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Q & A: entropy increases

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Most recent answer: 12/03/2018
Q:
Bonding of atoms decreases the entropy of atoms but the entropy of "something else" increases. How does the "something else" know that it has to gain entropy?
- Sathvik SR (age 14)
Mysuru
A:

The "something else" (everything in the vicinity that picks up some of the enrgy the atoms relaes as they bond) does increase its entropy by more than the bonded atoms lose. Entropy is essentially the log of the number of available quantum states. That means that if you were to lost all the available quantum states of the atoms plus the "something else" most, typically the vast majority, will have the atoms bonded. So if ultimately the system just randomly shifts around among these states, the atoms will almost always be bonded. In other words, the law that entropy gets maximized is really the law that these things have no idea about what state they should be in, it becomes pure chance.

Mike W.


(published on 12/03/2018)

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