Everyday entropy: extraterrestrials


One reason why scientists are so excited about extraterrestrial life is psychological.  Anything that only happens once has no scientific basis.  So if life has only happened once, it isn’t a scientific fact, but an anomaly that might as well be based on creationism.  There is a certain comfort in the repetition of scientific investigation, and for a mind tuned to resonance and harmony, repetition makes something true, which is why entropy has never had a role in science, even though it is part of the bedrock of thermodynamics.  Entropy doesn’t look like science to scientists, except in very small, controlled experiments where all of the inputs are known beforehand, and even then there is this remainder of energy and information that is irreversible and just doesn’t make sense.  Life on earth, as a singular event, is not scientifically justifiable.

I’m not saying that art takes over where science leaves off, although in my ideal world there would be a rigorous aesthetic investigation of relationships beyond the statistical mechanical threshold of entropy.  What I am saying is that there are real relationships that are not accessible to the scientific method because they only happen once and evolve entropically.  That they often evolve into measurable resonance encourages the scientific bias towards resonance.  But entropy may account for more than 50% of the relationships that determine the evolution of reality, which might also explain why science is doing a terrible job of predicting the evolution of reality at the moment.  The scientific method of the nineteenth century is not capable of investigating entropy, which leaves a void in human understanding.  Art also has a tendency to fall back on resonant patterns that mirror 19th century science, so I can’t say that elevating art would fill the void.  The point is that the search for the method will always continue.

Resonance doesn’t come from nowhere and it doesn’t disperse into nothing.  The entropy of the origin and dispersion of resonant phenomena are no less significant or real than the resonance and harmonics of their peak energy, but it’s hard to separate entropy from the notion of heat death, which predates the discovery of quantum fluctuations in “empty” space, as well as quantum entanglement and general relativity.  For most scientists, entropy still means the heat death of the afflicted system, even though Heisenberg uncertainty ensures that equilibrium, isolation and maximum entropy are physically impossible.

Another barrier to the general understanding of entropy is that every measure of entropy is  fictional.  From the statistical mechanics of the average momentum of the molecules of an ideal gas in isolation to the notions of energy and temperature, everything that describes entropy has to be made up.  Having said that, observations have shown conclusively that the fiction is almost exactly what you would see if you could see what was going on in the non-resonant relationships between energy and matter.  The inner transformation of matter really works like the distribution of momentum and position of molecules of an ideal gas in an isolated container.  You just can’t observe it actually happening.  Ever.  That use of fiction to describe truth in a way that is unobservable is precisely why fiction is so important in all forms of art and communication, and why art can’t be removed from science without losing contact with half of reality.

The fiction of extraterrestrial life, whether it exists or not, allows science to incorporate life into the scientific method.  Without extraterrestrial life, science faces the prospect of life being entropic rather than resonant, a singular occurrence that is not reproducible.  In a highly abstract way, modern science and engineering are trying to prove that life is reversible, by undoing it entirely.  The results are mixed.


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