Monday, August 31, 2015

Leaf Blowers and Entropy

The other day, the gardeners were in our neighbor's back yard and blowing away at the leaves.  As they usually do, they try to corral the leaves in one corner of the yard where they can then scoop them up and haul them off somewhere.  Unfortunately, when they blow them up against the fence that separates them from our yard, a good deal of the leaves and other debris ends up in our yard.  So yes, I am one of those people that thinks that leaf blowers are a bad idea.
But that is not my main point here.  My point is to talk about a definition of entropy that sees it as a degree of disorder.  In this view, entropy is created when the world becomes more disordered.  The gardener with the leaf blower lowers the entropy in his client's back yard but increases the overall entropy of the neighborhood by expending energy to create more order in a specific place at the cost of the larger environment.
This is how living organisms operate as well.  They hold entropy at bay internally by increasing overall entropy in their environment.  And it is only by holding entropy at bay by sucking energy out of their environment that living organisms can stay alive.
Still, it would be good if gardeners could work out a better way to remove leaves than by leafblowing and still put food on their table.

1 comment:

John Petersen said...

Love your perspective on this Wolf - great topic. I couldn't agree more although I don't think I would have been as analytical and level headed as you! The dirt blowers are a metaphor and daily reminder of everything mankind is doing backwards in our relationship to the world.