Saturday, 25 February 2017

Understanding Science

Readers who lack a scientific education gain some understanding of science from hard sf and from science writing like Poul Anderson's "Science and Creation" in the NESFA collections, vol 2.

Most solar energy dissipates in space but a very small proportion of it increases order on Earth. However, Terrestrial negative entropy is local and temporary and is sustained only by the constant increase of cosmic entropy. When a river powers a mill, the water continues to flow down to the sea. All energy dissipates even if a small proportion of it does useful work en route. Life and consciousness are not a cosmic purpose but an accidental by-product that swims against the stream for a while.

How did energy become concentrated?
Can this happen again?
Did the idea of a cyclical universe, when it was entertained, contradict the second law of thermodynamics?

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And, of course, we see more extended discussions of science by Poul Anderson in IS THERE LIFE ON OTHER WORLDS" and THERMONUCLEAR WARFARE, two of his too few nonfictional books.

I'm no longer a fan of most of Isaac Asimov's fictions, but he also wrote a LOT of non fictional popular science. Readers could read with profit his THE UNIVERSE: FROM FLAT EARTH TO QUASAR (astronomy), ASIMOV ON PHYICS, THE HUMAN BODY (for human biology), etc. To say nothing of good popular science by other authors.