Change – the battle of order against entropy

Change can be described loosely as ‘things are different after‘; it manifests itself as a modification that occurs over a (longer or shorter) period. But how does change come about?

Change began right with the BigBang. This singular event created all energy and matter, though distributed unevenly. Due to those initial differences and gradients, accumulation and exchange could occur.

These processes (the lumping together of matter, the transformation of energy) are the foundation of what we perceive as order. They create the structures and patterns we observe in our physical surroundings: from atoms and molecules to stars and galaxies. Yet, there is the concept of entropy, which postulates that –in a closed system– disorder is bound to increase. Given enough time, all energy and matter will be distributed evenly, all differences levelled out. That will cause the heat death of our universe (in the very long run, a comfortable 10 billion years ahead).

On the one hand, entropy strives for the ultimate death of difference. On the other hand, you could think of order as local ‘resistance’ against that universal dictate of entropy. The world we inhabit takes shape through the interactions between those two fundamental, yet antagonistic forces.

We are witness to the eternal battle between (“in the blue corner”) constructive change that promotes order and generates novelty, and (“in the red corner”) destructive change that increases entropy and causes decay.

From this point of departure, the second leg of the journey will lead us through three nested worlds. We will begin in the oldest and biggest: the inanimate world. Embedded therein we will find the animate world. In a final step, we will zoom in further to venture into the youngest and smallest of the three: the human world.

This is the seventh in a series of short posts on the origins of innovation.

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