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What is it with entropy?
:: Posted by rogadaire on April 02, 2015

Emory says - which I think is worth quoting in full:

’In What is Life Schrodinger states that life is basically a mechanism that fights off entropy locally, exporting the entropy elsewhere. I don’t think he was saying that this was ALL that life was, but that it was an essential part of what life is and does, which is true.

As for biological systems breaking the second law of thermodynamics, most physicists have never been too concerned about this and wave it away as a "local" exception, which of course can occur statistically. What is a little more troublesome, however, is the process of evolution, which appears to be a far longer-term violation of thermodynamic laws, in that more and more matter is getting pulled into decidedly improbably configurations as time marches forward over billions of years. I don’t know if statistical physicists ever had a good answer for this, even with the concept of a "spontaneous structure" (which are structures that arise from the underlying statistics of the medium in which they are spawned, such as Jupiter’s great eye).

A fascinating person to read in this context is, of course, the Jesuit anthropologist Pierre Tielhard d’Chardin, who invented the concept of the noosphere and described God as the "Omega Point" and eventual destination of evolution. His written works are absolutely fascinating, and perhaps even more so because he was (as I remember) eventually censured by the church’.

I confess I simply don’t understand why the idea of entropy is taken quite so seriously by physicists. While I presume it must be possible to ’measure’ order/disorder mathematically, I cannot help but regard the concept of ’order’ as being really more of a psychological than physical issue. There is clearly an evolutionary advantage in being able to recognise patterns and our brains are wired in a way that does this. Order is when something follows a pattern, disorder is where there is no discernable pattern or where a pattern is disrupted. Everything that we are able to physically recognise in the universe is through our ability to see patterns. Patterns are not things that exist ’out there’ but are our way of bringing a sense of coherence to ’whatever it is’ out there. Our ability to recognise patterns is now so sophisticated that one pattern we can ’see’ is the breaking down of other patterns - disorder. However, to elevate the idea of disorder to a natural law, such that special explanations need to be found in every case where this law appears to be flouted, strikes me as a gross overstatement of the significance of disorder. Indeed, I think it completely misrepresents a psychological trait that is key to perception to regard it as a physical law in this way. And the result is that the cart gets put before the horse.  If the process of evolution is understood properly there is no problem for physics or entropy - the ’improbable configurations’ of matter to which emory refers are in fact the entirely expected results of natural selection.  What we do not yet have is an explanation of how the first simple, pre-DNA and pre-evolutionary life came into being or how the degree of variation occurred which forms the basis of all future evolution - but I don’t see that the answer to these questions is likely to be found in a study of entropy. If it was, then entropy would also have to explain how the sufficiently stable (implying order rather than disorder) environmental conditions necessary for life to come into being (and be supported for billions of years thereafter) came about. It’s just not the right tool for the job.  What we observe with life may be categorised in terms of a balance between order and disorder, but such categorisation does nothing to explain the phenomenon of life any more, it seems to me, than we might say that the underlying quality of a painting is to be found in the weight of paint on the canvas. 

I am intrigued by the idea of God as the ’eventual destination of evolution’ but there is a fundamental problem with it, which is that evolution cannot overcome what it is that separates God from all other beings - the difference between the finite and the infinite.  But perhaps that’s a discussion for another day.            




What is Life?
:: Posted by emory0 on April 01, 2015

In What is Life Schrodinger states that life is basically a mechanism that fights off entropy locally, exporting the entropy elsewhere. I don’t think he was saying that this was ALL that life was, but that it was an essential part of what life is and does, which is true.

As for biological systems breaking the second law of thermodynamics, most physicists have never been too concerned about this and wave it away as a "local" exception, which of course can occur statistically. What is a little more troublesome, however, is the process of evolution, which appears to be a far longer-term violation of thermodynamic laws, in that more and more matter is getting pulled into decidedly improbably configurations as time marches forward over billions of years. I don’t know if statistical physicists ever had a good answer for this, even with the concept of a "spontaneous structure" (which are structures that arise from the underlying statistics of the medium in which they are spawned, such as Jupiter’s great eye).

A fascinating person to read in this context is, of course, the Jesuit anthropologist Pierre Tielhard d’Chardin, who invented the concept of the noosphere and described God as the "Omega Point" and eventual destination of evolution. His written works are absolutely fascinating, and perhaps even more so because he was (as I remember) eventually censured by the church.



Crimso Unplugged
:: Posted by jbricker on April 01, 2015

Is it really too much to ask for a Bluegrass 21CSM?
Banjo, dobro, double bass, penny whistle, harmonica, wash board, and bottles?


KC Unplugged
:: Posted by RickyM on April 01, 2015

Nice one Sid ! Happy April Fools Day to the entire KC family and team.

Regards,
R/


Baby's Been Exstringuished
:: Posted by davidly on April 01, 2015

There has been plenty of third guessing over the years – some of it via this very forum – regarding the origin of the guitar solo on Baby’s on Fire from Brian Eno’s debut album. Appropriately enough, credit given to Paul Rudolph was even implicated in an April Fools’ gag.  This hasn’t stopped Rudolph advocates from insisting the style more akin to the Canadian guitarist’s work with the Pink Fairies than anything Fripp ever produced.  They say it is the additional guitar in the background that is Fripp’s.

The album credits have been anything but definitive about this matter, but someone in the audience at a recent panel discussion featuring Eno decided it was a burning question that had to be answered once and for all.  The following, from the artist’s reply:

"I have heard this question before and, frankly, had never been certain of an answer.  Now, it just so happens that I was going through some old tape recently and came across some notation that was an early version of some of the sketching I subsequently developed for my compositional approach in the studio.  Based upon what I was able to decipher from these, it would seem that I had originally tried to place one of the guitarist’s solos primarily in the foreground and the other, which sounds less like a solo than it does atmospheric accompaniment, just kind of flourishing quietly behind.  Whenever I had given it thought, which was quite infrequent honestly, as I hadn’t really cared one way or the other, but I always kind of knew that it was an overdub and in the back of my mind decided it wasn’t important who had done which take.

"The most interesting thing for me, but which will probably upset a lot of the people who invest an inordinate amount of emotional interest in such things, well, anyway, I was looking at some of the scribbling I had done over the top of the original plan and have now come to the conclusion that there were two traditional solos, as it were, and that I decided in the end to keep the more classic sounding electric guitar elements of both guitarists in the foreground whilst taking turns dropping into the background things I thought served a more atmospheric aspect.  If I had to say, and at least the sketches and notation seem to bear this out, and an objective listen to the track with this in mind does as well, what we have is approximately a fifty-fifty contribution.  Oh, and also, the guitarists in question are not Paul Rudolph and Robert Fripp, but Phil Manzanera and a certain six-string shredding wizard who goes by the name of Skibby MaRue."


Unplugged dance
:: Posted by PigletsDad on April 01, 2015

In an acoustic set, I expect RF will have a chance to show off the nifty dance moves he has perfected over the years - I have seen photos of him playing standing up at Guitar Craft events, so why not?


Unplugged
:: Posted by ChewChewGumChew on April 01, 2015

I can’t wait! I just read that Gordon Haskell is singing with Ade’s Power Trio on the second stage as they play Exposure in it’s entirety.


Crimson Unplugged
:: Posted by rja1967 on April 01, 2015

I actually checked the Green Man Festival site before I realised what the date is today...

However, an acoustic Crim being the electric Crim’s support act is such a wonderfully good idea that I really hope that actual consideration is given to this. 

A lovely set could be put together - "I Talk To The Wind", "Lady Of The Dancing Water", "Cadence and Cascade", "Islands", "Walking On Air", "Book Of Saturday" - there are endless possibilities.

I saw the last Porcupine Tree gig at the Royal Albert Hall a few years ago and PT were their own support band, playing an acoustic set. And it worked perfectly.

Please don’t let this just be an April Fool’s joke, it’s a genuinely brilliant idea.

Cheers,

Richard


KC Unplugged
:: Posted by MartinLennon on April 01, 2015

Y’know, for a moment there...

Thing is, I imagine a great number of people would pay good money to see that. And I do believe it would be stunning.

Would have got me, if it weren’t for the date in the piece.

M


Blush - 2nd law it is
:: Posted by PigletsDad on March 31, 2015

Rogadaire is quite correct; I meant the 2nd law. I remembered correctly that the third law was about entropy, but it is the one about about finite entropy at absolute zero, not about entropy increasing.

Commenting on the other point, about the creation of stars and planets, this does superficially look like a reduction of entropy! What is happening is that the gravitational potential energy of the primordial nebula is reduced as it collapses; this involves dissipative, irreversible processes (like collisions, condensation) that result in an increase in Entropy - for example much of the initial energy is lost as photons radiating away.


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