Daily Entropy: fire


Fire is enchanting, but the important thing about fire is the fuel and the waste, not the flame.  You can’t make a burned log burn again, no matter how much new heat you apply to it.  Once the redox is complete, the log is waste, not fuel.  On the other side, you can’t put out a fire by wetting the flame.  You have to cut off the fuel to stop the reaction.  That’s why the human relationship with fire is so special.  A child learns to speak long before they are ready to build and tend a fire: to understand the relationship between fuel, flame and waste.  That little, tiny bit of insight into entropy makes the difference between bewilderment and competence.  We still have a lizard brain enchanted by the flame, which is easily seduced and distracted, so it is only with supreme concentration that the mind grasps entropy and remember to apply it to dynamic events.  The central nervous system evolved to find food and avoid danger, both of which behave like bowling balls.  Entropy behaves like a wave.  Relationships also behave like waves.  You probably love and hate your friends and spouses with something like a wave function probability distribution.  The similarity between relationships and waves may explain why human beings can have so many more friends (as opposed to chemical relationships) than any other animal.  It is, however, still easier to live in the lizard brain, so we are burning out the planet and fighting over the remaining fuel.  Entropy consumes intelligence as well as energy.


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