Evolution and the second law of thermodynamics [Mechanical engineering]

Evolution and the second law of thermodynamics

Does evolution contradict the second law of thermodynamics? (Intermediate)

I probably won't get an answer to this one. but entropy says the universe is breaking down... evolution says the universe is getting better! Please explain this.

This idea has been put forward by many people to try to prove that evolution is impossible. However, it is based on a flawed understanding of the second law of thermodynamics, and in fact, the theory of evolution does not contradict any known laws of physics.

The second law of thermodynamics simply says that the entropy of a closed system will tend to increase with time. "Entropy" is a technical term with a precise physical definition, but for most purposes it is okay to think of it as equivalent to "disorder". Therefore, the second law of thermodynamics basically says that the universe as a whole gets more disordered and random as time goes on.

However, the most important part of the second law of thermodynamics is that it only applies to a closed system - one that does not have anything going in or out of it. There is nothing about the second law that prevents one part of a closed system from getting more ordered, as long as another part of the system is getting more disordered.

There are many examples from everyday life that prove it is possible to create order! For example, you'd certainly agree that a person is capable of taking a pile of wood and nails and constructing a building out of it. The wood and nails have become more ordered, but in doing the work required to make the building, the person has generated heat which goes into increasing the overall entropy of the universe.

Or, if you prefer an example that doesn't require conscious human intervention, consider what happens when the weather changes and it gets colder outside. Cold air has less entropy than warm air - basically, it is more "ordered" because the molecules aren't moving around as much and have fewer places they can be. So the entropy in your local part of the universe has decreased, but as long as that is accompanied by an increase in entropy somewhere else, the second law of thermodynamics has not been violated.

That's the general picture - nature is capable of generating order out of disorder on a local level without violating the second law of thermodynamics, and that is all that evolution requires.



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