318

ANNALS NEW YORK ACADEMY SCIENCES

entropy production, spontaneous order, disorder to order, swenson, thermodynamics
FIGURE 5. The discontinuous increase in the rate of heat transport that follows from the disorder-to-order transition in a simple fluid experiment similar to that shown in FIGURE 3. The rate of heat transport in the disordered regime is given by k' and k' + o' is the heat transport in the ordered regime (3.1 x 10-4H cal x cm-2 x sec-1). (From Ref. 19, reproduced by permission of IEEE.)
to grasp and to empirically demonstrate. Imagine any system that is out of equilibrium, with multiple available pathways; such as a heated cabin in the middle of snowy woods.6 In this case the system produces flows through the walls, the cracks under the windows, the door, and so on so as to minimize the potential. What we all know intuitively (why we keep doors and windows closed in winter) is that whenever a constraint is removed so as to provide an opportunity for increased flow, the system will reconfigure itself so as to allocate more flow to that pathway, leaving what it cannot accommodate to the less efficient or slower pathways. In short, no matter how the system is arranged the pattern of flow produced will be the one that minimizes the potential at the fastest rate given the constraints. Once this idea is grasped, examples are easily proliferated.
What does the law of maximum entropy production have to do with order production? Given the foregoing, the reader may have already jumped to the correct conclusion; namely, if ordered flow produces entropy faster than disordered flow (as required by the balance equation of the second law), and if the world acts to minimize potentials at the fastest rate given the constraints (the law of maximum entropy production), then the world can be expected to produce order whenever it gets the chance (3,5,11,12). The world can be expected to act opportunistically in the production of dynamic order in the development of space-time because potentials are thereby minimized at a faster rate. The world, in short, is in the order production business, because ordered flow produces entropy faster than disordered flow and this, in most direct terms, provides the nomological basis for the reconciliation of two otherwise incommensurable rivers, discontinuum and continuum, of biology, psychology, and physics. Rather than being anomalous with respect to, or somehow violating, physical law the river that flows uphill characteristic of the active epistemic