SECOND LAW OF
The second law of thermodynamics is the scientific formulation of the proposition "Existence is like a bad trip to Vegas." The mathematical and physical desiderata are beyond the scope of this entry; let it suffice to say that the scientific community stands unanimously1 behind the Law. Nervous yet? Wait, there's more.
The bottom line is that disorder inexorably increases as we move forward2 in time. Ask a scientist to explain "disorder," and you'll find yourself subjected to a catalog of personally undesirable phenomena: tooth decay, broken coffee mugs, cold soup, warm beer, and promotion to management. Given the subjective nature of disorder and its alter ego, entropy, the inquisitive mind3 quickly decides that a universe devoid of conscious direction and meaning is vastly preferable to a guiding hand pushing us every moment irretrievably down the slope of degeneracy and corruption (see "Nihilism," E. o' E., May 24).
On a lighter note, those cranks who so love to enrage the establishment that they forgo historical research and common sense always return to the perpetual-motion machine. Were such a device not strictly forbidden by LT2, it could be constructed to produce more energy than it consumed, delivering a wonder world of jet packs, robot butlers, and benevolent English-speaking aliens.4 That we can never inhabit that particular World of Tomorrow drives some into a mad frenzy of denial, culminating in meticulously designed plans for impossible machines—often the same impossible machines devised 10, 20, or 100 years ago.5 Skeptics wait for one savant to get it right and liberate us from the tyranny of entropy; until then, we can only agree to abide by the universal house rules: (1) You can't win; (2) You can't break even; (3) You can't leave the game.6
1. Thus dogmatizing LT2, elevating it above the theories of evolution, round earth, and even gravity. Take that, Darwin! [Eds. note: We just want to mention Intelligent Design at this juncture, mostly because people get so worked up about it. Intelligent Design is about as UN-intelligent as you can get. Haw haw! Send outraged, overlong, pseudoscientific rebuttals to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
2. Certainly the most popular direction, though some nonconformists presumably go their own way. (See also "Onward," Encyclop椩a of Evil, May 31, for a semicogent discussion of progress and regress.)
3. Yes, we still have our mental faculties—no mere physical laws can dampen our curiosity. Or see "Dementia."
4. Said aliens would also be cute, though not in a sexual way. Antennae, green skin, large eyes, all that.
5. Exercise: Do a Web search (or library search, if you prefer fake authenticity over fake efficiency) on "perpetual motion" to discover millions of pages of scams, improbable data, and brilliant antiestablishment rhetoric.
6. Anon., though speculative scholars have attributed these rules to luminaries from Richard Feynman to Stevie Wonder.
Rob "I Hate This Guy" Lightner, Contrib.