[Fis] Fwd: Entropy, the Second Law, and Life

Arieh Ben-Naim ariehbennaim at gmail.com
Fri Jan 8 19:22:47 CET 2021

Dear Pedro and everyone else interested.

I will briefly answer your questions, as I have discussed these in more
details in my previews publications.
Regarding the interpretation of entropy as a measure of information and as
In my view these are the only valid interpretations of entropy, provided
that one specifies information about what, and uncertainty with respect to
what. Both of these are discussed in my book on “Information Theory” and in
“Entropy: the Greatest Blunder in the History of Science.”

Regarding the question of dimensions for entropy, I have also discussed
that in my book on “Farewell to Entropy.”
In my view this is a result of historical “accident” that temperature was
given a special dimensions that were not used before in physics:”degrees”
If temperature was given the dimensions of energy, then entropy would
become dimensionless. This would ease the acceptance of the only correct
interpretation of entropy either as a measure of information or a measure
of uncertainty (in both cases the information and uncertainty with respect
to the distribution of locations and momenta of all particles of the system
at equilibrium)

In my recent book I have criticized both Shermer’s and Pinker’s misuses of
the concept of entropy in their books.

I hope I have answered your questions, though very briefly.
Best regards

On Fri, Jan 8, 2021 at 15:40 Pedro C. Marijuan <pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es>

> Dear Arieh & FISers,
> My appreciation for your elegant and lively contribution. Reading about
> labeling the food on their "negentropy content"  or advising on low
> entropy food (icy water!) was a most humorous way to criticize all the
> nonsense and "mystical mystery tours" around entropy. Particularly,
> Atkins (& Dawkins) quasi-religious views have always been unswallowable
> for me. Anyhow, two further aspects I would like to hear from you.
> First, to put it most briefly, what basic, visual image would you convey
> for an intuitive understanding of entropy beyond the technicality of
> SMI? Uncertainty, chaos, disorder, diffusion, dispersal... some many
> terms around!  I could see years ago some heated exchanges you had with
> Frank Lambert, the champion of entropy as energy dispersal. There is
> also a longish comment on how Steven Pinker approaches
> entropy-information-evolution-cognition as the four fundamental concepts
> in our scientific understanding of the world. He is wrong (IMO) in all
> of them! Although it he is an extraordinary social psychologist the
> basic sci. background he proposes is tainted. If we could give a more
> sound "tetrad" even with those same concepts, it would be a great
> outcome. Clarifying entropy in all aspects we could advance would a
> terrific step.
> And second (maybe to be discussed later on) do you accept "dimensions"
> for entropy? The units of jules/degreeK aren't they derived from having
> entered the Boltzmann's constant? Why do we need at all separate units
> for temperature and energy?
> Thanks for all the exchanges so far!
> Best--Pedro
> --
> -------------------------------------------------
> Pedro C. Marijuán
> Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
> pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es
> http://sites.google.com/site/pedrocmarijuan/
> -------------------------------------------------
> --
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Prof. Arieh Ben-Naim
Department of Physical Chemistry
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Jerusalem, 91904
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