Monday, April 22, 2013

War against entropy!

The second thermodynamic principle, as Lord Kelvin formulated it in 1859, states that in an isolated system the entropy never decreases.
Since entropy is a measure of disorder and dispersing, this principle states that a system cannot by itself reach order and organisation.

The partial order, with local decrease of entropy, has the result of entropy inrease elsewhere.
For example, the preservation of the contents of a refrigerator, needs dissipation of electric energy, which can be created by burning coal or by fission of atomic nuclei, etc.

In every transformation of energy, there are losses in form of thermal energy. That means that, after much time, the whole universe will have the same temperature and no transformation of energy will be possible, everywhere will be absolute stillness, and we will reach the heat death of the cosmos. Do not worry, it will be after your time.

If we want to organize a part of a system, we need concentration of information.
When the information about the functioning of an organism is lost, then the organism is dispersed.
We can observe this phenomenon in living creatures and in companies and in cities.

While we are still alive, we try to fight against the increase of entropy.
We organize our family, our company, our city, our country.
We costruct buildings, we write books, we compose music, we paint pictures.
Some works of art are created by one person, as the statues, some need teamwork to be concluded, as the movie films.

In the war against entropy, the composers of chess problems have a small but characteristic role.
They gather information, beauty, difficulty and originality into a composition which stays consolidated in time and it can not be deconstructed into its basic components.
They create organisation areas, the chess compositions, which offer enjoyment to persons studying their solutions.

My personal perception of the endeavor of the composers is that it is similar with the drawing at left. They try to bring to equilibrium a sphere on a convex surface. Most of the time the sphere rolls and falls - the composition is not succesful - for various reasons. Laborious effort is needed, self-concentration and knowledge.

The knowledge is revealed in the selection of the materials, of the radii of the spheres, and of the texture of the surfaces.
In chess terms, the knowledge is revealed in the selection of the chess pieces, of the contained theme, and of the genre of composition (helpmate, fairy etc).

And if the chess composition seems, in the eye of the solver, as a  labyrinth with many entrances, the composer has taken care to provide it with a unique road to the center, the solution.
The uniqueness of the solution, as well as the originality of the composition, is proof that the composers create works opposing disorder, that they fight against increase of entropy.


Dejan Glišić said...

Whose energy runs "perpetuum moobile" problems:
a) composer's energy,
b) solver's energy,
c) red wine energy
d) I don't know

Emmanuel Manolas said...

Problems, in order to function, absorb energy from their composer, their solver etc, only when observed.
If no-one is looking at the problem, no energy is wasted for it.
Energy stasis!