Entropy: Why Things Get Worse Over Time

The second law of thermodynamics says that entropy always increases with time. And what is entropy? It means a gradual decline into disorder.

Whenever NASA travels into space, beyond the shores of the green planet in search for whatever they might be after per time, one of the things they look out for is a state of decreasing entropy (increasing orderliness) to determine the presence of a living system. For NASA, the second law of thermodynamics applies everywhere. Disorderliness increases with time. So if they find orderliness where disorderliness should be it’s assumed to be a sign of life.

Here’s the thing, living systems increase their organization despite the second law of thermodynamics. They optimize for orderliness. Life equals decreasing entropy. Here’s the implication of that.

Being alive is defying the law and in the end, we all will have to obey the law because we will die. Yes, our life and existence is energy against the observed natural order. It is constantly fighting that order to live one more.

When you leave your house for a few months and return, even though no one has touched anything, it would have been worse off than you left it. Do that for a couple of years and the whole thing will be nothing to write home about. But you could live in that house for 1000s of years and it will be standing.

My interest in writing this is not to teach you physics but to call your attention to a fundamental way of looking at all things in life and the forces and energy that permeate it.

Thomas Hobbes said life in a state of nature is brutish, nasty and short. He simply stated the sociological definition of entropy. Left to human and with no attempt to make a form out of nature, we’d all be dead.

We exist to reinforce and optimize for negative or decreasing entropy. Every action we didn’t take, every attempt we didn’t make we are simply promoting the state of nature. A state where things go from disorderliness to more disorderliness.

Every time as a leader in that organization that you didn’t provide leadership, you are reinforcing the state of nature.

Things go from good to bad because it is the natural state of the world. It doesn’t matter what that thing is either it was created by nature or created by men, they all follow this order of things. Living systems are required to exert energy for this not be.

Never should you wonder again why things went from good to bad on your watch. More often than not it could be two reasons. One, you don’t have a proper definition of good and bad or two, which is more likely, you didn’t act to optimize for a decreasing entropy.