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The Entropy of a Car

The theory of entropy is that, all things will go from an highly organized, but unstable state, to a relatively stable, but highly disorganized state. It is why your desk or room refuse to stay neat. No matter how much time and energy you put into cleaning it up, it will become messy again (in some cases instantly.) It is why leaves refuse to fall from trees in nice little piles to be put into bags. It accounts for the randomness in the universe. It is why paved roads crack, paint chips, computer cease to work. Usually the more complex something in, the more likely it will break down and entropy is responsible for it! Essentially entropy is responsible for the break down of everything in the universe, into individual atoms. Here is a little pictorial, using cars, to demonstrate entropy with the "family" car.

New Car
Photo by David C. Polos
The New Car.
This Ford was the state of car when it was bought. It is brand new, with fine tuned precision parts. It has polished chrome and wood. It purrs like a kitten. However, it takes a lot of work to keep it in this condition. Almost instantly starts to break down. The chrome gets dirty. The engine gets small amounts of mineral deposits. The wheels wear down. It is prone to breakdowns. This is stage one, something that is extremely organized, but prone to breakdowns.

Photo by Steven C. Polos Sr.(1969)
The Slightly used car.
Years latter, the car has become well warn. When you first bought it, you may have washed it daily. Now, if it gets a spec of dirt on it, you will most likely leave it until the car its self has changed color to a nice shade of brown. The car is run down, with little squeaks and cranks that no one can find, but it gives it character. The car eventually starts to spend more time in the shop than on the road because all of the parts are getting old and worn-out. Soon, the car will no longer be able to run because everything has been degraded. Parts, such as bumpers and hub caps fall out as you are driving. It has gone from highly organized, to very questionably organized. Entropy is in the middle of doing its dirty work.

Photo by John C. Polos (1989)
Entropy has done its dirty work. The car has completely fallen apart due to age and entropy getting its way. Everything has broken down to a very stable state (a.k.a. doorstops), but very disorganized (a.k.a. junk yard) state. Entropy, as always, has won. But it's not finished yet. Entropy will not be satisfied until this "Junk" is nothing but chrome, tin, and iron atoms.

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