Missing Energy in Thermodynamics
theorem, unifying the laws of physics from the conservation laws, does something
unexpected. It effectively changes the story of physics from one about the
rules that controlled events follow in nature to how uncontrolled processes
develop and work by themselves. Uncontrolled processes as they take care of
themselves sometimes predictably appear to follow abstract rules, and sometimes
not. If you study individual physical processes as for how they individually
transpire, it’s very obvious that in reaching their ends they employ
complications in the details than make them individually impossible to
explain. Average behavior never seems to occur, and even if validating the
general abstractions of science, individual physical processes apparently never
If you only interest here is
in the theorem, jump to section 4, “Limits of change”. This introduction is
not really needed for the math and you can draw your own conclusions.
the easiest way to understand the deeper issue, is through the missing variable
in thermodynamics exposed by the question of how things work by themselves.
The issue is not with the general principle of thermodynamics that energy is
lost whenever you use energy. Any energy transfer process appears to generate
energy losses. The curiously missing variable in that equation has to do with
how that energy transfers get started, not what they do as a steady state. The
riddle is that is seems necessary for energy to have been used to build the
energy transfer process itself. That self-investment of energy in building the
energy use system, or ‘syntropy’, is an energy flow. It necessarily precedes
the assortment of entropies and work outputs of degrading the gradient.
What this reveals
is the need for development prior to the release of energy from the gradient!
That is to say, we often just don’t know where that energy source that builds
the energy use process comes from, or have any information about what
organizational process it energizes. Yet, to this time, it has been
represented as part of the energy released from gradient at some later time, but
it may have come from somewhere else entirely.
is not actually mysterious at all except in physics, as “seed resources”, or
“venture capital” are very commonly understood as essential energy sources for
kick starting the self-investment cycles for developing larger scale energy use
processes. Physics has been lumping that preceding energy flow in with the
following energy use process as it was one of the energy loss products of
depleting the gradient rather than the spark which initiated it. That
oversight means that science did not notice that this central principle of
business models is also what all of nature uses to get its individual energy use
systems going, and to initiate the construction of systems that take care of
themselves… My response on noticing that was to say “oops..” and choose to
just carry on. It’s a very good way to be responsive to things when you’re
completely unprepared and not quite sure what response to make.
Even after being
initiated by the energy from a seed resource an energy transfer process has not
yet developed to the point of depleting the gradient. A sprouting seedling has
yet to begin photosynthesis, for example, and a business that opens its doors
has yet to make a sale. From that point the energy for building an energy
transfer process mostly then comes from self-investment of the process in
itself. Like the ionization cascade that opens a channel for a spark
discharge, self-investment from the initial current leak serves to open the
channel, using a portion of the energy output of the process to expand the
process. That second source of syntropy, the fraction of the energy transfer
product self-invested for building the processes, is also represented by physics
as part of the entropy of the system of energy transfer.
two “little twists” that reverse the time sequence of essential energy transfers
almost seem implicitly to have been intentional. Perhaps they served some
purpose in history that is no longer apparent or necessary. It certainly
changes everything to realize the error, though. How local systems use
self-investment to produce energy transfer processes, employing an outside
source of energy to begin, was disguised. Also hidden by lumping all the
“lost energy” of natural energy transfer processes into “entropy” was the energy
flow responsible for allowing some energy use systems to stabilize rather than
simply deplete their gradient and exhaust themselves. Self-investment systems
that grow by diverting some of their energy product to build their process can
also stabilize. They do so by divesting the same source of energy, stopping
the accretion and stabilizing their development by doing so.
people various kinds of energy using systems in nature ignore our failure to
understand how, and take care of us by not exhausting themselves. They both
successfully initiate and then stabilize themselves, on their own, as if for our
benefit, despite our theoretical construct of the universe not telling us to do
so as well. In theorizing about the universe we somehow arranged a couple
critical aspects of cause and effect out of sequence.
the past few centuries as science was applied to business and economics (the
energy processes creating wealth), our misunderstanding kept us from seeing that
the energy source used for business self-investment needed to be divested.
Otherwise business exhausts its resources and can’t stabilize. It has
monumental consequences for the future of the earth and our comfort on it.
Being unaware of local causation, or you might call it “self-determinant”
causation, leaves us with no reason to end what seemed to work before, and no
qualms about continuing our multiplying self-investment in creating wealth to a
point of exhaustion and collapse. The notion of divesting the same energy
source as used to multiply the process just doesn’t come up. Since human
access to energy for any purpose is by purchasing it, that energy source for the
self-investment growth of wealth and consuming the energy gradients of the
earth, is money.
So, the theorem
unifying the conservation laws is fairly simple, as theorems go. It’s that
using calculus the law of energy conservation can be differentiated, to create
an infinite sequence of conservation laws for all the higher derivatives of
energy flow. When you then integrate that sequence of laws you get a
polynomial expansion representing how energy flows begin or end. What you get
is in the form of an exponential, implying the presence of physical processes to
develop that way.
it demonstrates is that the conservation of energy implies that local
developmental processes are a necessary mode of causation. By looking for and
studying them you find confirmation of that and many other particulars about
them. Traditional physics and the other sciences that inherited its approach,
which represent physical processes as controlled by operators between numbers,
overlook the questions about the intrinsic processes of physical developmental
that are instrumental to change. It’s the same error, it seems, as Plato and
Ptolemy made, of representing nature as following our own ideals, that we invent
to help us organize our thoughts for our own purposes.
What the theorem
does, in effect, is to turn all those answers into questions. It points to
where other scales of organization, beyond our information and ability to
idealize, play crucial roles in the continuous chains of events. That’s the
place of complex systems. Some of the characteristic gaps in our explanations
for things point beyond our information to where these physical processes are
filling the gaps, and we can look to find them. It implies that science is
just information, and that the subject of science is not how our information
refers to itself. The real subject of science is how our information refers to
the realities beyond our information, pointers to the non-information world of
real physical things and processes, and how they are inherently different from
information in kind.