Sunday, May 28, 2006

10 Penny Experiment

1. Organize 10 pennies by stacking them in one column on a table. This is your system.

2. Next add energy to your system. Do this by pounding on the table for about a minute. When you are done the column of pennies should now be strewn about on the table in a disorganized fashion.

3. Next keep pounding on the table until the pennies reorganize themselves in one column like before -- or until you give up.

My guess is that you will give up first. In fact, you could keep pounding on that table forever the pennies will never again reorganize themselves in a column again. How do I know this -- it's a law of science that entropy (disorganization) of a closed system tends to increase.

Now our system wasn't closed because we added energy. However, adding energy to a system isn't enough to overcome entropy in a significant way. The best you can hope for is that one penny might creep up onto another -- but then it would just creep off again. You can easily overcome entropy by adding energy and intelligence (or information) to a system. That's what we did in step 1.

Now imagine that instead of getting 10 pennies to organize, your goal was to get 3 billion base pairs that makeup human nuclear DNA to organize spontaneously through random mutation. That's a laugh. But that is just what evolutionist believe.


At 3:15 PM, February 24, 2008, Anonymous Al said...

try the same thing with magnets to simulate the way chemicals bond together, and then hit the table a few billion might surprise yourself. If that doesn't work, don't forget to take apart the ones that stick together in unstable manners. Evolutionists aren't saying it happened at once, you need to have a little patience.

At 5:07 AM, February 25, 2008, Anonymous Douglas said...

There is no need to consider the entropy of the system to understand what is going on, it can be described quite simply by considering how high the pennies jump when you pound the table. A stack of 9 pennies is about half an inch tall, so to get a tenth penny on top you would need to make it jump over half an inch in the air. When you pound on the table, the pennies jump less than an eighth of an inch, on my table less than a millimetre. So the pennies will never reorganise into a tower, as they are never given enough energy to do so by pounding the table.

A similar example would be to kick a brick off the top of your house, and then proceed to kick it around on the ground, and note that it never gets back on top of your house.

Neither example as described above tells you much about entropy or evolution, though they would provide an introduction to a discussion about energy wells.

At 12:15 PM, February 25, 2008, Blogger Doppelganger said...

Man, and I thought his junk DNA claims were silly....

At 9:06 PM, February 25, 2008, Blogger Intelligent Designer said...

Hi Douglas,

Something tells me you actually tried this experiment. Try it on a trampoline.

At 3:37 PM, February 26, 2008, Blogger Douglas said...

Aah, now it gets interesting, because it all depends on how you use the trampoline. If we were to jump on the trampoline together with the coins, we could probably get the coins to fly off into the air. That would add too much energy to the coins to recreate the stack, similar to heating a long-chain polymer so that each part gets separated from every other part, say putting in energy to break up a DNA chain into separate nucleotides.

We're more interested in the opposite case, when nucleotides come together. You could model this in a vague way using the trampoline, by pushing down the middle of the trampoline so that the fabric makes an up-side-down cone shape. By shaking the fabric a little, but not enough to get the coins to escape the trampoline, they will all slide down into the middle. After a little while, the coins will probably stack up on top of each other.

The difference between the trampoline model and the table model, is that on a flat table, it takes energy to lift the coins off the table to create a stack, while in the trampoline model, it takes energy to get the coins away from each other, so they get close together and form a stack.

The trampoline model is an example of a potential well, we find these everywhere in nature. For example the bonds between atoms in large molecules are stable because of potential wells. You could get an overview of potential wells from Wikipedia, but to get an idea of how general they are, and how useful they are, you would need to get yourself in a situation where you'd need to use one. If you've had a drink from a cup today, you'll have used one, but you might not have noticed.

At 10:32 AM, September 30, 2008, Anonymous Syed said...

Wait so where is your reply to the first comment? Are you simply going to ignore the most realistic model yet proposed in this discussion? Although I would like to add that in order to be a parallel to biochemistry the pennies must not only be very strongly magnetic, they must also not be affected by any gravitational force. Also, to compensate for the ridiculous difference in characteristic length and kinetic energy, you must either wait for trillions of years or have your magnets moving at relativistic speeds....with realllllly strong magnets. There is also the other option, skip the analogy. Do a simulation or an experiment if you actually want to model the physics accurately. This way, if you demonstrate a new and revolutionary way of thinking you can contribute to actual research and advance the understanding of the entire scientific community.

At 3:55 PM, October 03, 2008, Blogger Intelligent Designer said...

Hi Syed,

Thanks for the comment. I didn't respond because like a lot of people, I am busy. But here is my response.

The intention of this blog entry was to explain the concept of entropy to someone without a scientific background. I was thinking of my kids when I wrote this. I also wanted to refute the idea that adding energy to a system results in a permanent decrease in entropy. Usually it doesn't.

It was not my intention to propose a model of DNA or anything else. But if you want to add magnets or sticky stuff to the pennies and try to come up with some kind of model then let me make the problem just a little bit harder -- just for fun.

The ASCII representation for "LIFE" in binary looks like this:


So take 32 pennies, add sticky stuff or whatever. Then stack them on a trampoline so that they spell LIFE, with heads up repesenting 1 and tails up representing 0. Now go jump up and down on the tramp and let me know what happens.


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