Second Law

The Second Law of Thermodynamics PRATT is on Answers in Genesis’ “Arguments We Don’t Use” page. This didn’t stop the Discovery Institute calling it their “Simplest and Clearest Argument“, and nor did it stop the ‘creation’ of the following That’s a Fact video, Second Law:

For a refutation of this argument and related claims, start here on the EvoWiki Thermodynamics page. I quite like this one: Continue reading

Help! Help! (He’s) Being Opressed! – Quick DpSU June 20

Yes, folks, according to Brian Thomas, after some uppity “anti-design blogger” wrote to the Applied Mathematics Letters Journal, the “Journal Censors ‘Second Law’ Paper Refuting Evolution“. I kid you not – he really thinks that 😀

Let me go and calm down a moment.

Basically, the whole article is talking about how a paper that purports to prove that evolution does, in fact, violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics has been rejected by the aforementioned journal after formally having been approved.

Sewell refutes the notion that the second law can be circumvented as long as the order increase/decrease occurs in an open system. In an online lecture video explaining his “second law” paper, Sewell said, “Suppose you and your wife go for a vacation, leaving a dog, a cat and a parakeet loose in the house (I put the animals there to cause the entropy to increase more rapidly, otherwise you might have to take a much longer vacation to see the same effect). When you come back you will not be surprised to see chaos in the house. But tell her some scientists say, ‘but if you leave the door open while on vacation, your house becomes an open system, and the second law does not apply to open systems…you may find everything in better condition than when you left.’ I’ll bet she will say, ‘if a maid enters through the door and cleans the house, maybe, but if all that enters is sunlight, wind and other animals, probably not.'” Sewell, G. A second look at the second law. Online video. Posted on math.utep.edu, accessed June 9, 2011.

He certainly doesn’t refute my favourite Second Law counterargument. To quote PZ Myers:

Point to the creationist: ask whether he was a baby once. Has he grown? Has he become larger and more complex? Isn’t he standing there in violation of the second law himself? Demand that he immediately regress to a slimy puddle of mingled menses and semen.

The paper itself seems to suffer from a few fatal flaws. As usual, the author confuses Entropy with Disorder. As it happens, Sewell is largely regurgitating things he has already said in previous papers – he quotes himself often. This article covers a lot of what he has said previously.

Possibly new is the claim that “entropy cannot decrease faster than it is exported through the boundary”. The statement is possibly true, but the article never demonstrates that evolution violates it, preferring irrelevant analogies like the one you see above. The author also conflates the possibility of life evolving with that of the creation of man-made technology such as computers, missing the point entirely (what’s new?).

To cap it all off, and to return to Mr Thomas, we end with an irrelevant Bible quote:

Similarly, the way to arrive at DNA is not to transfer sunlight’s energy onto earth’s chemicals, but for someone to build DNA and place it in living creatures on the planet. And that scenario may sound familiar to those who have read Exodus 20:11. “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.”

Why that quote, exactly? I despair of these people sometimes…

3D Sky Map and the Latest in DpSU’s

I would hope that you are all aware of the recent (ish) map from the 2MASS Redshift Survey. If not, take a look:

Click Through For a Much Bigger Version

Astronomers Unveil Most Complete 3-D Map of Local Universe

According to Brian Thomas, ‘Science’ Writer at the ICR, this map “Shows Big Bang Even More Unlikely“. This article is a borderline Type AE (see the Terminology page) in that Mr Thomas takes a study and bends it to suit his message, but it also has elements of Type Io as he also goes and talks about other things only sometimes related.

What does Mr Thomas think are the problems with the Big Bang in the light of this map? First, here is his description of the event:

The most popular nature-only explanation of the origin of the universe is the Big Bang, which proposes that all space, time, and matter were once densely packed into a tiny volume. For some unknown reason, this nugget exploded, yielding elements in ever-expanding space that eventually self-organized into such structures as stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies.

This isn’t a very detailed description, but we’ll live. See WP for a much better one.

[A] problem with the Big Bang is the horizon problem, which is the question of why temperature is so remarkably uniform throughout the universe when light has not had enough time since the Big Bang to travel throughout space and evenly distribute radiation.

Ah, the (former) horizon problem. I wonder if Mr Thomas has ever heard of Inflation?

Also, the Big Bang should have resulted in equal amounts of matter and antimatter, but the real universe is dominated by matter.

This is genuinely an unsolved problem in physics, and somebody will (I’m pretty sure) get a Nobel for this, but not for running around claiming it proves God and creationism. Basically, there are people spending their careers trying to discover what the differences between matter and antimatter really are, and whether their could be some small bias in favour of matter. Did you here about the CERN antimatter thing? Only now are we getting a good look at the actual particles, a nice change from near pure theory.

the First Law of Thermodynamics states that matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Big Bang beliefs violate this law by positing the appearance of matter from no prior material.

You understand that creationism is exempt from such things by the ancient scientific principle of Goddidit.

At the very earliest parts of the Big Bang process, the general rules of the universe were a bit f**ked, as it were. It’s not unbelievable that thermodynamics did exist at the time, although I doubt that’s the solution here. It’s more a case that thermodynamics just doesn’t apply here – the Big Bang is the beginning of time, so it’s not a case of more matter being added to the the universe, as it was already there… Something like that, anyway. Go ask a physicist…

The Big Bang also violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics—which states that some orderliness is always lost when energy or matter are converted to other forms—by positing the creation of orderliness in the form of stars, galaxies, and galactic clusters, all with insufficient cause.

Is cause a quantifiable physical quantity now, like Force and Mass? 😀

But in all seriousness, this is not a valid criticism either. I once saw a video demonstrating planetary accretion on the ISS, using rice as a substitute for the rocks. I can’t find the source, but here’s a link to somebody else who evidently has, in order to prove my sanity. Basically, what happened is that there was a whole to of rice floating randomly in a bag, as they would under zero-g conditions. Over time, however, their minute gravitational attractions caused them to accrete into clusters. You might also know that if you have a group of different sized objects (or was it weights? I can’t remember. I haven’t been five for some time now… Basically, I’m talking about small pieces of sandstone in my personal experience.) and you roll them down a slope, they organise themselves out. Are these violations of the Second Law?

No. What is happening in all cases is that gravitational potential energy is being lost, and is turned into waste energy. This more than makes up for the organisation of the substance, whether it be rice, stone or hydrogen. There is no loss of Entropy and therefore no violation of the Second Law.

Now onto the actual study:

About 20 years ago, the first results from three-dimensional maps of sections of the sky showed unforeseen mega-structures. In stark contrast to the random and even distribution of stars that a Big Bang would have produced, galaxies are instead grouped into clusters and superstructures.2 And the galactic clusters, tendrils, and voids exhibited in the new 3-D map serve as a blatant reminder that this universe is not random.

Like prior star maps, this [new] one shows huge, intricate structures in space that simply should not exist unless they were put there on purpose.

They’re still random, just not quite white-noise random. This kind of thing is actually predicted by Inflation as I alluded to to above. You might be wondering about how the universe can be both homogeneous and contain mega-structures. Basically, the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation is largely uniform, but after a certain level of detail is no-longer so. As the CMB was influenced by the density distribution of the early universe, we see similar pattens in the universe today. Said density distribution and it’s consequences is what is predicted by Inflationary Theory. As an aside, while the CMB was a successful prediction of the Big Bang itself (which raises the question of how, if the Big Bang did not happen, people theorising that it did predicted exactly what is observed), Creationists have never offered a convincing idea as to why it’s there and has the correspondence it does with the observed reality. And no, as you might have worked out, Goddidit doesn’t cut it. I want something funny, like lunar bukkake.

And that’s it, really, apart from the obligatory Biblical quote. Today, however, it isn’t even relivent, being merely a longwinded title for God:

he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth…that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in. (Isaiah 40:22)

Till next time…

Available Energy Decreases Over Time

Another quick one. The reason? I almost agree with it.

This is the part that I agree with, more or less:

There is less available energy today then there was yesterday.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system, such as the universe, that is not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium. The Third Law of Thermodynamics states that as the temperature approaches absolute zero, the entropy of a system approaches a constant.

Fortunately for us, the temperature of the universe is not zero. It is moving that way each moment, but it is not there yet.

At some prior time, all the energy in the universe was available. Energy must have been created at some finite time in the past; otherwise we would have died long ago.

Interesting that this goes under the heading, The Universe is Stable. Depending on the answers to the problems raised in the previous article, the claims above may well be true. Hurray! But not for long…

The logical conclusion is that an infinite Creator made the universe a finite time ago.

Well, I dunno where the ‘infinite’ creator part comes from, and the whole sentence is a non-sequitur. That is to say, it’s not the logical conclusion. Assuming that the first part is correct and relevant (ie there is no way for energy or matter to enter the universe), we might well be able to say that the universe is of finite age. I’m no steady statesman, and they have their own ways around the problem. But to then say that we need a creator? Far too large a logical jump.