Murphy, Time and Entropy
Today was the first day where students were actually performing labs in my classes for the semester. As usual for the first day, there were a large number of rough spots, some major, some minor. There seemed a bit more than normal for a first day, and I had inadvertently scheduled my two newest TA’s for the honors. Nothing like a trial by fire! They’re experts now and can handle anything.
It has always struck me as odd that experimental setups that worked perfectly at the end of last semester should accumulate problems when just sitting there for a few weeks. Nor are all of the problems similar. Each is unique and apparently untraceable to any specific cause. Some seem to just fix themselves if you give them time (to wake up? Does Starbucks have a mechanical or electrical equivalent for espresso?) Murphy seems to delight in demonstrating a corollary to “Time heals all wounds”: “Time breeds all manner of bugs.” Entropy is alive and well.
This idea reminds me of a conversation Dad and I had some years ago about houses and buildings in general. We both had noticed that abandoned buildings seem to deteriorate faster than occupied buildings. This is odd given that occupied buildings have people and things banging into the walls, dropping on the floors, etc. Sure, you might be saying—there is the maintenance factor, silly. An abandoned building doesn’t have people fixing problems as they arise. True. But Dad and I have observed that it is more than that. There actually seems to be something spiritual going on behind the scenes that is hard to explain and in today’s culture, hard to believe or accept. But I argue there is ‘something’ going on beyond the obviously physical.
There is a sense of lifelessness about an abandoned site that does not appear in an occupied site, even if the occupants are temporarily away for the day or other short period of time. We have a perception of abandonment that is not obvious to the naked eye—the converse to the times when we sense someone behind us or looking at us, but the same flavor of experience. Without that sense of place, the abandoned site seems to succumb to entropy faster than an occupied site, even if no maintenance is occurring.
It would be an interesting experiment to build three identical homes, next to each other. Without telling anyone what was going on, keep one empty, and have families move into the other two, but one family would maintain their home and one wouldn’t, and see the difference in the three over time. Not very practical, but it would be interesting.
As I pondered this, I remembered Colossians 1:15-17: “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
“…and in Him all things hold together.” Scripture indicates that the very universe requires God for it to hold together in some mysterious way-- that if God were to abandon the universe, it would fall apart. Is there a correlation or am I reaching for straws? I’m not sure, but on some level it seems to make sense.
If you will indulge me, I’ll carry it even further. If you won’t, stop reading now, because, well, I’m carrying it further to see where it leads. In II Thessalonians 2, it talks about the son of perdition or lawlessness being held in restraint until the restraining force (either the Spirit or the church or both) is removed. At that point, Scripture indicates that the plagues and judgments of Revelation begin. When you read those plagues and judgments, it sure sounds like the universe is simply falling apart on itself, imploding. In the light of the Colossians and Thessalonians passages, this makes sense in a whole new way that I had never considered before. Is this interpretation correct or even reasonable? I don’t know. As is normal, I’m sharing things here as they come through my brain, seeing where they lead.
But just maybe, there is more to this world than our modern, technology based minds can perceive or understand.