To E/Acc: Entropy into Order

Anthony Repetto
5 min readOct 3, 2023

~ while entropy increases, so does order ~

The popular conception of entropy is ‘disorder’ — chaotic, dispersed, useless. Entropy is only the absence of useable Work, however; it says nothing about the amount of Order in the system. In fact, MOST entropy CREATES order. Watch:

Dust piles up. Fuzz from your sweater. Stray hairs. Carpet fibers, cat-druff. And, as entropy would have it, these are continually swishing past each other in your hallway. Yet! These strands do NOT behave the way the billiard-ball gas molecules do; instead of bouncing off of one another, to spread-out into a homogenous cloud, these fibers strike one-another and BIND together. They form a ‘Dust Bunny’ — an Ordered Structure!

Whenever interactions are ‘sticky’ this way, we must expect entropy to GENERATE order. Entropy will only resolve in a homogenous, formless fog if all of the particle-interactions are billiard-bounces (which is most of the mass of the Universe, while being only a small portion of what we find here on Earth).

These Dust Bunnies also have emergent, ‘Life-Like’ Properties:

  1. They metabolize: when a dust bunny is large, it has a large interaction-surface, guaranteeing a high number of collisions with new, ambient dust particles. Those accrete, for somatic growth. (Entropy’s ‘path-dependence’ leads to an attractor: bigger Bunns)
  2. They reach a thermodynamic limit: just as organisms cannot exceed a certain size without first developing vascular systems, because their own metabolism cooks them, there is a similar thermodynamic ‘jitter’ that forces Dust Bunnies to halt growth and Subdivide, instead. When a Dust Bunny becomes 2x in all three dimensions, it now has 8x the mass, while only 4x the surface-area is holding it together. At some point, the ‘jitter’ of being kicked and blown around a hallway is sufficiently strong to rupture the Bunny’s internal bonds, and it splits into Offspring!
  3. New, Advanced Forms: emerging under specialized conditions, some Dust Bunnies start their development as a ‘roll’, or they grow mid-sized, and are then partially torn and then twisted, roping themselves. These worm-shapes are far more likely to survive, because they take advantage of a slight GRADIENT in the forces applied to their front and back tails: when forces are greater at one end of the worm than the other, the worm tends to TWIST itself more, tightening and strengthening itself. This allows rope-worm Dust Bunnies to grow to immense size, even consuming smaller, round-puff Dust Bunnies that they encounter — the Predator niche arrives!

So, “Entropy means everything turns into a pile of Dust” has some insight — that Dust is inherently seeking order, while Work already disappeared. Even the old sneer at Darwin displays the same revelation:

“If I found a working pocket-watch in the desert, that implies someone created such useful order.”

Unfortunately for the watchmaker, the desert is FULL of clocks! The measure of the rate of flow of sand, usually in an hourglass, can also be a proxy for time in the desert — even months are measured by the average velocity of the dunes. So, the clock is not in the order of the object; it is the intelligence of the signal-receiver. Did you measure the dunes? That is how to read this clock.

[[An Important Nit-Pick:

I am NOT saying “you can spend Work to create Order, so that was an increase in both Order and in Entropy.” I am saying a much firmer thing: “Even if you have no Work available to you, Entropy is the path-dependent attractor in physics, and that attractor Itself is ORDERED.” We should expect Order to keep arising, like the monochromatic sub-graphs in Frank Ramsey’s colorings in the Party Problem (the origin of Ramsey Theory). Order is un-avoidable, mathematically, simply because so MANY things are bouncing around together.]]

Where does intelligence enter that Order? When we can utilize that structure to multiply our own action. “I spent 20 Joules of energy rolling that snowball… and I triggered an Avalanche.” “I receive an alert from my phone whenever my investment-Ai needs my approval to adjust my portfolio.” Intelligence requires sensitivity to signals, and access to potentials. With intelligence, the natural unfolding of time is a source of bounty.

To Entrench the Concept:

I use a Water Jet to dig sedimentary soil; I dig in a deep, narrow trench, building steps from the two ends of the trench, down deeper to the middle. When I am standing at either end of the trench, jetting more water to dig that step lower, then that water is naturally falling down that step to the next, then the next. It is being sluiced and sedimented. The highest steps slowly accrue a surplus of gravelly sand, while lower collects heavy clay, and finally silt in the middle, in a pond. There, I pump the water out to re-cycle.

This gives me clay for soil, silt to mix and pour over compost, adding minerals, and sand and gravel for drainage/crossings of the trench, as well as filler material for geopolymer construction (geopoly uses metakaolin instead of cement; just bake clay at 600c to 800c for 1 to 2 hours, depending — it’s multiple times stronger, and better water resistance) from that heavy clay I sluiced. Meanwhile, my steps were also collecting whatever amount of GOLD was in my soil; on average globally, about 80cents per cubic meter.

So, you have construction materials for free, without needing them delivered along local transport infrastructure. You have a trench following the land’s contour, which acts to catch seasonal rain while also re-directing waters across the terrain as an irrigation canal. The trench is narrow and deep; that depth creates water PRESSURE at the bottom, feeding groundwater reserves faster. In those trenches, add a few drops of Iron Sulfate every month (recipe: boil rust and vitriol to a must) to boost algal production, and feed that algae into your straw+manure based compost pile, (straw=’brown’ compost) as the ‘green’ component. By adding those nitrates in slow doses, mixed-into the watering-can with your silt, then the compost is fungal-dominant, while the gentle trickle of nitrogen avoids leeching as well.

Over time, those trenches will fill with debris, and their stairs will become swampy march-patches. Eventually, that silty layer ponds, and the pond continues to fill. One day, trees will root on that thick layer of organics. Just plug the seeds in the ground, once their time has come. All that work put into making a hole in the ground, while that darned Entropy went and filled my beautiful trench with fertilizer. Dang!

With good design, intelligence lets time and natural events do the work. As Lao Tzu explained: wisdom is not NEEDING to run-around, managing everything, not NEEDING to check and re-check, memorizing. Nature takes its course; Wisdom lets Nature carry you there, for free.