Saturday, February 04, 2006

How the second law has been violated

All my life, I've been trying to come up with instances that "defy" the statistical reality that is the second law of Thermodynamics. I believe that my search has finally come to an end.

Most people would probably have heard of the Maxwell Daemon - the "door" that allows only the "faster" (and therefore hotter) molecules from a cold area to a hot area, and "slower" molecules from a hot area to a cold area, therefore, creating a machine that defies the second law. People have puzzled over this for a very long time - and some conclude that it is impossible to construct such a daemon. Its existence, like that of the Lochness Monster, Yeti and Bigfoot is suspect.

But America has a Maxwell Daemon of its own. The INS. America is a rich land: lots of water, food and beer for all; lots of cows and pigs to kill and eat; lots of cars to drive; lots of petroleum (oil) to burn. Countries like India, on the other hand, are not so lucky - lots of people starve to death, lots of people cannot have a full meal, lots of people live in utter poverty in slums.

But India does have lots of good brains. Lots of IIT and IIM graduates. Lots of equally skilled people from other colleges - right from Bihar to Kerala. And these guys, inevitably, after gaining some education of sorts, start dreaming the American dream. The INS allows them through willingly ("America should not lose its competitive edge"), but does not allow the beggar and the "unskilled" worker. And the denouement is the following: the Per Capita Income of Indian Americans is 1.5 times the American average - the people from one of the poorest countries in the world are the richest ethnic group in America.

There's lots of Indians in the Silicon Valley. Almost all universities in the USA (even MIT, Stanford, Princeton and the like) have a sizable proportion of Indian professors and students. Often the biggest Academic names are Indians. Lots of big companies have Indians on their payrolls. Hardly what you would expect from one of the poorest nations in the world.

But Zurek (2003) would say "Hey, the INS is doing some sort of work, right? So it isn't really a violation". But I would rationalize by saying that human beings aren't molecules. Especially me. I'm fat.


W. Zurek, Maxwell'’s demon, Szilard'’s engine and quantum measurements, arXiv:quant-ph/0301076 (2003)


Anonymous said...

one of the worst blogs i ve ever read...u really suck

Akhilesh said...

Thanks. I appreciate your opinion!

Every little criticism shall help me become a better writer in time. I might be pathetic right now, but who knows what might happen tomorrow?

It is gratifying to note that my humble meanderings garner such emotional responses. Were you the same guy who was equally emotional about my "fridge on bed"?

If you are, then maybe we could get in touch by email. ( There seems to be a lot I can learn from you.