The infinite millisecond

Sitting on a train, you lock eyes with the most attractive person you’ve seen all week, perhaps ever. The eye contact is unintentional, and you want to look away, but you can’t. Possibilities flash through your head: candlelit dinners, walks on the beach, marriage, children, living in old age, dying in the same bed within minutes of each other. Then, one of you looks away. Less than a second has elapsed, yet you feel like you’ve lived your entire life in that moment, and that you’ve been looking into those eyes for years and years.

You walk onto the scene of an emergency. There may be one patient, or there may be three – it doesn’t matter because you’re there and you’re in charge. With enough adrenaline going through your blood, you feel your pulse and respiration rate go up: not so much that you start acting like a retard (read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink for more on this), but enough that you’re thinking quickly and clearly. You assess the situation; you make quick decisions and run several scenarios for every patient; you create care plans for every patient and backup plans for in case they get worse. All of this happens in a span of two eye-blinks but you have everything planned out between initiating contact and handing the patient(s) over to the charge nurse at the ER.

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Entropy, in the non-physical sense

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.

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