Energy and Entropy LO28473

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 05/13/02

Dear Organlearners,

Greetings to all of you.

What, not energy and entropy again? Cannot we bury them? We know we eat
food for energy to stay warm and active. Yet we do not focus on food as
one of our LO (Learning Organisation) topics. Neither do we focus on any
technology which needs, for example, electricity to function. So why
discussing energy and entropy again?

Dear fellow learner, imagine what will happen to the organisations in
which you move around should all of them for one week have no food to eat
and electricity to use. Some might answer that this is as unlikely as the
blue of the sky falling upon our heads so that it is not worth imagining.
It may be very unlikely because you have such reliable infrastructures for
food and electricity in your country.

But think of a land here in Africa like Malawi. Less than 10% of its
inhabitants have access to electricity. More than 80% inhabitants face
famish because of a drought. Furthermore, its infrastructures for food and
electricity are most unreliable. Can you imagine the catastrophe which is
happening in Malawi? It is not like the blue of the sky falling upon our
heads -- it is real.

Think of the parable of the boiled frog. Reliable infrastructures for food
and electricity can get over loaded slowly without us noticing it. Then
one day, a big supplier like Enron breaks down. With a shock we ask why it
was not prevented, only to keep on over loading the remaining
infrastructures. When the next one goes, we question it again while over
loading the remainder, and so on and so on. Slowly, bit by bit, the blue
of the sky falls upon our heads. Degree by degree the temperature of the
water increases steadily so that the frog gets closer to death.

Have you fellow learners ever thought that the explanation for the parable
of the frog is a slow, linear increase in temperature and thus entropy?
Some years ago we had a LO-dialogue on the nature of linear thinking.
Things like mathematics, Newtonian physics and specialisation figured
heavily in that dialogue. But what did not figure in it, was the
catastrophe of linear increasing entropy -- not a sudden deluge of it, but
a slow increase of it by constant increments. I think it is now the time
to give attention to it.

Wow, is entropy not a thermodynamical concept related only to physical
systems? How dare you import it into mental systems? Is thermodynamics not
a discipline of the subject physics? Let us then question the following

Thermodynamics is based mainly on two laws. The first law concerns total
energy E. The second law concerns entropy S. Many people think that these
two laws apply only to closed systems, but that open ystems have a way to
sidestep these two laws. It is not true. Each of these two laws is
formulated for both any system SY and all its surrounding systems with
which it interacts. The system SY cannot react with its surrounding
systems (taken together as one complex system SU) unless it is open!

Many people believe that since thermodynamics is a discipline (part) of
physics, it has only a limited application within physics. Consequently it
cannot have jurisdiction outside physics. This is a farce. The fact that
these two laws have been discovered by physicists and used by them, does
in no way imply that these two laws are restricted to physics. For
example, chemists use them as much, if not more, as physicists.

The majority of those people who know that these two laws apply to both
physical and chemical systems, believe that they have only application to
physics and chemistry. Consequently these laws cannot have jurisdiction
outside physics and chemistry. This is also a farce. The fact that
geologists, meteorologists and biologists did not explore these two laws
as they could have, does not entail that they will have no impact on
geology, meteorology an biology.

As we go from physics to chemistry, we cannot think of entropy in the same
manner. Physicists think of entropy as related to chaos. Most chemists
follow them suite. But some chemists do think of entropy as related to
order, even though it merely involves order at equilibrium. Few are the
chemists who think of entropy as related to both chaos and order. Even
less are the geologists, meteorologists and biologists who think of
entropy as the necessary (but not sufficient) key to the transformation of
chaos into order. Hence few are aware that energy and entropy apply to all
walks of the physical realm of reality. With such few, how many would
suspect that energy and entropy would also apply to all walks of the
spiritual realm of reality? After twenty years, I still need only my
fingers to count them.

In 1982-83 I made an unbelievable empirical discovery. Entropy has also a
bearing on the behaviour of the mind rather than only the behaviour of the
body. This discovery is not a theoretical extension of entropy into the
world of information like Shannon did. It is also not a discovery which I
had been planning for. In fact, I expected a far different outcome.
Consequently I was surprised just as much as anybody else would have been
by the results.

It is now twenty years later. I am the only among all humans to know for
sure that entropy has both the physical and spiritual dimensions. I feel
like Copernicus -- why do others not realise that the earth revolves
around the sun? But between me and Copernicus is a vast stretch of
history. What I now know through authentic learning is not in the least
diminished by what others do not know.

I do not seek fame for that discovery, although I felt angry for a few
years that its report was not accepted for publication. One reason is that
scientists insist that any empirical discovery can qualify as one only if
it can be repeated anywhere else at any other time. However, an experiment
can be so complex that it becomes difficult, if not sheer impossible, to
repeat it again. I made the discovery in a very complex experiment which
lasted for half of 1982. Then I repeated that experiment during 1983 with
the same results. I am satisfied that it was indeed a scientific

But the overwhelming reason for not seeking fame is that this discovery
allowed me and compelled me to explore a "continent of thinking" which no
other human had explored before. In this "continent of thinking" I have
found gravely frightening concepts, but also blissfully exciting concepts.
One such a gravely frightening concept is entropy increasing ever so
slightly with constant increments. When people follow the path of rote
learning, they allow this to happen to their knowledge. One piece of
information memorised after another make them linear thinkers.

One of the blissfully exciting concepts is that we all can take control of
ourselves. We can become like a Copernicus or an Einstein provided we heed
to our experiences and our imagination. In this we must be truthful to
ourselves with impeccable honesty, questioning ourselves endlessly. We
then have to articulate as precisely as possible of whatever we become
aware of tacitly. This precision can be obtained only by dialogue. We need
the articulations of other learners to shape our own articulation best.

It is in this sense that since the nineties I never speak of the first law
and second law of thermodynamics. I prefer to speak of them as LEC (Law of
Energy Conservation) and LEP (Law of Entropy Production). I do it because
they are in a Husserlian sense phenomenological laws. It means, take any
system and they will prove to be essential to that system. Thermodynamists
can claim birth right to these two laws, but not ownership to them. These
two laws an be owned by any scientist and even any artist who is willing
to use his/her brains.

LEC was discovered some dozen years before LEP. LEC is not a law of
mechanics. It has been discovered and had to be discovered after other
forms of energy like electricity and chemistry had been discovered. Its
discovery was for me the most brilliant team effort ever. The team
consisted mostly of broad minded physicists, but also a chemist and a
medical doctor. This shows that the discovery was seasoned with otherness
("quality-variety"), one of the 7Es (seven essentialities of creativity).
A requisite level of complexity had to be reached before the discovery
could have been made -- the LRC (Law of Requisite Complexity) in action.

The LRC like the other laws of complexity (for example, LVC -- Law of
Veracity of Complexity) are far different from LEC and LEP. LEC and LEP
are quantitative laws whereas the laws of complexity are qualitative laws.
These laws of complexity are not inventions of my own, although I dare now
to formulate them as laws of complexity. For example, the LPC (Law of
Pliability of Complexity) was known for millennia as the broad-mindedness
of wise people. Confucius made use of it. Likewise The LRC was used by
teachers as the dictum "begin with what the learner knows by experience".
Socrates made use of it.

Only two men figure in the discovery of LEP -- Sidi Carnot who did the
initial work and Rudolph Clausius who finished it with daring, yet honest,
thinking. To work with the consequences of LEC were far easier than that
of LEP. The reason is curious, but crucial to our understanding. LEC is
formulated with the sign "=" which means "is equal to" whereas LEP is
formulated with the sign ">" which means "is greater than". The "=" can be
thought of as "one-becomes-one" (one-to-one-mapping) whereas the ">" has
to be thought of as "one-becomes-many" (one-to-many-mapping). LEC requires
otherness to understand it, but LEP generates that otherness needed for

As soon as LEC was formulated, its history became almost fixed. It
required only one other major discovery to show just how universal it was.
It is the equation E = mc^2 from Einstein's relativity theory. This
equation tells us that any matter with mass m is nothing but the "frozen"
form of energy E of light with velocity c. "Unfroze" this mass gradually
like in a nuclear generator or suddenly like in a nuclear bomb and the
energy so obtained can be used for constructive or destructive purposes.

But as soon as LEP was formulated, its history began to stagger (in
oethe's sense of "Steigerung") from major event to major event. The first
event began by trying to explain LEP in terms of Newtonian mechanics. This
led to a discipline called statistical mechanics. Boltzmann was a leading
figure here. It was not possible to explain LEP perfectly. The second
event was the opening up of LEP to chemistry by the work of Gibbs. This
led to the discipline called chemical thermodynamics. Lewis was a leading
figure here. The third event began by trying to find a connection between
LEP and electromagnetic radiation. This event changed radically very soon
because Planck discovered the quantum effect. From this discovery the
discipline quantum mechanics emerged.

The fourth event began when Prigogine discovered that entropy gets
produced by entropic force-flux pairs. This led to the discipline called
irreversible thermodynamics. Many modern technologies had their birth from
this discipline and its inescapable Onsager matrix. The fifth event also
had Prigogine's name associated with it. It became clear that LEP is the
engine of geological and biological evolution. We are now into the sixth
event -- exploring LEP in the world of mind. Just yesterday (Thursday)
Alfred Rheeder had a "mental orgasm" for having a glimpse how LEP works in
the financial world. The pace is accelerating!

Since the discoveries of LEC and LEP are separated by some dozen years, we
all tend to think that they operate independently. However, since I became
aware that LEP operates on both the physical and spiritual realms of
reality, I also became aware not to fragment anything which is actually a
whole. For example, reality is both physical and spiritual rather than the
physical realm and spiritual realm separated by an abyss between them.
Likewise LEC and LEP are the two sides of the same coin. On the one side
is the picture of LEC and on the other side is the movie of LEP.

LEC and LEP can be formulated symbolically as follows. We have
to do it because in the symbolics we will pick up some very important
patterns. Think of any system SY as well as all the systems with
which it interacts. Take all these systems together as the complex
surrounding system SU. Let the sign "/_\" indicate "change". Let the
"total energy" (all forms of energy) be indicated by E and the "entropy"
by S. Then we have:
LEC:- /_\E(sy) + /_\E(su) = 0
LEP:- /_\S(sy) + /_\S(su) > 0
It is as easy as that. LEC says that the sum of changes in the "total
energy" E have to balance. LEC acts like the bookkeeper. LEP says
that the sum of changes in the "entropy" S have to increase. LEP acts
like the economist.

Please note that the innocent "+" sign above tells a far reaching story.
In the formulation of LEC its tells that the system SY had to be open
to interact with some of the surrounding systems in the complex
environment. As a result the systems total energy E(sy) has changed
by an amount /_\E(sy). It can be any kind of interaction and the
system can be open to any degree. The fact that the change in total
energy /_\E(su) for the surroundings has to be added before we can
get to LEC, make LEC a law for that "thing" consisting of both the
system SY and its surroundings SU. Trying to apply LEC and LEP
only to the system SY as
LEC:- /_\E(sy) = 0
LEP:- /_\S(sy) > 0
requires that we will have to isolate completely that system SY from
its surroundings SU.

I find it most interesting that people usually speak of E as "energy"
rather than "total energy". We have to speak of it as "total energy"
because it is the sum of all forms of energy. Furthermore, I know of no
one who speaks of S as "total entropy". It even includes the few people
who know that entropy expresses both chaos and order. This means that
there are two forms of entropy, one for chaos and another for order. Thus
I will suggest that we speak of "total entropy" to remind us that entropy
does not merely express chaos.

What is the outcome when we combine LEC and LEP together into
one law? It can be formulated as follows:
LEC&LEP:- - /_\F(sy) + W(su/sy) > 0
Here W(su/sy) represents the sum of all forms of work. Any form
of work is recognisable as an ordered flow of energy between the
 surroundings SU and the system SY. Furthermore, F(sy) represents
the "free energy" of the system SY so that /_\F(sy) indicates a change
in the free energy of the system.

This "free energy" F (two words, one concept) is a special part of the
"total energy" E (two words, one concept). F is that part of E which is
not locked up in maintaining the organisation (structures and processes)
of the system SY. In other words, F is that part of E which is free to be
used for whatever purposes, given the present organisation of the system
as a fixed requirement. F can be used to sustain work and it can be used
to make a change in organisation. It is crucial to understand that no work
can be done or no change in the organisation can be made without free
energy F to support it.

We usually drop the qualifiers (indicators) to write
LEC&LEP:- - /_\F + W > 0
This dropping of the qualifiers is a pity. Unlike "W", the "W(sy/su)"
tells us clearly that we have to do with an open system so that
work (one or more ordered flows of energy) is possible. It also
tells us that this work is always determined in the surroundings SU
and never in the system SY, even though it is an ordered flow of
energy which involves both the surroundings SU and the system SY.
Unlike "/_\F", the "/_\F(sy)" tells us that the free energy F is a
property of only the system SY itself. Obviously, each system in the
complex surroundings SU has its own free energy. But here the
focus is on the free energy of the system.

We usually rearrange the expression into
LEC&LEP:- W > /_\F
LEC&LEP:- /_\F < W
This is not an issue as big as dropping the qualifiers. But since we
brought the negative "-/_\F" over from the one side to the other side
as the positive "+/_\F", we may lose some insight. What insight?
LEC&LEP:- - /_\F(sy) + W(su/sy) > 0
LEP:- /_\S(sy) + /_\S(su) > 0
The "- /_\F(sy)" is a sort of "inverted mirror" of "/_\S". Some people,
wanting desperately to overcome the "increasing chaos" interpretation
of increasing entropy, grab at Schroedinger's notion of "negentropy".
This is a pity since their tacit knowing which they usually try to
articulate with "negentropy" can be articulated far better with
"- /_\F(sy)", a sort of "negenergy" if I dare have to say it! But
"free energy" says it so much better -- that energy which affords

Why do people desperately want to overcome the "increasing chaos"
interpretation of increasing entropy? I think they know tacitly that not
only can chaos increase, but also that order can increase. But since among
about ten major interpretations of entropy given by eminent physicists in
the past the only one which survived is "entropy expresses chaos", they do
not want to make use of entropy. How I wish I could assure you fellow
learners that "entropy expresses both chaos and order". But this I will
never do because then you will not learn it yourself authentically.

How I wish I could assure you fellow learners that it is not the system's
entropy which drives all its transformations, but that it is
LEP:- /_\S(sy) + /_\S(su) > 0
or, even better articulated, the dance of LEP on LEC as
LEC&LEP:- - /_\F(sy) + W(su/sy) > 0
Should you fellow learners take my assurance at heart, you will be
doing some rote learning. Thus this assurance, a small bit of
information, will let the entropy of your mind increase by a small bit.
Together with other small bits you will get trapped in the deadly
mode of linear thinking. So I will rather deny that I have said that
all the system's transformations (even its evolution or creativity) are
driven by
LEC&LEP:- - /_\F(sy) + W(su/sy) > 0
It is for you to find it out yourself and for that you will have to
produce much entropy in your mind.

Do not despair because since "entropy expresses both chaos and
order" you will experience a lot of mental chaos first. But since
LEC&LEP:- - /_\F(sy) + W(su/sy) > 0
drives all transformations, it will even drive the transformation
"order out of chaos" in your mind. Through the years I have done
a lot of W(su/sy) in your surroundings and our host Rick most
graciously supported it. I have let droppings fall at regular stretches
like the story of the ass (donkey) running in front in the desert. But
the time has come for you to make that transformation self. How?

LEC&LEP:- - /_\F(sy) + W(su/sy) > 0
Think of my work W(su/sy) as useless for authentic learning,
i.e. W(su/sy) = 0. What remains is
LEC&LEP:- - /_\F(sy) > 0
LEC&LEP:- /_\F(sy) < 0
This is the profound expression for spontaneous self-organisation.
Chemists know this expression very well. No chemical reaction will
happen spontaneously unless its free energy is going to decrease.

[By the way, Judy, it is this ">" sign in -/_\F + W > 0 as well as in
/_\F < 0 as its limiting case which is the reason whu there is no
conservation of free energy to the anguish of engineers. Whenever
we get /_\F = 0 rather than the limiting case /_\F > 0, the free energy
landscape has become flat.]

The mental free energy F of you fellow learners will have to decrease in
the transformation "order out of chaos". This means that you will need to
have sufficient mental free energy F to do it spontaneously. With too
little free energy F the transformation will abort just as Enron's
transformation aborted.

How will you get that sufficient mental free energy? By stopping with
"Rote Mental Behaviour" (RMB) and getting on with "Authentic Mental
Behaviour" (AMB), as Learning Individuals (LIs) and as Learning
Organisations (LOs). RMB makes the free energy landscape flat. It is the
ultimate in erosion for LIs and LOs alike. It is like Skeleton Coast in
the Namib desert. But AMB restores the ruggedness of that landscape. It is
like the great Atlantic ocean next to the Skeleton coast on a stormy day.

I have begun this topic with "energy" and "entropy". I am now ending it
with "free energy". Whether you buy a bread or hire a person, what you pay
for is this "free energy" (two words, one concept). Should you do not
realise this, then you will become a victim of "mental inflation". As you
begin to do "business" in other "countries" with far higher "mental
inflation" than your own "country", you may soon find yourself out of
"business" like Enron recently. Financial bankruptcy is a horror. "Mental
bankruptcy" is even worse a horror.

The free energy landscape on our LO-dialogue is becoming for me more
rugged by the day. It makes me very happy because it is the sign that
fellow learners are increasingly taking control of themselves. Perhaps
some of us long for an easy going flat landscape on some days. That is OK
for me because we know that it cannot be like that every day.

It reminds me of another desert in Namibia -- the Namgorab. It has vast,
flat stretches of yellow-orange sand. Out of these sand arise rugged
mountain ranges, boxing the sand between them and making them slightly
hollow. Seen close by, these mountains are grey-brown, but far away they
get a mauve colour. Add to this a clear sky as blue as nowhere else
(because of the cold Atlantic air drifting over it). Add next a few
"Kameeldoring bome" (Camel Thorn trees) with staggering, black trunks and
small, dark green leaves (when the Namgorab does get some rain). It is
such a colourful and rugged landscape of mental free energy which I wish
for each of you.

With care and best wishes,


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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