Field of Science

What entropy is or is not

A primer of what entropy is or is not at 3 Quarks Daily by Rishidev Chaudhuri and Jason Merrill:
C.P. Snow famously said that not knowing the second law of thermodynamics is like never having read Shakespeare. Whatever the particular merits of this comparison, it does speak to the centrality of the idea of entropy (and its increase) to the physical sciences. Entropy is one of the most important and fundamental physical concepts and, because of its generality, is frequently encountered outside physics. The pop conception of entropy is as a measure of the disorder in a system. This characterization is not so much false as misleading (especially if we think of order and information as being similar). What follows is a brief explanation of entropy, highlighting its origin in the particular ways we describe the world, and an explanation of why it tends to increase. We've made some simplifying assumptions, but they leave the spirit of things unchanged.
Read on.

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