Isaac Asimov and Entropy

Topics: Second law of thermodynamics, Entropy, Perpetual motion Pages: 2 (706 words) Published: March 14, 2011
English 4 Honors
March 1, 2011
Isaac Awesomov
Entropy is a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system's disorder, that is a property of the system's state, and that varies directly with any reversible change in heat in the system and inversely with the temperature of the system (Webster). Entropy is a fundamental aspect of not only physics and its relation to thermodynamics, but also to biology and cognition (Ben-Naim). As it’s used in Isaac Asimov’s The Last Question entropy can be thought of as the point in which human existence is eradicated by the heat death of universe. Issac Asimov used entropy to explain our mortality and show how even if we attain the highest level of technological achievement there is, nothing in this universe can prevent our eventual destruction.

IBM’s Watson recently competed on Jeopardy! against the TV quiz show’s two biggest all-time champions (Jackson). Developed by IBM Research, Watson is able to categorize vast volumes of information and using sophisticated algorithms built for searching known facts (Jackson). Watson can then answer questions in natural language (Markoff). Watson is an information seeking tool that’s capable of understanding human enquires in order to deliver that content through a naturally flowing dialogue. Watson consistently outperformed its human opponents on the show, winning $1,000,000 that was donated to charity (Markoff). Multivac, in The Last Question , is a similar computational machine, but what makes it ultimately superior than any computer we have today is its ability to actually think. Watson can only answer questions with known facts. It can’t answer the unknown any better than pure speculations. Multivac was eventually able to reverse entropy, creating the world anew (Asimov).

Keith Chidwich, from Lincolnshire, England, is attempting to create a machine that produces work indefinitely (Roach). Such a...

Cited: 1. "Entropy." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2011. Merriam-Webster Online.
1 March 2011 http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entropy
2. Ben-Naim, Arieh . Entropy Demystified. World Scientific, 2007. Print.
3. Asimov, Isaac. "The Last Question." Nov. 1956: Print.
Markoff, John. "Computer Program to Take On ‘Jeopardy!’." New York Times 26 April 2009: n. pag. Web. 28 Feb 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/technology/27jeopardy.html?_r=1>.
4. Jackson, Joab. "IBM Watson Vanquishes Human Jeopardy Foes." PC World 17 <http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/219893/ibm_watson_vanqu ishes _human_jeopardy_foes.html>.
5. Roach, Pat. "Can you help a local inventor create a perpetual motion machine?." Toronto Star 12 Feb. 2011: n. pag. Web. 28 Feb 2011. <http://www.thisisscunthorpe.co.uk/news/Motion-impossible-s-Keith/article- 3214309-detail/article.html>.
6. Y. V. C. Rao, First. An introduction to thermodynamics. illustrated, revised. Universities Press, 2004. Print.
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