Chaos Theory – a new interpretation

A year ago, one of my favourite quotes was:

“A tidy house is a sign of a misspent life.”

Now, however, after converting to Minimalism, I have had to distance myself from this statement. Minimalism and Mess just do not go together. At all.

But, alas, we live in a less-than-ideal, very real world, and one of the most important laws of nature (aka the real world) is ENTROPY. Entropy, for those who don’t know, can be defined as the quantitative measure of disorder in a system. In any closed system, the entropy (disorderliness/chaos) of the system will either remain constant or it will increase.

In other words, left to their own devices behind closed doors, children will either make the room messier or it will stay the same way. (I normally put my money on the former.)

According to scientists at physics.about.com, “Some argue that the second law of thermodynamics means that a system can never become more orderly. Not true. It just means that in order to become more orderly (for entropy to decrease), you must transfer ENERGY from somewhere outside the system.”

In plain English: for a room to become more orderly, an energetic adult has to come into the room from outside and chase the children (with a broom, if necessary) to clean up.

For those interested in calculating entropy, it’s the change in entropy (delta-S) is the change in heat (Q) divided by the absolute temperature (T): delta-S = Q/T. (Never mind. I don’t understand it either and I got an A in Science.)

If you are a parent, you will realise that children are masters of entropy. Even in cold weather. In fact, especially in cold weather. And even when the door is not closed.

This thermodynamic truth was demonstrated to me yet again this weekend: We had two little entropists staying over with my own budding entropist. I decided to breathe through it and let them be for 24 hours, while I hid out in my minimalist bedroom sanctuary armed with cell phone, laptop, books and snacks. It was pretty tranquil in the sanctuary, being fairly sound proof. I had to slip out a few times to restock the snack bar and go to the loo, and it was quite obvious that the living room was being well and truly lived in, and that massive thermodynamic events had been taking place hourly, if not more often. I quickly dashed back to the cool and spacious, mess-less bedroom.

The 24 hours passed too quickly. I was forced to re-enter the real world. There was a lot of disorder but no deaths, injuries or structural damage and the entropists had had a great time. Clean-up operations got under way immediately (Qώ1≈x Ê P S3) and after an hour (T=1d) things were back to normal (Q=♀≈∞Ωώ\PdÊ).

I believe there is another thermodynamic law at work in my house: ENTEROPY. Which sounds similar but works rather differently. This law states that objects/people (O∞) ENTER the house at a speed (Sd) which is inversely proportional to their usefulness (ώ≈Ê) and this speed is usually twice the speed at which objects/people can be EXITed from said house (E=2xO∞ ώ≈Ê). It also states that even if the system is a closed one, objects will keep entering, and energy (♀ώ2) is always required to exit these objects. It is easy to see that increase in ENTEROPY will automatically lead to ENTROPY, which, when levels upward of 2873P are reached, will lead to complete energy meltdown (E♀ώL).

There is another sub-law to these two, which says that friends who come to visit (FΩ) will always leave at least one shoe (s1/2∞=8) under the bed.

PS: it was pointed out to me recently that the number of shoes left under the bed is inversely proportional to the age of the visitor. Further studies are underway. Watch this space.

 ***

Erica Neser (c) 2011™

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