Comment: Me thinks

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Me thinks

that part of what you are confronted with is the dual use of entropy in society. It seems enough techies know about entropy and use it on society that it has acquired a social equivalency.

In the thermo world, you are correct and it is a flow or change of state of energy from a higher form to a lower one. Briefly, nuclear, then electrical, then chemical, then kinetic, then potential, then thermal are the only 'well known' choices.

In this thermo world, adding energy from outside the closed system (that which is being measured) can indeed decrease entropy (i.e. raise the state of some of the energy from one state to a higher state).

In the social world, people say that systems degrade to chaos. Loosely translated, this means that things die. I think many include systems such as fads, political campaigns and even careers.

I was making the case that the new word offered to me above was defined by a definition that I frequently use but had no word for. That word was ectropy. The definition that I use and now will correlate to this word is that by injecting some intelligence into the system, a gain can be had where a loss should have occurred. This 'intelligence' could be a person making a decision to fix or invent something or it could even apply to the chance of evolution selecting and keeping a trait that betters the species henceforth.

The point I was making in my latest comment above was that entropy is a long, steady decline while ectropy was usually a quick jump up a step.

I actually don't use chaos that often to describe things like increasing heat and pressure in a cylinder from pumping a gas into it. The reason is that heat is simply vibration of the individual molecules and to me, more vibration would appear more chaotic, not less. I think the best term to use would be "total of all weighted energy", if that's any easier to understand. I also don't use the word entropy in discussions with non-technical people because it never ends in a complete understanding. :( I tend to use heat flow. People understand water flowing in a pump (whether driven or driving) so I transcribe it to heat flow. They even understand that there's a big chunk of heat stored in an unburnt fuel, nuclear reaction or a battery. It also makes it easy to explain my Stirling engine designs in both engine and heat pump modes.

Not sure if you're asking for a lay example definition of efficiency and capacity or not but I'll include for the other readers and for brevity's sake.

Efficiency is the non-unit based ratio (percentage) of useful energy out of a closed system to the input energy given to that system. It's always 1 or below.

Capacity is the total work a system is capable of performing without regard to how much is put in. This definition is in units per time. An alternate definition is the work-time product that a system can perform as a portion of the possible work-time product.

Efficacy is like efficiency but it allows environmental energy to be included in the system without attributing it as an input. This, as you well know, is most applicable to heat pumps and chilling systems and it is often over 1. It is usually labeled COP, or coefficient of performance.

hth, Todd