Paul Davies on the Dennis Prager Show (or, A Second Look at the Second Law)
|November 29, 2007||Posted by GilDodgen under Science|
Paul Davies was recently interviewed on the Dennis Prager show, and a caller challenged Davies with the neg-entropic nature of living systems. Paul’s response was the usual: local, open systems can experience decreases in entropy, as long as the overall system experiences an entropy increase. He gave the example of a refrigerator, which can make ice cubes (thus decreasing entropy inside the refrigerator), while the room warms up as a result of the heat pump, thus providing a compensatory entropy increase.
There are two big problems with this line of reasoning.
The first problem is that the refrigerator was designed and contains a machine that takes advantage of the available energy to locally defy entropic tendencies.
The second problem is that the order in an ice cube and the order in living systems are not at all analogous. Living systems contain a completely different kind of order, both in degree and in kind: tightly functionally integrated machinery, information encoded in the nucleotides of of the DNA molecule (a symbolic language), and an information-processing machine that decodes and implements the dictates of the symbolic language.
As Granville Sewell has pointed out, the fact that a system is open doesn’t mean that anything can happen, and that the laws of probability are somehow magically suspended.