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A Little Quiz In Thermodynamics

So you think you understand physics, do you? Thermodynamics is simple, right? That's what John McCoy, a creationist thought. In the talk.origins newsgroup on April 23, 1997, he wrote:

But the fact is, the II law of Thermodynamics is an easy concept to understand.

John Ling was skeptical so he composed a little exam to put McCoy to the test. We haven't heard back from Mr. McCoy. Maybe you can do a little better.

Oh it is huh? Then you should have no trouble passing this little exam I made up. It concerns events taking place on a space station orbiting the sun between earth and venus. The station is located at a distance from the sun that ensures that its internal temperature is a comfortable 70 degrees F.

First someone on board the station lights a match. During the 1 second interval that the flame of the match flares---

1 The entropy of the station as a whole:
a. increases
b. decreases
c. remains the same

2 The thermal order of the station
a. increases
b. decreases
c. remains the same

3 The entropy of the whole universe:
a. increases
b. decreases
c. remains the same

4 The thermal order of the universe
a. increases
b. decreases
c. remains the same

Next someone on board the station puts seeds in a planter located near a viewport on the sunlit side of the station. Carefully watered, the seeds grow into a row of carrots.

5 The entropy of the station as a whole has:
a. increased
b. decreased
c. remained the same

6 The thermal order of the station has
a. increased
b. decreased
c. remained the same

7 Meanwhile the entropy of the whole universe:
a. increases
b. decreases
c. remains the same

8 The thermal order of the universe
a. increases
b. decreases
c. remains the same

The seed from which one of the carrots grew happened to be struck by radiation during a solar storm. As a result it is a mutated carrot, having twice the usual content of beta-carotene in its makup. This makes it a better carrot from our point of view. The appearance of this evolved carrot resulted in:

9 The entropy of the station as a whole: a. increasing b. decreasing c. remaining the same

10 The thermal order of the station has
a. increased
b. decreased
c. remained the same

11 The entropy of the whole universe:
a. increased
b. decreased
c. remained the same

12 The thermal order of the universe
a. increased
b. decreased
c. remained the same

Finally someone eats the carrots. After allowing time for them to digest the meal, we can say that:

13 The entropy of the station as a whole:
a. increased
b. decreased
c. remained the same

14 The thermal order of the station
a. increased
b. decreased
c. remained the same

15 The entropy of the whole universe:
a. increased
b. decreased
c. remained the same

16 The thermal order of the universe
a. increased
b. decreased
c. remained the same

There we are. 16 easy questions. Lets see how you make out. Either get the answers right or shut up about the 2nd law.

This page was last updated May 8, 1997.