# entropy

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

# entropy

entropy (ĕn´trəpē), quantity specifying the amount of disorder or randomness in a system bearing energy or information. Originally defined in thermodynamics in terms of heat and temperature, entropy indicates the degree to which a given quantity of thermal energy is available for doing useful work—the greater the entropy, the less available the energy. For example, consider a system composed of a hot body and a cold body; this system is ordered because the faster, more energetic molecules of the hot body are separated from the less energetic molecules of the cold body. If the bodies are placed in contact, heat will flow from the hot body to the cold one. This heat flow can be utilized by a heat engine (device which turns thermal energy into mechanical energy, or work), but once the two bodies have reached the same temperature, no more work can be done. Furthermore, the combined lukewarm bodies cannot unmix themselves into hot and cold parts in order to repeat the process. Although no energy has been lost by the heat transfer, the energy can no longer be used to do work. Thus the entropy of the system has increased. According to the second law of thermodynamics, during any process the change in entropy of a system and its surroundings is either zero or positive. In other words the entropy of the universe as a whole tends toward a maximum. This means that although energy cannot vanish because of the law of conservation of energy (see conservation laws), it tends to be degraded from useful forms to useless ones. It should be noted that the second law of thermodynamics is statistical rather than exact; thus there is nothing to prevent the faster molecules from separating from the slow ones. However, such an occurrence is so improbable as to be impossible from a practical point of view. In information theory the term entropy is used to represent the sum of the predicted values of the data in a message.

If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.
Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.
Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

Project items include:
• Saved book/article
• Highlights
• Quotes/citations
• Notes
• Bookmarks
Notes

#### Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

entropy
Settings

#### Settings

Typeface
Text size Reset View mode
Search within

Look up

#### Look up a word

• Dictionary
• Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

## Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

## Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

## Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.