Monday, 12 November 2012

Cupboards, cups, and entropy...

The cupboards in our kitchen seem to be unduly influenced by the laws of thermodynamics. At least, insofar as my little golden book of thermodynamics level of understanding is concerned.

As the arrow of time has progressed the neat order that once represented our methods of storing cups and pans and whatnot has been slowly replaced with a system dominated by chaos.  Additionally, the owning of children has seemed to have sped up this process.

Stage one, ‘Order’: In this low entropy state, the state of highest structure and order, our cups and pans were grouped in sets, occasionally by colour or size, a favourite perhaps jostling for front position, but otherwise neat.  Some of the shelf they rest on is even visible.  This stage does not last long.

Stage two, ‘The descent’: Energy is added to the system in the form of that mug set given as a birthday/moving out/engagement gift. An ill-conceived Tupperware party brings new vessels into the house demanding storage. A cup or two from this set and that is dropped and broken.  Individually these additions and subtractions can be roughly accommodated into the system without completely destroying it, but the accumulation of new cups/pans/utensils/whatever has the net effect of increasing the entropy of the system, order is giving way to chaos.

Stage three, ‘Disorder’: Eventually the cupboards reach a point where cups and mugs are piled higgledy piggledy; they become a veritable teetering wave of crockery.  We stack the front ranks carefully, as a bulwark against the tide behind, but beyond that porcelain structure pure chaos rules.  This is the high entropy state, the laws of thermodynamics have taken hold and carried what was a very structured system into the realms of disorder.  Any further and a cupboard door opened too swiftly could precipitate a wave of ceramics that would take man, child and beast along with it.  The only upside of such a tidal wave would be finding that cup I used to love for tea and haven’t seen in years.

There seems little I can do to reverse the process, this is simply my story.  It could happen to you, you have been warned...


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