Re: [Fis] Fis Digest, Vol 10, Issue 22

2015-01-21 Thread Terrence W. DEACON
Dear Malcom Dean,

Unless you are claiming that the past 150 year of thermodynamics is bunk, I
think your denial needs qualification. Of course entropy is a
mathematical variable. And yes it balances equations. And yes it assesses
only one aspect of the changes that occur in a physical transformation. And
yes we should be wary of reifying every operator or variable in our
mathematical models of physical processes. But this particular measure of
state is not just a figment of some mathematician's imagination. It does a
terrific job of making predictions about the outcomes of physical
processes. To deny that the measurable value called 'entropy' increases
with mechanical or chemical work in an isolated system seems to deny a
pretty clean paraphrasing of the 2nd law. Is that really your claim? Or is
this merely a quibble about phraseology?

Although I have problems with some overstated versions of the maximum
entropy production principle (MEPP), I think that for the most part it
captures an important attribute of far-from-equilibrium processes. Yes
creation of entropy was perhaps an odd way to describe this production,
but you seem to be reading something into this phraseology that I don't
think was intended. This did not read to me like a something-from-nothing
claim or to reify entropy as some sort of substance. However, your last it
from bit statement, though coined by an eminent physicist and very popular
in some domains, does in my opinion make an unwarranted claim of this sort.
At the very least it collapses some critical distinctions about what
information is that my piece attempts to unpack. I consider the use of the
term 'information' in this context to be quite misleadingly metaphoric.
Finally, your claim about information and object creation seem vastly more
speculative and ambiguous than any of the statements made about entropy and
work.

How about some constructive criticism of the paper, since it develops ideas
that appear to be in conflict with some of your assumptions?

— Terry

On Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 12:36 AM, Malcolm Dean malcolmd...@gmail.com
wrote:

 On 2015-01-19 20:37 GMT+01:00 Joshua Augustus Bacigalupi 
 bacigalupiwo...@gmail.com wrote to the FIS list:
 
   Josh Bacigalupi here, fellow pirate.  Thank you all for this
 thoughtful discussion.
  
   ... We can all agree that the creation of entropy is necessary to do
 work; ...


 With respect, this statement should not continue to go unchallenged. I for
 one do not agree.

 Entropy is a mathematical variable which balances equations, but cannot
 possibly describe the conditions and actual processes which lead to work,
 enable its completion, or detail its purpose. The variable entropy
 describes only one aspect. It is like claiming homeostasis as a complete
 description of a human.

 The constant danger is coming to believe in variables thrown into some
 picture, such as we see in recent cosmology. They are reified. They become,
 as a result, objects of faith, even worldviews (Rifkin 1981). If someone
 claims mathematics as prior to cosmology, that scientific faith should not
 be presented as if it is a proven fact.

 It is ridiculous to continue talking about creation of entropy. What is
 created are new conditions, fresh processes, and objects. The point of a
 thermodynamic process, or more generally, an Information process, is
 object-creation. It from bit.

 Thermodynamics is only a part of an Information process (Lerner 2014) [
 http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.7041 ].

 Malcolm Dean







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-- 
Professor Terrence W. Deacon
University of California, Berkeley
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Re: [Fis] Fis Digest, Vol 10, Issue 22

2015-01-20 Thread Malcolm Dean
On 2015-01-19 20:37 GMT+01:00 Joshua Augustus Bacigalupi 
bacigalupiwo...@gmail.com wrote to the FIS list:

  Josh Bacigalupi here, fellow pirate.  Thank you all for this
thoughtful discussion.
 
  ... We can all agree that the creation of entropy is necessary to do
work; ...


With respect, this statement should not continue to go unchallenged. I for
one do not agree.

Entropy is a mathematical variable which balances equations, but cannot
possibly describe the conditions and actual processes which lead to work,
enable its completion, or detail its purpose. The variable entropy
describes only one aspect. It is like claiming homeostasis as a complete
description of a human.

The constant danger is coming to believe in variables thrown into some
picture, such as we see in recent cosmology. They are reified. They become,
as a result, objects of faith, even worldviews (Rifkin 1981). If someone
claims mathematics as prior to cosmology, that scientific faith should not
be presented as if it is a proven fact.

It is ridiculous to continue talking about creation of entropy. What is
created are new conditions, fresh processes, and objects. The point of a
thermodynamic process, or more generally, an Information process, is
object-creation. It from bit.

Thermodynamics is only a part of an Information process (Lerner 2014) [
http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.7041 ].

Malcolm Dean
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