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The arrow ot time

Leave you house, for ten, twenty years and you will on your return witness the effects of entropy.
It will have decaye somewhat and this is the law of entropy.

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Entropy is the only quantity in the physical sciences (apart from certain rare interactions in particle physics; see below) that requires a particular direction for time, sometimes called an arrow of time.

As one goes "forward" in time, the second law of thermodynamics says, the entropy of an isolated system will increase. Hence, from one perspective, entropy measurement is a way of distinguishing the past from the future.

However in thermodynamic systems that are not closed, entropy can decrease with time: many systems, including living systems, reduce local entropy at the expense of an environmental increase, resulting in a net increase in entropy. Examples of such systems and phenomena include the formation of certain crystals, the workings of a refrigerator and living organisms.

Entropy, like temperature, is an abstract concept, yet, like temperature, everyone has an intuitive sense of the effects of entropy. Watching a movie, it is usually easy to determine whether it is being run forward or in reverse. When run in reverse, broken glasses spontaneously reassemble, smoke goes down a chimney, wood "unburns", cooling the environment and ice "unmelts" warming the environment. No physical laws are broken in the reverse movie except the second law of thermodynamics, the law in which entropy is defined. It is one's intuitive understanding of the irreversibility of certain physical phenomena (and subsequent creation of entropy) which allows one to make this determination.

By contrast, all physical processes occurring at the microscopic level, such as mechanics, do not pick out an arrow of time. Going forward in time, an atom (which we are all made of) might move to the left, whereas going backward in time the same atom might move to the right; the behavior of the atom is not qualitatively different in either case.


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