History of entropy

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Entropy developed as a way of accounting for the basic asymmetry in the conversion of work and heat. Work is easily converted into heat, but heat is not easily converted back into work. The conversion of work into heat occurs spontaneously, but the opposite conversion does not.

In this context, the term "entropy" was first proposed in 1865, by Rudolf Clausius. The concept is considered poorly understood, as John von Neumann admitted to a colleague nearly a century later.

Entropy is also the term used for lost information in information theory.

Erwin Schrodinger applied the concept of entropy to biology in 1944, concluding that hereditary carriers had to be small in size and permanent in form. Predating the discovery of DNA in 1953, this was incompatible with evolutionary theory.

See also