Everyday entropy: resonance

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Tacoma narrows bridge

Resonance seems to fly in the face of entropy.  In a resonator, energy is aligned rather than dispersed, which establishes this curious situation where very small forces accumulate to have a massive effect.  The singing wine glass is a beautiful case of resonance, where you wet your finger and run it along the rim of the glass.  The tiny, inaudible vibrations of friction along the glass start the glass resonating until it produces a noise far superior to the input vibrations.  Where is the entropy in this?  Resonance does not happen spontaneously, but depends on the entropy of the force your finger applies to the glass.  Without entropy, the force of your finger would transfer into the glass in the direction of its application at about one revolution per second (1 hertz), and it wouldn’t come close to the resonant frequency of the glass, which is about 800 hertz.  In statistical mechanical terms, the particles in the glass have greater freedom of movement in phase with the resonant frequency of the glass than in any other vector, so they are more likely to follow the resonant vector field.  The vibration needs to build before there is enough energy in the system to establish resonance, but once established, it only takes a small amount of random energy to maintain the resonant pattern.  If the energy stops coming in, or if it is released or dampened, then the resonance stops, and it will not return spontaneously.

Just why matter moves freely instead of just lying down and having a rest is a curious question.  However, physical resonance, where random vector fields align with the easiest path to become resonant vector fields, is not dissimilar to the confirmation bias we see in adults with well established belief systems.  All new information, no matter how irrelevant or contradictory, is redirected into the resonant pathway, or the easiest way for the person to think.  No matter what the information means to other people, it reinforces the preset belief system internally.

Resonance is as fundamental to the state of matter as energy and entropy.  You see it in the periodic table and all constructive interference events from photons and electron orbits at quantum scale all the way up through the tides and the motions of celestial bodies.  Curiously, resonance is how plants use sunlight to “create” useable energy.  Photons hit a resonator in the chloroplast at a certain wavelength and, like the tiny frictional vibrations from your finger on the glass, the photons excite the resonator, which in turn excites a water molecule so much that it splits. Resonance is why entropy does not lead to heat death and grey goo.  Before you get depressed about entropy, remember than resonators depend on entropy to randomise incoming energy so that the energy can be aligned with the resonant vector field.  One hand washes the other.

 

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