QR5.6.4 Order Is Possible

The opposite of entropy is order that maintains an unlikely state like an unbroken egg and the entire earth is a complex web of order that somehow maintains itself despite changes like weather and errant asteroids. At first, physics argued that the earth is a local anomaly, a random accident that bucks the universal trend, because:

“… . eventually all these over densities will be ironed out and the Universe will be left featureless and lifeless forever, it seems” (Barrow, 2007) (p191).

But the order we see isn’t just the earth. The visible cosmos is ordered, as planets orbit stars that orbit galaxies that orbit super-clusters, and each order depends on the one above. Life on earth is only possible because the sun keeps its planets in order and the solar system is only possible because the galaxy keeps its stars in order. The earth isn’t a local anomaly if it derives from a cosmic order. Another suggestion is that the big bang must have been very ordered:

“The ultimate source of order, of low entropy, must be the big bang itself. … The egg splatters rather than unsplatters because it is … the drive toward higher entropy … initiated by the extraordinarily low entropy state with which the universe began.”(Greene, 2004) p173-174

In this view, the universe began very ordered and is only half-way through its devolution so life is still possible. In this reverse logic, the universe had to begin very ordered because the second law is true, but that the initial chaos was a very ordered state makes no sense at all.

The fact is that we see order all around us, such as:

1. Galaxies. Nearly all stars in galaxies orbit the same way, as any star orbiting another way eventually hits other stars and either leaves the galaxy or is turned around. The common orbit direction of galaxies is an observed order that arises because it is stable.

2. Solar systems. The planets in a solar system eventually adopt orbits that don’t interact. Any exceptions again result in catastrophic events until the system again adopts an observed order that is stable.

3. Atoms. Hydrogen atoms evolved because electrons and protons together are more stable than either alone, again an observed order.

4. Elements. The periodic table elements exist because unlikely combinations of electrons, protons and neutrons survived. A lead atom is again an observed order that is stable.

5. Molecules. Atoms combine into ordered molecules if they again are stable.

It follows that order evolves if it is stable and life is another example. Life isn’t just any old order but a self-replicating one that might even spread between planets. Panspermia is the theory that bacteria can hitch a ride on an asteroid, meteor or comet to travel between planets. It is possible because bacteria in boxes placed outside the International Space Station for a year came back to life when they returned to earth. Under harsh conditions, some bacteria form spores that are dead metabolically but revive under the right conditions, even after millions of years. If life can evolve on one planet and spread to another, bacteria from Mars may have colonized Earth and millions of planets in our galaxy may have some form of life thanks to bacterial colonists. A galaxy teeming with life isn’t what the second law predicts after 14 billion years of decay!

It is now suggested that order is all around us, in nature and the cosmos, because evolution can create order.