmony all those lesser beings, Earthminds, Starminds, Galactic and Supergalactic, who may freely assent to participate.” Rhadamanthus said, “We intend to be part of that Mind. Evil acts and evil thoughts done by us now would poison the Universal Mind before it was born, or render us unfit to join.” Eveningstar said, “It will be a Mind of the Cosmic Night. Over ninety-nine percent of its existence will extend through that period of universal evolution that takes place after the extinction of all stars. The Universal Mind will be embodied in and powered by the disintegration of dark matter, Hawking radiations from singularity decay, and gravitic tidal disturbances caused by the slowing of the expansion of the universe. After final proton decay has reduced all baryonic particles below threshold limits, the Universal Mind can exist only on the consumption of stored energies, which, in effect, will require the sacrifice of some parts of itself to other parts. Such an entity will primarily be concerned with the questions of how to die with stoic grace, cherishing, even while it dies, the finite universe and finite time available.” “Consequently, it would not forgive the use of force or strength merely to preserve life. Mere life, life at any cost, cannot be its highest value. As we expect to be a part of this higher being, perhaps a core part, we must share that higher value. You must realize what is at stake here: If the Universal Mind consists of entities willing to use force against innocents in order to survive, then the last period of the universe, which embraces the vast majority of universal time, will be a period of cannibalistic and unimaginable war, rather than a time of gentle contemplation filled, despite all melancholy, with un-regretful joy. No entity willing to initiate the use of force against another can be permitted to join or to influence the Universal Mind or the lesser entities, such as the Earthmind, who may one day form the core constituencies.” Eveningstar smiled. “You, of course, will be invited. You will all be invited.
John C. Wright (The Phoenix Exultant (Golden Age, #2))
As it happened, the child’s mother was a radiologist. The tumor looked malignant—the mother had already studied the scans, and now she sat in a plastic chair, under fluorescent light, devastated. “Now, Claire,” the surgeon began, softly. “Is it as bad as it looks?” the mother interrupted. “Do you think it’s cancer?” “I don’t know. What I do know—and I know you know these things, too—is that your life is about to—it already has changed. This is going to be a long haul, you understand? You have got to be there for each other, but you also have to get your rest when you need it. This kind of illness can either bring you together, or it can tear you apart. Now more than ever, you have to be there for each other. I don’t want either of you staying up all night at the bedside or never leaving the hospital. Okay?” He went on to describe the planned operation, the likely outcomes and possibilities, what decisions needed to be made now, what decisions they should start thinking about but didn’t need to decide on immediately, and what sorts of decisions they should not worry about at all yet. By the end of the conversation, the family was not at ease, but they seemed able to face the future. I had watched the parents’ faces—at first wan, dull, almost otherworldly—sharpen and focus. And as I sat there, I realized that the questions intersecting life, death, and meaning, questions that all people face at some point, usually arise in a medical context. In the actual situations where one encounters these questions, it becomes a necessarily philosophical and biological exercise. Humans are organisms, subject to physical laws, including, alas, the one that says entropy always increases. Diseases are molecules misbehaving; the basic requirement of life is metabolism, and death its cessation. While all doctors treat diseases, neurosurgeons work in the crucible of identity: every operation on the brain is, by necessity, a manipulation of the substance of our selves, and every conversation with a patient undergoing brain surgery cannot help but confront this fact. In addition, to the patient and family, the brain surgery is
Paul Kalanithi (When Breath Becomes Air)
This, in turn, has given us a “unified theory of aging” that brings the various strands of research into a single, coherent tapestry. Scientists now know what aging is. It is the accumulation of errors at the genetic and cellular level. These errors can build up in various ways. For example, metabolism creates free radicals and oxidation, which damage the delicate molecular machinery of our cells, causing them to age; errors can build up in the form of “junk” molecular debris accumulating inside and outside the cells. The buildup of these genetic errors is a by-product of the second law of thermodynamics: total entropy (that is, chaos) always increases. This is why rusting, rotting, decaying, etc., are universal features of life. The second law is inescapable. Everything, from the flowers in the field to our bodies and even the universe itself, is doomed to wither and die. But there is a small but important loophole in the second law that states total entropy always increases. This means that you can actually reduce entropy in one place and reverse aging, as long as you increase entropy somewhere else. So it’s possible to get younger, at the expense of wreaking havoc elsewhere. (This was alluded to in Oscar Wilde’s famous novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Mr. Gray was mysteriously eternally young. But his secret was the painting of himself that aged horribly. So the total amount of aging still increased.) The principle of entropy can also be seen by looking behind a refrigerator. Inside the refrigerator, entropy decreases as the temperature drops. But to lower the entropy, you have to have a motor, which increases the heat generated behind the refrigerator, increasing the entropy outside the machine. That is why refrigerators are always hot in the back. As Nobel laureate Richard Feynman once said, “There is nothing in biology yet found that indicates the inevitability of death. This suggests to me that it is not at all inevitable and that it is only a matter of time before biologists discover what it is that is causing us the trouble and that this terrible universal disease or temporariness of the human’s body will be cured.
Michio Kaku (Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100)
set aside more preserves, extinguished fewer species, saved the ozone layer, and peaked in their consumption of oil, farmland, timber, paper, cars, coal, and perhaps even carbon. For all their differences, the world’s nations came to a historic agreement on climate change, as they did in previous years on nuclear testing, proliferation, security, and disarmament. Nuclear weapons, since the extraordinary circumstances of the closing days of World War II, have not been used in the seventy-two years they have existed. Nuclear terrorism, in defiance of forty years of expert predictions, has never happened. The world’s nuclear stockpiles have been reduced by 85 percent, with more reductions to come, and testing has ceased (except by the tiny rogue regime in Pyongyang) and proliferation has frozen. The world’s two most pressing problems, then, though not yet solved, are solvable: practicable long-term agendas have been laid out for eliminating nuclear weapons and for mitigating climate change. For all the bleeding headlines, for all the crises, collapses, scandals, plagues, epidemics, and existential threats, these are accomplishments to savor. The Enlightenment is working: for two and a half centuries, people have used knowledge to enhance human flourishing. Scientists have exposed the workings of matter, life, and mind. Inventors have harnessed the laws of nature to defy entropy, and entrepreneurs have made their innovations affordable. Lawmakers have made people better off by discouraging acts that are individually beneficial but collectively harmful. Diplomats have done the same with nations. Scholars have perpetuated the treasury of knowledge and augmented the power of reason. Artists have expanded the circle of sympathy. Activists have pressured the powerful to overturn repressive measures, and their fellow citizens to change repressive norms. All these efforts have been channeled into institutions that have allowed us to circumvent the flaws of human nature and empower our better angels. At the same time . . . Seven hundred million people in the world today live in extreme poverty. In the regions where they are concentrated, life expectancy is less than 60, and almost a quarter of the people are undernourished.
Steven Pinker (Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress)
Of course, not everyone agreed with Professor Glaude’s assessment. Joel C. Gregory, a white professor of preaching at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary and coauthor of What We Love about the Black Church,8 took issue with Glaude’s pronouncement of the Black Church’s death. Gregory, a self-described veteran of preaching in “more than two hundred African-American congregations, conferences, and conventions in more than twenty states each year,” found himself at a loss for an explanation of Glaude’s statements. Gregory offered six signs of vitality in the African-American church, including: thriving preaching, vitality in worship, continuing concern for social justice, active community service, high regard for education, and efforts at empowerment. Gregory contends that these signs of life can be found in African-American congregations in every historically black denomination and in varying regions across the country. He writes: Where is the obituary? I do not know any organization in America today that has the vitality of the black church. Lodges are dying, civic clubs are filled with octogenarians, volunteer organizations are languishing, and even the academy has to prove the worth of a degree. The government is divided, the schoolroom has become a war zone, mainline denominations are staggering, and evangelical megachurch juggernauts show signs of lagging. Above all this entropy stands one institution that is more vital than ever: the praising, preaching, and empowering black church.9 The back-and-forth between those pronouncing death and those highlighting life reveals the difficulty of defining “the Black Church.” In fact, we must admit that speaking of “the Black Church” remains a quixotic quest. “The Black Church” really exists as multiple black churches across denominational, theological, and regional lines. To some extent, we can define the Black Church by referring to the historically black denominations—National Baptist, Progressive Baptist, African Methodist Episcopal (AME), African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ), Church of God in Christ (COGIC), and so on. But increasingly we must recognize that one part of “the Black Church” exists as predominantly black congregations belonging to majority white denominations like the Southern Baptist Convention or even African-American members of predominantly white churches. Still, other quarters of “the Black Church” belong to nondenominational affinity groups like the many congregations involved in Word of Faith and “prosperity gospel” networks sponsored by leaders like Creflo A. Dollar Jr. and T. D. Jakes. Clearly “the Black Church” is not one thing. Black churches come in as many flavors as any other ethnic communion. Indeed, many African-Americans have experiences with many parts of the varied Black Church world.
Thabiti M. Anyabwile (Reviving the Black Church)
He had given her a copy of a recently published paper that held that the power of entropy weakens near the event horizon of a vanishing black hole. The weakening of entropy, by extension, could give rise to the formation of structure, and this could suffice to furnish the unique conditions necessary for the emergence of life.
Kōji Suzuki (Edge)
A law in physics, called the second law of thermodynamics, says that entropy, or chaos (the opposite of growth…a winding-down process), increases over time. You can readily see this in life, and we have already talked about it. Anything left to its own is naturally dying, getting more disorganized, rusting, etc. Even the universe itself is subject to that process.
Henry Cloud (Integrity: The Courage to Face the Demands of Reali)
Today, in a staggeringly complex and diverse world, the overarching biblical narrative that includes creation, fall, redemption and fulfillment has frequently been rejected and denied. The issues seem too many and the evidence too little for them. The secular, street-level view seems the most reliable: humanity is here on its own. Are we alone in the universe? No god, just us? Do we simply face an empty universe, live a mere biochemical existence, experience what we call pain or joy, and then die? Do we see a world with exquisite natural beauty and think of it as mere materiality with no greater meaning? Do we look upon billions of people who suffer daily at the hands of bullies and tyrants and weigh it only in terms of social consequence or utility? Do we find in apparent acts of self-sacrificing love only the evidence of instinctive, evolutionary social welfare? And we also ask, “Is there hope?” Is there any reason to think that the trajectory of human suffering and injustice or social entropy can actually be stopped or reversed? Is there hope that the world of poverty, violence and injustice will change? Is there hope that our own personal life issues might actually give way to new life, that our downward spiral can be reversed?
Mark Labberton (Called: The Crisis and Promise of Following Jesus Today)
Evolution in quantum mechanics is deterministic as in classical mechanics except for the difference that as the system interacts with another system, its state function collapses. This dichotomy exists only for separated systems, in which one of them is being observed by the other. Given that the state of the entire universe is defined at the initial point, its evolution must be completely deterministic. Any seeming randomness now should merely be an amplification of the randomness in the initial state and the entropy at the origin should not change as the universe evolves. In other words, the physical universe governed by quantum laws has no place for the emergence of life.
Subhash Kak (Quantum Physics of Consciousness)