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So low entropy (however defined and measured) is relatively more valuable than high entropy.

I am not familiar with this approach, but it does have appeal. Nevertheless it is an approach which requires a "Value judgment" - which may be subjective or objective.

It doesn't matter whether "it has appeal" or not because it is actually the basis of energy technology.

You cannot extract all the energy out of a physical system. All you can do is extract what is called the "free energy" but which might be better called "usable energy". And the usable energy of a system is its energy content minus the temperature times its entropy content.

So low-entroy matter can be turned into high-entropy matter at a net energy gain. That is, in fact, the only way to get any energy.

Low-entropy energy from the Sun is radiated away into space as high-entropy heat. This would happen even if the Earth was a lifeless rock. Life (and the economy) feeds of this entropy flow by taking as much of the "free energy" as possible and turning it into structure rather than let it be lost as heat.

Whether things should have a value proportional to their "free energy" content is a different story, and they probably shouldn't.

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2008 at 06:05:45 AM EST
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