Entropy, Its Language, and Interpretation

  title={Entropy, Its Language, and Interpretation},
  author={Harvey S. Leff},
  journal={Foundations of Physics},
  • H. S. Leff
  • Published 1 August 2007
  • Mathematics
  • Foundations of Physics
Abstract The language of entropy is examined for consistency with its mathematics and physics, and for its efficacy as a guide to what entropy means. Do common descriptors such as disorder, missing information, and multiplicity help or hinder understanding? Can the language of entropy be helpful in cases where entropy is not well defined? We argue in favor of the descriptor spreading, which entails space, time, and energy in a fundamental way. This includes spreading of energy spatially during… Expand

Figures from this paper

Energy Spreading or Disorder? Understanding Entropy from the Perspective of Energy
Scientific explanations for the cause of spontaneous processes can be understood from the energy perspective. The second law of thermodynamics shows that all real spontaneous processes lead to anExpand
Do Thermodynamic Entropy and Quantum Non-locality Have a Common Basis?
The idea that energy is motive and extensive by nature, and that all its forms of expression involve motion, action, and propagation, clearly leads to its being spread and shared when unconstrained, among the available microstates of its local system and the larger environment, explains both 2nd Law entropy and quantum non-locality. Expand
What is entropy? - reflections for science teaching
This work seeks to promote a reflection on the existing discrepancies around the conceptualization of entropy in terms of disorder and its impacts on the learning process at all levels of teaching, listing other conceptual possibilities, among which Shannon’s entropy is seen as more adequate to represent the entire body of multidisciplinary knowledge arising from information theory, including quantum computing. Expand
Removing the Mystery of Entropy and Thermodynamics — Part I
Energy and entropy are centerpieces of physics. Energy is typically introduced in the study of classical mechanics. Although energy in this context can be challenging, its use in thermodynamics andExpand
Temporal evolution, directionality of time and irreversibility
— The aim of the present interdisciplinary review is to carry out a comparative analysis of the notions of thermodynamic entropy, information entropy and entropy of non-equilibrium states and flow ofExpand
Does the Non-Locality of Quantum Phenomena Guarantee the Emergence of Entropy?
Quantum-Mechanical objects and phenomena have a different nature, and follow a different set of rules, from their classical counterparts. Two interesting aspects are the superposition of states andExpand
Chemical engineering students' ideas of entropy
Thermodynamics, and in particular entropy, has been found to be challenging for students, not least due to its abstract character. Comparisons with more familiar and concrete domains, by means ofExpand
Multiscale Entropy in the Spatial Context of Cities
Entropy relates the fast, microscopic behaviour of the elements in a system to its slow, macroscopic state. We propose to use it to explain how, as complexity theory suggests, small scale decisionsExpand
In Search of Time Lost: Asymmetry of Time and Irreversibility in Natural Processes
In this survey, we discuss and analyze foundational issues of the problem of time and its asymmetry from a unified standpoint. Our aim is to discuss concisely the current theories and underlyingExpand
The Carnot Cycle, Reversibility and Entropy
  • D. Sands
  • Computer Science, Physics
  • Entropy
  • 2021
In this paper, reversibility and irreversibility are investigated by means of a macroscopic formulation of internal mechanisms of damping based on rate equations for the distribution of energy within a gas. Expand


The meanings of entropy
These conceptions of entropy, which have been successively assimilated to different concepts such as disorder and information, are revisited, and disorder or agitation is shown to be more appropriately linked with temperature. Expand
Entropy Is Simple, Qualitatively
Qualitatively, entropy is simple. What it is, why it is useful in understanding the behavior of macro systems or of molecular systems is easy to state: Entropy increase from a macro viewpoint is aExpand
Thermodynamic entropy: The spreading and sharing of energy
A new approach to thermodynamic entropy is proposed to supplement traditional coverage at the junior–senior level. It entails a model for which: (i) energy spreads throughout macroscopic matter andExpand
Disorder - A Cracked Crutch for Supporting Entropy Discussions
To aid students in visualizing an increase in entropy, many elementary chemistry texts use artists' before-and-after drawings of groups of "orderly" molecules that become "disorderly". This seems toExpand
What if entropy were dimensionless
One of entropy’s puzzling aspects is its dimensions of energy/temperature. A review of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics leads to six conclusions: (1) Entropy’s dimensions are linked to theExpand
Forces, Uncertainty, and the Gibbs Entropy
A physicist's educated intuition indicates that the presence of some readily analyzed forces in a gas reduces one's uncertainty about the actual state of affairs at the molecular level below theExpand
Algorithmic randomness and physical entropy.
  • Zurek
  • Physics, Medicine
  • Physical review. A, General physics
  • 1989
Algorithmic randomness is typically very difficult to calculate exactly but relatively easy to estimate, and is essential in describing the operation of thermodynamic engines from the viewpoint of information gathering and using systems. Expand
The Many Faces of Irreversibility
  • K. Denbigh
  • Mathematics
  • The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
  • 1989
Irreversibility, it is claimed, is a much broader concept than is entropy increase, as is shown by the occurrence of certain processes which are irreversible without seeming to involve any intrinsicExpand
Insight into entropy
What is the qualitative character of entropy? Several examples from statistical mechanics (including liquid crystal reentrant phases, two different lattice gas models, and the game of poker)Expand
A different approach to introducing statistical mechanics
The basic notions of statistical mechanics (microstates, multiplicities) are quite simple, but understanding how the second law arises from these ideas requires working with cumbersomely largeExpand