ScienceFilter: Creationists, crystals, and thermodynamics.
A common red herring argument that I've encountered as advanced by Creationists is that by Newton's Second Law of Thermodynamics
evolution should not be possible. (According to Wikipedia that argument was originated by a biochemist named Duane Gish
, incidentally.) My understanding is that among other things, one reason why this is an erroneous argument is that while it might apply to a closed system the environment on Earth is constantly being pumped full of heat via sunlight and other solar radiation.
But never mind that, that's just the context. I was thinking about it and it occurred to me that in terms of orderliness increasing, the formation of ice crystals in freezing-temperature water or quartz crystals in liquid hot magma that has cooled to the correct temperature both seem to represent an increase in orderliness of the matter in question.
Something I've heard is that formation of crystals isn't strictly due to loss of heat. Supposedly you can have a quantity of water at a static temperature around freezing and if it's turbulent it will remain liquid but when it becomes still the ice crystals will begin to form. (Although hmm, maybe loss of turbulence would be a loss of heat.)
So is an ice crystal actually a higher entropy state than the equivalent amorphous mass of water?
Water expands when it freezes. I don't know why, van der Waals bonds or something, right? But other substances become more dense when they change state to a solid, so a given mass would lose volume. Isn't this kind of like all the air molecules in a room leaping into one corner of it - just the example that's presented as absurd in explanations of statistical mechanics?
I know that orderliness isn't the same thing as heat and isn't really the opposite of entropy. I was hoping that anyone who feels they've got a thorough understanding of thermodynamics could expound on what a thermodynamic analysis of the formation of crystals would be. And anything you can say about the relationship of order to entropy and thermodynamics would be interesting too.
In an eerie coincidence there was this recent post
about the second law. The crystals must be telling me things.