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Friday, 6 June 2014

Goldilocks and the Three Laws of Thermodynamics - A Scientist's Fairytale

Once upon a time there was a pretty girl called Goldilocks. Now although she lived in an enchanted wood, Goldilocks grew up in Luton. So when she noticed an empty house in the forest with an open window, naturally she nipped in to see what was worth nicking.

Goldilocks did not know that the house belonged to the Three Laws of Thermodynamics. And, that morning, the Laws had just gone out for a walk while their porridge cooled.

The First Law of Thermodynamics left his porridge in a closed system to cool down. But once the air above the porridge had warmed to be the same temperature as the porridge, it never cooled down.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics had just thrown her porridge on the floor. The bowl had shattered, and no matter how long it was left there, the bowl was never going to join together and be filled with porridge. It was just too statistically improbable.

And the Third Law of Thermodynamics like his porridge really cold. So he had left it in the world's most powerful fridge. But no matter how far he'd turned down the dial, he could not get the porridge to Absolute Zero. The porridge lay at the bottom of the fridge, frozen solid, and unexpectedly conducting electricity, but still resolutely hanging onto some vibrational energy.

Goldilocks cracked open the First Law's closed system, and let the porridge cool down. Soon it was just right. You can't beat thermodynamics.


Another reflection on the story is here.

3 comments :

  1. Thanks for the call-out, Eileen. And thank you Internet for demonstrating once again that for every original thought, there is bound to be someone who has had it before you.

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  2. True enough. I wrote a post on that.

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  3. And the Zeroth Law got all huffy because Goldilocks couldn't even be bothered to test his porridge

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