Title: Perspective on the ontological ramifications of the 2nd law of thermodynamics

Authors: Yunus Çengel

Addresses: Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno, NV, USA

Abstract: Mass and energy are conserved quantities and are associated with the 1st law of thermodynamics, while entropy and exergy are non-conserved quantities and are associated with the 2nd law. The physical universe as we know it consists of matter and energy, including dark matter and dark energy. As conserved quantities, mass and energy fit into the description of physical entities, but entropy and exergy do not since entropy can be created and exergy can be destroyed. Thus, unlike mass and energy, the properties entropy and exergy are not physical entities although they are closely related to the physical entities mass and energy. Therefore, the 2nd law deals with quantities that are of a different kind of existence - a universe in which things come into existence out of nothing and go out of existence into nothing - and points to a form of existence that is beyond the physical universe we are familiar with. Extensions are made to other non-material entities such as physical laws, force, free will and life, and parallels are drawn with the glitter of light reflected off diamond. This paper is intended to stimulate discussion on non-conserved quantities like entropy and exergy with philosophical ramifications on existence.

Keywords: second law; thermodynamics; entropy; exergy; philosophy; ontology; existence; laws of physics; non-conserved quantities.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEX.2019.098616

International Journal of Exergy, 2019 Vol.28 No.3, pp.301 - 316

Received: 28 Sep 2018
Accepted: 03 Dec 2018

Published online: 28 Mar 2019 *

Full-text access for editors Full-text access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article