I rather like blaming things on the laws of thermodynamics.
The second law, regarding entropy, is my favorite. It is simple to understand: It states that in any system, anything that happens tends to increase the entropy of the universe.
This is how I see it: My messy desk is not my fault. The forces of nature and mathematics are working against me.
Consider this: In the human realm of homes and offices, every object has its place. And there is only one way for each object to be in its place. However, there are infinite ways for objects to be out of place.
So, it’s simple probability that things would be out of place. The “proper” way for my keyboard to exist is without crumbs underneath the keys. However, food makes crumbs and I eat at my desk and it only takes one crumb to ruin this proper state.
Getting something from its chaotic state to its proper state takes energy. It takes work. All of human existence is a constant battle to control nature, to bring elements into their proper places, to maintain our man-made systems, to fight back the chaos and maintain order. Much of our work is either maintaining existing proper states or creating new ones. (What is a smart phone but a collection of properly arranged elements?)
In the wilderness, the law still applies, but humans don’t try to fight it and so we notice its effect less. Say I moved a rock from here to there in the woods. Have I made the woods more “messy?” No, “messy” is a human construct. Nature is constantly changing and the squirrels don’t need to have all of the woodland objects just so.
Anyway, I spend great portions of my time either cursing the second law (like when light bulbs burn out or the toilet flush system decays) and thanking it for taking the blame off of me.
So, I was cheered to see today that the laws of thermodynamics may be blamed for something else: Gravity.
It turns out, gravity may not even exist. It may just be a construct of these laws.
“Differences in entropy can be the driving mechanism behind gravity, that gravity is, as he puts it an ‘entropic force,'” writes the New York Times’ Dennis Overbye, who has the story about Erik Verlinde, a physicist in Amsterdam promoting the new theory.