Talk:Entropy

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Former good article Entropy was one of the Natural sciences good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
June 22, 2006 Good article nominee Listed
February 20, 2008 Good article reassessment Delisted
Current status: Delisted good article
This article has been mentioned by a media organization:


New section on Economics[edit]

On 20 April 2016, user:174.3.155.181 reverted the section added by me on Economics. In the edit summary, the user offers two reasons for the deletion:

  • Large new section in the article aren't welcome without discussion.
  • Entropy cannot be measured nominally in economics.

I think both of these reasons have to be put aside. Consider the following:

  • I disagree with the negative assertion that 'large new section aren't welcome without discussion', as this is not in agreement with the WP BOLD, revert, discuss cycle. Nobody have to ask anybody for permission in advance before they add material anywhere. I think this assertion made by user:174.3.155.181 is unreasonable and somewhat aggressive.
  • It is true that entropy cannot be measured nominally in economics (that is, cardinally), only ordinally: Whereas it is not possible to measure the exact magnitude of an economy's entropy at a point in time, it is possible to state that entropy steadily increases with time. Georgescu-Roegen himself was well aware of this issue.[1]:353 However, this inadequacy is a poor excuse for deleting the section, I say. WP do not settle or disregard disputed issues; we document issues, whether the issues are disputed or not. Some of the mistakes made by Georgescu-Roegen are already documented here, although not the issue of the lack of a cardinal measure (this could be included, provided that proper sources are available). The fact remains that due to Georgescu-Roegen's work, the laws of thermodynamics now form an integral part of the ecological economics school, and a full chapter on the economics of Georgescu-Roegen has approvingly been included in an elementary physics textbook on the historical development of thermodynamics,[2]:95–112 as already stated in the section text itself. Georgescu-Roegen's work is currently discussed and criticised by physicists and others, but this is merely another good reason for documenting everything, I say. If WP documented only undisputed issues, it would be a small encyclopedia indeed...
I would like to expand on this last point. There is no cardinal measure of entropy in economics, true; but there is no cardinal measure of entropy in cosmology, either! Hence, in the section before the one on Economics, namely Cosmology, one statement goes that 'The role of entropy in cosmology remains a controversial subject since the time of Ludwig Boltzmann'. In addition, the article on the heat death of the universe, linked to as the main article from the top of the Cosmology section, contains a section on Current status. In that section, the reader learns that Planck, Grandy and several other scholars in the field are (have been) critical of the concept of 'The entropy of the universe'. Now, if user:174.3.155.181 had his (her) rash and destructive way, all of this text would have to be deleted at once due to the imprecise definition of the article subject matter. Fortunately, the text is still around for everybody to read.

References

  1. ^ Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas (1975). "Energy and Economic Myths" (PDF). Southern Economic Journal. Tennessee: Southern Economic Association. 41 (3): 347. doi:10.2307/1056148. 
  2. ^ Schmitz, John E.J. (2007). The Second Law of Life: Energy, Technology, and the Future of Earth As We Know It. (Link to the author's science blog, based on his textbook). Norwich: William Andrew Publishing. ISBN 0815515375. 

Consequently, I have undone the reversion made by user:174.3.155.181, and added a template to indicate that the content is disputed and currently being discussed on this talk page. In order to establish consensus, please DO NOT delete the section once again before the subject matter has been discussed, and my points made above have been considered by user:174.3.155.181 and other editors. Third opinions are welcome indeed. Thank you. Gaeanautes (talk) 15:20, 25 April 2016 (UTC)

It would be good if ip user 174.3.155.181 gave himself a user name. It is a pain to talk to an IP address.
I agree with ip user 174.3.155.181 that the section should be deleted. I also agree with Editor Gaeanautes that the section headed Cosmology is faulty. I think it should be deleted. Two wrongs don't make a right. The section headed Cosmology starts with the sentence "Since a finite universe is an isolated system, the Second Law of Thermodynamics states that its total entropy is constantly increasing." That is a good example of nonsense arising from a quick and would-be clever statement of the second law. I haven't studied the new edit closely, but at a glance I see it as drivel. Elaborate and grandiose, but still drivel. I can see that Editor Gaeanautes likes the material he has posted, and is likely to put it back if I remove it now. Since Editor Gaeanautes asks for reasons, I will say that it is pretentious nonsense to claim that the laws of thermodynamics have a place in economics as such. If there is anything of value in Editor Gaeanautes' post, it belongs somewhere else, perhaps in some article on economics, or on the ecological economics school, but not in this article. The post does not illuminate the concept of entropy. To avoid edit war, I hope someone else will comment here.Chjoaygame (talk) 17:08, 25 April 2016 (UTC)

Thanks to Chjoaygame for his swift response to my post. I would like other users to join in anytime. We all want to avoid an edit war, as Chjoaygame carefully points out. While I completely agree that it is a pain to talk to an IP address — that is, talking to some subtle entity identified by the number 174.3.155.181 — I have the following three critical remarks to Chjoaygame's post:

  • I am rather baffled by the fact that users working on this article are so bent on dismissing and deleting new sections right away. As one explanatory supplement to WP's NPOV policy has it, "... there is usually no need to immediately delete text that can instead be rewritten as necessary over time..." Righto. Without even having studied my new edit closely — so he frankly admits — Chjoaygame flatly dismisses it as 'elaborate and grandiose drivel' and 'pretentious nonsense'. Arh, come on! Why this negative talk? I think this subject matter merits a closer inspection by other users before they take a stance and a proper consensus can be established. Hence, everybody should take a look at the WP article sections on the methodology of ecological economics and especially the controversies generated by Georgescu-Roegen's work, before they carefully read the three following online articles on entropy and economics:[1]:21-28 [2] [3] In addition, users should also familiarise themselves with the sources referenced from the section text itself before taking a stance, if that is not too much to ask for...

References

  1. ^ Cleveland, Cutler J. (1999). "Biophysical Economics: From Physiocracy to Ecological Economics and Industrial Ecology" (PDF). In Mayumi, Kozo; Gowdy, John M., eds. Bioeconomics and Sustainability: Essays in Honor of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. ISBN 1858986672. 
  2. ^ Kåberger, Tomas; Månsson, Bengt (2001). "Entropy and economic processes — physics perspectives" (PDF). Ecological Economics. Amsterdam: Elsevier. 36: 165–179. doi:10.1016/s0921-8009(00)00225-1. 
  3. ^ Hammond, Geoffrey P.; Winnett, Adrian B. (2009). "The Influence of Thermodynamic Ideas on Ecological Economics: An Interdisciplinary Critique" (PDF). Sustainability. Basel: MDPI. 1: 1195–1225. doi:10.3390/su1041195. 
  • Users like Chjoaygame who believe that "... it is pretentious nonsense to claim that the laws of thermodynamics have a place in economics as such" will have to consider the simple fact that some scholars positively do make this claim while other scholars seriously discuss and criticise it. Need I repeat myself and state once again that WP do not settle or disregard disputed issues; we document issues, whether the issues are disputed or not? Well, now I have repeated myself, just in case!
  • Chjoaygame asserts that if there is anything of value in the section on Economics added by me, it "... belongs somewhere else, perhaps in some article on economics..."; but the section on Economics is already linking to 'somewhere else' in WP, namely to Ecological economics and to Georgescu-Roegen. More to the point, both sections on Cosmology and Economics — currently tagged by me — are subsections to the section on Interdisciplinary applications of entropy, a section that begins by stating that "Although the concept of entropy was originally a thermodynamic construct, it has been adapted in other fields of study..." So, the very purpose of this section — including the subsections — is to present these other interdisciplinary fields of study, and provide the relevant linking as well. This is the usual WP practise of 'building the web' by using hypertext, thereby adding to "... the cohesion and utility of WP, allowing readers to deepen their understanding of a topic by conveniently accessing other articles", as it goes. In effect, the section on Economics added by me is placed right where it belongs, I say.

I too hope that other users will comment here. Thank you. Gaeanautes (talk) 09:19, 28 April 2016 (UTC)

Thanks, Editor Gaeanautes, for your reply. Perhaps I should add a little. I have good reason for my summary dismissal. There are scads and scads of sloppy drivel in would-be physics writings about entropy. 'Entropy' is a hand-waving cover-all for sloppy pseudo-thinking in many of the occasions when the term is uttered. Von Neumann suggested to Shannon to call his quantity of 'information' by the term 'entropy' because "it will give you the advantage in any argument because no one will know whate you are talking about". It would be possible to swell Wikipedia with reams of chatter about whether von Neumann was right or whether Shannon was right to take his advice. And to argue on 'policy' grounds that this was valuable. At a glance, one can know that entropy is not a natural for economics. Yes, one can say 'Oh, that's prejudice in the extreme. How bigoted!' And so on. I have now glanced at Hammond & Winnett. It is drivel. Fancy, high-falutin', elaborate, pretentious drivel. Yes, it looks like rational thought, and one could argue that it should be taken seriously, but one would be building castles in the air. I don't quite know how to get this message across, but perhaps I can suggest that entropy proper describes bodies that are homogeneous and in permanent states of zero flux, while economics is about networks of non-stationary fluxes. It is a fond dream of many physicists that entropy can describe non-equilibrium systems, but sad to say, the real intellectual work for that dream has hardly begun. To think that economics can jump the gun on this is preposterous. I think what I say here will seem bigoted, ..., ..., whatever, whatever, until the reader comes to grips with the nitty-gritty of thermodynamics. I recall it was V.I. Arnol'd who wrote that 'every mathematician knows that it is impossible to understand an elementary course in thermodynamics'.
It is probably a good idea that now I should translate the just foregoing paragraph into Wikiese. Where I used pejorative epithets such as for example 'drivel', good Wikiese would say 'material that is based on unreliable sources and is not notable'. It is possible to write endless reams based on muddled extrapolations from the second law of thermodynamics, but the reams are not notable, and the writers are not reliable. It is not the task of Wikipedia to document the vagaries of such adventures into waffle, because the waffle itself is not notable.
Editor Gaeanautes is of good faith and good will, but he/she does not advance basic arguments for the material of his/her post. He/she offers just second-hand pseudo-authority. One has in the past read much material of that kind, because there is lots of it. Wikipedia does not mistake quantity for quality. It is not the task of Wikipedia to examine, analyze, and report on unreliable and unnotable sources. Some judgment is needed to select reliable sources.
No amount that I write here will do the trick. A certain amount of real understanding is needed. Again, other commenters would help here.Chjoaygame (talk) 12:03, 28 April 2016 (UTC)

Indeed, user Chjoaygame — no amount you write here will do any trick. So, stop yelling 'Drivel!' at everybody and everything, and let other users have a say. Gooood. Thank you very much. Gaeanautes (talk) 12:42, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

By the time of writing, it seems 'other users' are not interested in joining the discussion. If nobody show up, I'll remove the two {disputed content} templates from the article in a couple of weeks or so. Gaeanautes (talk) 14:57, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

The two {disputed content} templates have now been removed. If this removal is reverted, please state the reason for the reversal in a post below. Thank you. Gaeanautes (talk) 16:37, 15 August 2016 (UTC)

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Put this article in layman's terms[edit]

This article is unnecessarily incomprehensible. The whole reason people look up things on wikipedia is because they don't have expertise on the subject and they want to have a general idea of what's going on with the thing they're looking up. Having an article written by experts is a good thing... unless they're completely incapable of communicating anything meaningful to the public. A physicist isn't going to look up entropy on this website. Your average Joe is. And when Joe comes to look up entropy, he's going to walk away from this article less informed than he came in, because he has no idea what's being said.

People come to wikipedia because they don't have a background in the topic, otherwise they'd be consulting academic papers directly. — Preceding unsigned comment added by CharlieBob (talkcontribs) 07:34, 18 November 2016 (UTC)

There is a very clear link at the very top of the article to introduction to entropy. Please review to see whether it meets your requirements for reading level. --Izno (talk) 13:59, 18 November 2016 (UTC)