Disclaimer: Before you guys go fleeing for the hills because I used the word “entropy”, don’t worry, because this isn’t going to be (entirely) a scientific piece. These are just some thoughts I have about the literal versus metaphorical meanings of entropy, and I’ll try to keep it simple.
Here’s your thought for the day: does entropy apply to non-physical objects as well?
The Second Law of Thermodynamics states:
The entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium—the state of maximum entropy.
Entropy is a measure of the order and disorder of the universe. Put simply, the natural state of the universe is chaos, and any system, no matter how organized and carefully constructed, will disintegrate over time due to entropy. These systems can be anything: human bodies, buildings, large machines…you get the point.
If you view everything with this perspective, I began thinking if the laws of entropy apply to non-physical things as well. First, let’s think about memories. In the literal sense, a memory is a series of electrical impulses in our brain with accompanying neurotransmitters, among other things; in the metaphorical sense, the sum of these impulses and neurotransmitters create the experiences that shape the people that we are.
Do memories degenerate into nothingness? Technically speaking, our brains continue to develop until approximately the age of 25, yet, during that time-frame, we lose memories through means that can’t necessarily be explained by physical reasons. Some scientists would argue that the memories are not gone – that we have simply forgotten the pathways to recall that memory; this is a possibility and there has been some evidence in favor of this. However, what if this is simply non-physical entropy at work? In theory, if we created a perfect brain that was fully mature by age 5 and did not prune or begin to degrade until we were in our 70’s or 80’s, would the memories still fade? Is an idea resistant to entropy as well?
Similarly, what about our relationships? If we began to live for centuries, the universe’s tendency toward chaos and equilibrium dictates that our friendships and relationships would not last that long. If evolution made it so that we were no longer genetically related to our family, would the bonds of family ties eventually go by the wayside? Would a happily married couple, even after decades of perfect marriage, eventually succumb to entropy and have their relationship disintegrate? Basically, the large question, in this particular case and paragraph, is: Is human nature resistant to entropy?
Obviously, not all of this, if anything, is feasible, and it’s nearly impossible to think of a logical answer to any of these questions, but I think it makes for an interesting thought experiment. What are some of your thoughts and insights on this?
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