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First, entropy has increased for the same reason that it did in the example above. Mixing the two bodies of water has the same effect as heat transfer from the hot one and the same heat transfer into the cold one. The mixing decreases the entropy of the hot water but increases the entropy of the cold water by a greater amount, producing an overall increase in entropy.

Second, once the two masses of water are mixed, there is only one temperature—you cannot run a heat engine with them. The energy that could have been used to run a heat engine is now unavailable to do work.

Third, the mixture is less orderly, or to use another term, less structured. Rather than having two masses at different temperatures and with different distributions of molecular speeds, we now have a single mass with a uniform temperature.

These three results—entropy, unavailability of energy, and disorder—are not only related but are in fact essentially equivalent.

Life, evolution, and the second law of thermodynamics

Some people misunderstand the second law of thermodynamics, stated in terms of entropy, to say that the process of the evolution of life violates this law. Over time, complex organisms evolved from much simpler ancestors, representing a large decrease in entropy of the Earth’s biosphere. It is a fact that living organisms have evolved to be highly structured, and much lower in entropy than the substances from which they grow. But it is always possible for the entropy of one part of the universe to decrease, provided the total change in entropy of the universe increases. In equation form, we can write this as

Δ S tot = Δ S syst + Δ S envir > 0. size 12{DS rSub { size 8{"tot"} } =DS rSub { size 8{"syst"} } +DS rSub { size 8{"envir"} }>0} {}

Thus Δ S syst size 12{DS rSub { size 8{"syst"} } } {} can be negative as long as Δ S envir size 12{DS rSub { size 8{"envir"} } } {} is positive and greater in magnitude.

How is it possible for a system to decrease its entropy? Energy transfer is necessary. If I pick up marbles that are scattered about the room and put them into a cup, my work has decreased the entropy of that system. If I gather iron ore from the ground and convert it into steel and build a bridge, my work has decreased the entropy of that system. Energy coming from the Sun can decrease the entropy of local systems on Earth—that is, Δ S syst size 12{DS rSub { size 8{"syst"} } } {} is negative. But the overall entropy of the rest of the universe increases by a greater amount—that is, Δ S envir size 12{DS rSub { size 8{"envir"} } } {} is positive and greater in magnitude. Thus, Δ S tot = Δ S syst + Δ S envir > 0 size 12{DS rSub { size 8{"tot"} } =DS rSub { size 8{"syst"} } +DS rSub { size 8{"envir"} }>0} {} , and the second law of thermodynamics is not violated.

Every time a plant stores some solar energy in the form of chemical potential energy, or an updraft of warm air lifts a soaring bird, the Earth can be viewed as a heat engine operating between a hot reservoir supplied by the Sun and a cold reservoir supplied by dark outer space—a heat engine of high complexity, causing local decreases in entropy as it uses part of the heat transfer from the Sun into deep space. There is a large total increase in entropy resulting from this massive heat transfer. A small part of this heat transfer is stored in structured systems on Earth, producing much smaller local decreases in entropy. (See [link] .)

The figure shows the schematic diagram for heat transfer from the Sun into deep space. The picture of the Sun is shown at the left most end of the diagram. The temperature of the Sun is marked as T sub h. The heat Q is shown to flow as a bold arrow pointing till the right end of the diagram which is labeled as deep space. The temperature here is shown as T sub c equals three Kelvin. The Earth is shown as a sphere at the middle of this bold arrow stream between Sun and deep space. The Earth is shown to receive an internal energy delta U. The change in entropy of Earth delta S is shown to be less than zero with a question mark.
Earth’s entropy may decrease in the process of intercepting a small part of the heat transfer from the Sun into deep space. Entropy for the entire process increases greatly while Earth becomes more structured with living systems and stored energy in various forms.

Section summary

  • Entropy is the loss of energy available to do work.
  • Another form of the second law of thermodynamics states that the total entropy of a system either increases or remains constant; it never decreases.
  • Entropy is zero in a reversible process; it increases in an irreversible process.
  • Entropy is also associated with the tendency toward disorder in a closed system.

Conceptual questions

A woman shuts her summer cottage up in September and returns in June. No one has entered the cottage in the meantime. Explain what she is likely to find, in terms of the second law of thermodynamics.

Consider a system with a certain energy content, from which we wish to extract as much work as possible. Should the system’s entropy be high or low? Is this orderly or disorderly? Structured or uniform? Explain briefly.

Does a gas become more orderly when it liquefies? Does its entropy change? If so, does the entropy increase or decrease? Explain your answer.

Explain how water’s entropy can decrease when it freezes without violating the second law of thermodynamics. Specifically, explain what happens to the entropy of its surroundings.

Is a uniform-temperature gas more or less orderly than one with several different temperatures? Which is more structured? In which can heat transfer result in work done without heat transfer from another system?

Give an example of a spontaneous process in which a system becomes less ordered and energy becomes less available to do work. What happens to the system’s entropy in this process?

Does the entropy of a star increase or decrease as it radiates? Does the entropy of the space into which it radiates (which has a temperature of about 3 K) increase or decrease? What does this do to the entropy of the universe?

Explain why a building made of bricks has smaller entropy than the same bricks in a disorganized pile. Do this by considering the number of ways that each could be formed (the number of microstates in each macrostate).

Questions & Answers

find the 15th term of the geometric sequince whose first is 18 and last term of 387
Jerwin Reply
The given of f(x=x-2. then what is the value of this f(3) 5f(x+1)
virgelyn Reply
hmm well what is the answer
how do they get the third part x = (32)5/4
kinnecy Reply
can someone help me with some logarithmic and exponential equations.
Jeffrey Reply
sure. what is your question?
okay, so you have 6 raised to the power of 2. what is that part of your answer
I don't understand what the A with approx sign and the boxed x mean
it think it's written 20/(X-6)^2 so it's 20 divided by X-6 squared
I'm not sure why it wrote it the other way
I got X =-6
ok. so take the square root of both sides, now you have plus or minus the square root of 20= x-6
oops. ignore that.
so you not have an equal sign anywhere in the original equation?
is it a question of log
Commplementary angles
Idrissa Reply
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what is a good calculator for all algebra; would a Casio fx 260 work with all algebra equations? please name the cheapest, thanks.
Kevin Reply
a perfect square v²+2v+_
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Abdirahman Reply
algebra 2 Inequalities:If equation 2 = 0 it is an open set?
Kim Reply
or infinite solutions?
The answer is neither. The function, 2 = 0 cannot exist. Hence, the function is undefined.
Embra Reply
if |A| not equal to 0 and order of A is n prove that adj (adj A = |A|
Nancy Reply
rolling four fair dice and getting an even number an all four dice
ramon Reply
Kristine 2*2*2=8
Bridget Reply
Differences Between Laspeyres and Paasche Indices
Emedobi Reply
No. 7x -4y is simplified from 4x + (3y + 3x) -7y
Mary Reply
how do you translate this in Algebraic Expressions
linda Reply
Need to simplify the expresin. 3/7 (x+y)-1/7 (x-1)=
Crystal Reply
. After 3 months on a diet, Lisa had lost 12% of her original weight. She lost 21 pounds. What was Lisa's original weight?
Chris Reply
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Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
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I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
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Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
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Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
the Beer law works very well for dilute solutions but fails for very high concentrations. why?
bamidele Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Concepts of physics. OpenStax CNX. Aug 25, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11738/1.5
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