Brainy Quote of the Day

Friday, September 6, 2013

Appeal From Entropy...

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It is unusual I admit, to appeal from a physics law or personify it as if it could speak.

1st Law of Thermodynamics: Conservation of Energy
2nd Law of Thermodynamics: Entropy, which concerns heat transfer, but more specifically our concept of "time's arrow" and the order of systems.

Over time, things tend to go from order to disorder/chaos. It is entropy whereby we have the concept of time, and like an arrow is unidirectional. An arrow does not leap out of a target into its bow; bullets do not burrow out of targets and reenter their firearms; water does not flow upstream; suns, plants, animals and eventually the universe dies; champagne glasses do not reassemble from the floor to its previous waiter's tray.

Thermodynamics is a study of energy; energy systems and its transformations. It is primacy in how we will manage the increasing demands for power to our cities, economies, schools, public and private facilities. What is true for us, arrows, bullets, water, suns, the universe and champagne glasses should also apply to countries as a "system."

There is a prevailing myth of the "surgical strike." Atmospheric diffraction prevents the usage of laser or particle beam weapons in theater (there have been limited tests), the only surgical instrument that could be called that if it existed in large distribution to units in the field. Missiles deliver payloads; payloads explode; blast waves expand at sonic speeds; shrapnel disperses to unfortunate bodies called "collateral damage." The scatter of a beam weapon from a reflective surface to unprotected eyes or body could be just as lethal as shrapnel.

In an explosion, an internal impulse acts in order to propel the parts of a system (often a single object) into a variety of directions. After the explosion, the individual parts of the system (that is often a collection of fragments from the original object) have momentum. If the vector sum of all individual parts of the system could be added together to determine the total momentum after the explosion, then it should be the same as the total momentum before the explosion. Just like in collisions, total system momentum is conserved. Physics Classroom

It is the above description why in a forensics investigation - say, the Boston Marathon bombing - greater than 90% of the bomb fragments can be recovered on investigation of the blast area.

However, lives and failed states are not as easy to assemble. And like any system that tends to go from order to chaos: the introduction of mayhem doesn't increase stability nor transform it to a better system.

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"You break it, you own it." Retired General Colin Powell

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