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Need to Know the Second Law

 By Jack Hokikian, Ph.D.

Version 1.1, Updated 2/23/2018

New: Section VI.  Effect of Technology on Human Attention Span


The law that entropy always increases—the Second Law of Thermodynamics—holds, I think, the supreme position among laws of Nature. [1]

          —Sir Arthur S. Eddington


Every process, event, happening—call it what you will; in a word, everything that is going on in Nature means an increase of the entropy of the part of the world where it is going on. [2]

          —Erwin Schrödinger, Physics Nobel Laureate


 Section I.  Introduction

Physicists and scientists in general have discovered and developed numerous laws of Nature. But there is one law that affects us the most: It is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, simply known as the Second Law. Consequently, it is vitally important for all of us to know what the Second Law is all about.

    The discipline of thermodynamics has two major laws, the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics—the laws of conservation of energy and increase of entropy. These laws govern all processes and activities in Nature and in our Universe—from physical, chemical, and biological, to economic, social, and intellectual. Physicist and philosopher of science, Henry Margenau, has pointed out that "they function as super laws," and they are capitalized. [3]

    The First Law is about a quantity called energy. It states that the amount of energy in the universe is constant; energy cannot be created or destroyed but can be transformed from one form to another.

    The Second Law is about a quantity called entropy. It states that entropy increases in all processes irreversibly. Physicists identify entropy as a measure of the disorder or complexity of a system. The increase in entropy is what we feel and are affected by as individuals, and collectively as humankind.

    The Second Law is based on the fact that all natural processes are irreversible. [4] And irreversible processes always leave an effect or effects in the natural world/immediate environment, which in essence is what entropy is a measure of. The Second Law also leaves an effect on energy. When energy undergoes a transformation, while the quantity of energy remains the same, its quality deteriorates, as its entropy increases.

    In economic terms, The Second Law can be regarded as Nature's unyielding tax collector. It exacts a tax from all our activities by increasing the disorder of our thermodynamic world. No process eludes Nature’s Second Law.

    In life, we all feel and are affected by the cumulative effects of the physical, chemical, biological, social, environmental, economic and intellectual entropies within us and around us. Thus, the Second Law demands our undivided attention.

    Regrettably, we seldom find the concept of entropy in newspapers, magazines, or even books. However, entropy was mentioned when Newsweek did a cover story in 1990 on the importance of scientific knowledge. The article, called "Not Just for Nerds," gathered about five dozen "terms" that anyone with a good knowledge of high-school science should be familiar with. Geothermal energy, Einstein's energy equation (E=mc2), and entropy were among the chosen terms. Newsweek defined entropy succinctly as "the measure of a disorder of a system." [5]

    Because the concepts of energy and entropy are related to the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, which govern all natural processes, they are "not just for nerds" and science students. They are for all of us—farmers, educators, business executives, environmentalists, economists, technologists, policymakers, religious, spiritual, political and world leaders, ecologists, philosophers, reporters, writers and movie producers. While it is important to know the relationship E=mc2, it is much more important to be aware of the Second Law, which states unequivocally that when a certain mass is converted into energy through nuclear processes, the entropy—the measure of disorder of our thermodynamic world—increases irreversibly. This is true for all processes and happenings in our world and universe.

    In our everyday language, we use the word energy but not entropy. The word pollution is usually substituted for entropy, especially when the environment is involved. Here is a typical statement in Audubon, the magazine of the National Audubon Society: "The automobile pollutes, as does virtually every human endeavor, from making a campfire to raising cattle to publishing magazines. [6] A similar statement is found in U.S. News & World Report: "At bottom, economic activity generates pollution, whether it is acid rain, toxic waste or smog." [7] Thermodynamic translation: All processes and activities generate entropy. There are other words and phrases that we use in everyday life that essentially mean entropy such as disorder, waste, complexity, externalities, side effects, collateral effects, dark side, footprint, hidden costs and unintended consequences.

    As more people—worldwide—become familiar with the Laws of thermodynamics, particularly the Second Law, more of us will be aware of the disorders emanating from our socioeconomic, technological and intellectual activities, which are increasing massively and rapidly.

Section II.  Possessions Generate Entropy and Dissipate Time  

Man rushes first to be saved by technology, and then to be saved from it. We Americans are front runners in both races. [8]

          —Gerald Sykes, American Social Critic


The Second Law also makes a statement about the flow of time. It states that all natural processes are irreversible, which makes the flow of time irrecoverable. Historically, the Greek philosophers had attempted to develop the concept of time, among them Aristotle. He had concluded that time has both an arrow-like as well as a durational character, which we measure through clocks. When the Second Law was formulated stating that entropy increases in all processes in our universe, astrophysicist and philosopher of science Sir Arthur Eddington declared that entropy increase gives us the direction of "time's arrow." [9]

    The Second Law tells us that the devices and technologies that we are now surrounded with, while creating processes, generate entropy and dissipate time. Not surprisingly, we have less time for ourselves than our parents and grandparents had. Recently, CBS Los Angeles investigative reporter (KNX 10.70 Newsradio), Charles Feldman, broadcast a report entitled: "Time Savers Or Time Wasters? Smartphones, Tablets Have Invaded Our Lives." [10] In it, he points out that "buying a smartphone or tablet computer is not the end of the journey, but only the beginning." These devices demand a lot of attention from us. One user confided that before cell phones and smartphones, he was out in the ocean diving and jogging and exercising, and working on vehicles and a lot of other things. Now he spends a lot time maintaining these devices.

    In the report, Feldman states that these advanced technological devices have "literally invaded our lives." Psychiatrist and neuroscientist Peter Whybrow, M.D. of UCLA agrees with Feldman. He states that these machines, especially the ones we can carry with us like smartphones "are very, very attention dragging. So they create I think a continuous stream of intervention in your life. . . . The smartphone invades us."

    Speaking of these electronic devices, Feldman asks the fundamental question: "Who is the master, and who is the slave?" The answer was given to us in 1981 by the noted biologist, Mary Eleanor Clark. In a conversation with an editor of U.S. News & World Report, she stated: "In America and other advanced cultures, belief in technology has become a religious faith. . . . We have become its servants rather than its masters." [11]

Section III.  Drowning in a Sea of Words

      Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

      Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? [12]

                —T. S. Eliot

Technologically advanced societies are continuously making efforts toward increasing our productivity in generating information. As early as 1982, Peter J. Denning, past president of the Association for Computing Machinery, brought to our attention that the automation products, such as word processors, computer networks, voice messaging, electronic mail and satellite communication, are all touted as time-saving miracle tools of the information age. He stated that there is no question that these tools, especially when all are available together, greatly improve our productivity to write and distribute documents, adding: "But such tools may also increase the verbiage without increasing the number of ideas. . . . Who will save the receivers from drowning in the rising tide of information so generated?" And as we increase more and more of these entropy-generating machines, we will be increasing what Denning called "Electronic Junk." [13] A decade earlier, philosopher and social critic Lewis Mumford had coined the term "Electronic Entropy." [14]

    Since then, thanks to technological advances, our ability to produce electronic entropy has increased dramatically. IBM points out that "Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data." [15] The overall quantity of data produced per day is well defined. The quality of the content, however, is undefined.

    Unquestionably, generating so much data every day has a significant effect on us and on society at large.

Section IV.  Effects of Technology on Thinking and Reasoning

                 I think, therefore I am

                  —René Descartes

In 1995, Datamation Magazine, in the section Press Watch, had a short article entitled "Number-Crunching 1, Thought 0." Here it is: " 'On any given day, for the past 20 years at least, the cost of adding or multiplying two numbers has been half of what it was 18 months earlier,' says economist Donald McCloskey in his column 'Computation Outstrips Analysis' for the July Scientific American. 'Elegant analysis still costs as much time and effort as it ever did, but number crunching becomes ever cheaper.' Consequently, people are tailoring the sorts of questions they ask to ones that computers can answer. It's not GIGO [Garbage In, Garbage Out], but something more insidious: the swift decline of deep, rigorous reasoning of the sort that's been practiced since the ancient Greeks cooked it up. -LT." [16]

    In August 2013, The Economist, had also an article on the issue of thinking. In the section called Schumpeter, the title reads, "In praise of laziness: Businesspeople would be better off if they did less and thought more." The article points out that in today's business world, there is "too many distractions and interruptions, . . . and altogether too much busy-ness.” There are various explanations to this situation, such as too many meetings, which the Dutch call "meeting sickness." However, a study in 2012 by the McKinsey Global Institute "suggests that it is e-mails: it found that highly skilled office workers spend more than a quarter of each working day writing and responding to them." The article adds: "Workers generate e-mails because it requires little effort and no thought." Moreover, "Americans now toil for eight-and-a-half hours a week more than they did in 1979." [17]

    A 2015 study by OfficeTime supports McKinsey Global Institute's findings as reported by Brigid Schulte in The Washington Post. She tells us that OfficeTime.net, a time tracking software company based in London, found out through a survey that "e-mail is the biggest time waster of our day. Meetings came in a close second." [18] (Schulte is the author of Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time.)

Section V.  Effects of Technology on Our Lives and Health

The effects of technology on our lives and especially on our health was the subject of NBC Nightly News. In a segment entitled "Binge Working Increases Risk of Heart Attack," NBC's Tom Costello starts the report with the statement: "They call it the great American speed up, so many of us today seem to be in overdrive, . . . in today's 24/7 world, many employees feel they can never escape the office, expected to answer phone calls and e-mails in the dead of night, on weekends, even while vacationing." To which technology reporter Bob Sullivan adds: "It took about 200 years for unions to get us a 40-hour work week, and it took smartphones about five years to completely take them away." Costello points out that those who work many more hours a day consistently and sleeping less have a greater risk of having a heart attack. Dr. Allen Taylor, chief of cardiology at the Medstar Heart Institute, adds: "The data shows about a third of heart disease could be related to stress, and that chronic overwork could be about a doubling of your risk for heart disease." [19]

    A survey in 2012 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "estimated that almost a third of working adults get six hours or less of sleep at night." [20]

    The effects of technology, in particular smartphones, was also the subject of an article by Simon Denyer and Xu Yangjingjing of The Washington Post entitled: "In China, smartphones are wrecking marriages and dividing families." They write: A survey by the All China Women's Federation (ACWF) "found that 60 percent of married respondents complained about intrusion from smartphone use in their relationship." Adding, "Mobile electronic devices have become the 'electronic enemy of love,' " the survey said. "Overuse of the devices has become 'a major enemy to spousal relations, parental relations and personal health.' "

    In the article, the authors point out: "None of this is unique to China, of course," citing a study done in the United States by a Pew Research Center on the effects of cell phones on the owners in a marriage or partnership. [21] Yes, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is everywhere.

    Smartphones and other handheld mobile technologies have created a new medical disorder, which was coined "Text Neck" by Dr. Dean L. Fishman, a chiropractor, a health care provider for technology-induced injuries. The term is used "to explain the repeated stress injury to the body caused by excessive texting and overuse of all handheld electronic devices." And the health condition "is derived from the onset of cervical spinal degeneration resulting from the repeated stress of frequent forward head flexion while looking down at the screens of mobile devices and 'texting' for long periods of time." This medical disorder "is impacting millions and is a growing critical global concern." [22]

    Text Neck has attracted media's attention. Recently, Lindsey Bever of The Washington Post [23] and Lily Dayton of Los Angeles Times had articles providing substantial information on the subject, which include historical background. [24]

    On this topic, effects of technology on us, Huffington Post has numerous articles, which is an indication that the entropy our technologies are creating is truly significant. One such article is by David Volpi, M.D. entitled: "Heavy Technology Use Linked to Fatigue, Stress and Depression in Young Adults."

    Dr. Volpi starts the article with this sentence: "Modern technology is affecting our sleep." He cites the results of studies by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, which "revealed that intensive use of cell phones and computers can be linked to an increase in stress, sleep disorders and depressive symptoms in young adults." [25] At the end of the article, there is a list of related topics with many articles in them, such as: "4 Ways Technology Is Making You Age Faster," Yagana Shah [26]; "iPhone Addiction: 6 Signs Your Smartphone Is Stressing You Out," Carolyn Gregoire [27]; "Sneaky Ways Technology Is Messing With Your Body And Mind," Lindsay Holmes [28]; and "Technology: The Law of Unintended Consequences," Dr. Jim Taylor, Adjunct faculty, University of San Francisco [29]. In thermodynamics terminology, the title becomes: "Technology: The Law of Increasing Entropy."

    In the essay Dr. Taylor writes: "let me introduce you to the Law of Unintended Consequences and why I am so concerned about the breakneck pace of technological development. According to Wikipedia.com, this law states 'that any purposeful action will produce some unanticipated or unintended consequences [entropy].' Furthermore, it is 'a warning against the hubristic belief that humans can fully control the world around them.' " The Laws of Thermodynamics, especially the Second Law, fully control the world around us and within us, as well as the entire universe for that matter.

    In the next paragraph, he writes: "The Law of Unintended Consequences can be seen everywhere in our lives." It's understandable; the Second Law is everywhere. He adds: "And it is absolutely pervasive in the new world of computer and communication technology. Consider the Internet, the Web, mobile phones, texting, facebook, and twitter." Yes, they are all entropy increasers.

Section VI.  Effect of Technology on Human Attention Span

Technology has another effect on us. In his 1980 book entitled, On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction, William Zinsser asks the question in PART I, Section 2, entitled Simplicity, "Who is this elusive creature the reader? And he answers: He is a person with an attention span of about twenty seconds. He is assailed on every side by forces competing for his time: by newspapers and magazines, by television and radio and stereo, . . ." [30] Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines attention span: "the length of time during which an individual is able to concentrate." [31]

(In the previous page, Zinsser wrote: "Simplify, simplify, Thoreau said it, as we are so often reminded . . ." It looks like complexity had started to become apparent in 19th century.)

What is the situation now about attention span considering the effect or effects of today’s technologies on us, i.e., the entropy? In 2015, a study/survey of Canadian Media by Microsoft has discovered that human attention span is now even shorter than a goldfish. Articles were written on this issue. In Canada, researchers surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Overall, Microsoft discovered that since the year 2000around the time the mobile revolution startedthe average attention span fell from 12 to 8 seconds. As to goldfish, the “average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds,” writes Kevin McSpadden in Time Magazine, adding “highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.” [32]

On the same topic, Timothy Egan writes in the New York Times: “Attention span was defined as ‘the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted.’ I tried to read the entire 54-page report, but well, you know. Still, a quote from Satya Nadella, the chief executive officer of Microsoft, jumped out at me. ‘The true scarce commodity’ of the near future, he said, will be ‘human attention.’” In the next paragraph, Egan adds: “there seems little doubt that our devices have rewired our brains. We think in McNugget time. . . . I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone.” [33].

Speaking of attention span and smartphones, journalist Leon Watson writes in The Telegraph an article entitled “Humans have shorter attention span than goldfish, thanks to smartphones.” It starts with: “The average human’s attention span is… oh look, a bird!

According to scientists, the age of smartphones has left humans such a short attention span that even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer.”[34]

(In the article, there is the title and the URL of a study about children and the Internet: Children with short attention spans ‘failing to read books.’)

In Medical Daily, Lizette Borreli writes about the study: “In the digital age, where news is limited to 140 characters and conversations take place in the form of emojis, our attention span has shortened,” and tells about the results of the study. In the next paragraph, she writes: “The rise of gadget use in the 21st century means our lives have become increasingly more digital at home, work, and school. In the U.S., nearly two-thirds of Americans are smartphone owners, with many users utilizing their phones for online access, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll.” The number of people affected by the usage of smarphones is significant, demanding attention.

Borreli states that “there are ways to improve attention span amid the ongoing texts, tweets, and other interruptions.” She tells us what they are in the next three paragraphs: 1. Drink More Fluids; 2. Exercise; 3. Avoid Electronic Devices. [35]

Timothy Egan also tells us ways to improve attention span. He writes: “I don’t know what the neuroscience has to say about this, but I’ve found a pair of antidotes, very old school, for my shrinking attention span.

“The first is gardening. You plant something in the cold, wet soil of the fall — tulip bulbs or garlic — and then you want to shout, “Grow!” Eight seconds later, nothing. . . .”

The Second is deep reading, especially in the hibernation months of winter. . . .”  

The question remains: What is happening to our brain? The Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us what’s happening to our brain using smartphones. As mentioned earlier, all processes leave an effect or effects in the immediate environment. And the overall effect is called the entropy [See Section I. Introduction]. In this case, the usage of smartphones is deteriorating the quality of the brain to function properly.

The study also found something upbeat: Kevin McSpadden writes: “On the positive side, the report says our ability to multitask has drastically improved in the mobile age.” In The Telegraph, Leon Watson puts it this way: “The study, by technology giant Microsoft, did however find that the ability of humans to multitask has improved.” Example: "They’re better at identifying what they want/don’t want to engage with and need less to process and commit things to memory."

Thermodynamics tells us to look at the total thermodynamic situation. It depends what the multitasking is about. If it involves driving and texting, the situation changes immensely. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has a webpage, which talks about this topic “The Dangers of Distracted Driving.” It starts with the sentence:

“The popularity of mobile devices has had some unintended and sometimes deadly consequences [entropy]. An alarming number of traffic accidents are linked to driving while distracted, including use of mobile devices while driving, resulting in injury and loss of life. The most recent national statistics are sobering.” One of the statistics states that “in 2015, there were 3,477 people killed and an estimated additional 391,000 people injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. [36]

Two journalists end their articles with a question and one journalist with a statement that has some humor [the topic needs it]:

Leon Watson: “Are you addicted to your mobile phone?”

Lizette Borreli: So how many of you go through this article without checking your other electronic devices? 

Kevin McSpadden: “And now congratulate yourself for concentrating long enough to make it through this article.”

Section VII.  Agriculture and the Second Law

In November 2013, The Washington Post had an article under the heading: Innovations, entitled "Bill Gates: ‘The pace of innovation today is faster than ever.’ " The article begins with these sentences:

    "Bill Gates guest edited the December issue of Wired Magazine and discussed the crucial role of innovation in improving the world:

    "Two out of every five people on Earth today owe their lives to the higher crop outputs that fertilizer has made possible. It helped fuel the Green Revolution, an explosion of agricultural productivity that lifted hundreds of millions of people around the world out of poverty.

     "These days I get to spend a lot of time trying to advance innovation that improves people's lives in the same way that fertilizer did. Let me reiterate this: A full 40 percent of Earth's population is alive today because, in 1909, a German chemist named Fritz Haber figured out how to make synthetic ammonia. . . ." [37]

    There is no question that fertilizers increase crop yields. However, as the father of quantum mechanics, Max Planck (Nobel Prize in physics, 1918), has reminded us, we need to account for the total thermodynamic situation. (His Ph.D. dissertation was on the Second Law of Thermodynamics.) [38] As it turns out, the innovationsynthetic ammoniaby Haber (Nobel Prize in chemistry, 1918) is an important ingredient not only for fertilizers but also for explosives. The Internet has many articles about the connection between fertilizers and explosives. One such article comes from ABC News entitled: "FBI Letter Warns of Fertilizer Purchases for Explosives." [39]

    The Green Revolution, also known as high-intensity agriculture, depends heavily on four technologies: mechanization, irrigation, fertilization, and chemical control of weeds and insects through herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. All four technologies have helped raise yields per hectare, but they have also perturbed the cycles of the biosphere and have contributed to substantial increases to the entropy of our thermodynamic world.

    The main architect of the Green Revolution was Norman Borlaug (Nobel Peace Prize 1970). In his book, The Heat is On, reporter Ross Gelbspan writes that Borlaug "intended the Green Revolution to be a short-term effort by which poorer countries could develop modern, sustainable growing practices." But this has not been the case. As professor of agriculture sciences, David Pimentel of Cornell University and physics Nobel laureate (1990) Henry Kendall of MIT have pointed out, "the Green Revolution has been implemented in a manner that has not proved environmentally sustainable. The technology has enhanced soil erosion, polluted groundwater and surface water resources, and increased pesticide use has caused serious public health and environmental problems." [40]

    Humanity has benefited from the use of fertilizers through increases in food production. And in the process, humanity has paid and is still paying a high price to the Second Law through massive increases in entropy. The runoff of chemical fertilizers into rivers, lakes and subterranean waters has created some pernicious problems for humanity and other living organisms. One is the chemical pollution of our drinking water. Excessive nitrate levels in water have the effect of reducing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. This physiological disorder can be particularly dangerous to children under five. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development lists nitrate pollution as one of the most serious water quality problems in Europe and North America. [41]

    The second hazard of fertilizer runoff, and the much greater one due to its profound effects on the environment, comes from the phenomenon called eutrophication. When inorganic nitrates and phosphates are discharged into rivers and other sources of fresh water, they provide a fertile medium for the growth of algae. The resulting massive growth of algae depletes the water of its oxygen supply and gradually kills off the fish. Eventually, the overfertilization (eutrophication) of a lake or river brings about its death as a source of fresh water. This environmental problem is apparent in the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River's terminus, where a "dead zone" the size of New Jersey forms in summers. [42]

    Nature has an amazing way of collecting taxes, which is through increases in the entropy—disorder—of the thermodynamic system. The more intense means we use to pluck food from Nature, the more we increase the entropy of our environment.

    In early August, 2014, an algae bloom in Lake Erie contaminated the drinking water of Tolido, which attracted considerable attention in the news media, including, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.

    There are a few factors that contribute to the algae bloom. Fertilizers are always there. Here is what NY Times' Michael Wines wrote: "It took a serendipitous slug of toxins and the loss of drinking water for a half-million residents to bring home what scientists and government officials in this part of the country have been saying for years: Lake Erie is in trouble, and getting worse by the year.

   "Flooded by tides of phosphorus washed from fertilized farms, cattle feedlots and leaky septic systems, the most intensely developed of the Great Lakes is increasingly being choked each summer by thick mats of algae, much of it poisonous." He points out that experts say what plagues Toledo "is increasingly a serious problem across the United States." [43] Interestingly, Wines had an article on this issue in February, 2014 entitled: "Fertilizer Limits Sought Near Lake Erie to Fight Spread of Algae." [44]

    On this issue, Los Angeles Times' Michael Muskal had an article entitled "Water ban over, Toledo drinks from tap again; Erie algae a big problem." He writes: "Algae blooms are not uncommon, particularly in Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes. Phosphorous runoff from fertilizer and animal waste can cause the algae to grow." Gary Fahnenstiel, a research scientist at the University of Michigan Water Center, told Muskal that the crisis is deeper than just one season. "The resurgence of harmful algae blooms in western Lake Erie over the last decade or so is attributable to at least three factors. One is the flow of phosphorus from agricultural land. The other factors that are often overlooked are climate change and invasive mussels."

    Muskal points out that "Ohio lawmakers took a step toward tackling the algae problem when they enacted a law earlier this year requiring most farmers to undergo training before they use commercial fertilizers on their fields. But the law stopped short of mandating restrictions on farmers." [45]

    Mark Berman of The Washington Post also had an article on this matter. He writes: "Toledo's water notice on Saturday said that the problem may have been due to algae at Lake Erie, . . . .The surge in algae is believed to be due to fertilizer used around the lake that is pushed into the lake by rain. The International Joint Commission, a U.S.-Canadian agency, said in a report issued earlier this year that fertilizer limits would be needed. [46]

    Darryl Fears of The Washington Post has also written on this subject, such as the article in July, 2011 entitled "Alarming 'dead zone' grows in the Chesapeake." The article begins this way: "A giant underwater 'dead zone' in the Chesapeake Bay is growing at an alarming rate because of unusually high nutrient pollution levels this year, according to Virginia and Maryland officials. . . ."

    "Nutrient pollution from chemicals such as fertilizers provide a feast for bay algae, which bloom and die in a rapid cycle. They decompose into a black glob that sucks oxygen out of deeper waters. Oysters and other shellfish are doomed in dead zones. . . ."

    "A similar phenomenon is taking shape in the Mississippi River Valley, where tons of chemical fertilizer run off huge industrial farms, the Nature Conservancy announced recently." [47]

    Moreover, we should not overlook the fact that the production of fertilizers also create entropy in the environment, which in itself is appreciable. [48]

    Humanity is beginning to feel the consequences of the Laws of Thermodynamics, which are asserting themselves with great authority. "Crop and animal yields can be increased significantly," remarks chemist G. Tyler Miller, Jr., "but many agricultural optimists have forgotten or do not understand the environmental penalty extracted by the second law." [49] In agriculture, as in all areas of human endeavor, it is crucial that we pay attention to the Laws of Thermodynamics, especially the Second Law.

Version 2.0 will cover more topics

Jack Hokikian's email: jhokikian@losfelizpublishing.com



Title: Need to Know the Second Law

[1] Quoted in G. Tyler Miller, Jr., Energetics, Kinetics, and Life: An Ecological Approach (Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1971), p. 143; Jack Hokikian, The Science of Disorder: Understanding the Complexity, Uncertainty, and Pollution in Our World (Los Angeles: Los Feliz Publishing, 2002), p. 30.

[2] Erwin Schrödinger, What is Life? (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1944), p. 72; Hokikian, The Science of Disorder, pp. 65-66.

Section I.  Introduction

[3] Henry Margenau, The Nature of Physical Reality: A Philosophy of Modern Physics (Woodbridge, Conn.: Ox Bow Press, 1977 Reprint), p. 212; Hokikian, The Science of Disorder, p. 147.

[4] See, for example, Max Plank, Treatise on Thermodynamics, 3rd. ed., trans. by Alexander Ogg (New York: Dover Publications, 1945), pp. 82-83, p. 88; Ludwig Boltzmann, Lectures on Gas Theory, trans. by Stephen G. Brush (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964), pp. 444-45; Hokikian, The Science of Disorder, pp. 25-26.

[5] "Not Just for Nerds," Newsweek, April 9, 1990, pp. 55, 62-63; Hokikian, The Science of Disorder, p. 239.

[6] Stephan Wilkinson, "The Automobile and the Environment: Our Next Car?" Audubon, May-June 1993, p. 58; Hokikian The Science of Disorder p. 240.

[7] Betsy Carpenter, "Living with Our Legacy," U.S. News & World Report, April 23,1990, p. 65; Hokikian, The Science of Disorder, p. 240.

Section II.  Possessions Generate Entropy and Dissipate Time

[8] Quoted in René Dubos, Reason Awake: Science for Man (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970), p. 179; Hokikian, The Science of Disorder, p. 105. (Gerald Sykes was professor of sociology at the New School of Social Research at Columbia University.)

[9] See, for example, Peter V. Coveney and Roger Highfield, The Arrow of Time: A Voyage Through Science to Solve Time's Greatest Mystery (New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1991, copyright 1990), p. 24. See also Hokikian, The Science of Disorder, p. 38. For more information on the flow of time/arrow of time, see in this Website: An Essay: Time Travel: Possible or Impossible?

[10] Charles Feldman, "Time Savers Or Time Wasters? Smartphones, Tablets Have Invaded Our Lives," KNX 10.70, September 13, 2012.

[11] "A Conversation with Mary Eleanor Clark: 'We Have Become Servants,' Not Masters, of Technology," U.S. News & World Report, August 17, 1981, p. 48; Hokikian, The Science of Disorder, p. 105.

Section III. Drowning in a Sea of Words

[12] T. S. Eliot, Complete Poems and Plays (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1952), p. 96; Hokikian, The Science of Disorder, p. 75.

[13] Peter J. Denning, "ACM President's Letter, Electronic Junk," Comm. of the ACM, March 1982, pp. 163-65; Hokikian, The Science of Disorder, pp. 99-100.

[14] Lewis Mumford, The Myth of the Machine: The Pentagon of Power (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970), p. 293; Hokikian, The Science of Disorder, p. 100.

[15] "IBM: Bringing big data to the enterprise."

Section IV. Effects of Technology on Thinking and Reasoning

[16] "Number-Crunching 1, Thought 0," Datamation, August 1, 1995, p. 78.

[17] Schumpeter, "In praise of laziness: Businesspeople would be better off if they did less and thought more," The Economist, August 17, 2013.

[18] Brigid Schulte, "It's not all in your head: E-mail really is the biggest waste of your time, The Washington Post, February 10, 2015.

Section V.  Effects of Technology on Our Lives and Health

[19] "Binge Working Increases Risk of Heart Attack," NBC Nightly News, January 29, 2014.

[20] Schumpeter, "In praise of laziness: Businesspeople would be better off if they did less and thought more," The Economist, August 17, 2013.

[21] Simon Denyer and Xu Yangjingjing, "In China, smartphones are wrecking marriages and dividing families," The Washington Post, May 6, 2015.

[22] Dr. Dean L. Fishman's Website: The Text Neck Institute.

[23] Lindsey Bever, " 'Text Neck' is becoming an 'epidemic' and could wreck your spine," The Washington Post, November 20, 2014.

[24] Lily Dayton, "Teens' compulsive texting can cause neck injury, experts warn," Los Angeles Times, April 3, 2015.

[25] David Volpi, M.D., "Heavy Technology Use Linked to Fatigue, Stress and Depression in Young Adults, Huffington Post, October 2, 2012.

[26] Yagana Shah, "4 Ways Technology is Making You Age Faster," Huffington Post, April 8, 2015.

[27]; Carolyn Gregoire, "iPhone Addiction: 6 Signs Your Smartphone Is Stressing You Out," Huffington Post, March 25, 2013.

[28] Lindsay Holmes, "Sneaky Ways Technology Is Messing With Your Body And Mind," Huffington Post, December 5, 2014.

[29] Dr. Jim Taylor, "Technology: The Law of Unintended Consequences," Huffington Post, May 25, 2011.

Section VI.  Effect of Technology on Human Attention Span

[30] William K. Zinsser, On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction, Second Edition. (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1980), pp. 8-9.

[31] Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, a Merriam-Webster, G. & C. Mirriam Company, Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Copyright 1979.

[32] Kevin McSpadden, You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish, Time Magazine, May 14, 2015.

[33] Timothy Egan, The Eight-Second Attention Span, New York Times, January 22, 2016.

[34] Leon Watson, Humans have shorter attention span than goldfish, thanks to smartphones, The Telegraph, Science, May 15, 2015

[35] Lizette Borreli, Human Attention Span Shortens To 8 Seconds Due To Digital Technology: 3 Ways To Stay Focused, May 14, 2015.

[36] Federal Communication Commission (FCC), The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Section VII.  Agriculture and the Second Law

[37] Matt McFarland, "Bill Gates: ‘The pace of innovation today is faster than ever.’ " The Washington Post, November 13, 2013.

[38] Max Planck, Treatise on Thermodynamics, 3rd.ed., trans. by Alexander Ogg (New York: Dover Publications, 1945), pp. 104-05.

[39] Clayton Sandell, "FBI Letter Warns of Fertilizer Purchases for Explosives," ABC News, February 24, 2011.

[40] Ross Gelbspan, The Heat is On: The High Stakes Battle Over Earth's Threatened Climate (New York: Addison-Wesley, 1997), p. 155; Hokikian, The Science of Disorder, p. 122.

[41] Gary Gardner, "Recycling Organic Wastes," in Lester R. Brown et al., State of the World 1998 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998), p.100; Hokikian, The Science of Disorder, p. 115.

[42] Ibid.; See also G. Tyler Miller, Jr., Energetics, Kinetics, and Life: An Ecological Approach (Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1971), pp. 299-300.

[43] Michael Wines, "Behind Toledo's Water Crisis, a Long-Troubled Lake Erie," The New York Times, August 4, 2014.

[44] Michael Wines, "Fertilizer Limits Sought Near Lake Erie to Fight Spread of Algae," The New York Times, February 26, 2014.

[45] Michael Muskal, "Water ban over, Toledo drinks from tap again; Erie algae a big problem," Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2014.

[46] Mark Berman, "Toledo's water ban and the sensitivity of our drinking systems," The Washington Post, August 4, 2014.

[47] Darryl Fears, "Alarming 'dead zone' grows in the Chesapeake," The Washington Post, July 24, 2011.

[48] G. Tyler Miller, Jr., Energetics, Kinetics, and Life, p. 300.

[49] Ibid.; Hokikian, The Science of Disorder, p. 122; For problems arising from Green Revolution, see also Dr. Patricia S. Muir, "Problems with Green Revolution Agriculture," October 2, 2004.