SHEETS of PAPER, LIFE and ENTROPY: HOW’S EASY TO CREATE DISORDER

I want to invite you to take a sheet of paper and crumple it. Have you done it? As you can see it takes you just a few seconds. Now suppose that you want to change it back to the previous state, the one in which you had the paper without wrinkles. How could you do that? There are some options: the first thing that comes to in my mind is to try to iron the paper hoping to achieve the goal. As you see, again, it is not that easy.

In thermodynamic, entropy is commonly associated with the amount of order, disorder, or chaos in a thermodynamic system. What’s happened with the paper “termodynamically” (doesn’t sound well?) speaking? Basically the paper passed from a status of low entropy, or disorder, to a one with high disorder and to do this you spent energy. Before continuing I want to make an assumption: I associate the “kind” paper to a low status of entropy and the crumpled one to a high quantity of entropy just because we prefer kind stuffs as well as nice girls (or boy), using the definition according to which entropy is a thermodynamic property which serves as a measure of how close a system is to equilibrium (kind paper), as well as a measure of the disorder in the system.

Suppose the energy you spent to crumple the paper is approximately 3–4 Joules (in terms of kinetic energy, 1 joule is equal to the energy of a mass of two kilograms moving at a velocity of one meter per second. It equals about 0.24 calories, or roughly the energy required to raise a spoonful of food to your mouth) and suppose also that you want to come back to the previous status. Do you think you will need just 3–4 Joules of energy? I don’t think so.

Life is like a sheet of paper, it’s easy to make mistakes, just as it’s easy to crumple a paper but it’s not the same if you want to correct them. Of course you can always try to iron your sheet and see, it could work -maybe-! :D

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