Monday, 25 March 2013

Abusing Thermodynamics: Brig Klyce

See the article here where thermodynamics is abused:

Brig Klyce is Honorary Associate Professor at Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology. He is an advocate for "Cosmic Ancestry", described on his web site as:
Cosmic Ancestry implies, we find, that life can only descend from ancestors at least as highly evolved as itself. And it means, we believe, that there can be no origin of life from nonbiological matter. Without supernatural intervention, therefore, we conclude that life must have always existed.
Klyce is no creationists, but he does seem  to fall under the Intelligent Design label, and he abuses the Second Law like the best of them. His strategy is to claim it applies to any sort of entropy you feel like.

Much of the article is correct; he describes thermodynamic entropy well, then looks at logical and information entropy, and much of that is sound too. Then he claims the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies to logical and information entropy...
In spite of the important distinction between the two meanings of entropy, the rule as stated above for thermodynamic entropy seems to apply nonetheless to the logical kind: entropy in a closed system can never decrease. And really, there would be nothing mysterious about this law either. It's similar to saying things never organize themselves. (The original meaning of organize is "to furnish with organs.") Only this rule has little to do with thermodynamics.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics applies to thermodynamic entropy. If Klyce wants to claim that logical entropy has its own law, then the onus is on him to prove that logical entropy must necessarily increase. And he will never do that, because it is not true. Every seen a frost? That is water that was originally diffused through out the air and is now arranged in neat little crystals. A massive decrease in logical entropy. Even the collection of rainwater in a puddle is a decrease in logical entropy.

As he says, what he is talking about "has little to do with thermodynamics", so how can he invoke the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

He continues:
It is true that crystals and other regular configurations can be formed by unguided processes. And we are accustomed to saying that these configurations are "organized." But crystals have not been spontaneously "furnished with organs." The correct term for such regular configurations is "ordered." The recipe for a crystal is already present in the solution it grows from — the crystal lattice is prescribed by the structure of the molecules that compose it. The formation of crystals is the straightforward result of chemical and physical laws that do not evolve and that are, compared to genetic programs, very simple.
What we are seeing here is an evolution in the concept:

1. Ordering of energy (inverse of thermodynamic entropy)
2. Ordering of matter (inverse of logical entropy)
3. Organisation of matter

The Second Law of Thermodynamics applies to the first, but he is steadily getting further and further away from that.

Furthermore, he clearly realises that organisation does happen, so he is obliged to introduce an "unless". Matter does not organise "unless" there is a recipe or genetic program or whatever. The Second Law says entropy at the end is greater than at the beginning. There is no "unless", no recipe or program. He is just making this up, an ad hoc addition to paper over the gaps in his theory.

And he is a university professor?

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