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[Phys-l] Entropy again


I'm just about to teach entropy (again) in the IB (HS-level) syllabus. The syllabus says that "entropy is a system property that expresses the degree of
disorder in the system". I know well that this is not a satisfactory definition (or a characterization). Here are some references which seems useful or at least quite interesting.

First I looked at John Denker's take on entropy (read it if you haven't done so already!): <>.

I also noticed that there is a brand new article by Harvey Leff in the TPT (Jan. 2012): <>

Leff has another paper on entropy which is online for free:
<>. He argues (as does JD) that the disorder metaphor for entropy is not satisfactory. Leff states that "the missing information" metaphor is much better but he notes that it does not involve "space, time, and energy in a qualitatively useful way". Therefore, he proposes "the spreading metaphor" for entropy.

Leff makes an approving reference to Lambert's work in chemistry education:
<>. You might recall that another Lambert's paper (<>) was referred to by Richard Hake in his December Phys-L posting <>

It seems that there still is a lively discussion - even a debate? - on how entropy should be interpreted or at least on how it should be taught. Anyway,
it appears in Phys-L quite regularly :-).

It would be interesting to hear about your thoughts on how to define or characterize entropy at an introductory level.



Antti Savinainen, Ph.D., B.Ed.
Adjunct Professor (University of Jyväskylä)
Senior Lecturer in Physics and Mathematics
Kuopion Lyseo High School
E-mail: <>
Website: <>

Viesti on tarkastettu roskapostinsuodatus- ja virustorjuntaohjelmistolla.