Number 5

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It probably drives physicists up the wall when arty types use the word “entropy” in a wholly unscientific way, to mean the tendency of living things to decay…. but I’m going to do it anyway.

While thinking about entropy (as you do, when you reach my age), I looked up the word’s specific meaning on the interwebs, and wound up staring cross-eyed at the computer screen and feeling very stupid. This seems a little harsh, as I’m not without a grounding in science, having taken both Chemistry and Biology to ‘A’ level; but having changed secondary school twice (due to family relocations) at crucial stages and thus missed some essential grounding in the subject, Physics has always given me a bit of a problem. I can remember Newton’s Laws, and I’m reasonably sound on the properties of light (which is useful), but I have a bit of a mental block about everything else; and thermodynamics is never going to be my Mastermind special subject.

Definition of entropy (Merriam Webster)

1 thermodynamics : a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system’s disorder, that is a property of the system’s state, and that varies directly with any reversible change in heat in the system and inversely with the temperature of the system; broadly : the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system

2 a : the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity
Entropy is the general trend of the universe toward death and disorder – James R. Newman

2b : a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder
The deterioration of copy editing and proof-reading, incidentally, is a token of the cultural entropy that has overtaken us in the postwar years – John Simon

3 : chaos, disorganization, randomness

4 statistical mechanics : a factor or quantity that is a function of the physical state of a mechanical system and is equal to the logarithm of the probability for the occurrence of the particular molecular arrangement in that state

5 communication theory :  a measure of the efficiency of a system (such as a code or a language) in transmitting information, being equal to the logarithm of the number of different messages that can be sent by selection from the same set of symbols and thus indicating the degree of initial uncertainty that can be resolved by any one message

This, you’ll note, is the fifth photo I managed to get out of these tulips – and I still have one wilting in the kitchen with a view to a possible sixth shot; though I did by some fresh ones today, so we’ll have to see how those degrade develop.