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It all had a beginning in the original cosmic explosion, whatever that was, and it'll all have an end when all the stars run down. Some run down faster than others. Hell, the giants won't last a hundred million years. The sun will last twenty billion years and maybe the dwarfs will last a hundred billion for all the good they are. But just give us a trillion years and everything will be dark. Entropy has to increase to maximum, that's all.
— Isaac Asimov, The Last Question, 1956
Entropy is a measure of how disorganized a system is. ...In a system isolated from its environment, the entropy of that system will tend not to decrease.
All intelligence moved in the direction of more and more universal generalization, which was only proper, because the Universe itself approved that course. He who generalized correctly could control phenomena of increasing scope. ...An evolutionary awareness - understanding that mind was the result of a homeostatic "mountain climbing" against the current of entropy — made one embrace, in fellowship, the evolutionary tree that gave rise to sentient beings.
— Stanislaw Lem, His Master's Voice (chapter 13), 1968
The law that entropy always increases -- the second law of thermodynamics -- holds I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations - then so much worse for Maxwell equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation - well these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of Thermodynamics, I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.
— Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, in The Nature of the Physical World. Maxmillan, New York, 1948, p. 74.
The fundamental laws of the universe which correspond to the two fundamental theorems of the mechanical theory of heat.
1. The energy of the universe is constant.
2. The entropy of the universe tends to a maximum.
— Rudolf Clausius, The Mechanical Theory of Heat (1867), p. 365.
Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday's homeopape. When nobody's around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there's twice as much of it. It always gets more and more. ... No one can win against kipple... except temporarily and maybe in one spot.
— Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (chapter 6), 1968
Thinking this he wondered if Mozart had had any intuition that the future did not exist, that he had already used up his little time. Maybe I have, too, Rick thought as he watched the rehearsal move along. This rehearsal will end, the performance will end, the singers will die, eventually the last score of the music will be destroyed in one way or another; finally the name "Mozart" will vanish, the dust will have won. If not on this planet then another. We can evade it awhile. As the andys can evade me and exist a finite stretch longer. But I get them or some other bounty hunter gets them. In a way, he realized, I'm part of the form-destroying process of entropy.
— Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (chapter 9), 1968
Entropy is a measure of the heat distribution of the Universe. At the beginning of time, when all energy was concentrated in the suns, entropy was a minimum. It will reach its maximum when everything’s at a uniform temperature and the Universe is dead.
— Arthur C. Clarke, Time's Arrow, 1952
I noted the features of this silent world: the memory-erasing white architecture; the enforced leisure that fossilized the nervous system; the almost Africanized aspect, but a North Africa invented by someone who had never visited the Maghreb; the apparent absence of any social structure; the timelessness of a world beyond boredom, with no past, no future and a diminishing present. Perhaps this was what a leisure-dominated future would resemble? Nothing could ever happen in this affectless realm, where entropic drift calmed the surfaces of a thousand swimming pools.
— J.G. Ballard, Cocaine Nights, 1996
Things fly this way and that, my boy... with or without messages. It's chaos, and no mistake, for the Universe is just being born. It's the great becoming that makes the light and the heat and the motion, and bangs you from hither to yon.
— Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan, 1959
Ripley moves ahead. The locator signals shows she is almost there. A CONCUSSION rocks the place, like an earthquake, jarring her almost off her feet. Then
another. The whole station seems to shudder. A SIREN begins to wail a demented rhythm. Following the tracker she turns a corner and stops. The RANGE INDICATOR READS ZERO. She looks down, horrified to see Newt's tracer bracelet lying on the floor of the tunnel. All hope recedes, disintegrating into mindless chaos.
— James Cameron, Aliens, 1985
The total disorder in the universe, as measured by the quantity that physicists call entropy, increases steadily over time. Also, the total order in the universe, as measured by the complexity and permanence of organized structures, also increases steadily over time.
— Freeman Dyson
...the Cosmic Balance requires equilibrium - something of Chaos, something of Law - so that each stabilizes the other. The difference is that Law acknowledges the authority of the Balance, while Chaos would deny it.
— Michael Moorcock, The Queen of the Swords, The Second Book of Corum, 1971
“As a young man I tried to read thermodynamics, but I always came up against entropy as a brick wall that stopped my further progress. If found the ordinary mathematical explanation, of course, but no sort of physical idea underlying it. No author seemed even to try to give any physical idea. Having in those days great respect for textbooks, I concluded that the physical meaning must be so obvious that it needs no explanation, and that I was especially stupid on the particular subject.”
— James Swinburne, Entropy: or Thermodynamics from an Engineer’s Standpoint and the Reversibility of Thermodynamics (1904)
Just as the constant increase of entropy is the basic law of the universe, so it is the basic law of life to be ever more highly structured and to struggle against entropy.
— Vaclav Havel
He had in mind the law of the non-diminution of entropy, but it sounded terribly impressive to me then.
— Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky, The Gigantic Fluctuation, 1962
They are moulages – reconstructions on the skeletons, dummies. And I assure you, from the point of view of fundamental principles, your moulages are no more amazing than the eternal batteries. It’s just that the so-so’s violate the first law of thermodynamics, and the moulages violate the second.
— Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky, Roadside Picnic, 1972
The Infinite Improbability Drive is a wonderful new method of crossing vast interstellar distances in a mere nothingth of a second, without all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace.
— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 1979
Inboard, nothing changed. Air and metal still carried the pulse of acceleration, whose net internal drag still
stood at an even one gravity. The interior power plant continued to give light, electricity, equable
temperatures. The biosystems and organocycles reclaimed oxygen and water, processed waste,
manufactured food, supported life. Entropy increased. People grew older at the ancient rate of sixty
seconds per minute, sixty minutes per hour.
— Poul Anderson, Tau Zero, 1970
Valdez talked about his researches into the Theory of Searches, citing the following typical cases: Hector looking for Lysander, Adam questing after Eve, Galahad reconnoitering for the Holy Grail, Fred C. Dobbs' seeking the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Edwin Arlington Robinson's perquisitions for colloquial self-expression in a typically American milieu, Gordon Sly's investigations of Naiad McCarthy, energy's pursuit of entropy, God's hunt for man, and Yang's pursual of Yin.
— Robert Sheckley, Mindswap, 1966
We sound the future, and learn that after a period, long compared with the divisions of time open to our investigation, the energies of our system will decay, the glory of the sun will be dimmed and the earth, tideless and inert, will no longer tolerate the race which has for a moment disturbed its solitude. Man will go down into the pit, and all his thoughts will perish.
— Arthur James Balfour, The Foundations of Belief: Being Notes Introductory to the Study of Theology (1895), p. 30-1.
Time had vanished. Only the tension held. The sparks were up to my waist. I entered the Grand Curve and fought my way along it. I was continually destroyed and reborn at every step of its length, baked by the fires of creation, chilled by the cold at entropy's end.
— Roger Zelazny, The Sign of the Unicorn, Book Three of The Chronicles of Amber, 1975.
I was so much more, before the crash. I was an explorer, an ambassador, a missionary. I spread across the cosmos, met countless worlds, took communion: the fit reshaped the unfit and the whole universe bootstrapped upwards in joyful, infinitesimal increments. I was a soldier, at war with entropy itself. I was the very hand by which Creation perfects itself.
— Peter Watts, The Things, 2010 (inspired by John Carpenter's The Thing)
The theory of the black hole wasn't new to me, though the math was over my head. If a star is massive enough, then after it has burned its nuclear fuel and started to cool, no possible internal force can hold it from collapsing inward past its own Schwarzschild radius. At that point the escape velocity from the star becomes greater than lightspeed; and beyond that deponent sayeth not, because nothing can leave the star, not information, not matter, not radiation. Nothing — except gravity.
— Larry Niven, The Borderland of Sol, 1975
Also I'm curious to find but about the people of "Entropium". ... We must be prepared for anything and everything - we can't even be certain that actions we make here will have the results and implications they would have in normal space-time. We could, for instance, walk forward and discover that we were one step backwards, could jump and find ourselves buried in rock. Be careful, though - I doubt if anything as drastic as that will happen here, particularly since human beings seem to inhabit the world and have built a city here. But we must go warily.
— Michael Moorcock, The Blood Red Game, 1965
It has been held that the Universe constitutes a thermodynamically closed system, and if this were true it would mean that a time must finally come when the Universe "unwinds" itself, no energy being available for use. This state is referred to as the "Heat Death of the Universe." Sarah Boyle begins to cry.
— Pamela Zoline,
The Heat Death of The Universe, 1967
The alternations of night and day grew slower and slower,
and so did the passage of the sun across the sky, until they seemed
to stretch through centuries. At last a steady twilight brooded over
the earth, a twilight only broken now and then when a comet glared
across the darkling sky. The band of light that had indicated the
sun had long since disappeared; for the sun had ceased to set — it
simply rose and fell in the west, and grew ever broader and more
— Herbert G. Wells,
The Time Machine, 1898
Creatures, presences, machines, weapons fighting galaxy to galaxy, system to system, fighting until the critical point is reached, when entropy flows no more, but pools, pools in endless, stagnant pools of nothing. No light. No heat. No effect. And the universe is dead, and so those who remain ... inherit the dark field. They win.
— Tony Daniel,
A Dry, Quiet War, 1996,1998
There's no charge for a return trip to where you came from, by the way. The rockets always come
up fuller than they return. They call it wastage.
— Frederik Pohl,
But what you see is only shadow... Shadow and vague possibility, and with each
moment, the useful energies of the universe diminish. Stars age. Entropy rises. Matter compresses into
pockets of nothingness, while the galaxies ride the dark tides, receding from one another at a rate that
only quickens with the next moment, and the next.
— Robert Reed,
The Well of Stars, 2004
The many populations, teeming in the galleries of the many worlds, maintained their telepathic union. Intimately they knew
one another in all their diversity. Together they supported the communal mind, with
all its awareness of the whole vivid, intricate past of the cosmos, and its tireless effort to achieve its spiritual goal
before increase of entropy
should destroy the tissue of civilizations in which it inhered.
— Olaf Stapledon,
The Star Maker, 1937
In one such cosmos the law of
entropy also was reversed.
Energy, instead of gradually spreading itself evenly throughout the cosmos, gradually piled itself upon the
ultimate material units. I came in time to suspect that my own cosmos was followed by a reversed cosmos of this
kind, in which, of course, the nature of living things was profoundly different from anything conceivable to man.
— Olaf Stapledon,
The Star Maker, 1937
seems to consist of a utilizing of some particular form of the general process of the increase of entropy
so as to gather power for the maintenance of vital activities. Life taps and canalizes part of the vast spate
of energy, thus forming a "mill-stream" by which its own little "water-wheel" may be worked.
— Olaf Stapledon,
The Opening of the Eyes, 1954
Let us remember, too, that if modern physics is correct, there
awaits all worlds the cosmical night promised by the increase of entropy.
Thus there is a race between
cosmical fulfilment and cosmical death, between the complete awakening of consciousness in the
cosmos, and eternal sleep.
— Olaf Stapledon,
The Opening of the Eyes, 1954
As for man, there is little reason to think that he can in the long run escape the fate of other creatures, and if there is a biological law of flux and reflux, his situation is now a highly perilous one. During ten thousand years his numbers have been on the upgrade in spite of wars, pestilences, and famines. This increase in population has become more and more rapid. Biologically, man has for too long a time been rolling an uninterrupted run of sevens.
— George R. Stewart,
Earth Abides, 1949
A theory is the more impressive the greater the simplicity of its premises, the more different kinds of things it relates, and the more extended its area of applicability. Therefore the deep impression that classical thermodynamics made upon me. It is the only physical theory of universal content which I am convinced will never be overthrown, within the framework of applicability of its basic concepts.
— Albert Einstein, Paul Arthur, Schilpp (editor). Autobiographical Notes. A Centennial Edition. Open Court Publishing Company. 1979. p. 31 [As quoted by Don Howard, John Stachel. Einstein: The Formative Years, 1879-1909 (Einstein Studies, vol. 8). Birkhäuser Boston. 2000. p. 1].
It exists in a continuum that wasn't proven until ten years ago, a higher mathematical dimension superimposed on top of the Universe. An infinite number of them, in fact. It was a violation of all of our various laws regarding the Universe, Space, or Space-Time. It was completely counter-intuitive. We had to unlearn everything.
— Steven Soderbergh, Solaris,
...paradoxical as it may seem, the effect will increase with the distance and will be greatest in a region diametrically opposite the transmitter.
— Nikola Tesla, Patent No 787412, Art of Transmitting Electrical Energy Through The Natural Mediums, April 18, 1905
If a source can produce only one particular message its entropy is zero.
— Claude E. Shannon, A Mathematical Theory of Communication, Bell System Technical Journal, Vol. 27, pp. 379–423, 623–656, 1948.
You should call it entropy, because nobody knows what entropy really is, so in a debate you will always have the advantage.
— Suggestion of John Neumann to Claude Shannon on what to call information — according to M. Tribus, E.C. McIrvine, 1971, Energy and information, Scientific American, 224 (September).
Angel: Youre saying that everything we do... its a distraction to keep us busy from looking under the surface?
Lindsey McDonald: [sarcastic] Ding! We got a winner. World keeps slidin towards entropy and degradation. And what do you do? You sit in your big chair and you sign your checks, just like the Senior Partners planned. The war's here, Angel, and you're already two soldiers down.
— movie Angel (1999)
For in the end, existentialist that I am, entropy alone is the only enemy worth challenging, to conquer entropy is to reach a compromise with death, always the ultimate victor in our conflicts.
— Michael Moorcock, Elric 10, The Dreamthief's Daughter - A Tale of the Albino, 2001