The Second Law of Thermodynamics

“The deep structure of change is decay. What decays is not the quantity but the quality of energy. [High quality energy] is energy that is localized, and potent to effect change. In the course of causing change it spreads, becomes chaotically distributed like a fallen house of cards, and loses its initial potency. Energy’s quality, but not its quantity, decays as it spreads in chaos.

Harnessing the decay results not only in civilizations but in all the events in the world and the universe beyond. It accounts for all discernible change, both animate and inanimate. The quality of energy is like a slowly unwinding spring. The quality spontaneously declines and the spring of the universe unwinds. The quality spontaneously degrades, and the spontaneity of the degradation drives the interdependent processes webbed around and within us, as through the interlocked gear wheels of a sophisticated machine.

Such is the complexity of the interlocking that here and there chaos may temporarily recede and quality flare up, as when cathedrals are built and symphonies are performed. But these are temporary and local deceits, for deeper in the world the spring inescapably unwinds. Everything is driven by decay. Everything is driven by motiveless, purposeless decay.”1

  1. Atkins,Peter. Creation Revisited: The Origins of Space, Time and the Universe. Penguin Books, 1992. 21-23. []
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