As you listen to this episode, you'll be exerting mental effort, as well as maybe exerting effort doing other things. The energy allowing your neurons to continually charge and discharge, as well as exert mechanical energy in your muscles and chemical energy in places like your liver and kidneys, came from the food you ate. Specifically, it came from food you chewed, and then digested with acid and with the help of symbiotic bacteria. And even if that food you're eating is meat, you can trace its energy back to the sun and the formation of the earth. Much of this was established in the previous episode, but this time we're going to explore a fundamental property of all systems in which heat can be defined. All of these structures had a certain order to them; the cow that might have made your hamburger had all the same parts that you do: stomach, lips, teeth, and brain. The plants, such as the tomatoes and wheat, were also complex structures, complete with signaling mechanisms. As you chewed that food, you mixed it, and later, as the food digested, it became more and more disordered; that is to say, it became more and more "shuffled", so to speak, and at a certain point, it became so shuffled that you'd need all the original information to reconstruct it: reversing the flow of entropy would mean converting vomit back into the original food; you'd need all the pieces. The electrical energy bonding molecules were thus broken apart and made available to you. And, if you're cleaning your room while listening to this, you are creating order only at the cost of destroying order elsewhere, since you are using energy from the food you ate. Even in industrial agriculture where from 350 megajoules of human and machine energy, often 140 gigajoules of corn can be derived per acre, a ratio of more than 400:1, the order that the seeds seem to produce from nowhere is constructed from the energy of the chaotic explosion from a nearby star. So why are the concepts of heat, energy, and disorder so closely linked? Is there a general law of disorder? And why does the second law mean you can't freeze eggs in a hot pan? All of this and more on this episode of Breaking Math.
Distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/)
[Featuring: Sofia Baca; Millicent Oriana, Jacob Urban]
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