Saturday, July 9, 2011


In school, I always had difficulty understanding the concept of entropy. It didn't make sense to me that everything in the universe was conspiring together to reach a state of base inertia; that the whole world had a tendency to decay.

Now I believe I can attribute this roadblock in my scientific knowledge to the fact that I lived in Denver as a child. Had I grown up in the BVI, perhaps I would have cottoned on to entropy more readily, as the fight against it here is daily and unceasing.

There are two intertwined causes that seem to cause things to decay here more quickly than they did in Denver. The first is the weather, and the second is the lack of indoor climate control systems. I have never before lived in a house without some kind of climate control system, be it central heat, window a/c units, a swamp cooler, or a full HVAC system. Before moving to the BVI, I had no idea what happened inside a house when it wasn't maintained at a constant 72 degrees and 20% relative humidity.

I didn't know that shoes and passports could mold. Or the outside of refrigerators. Leaving the windows and doors open all the time allows much more dust and dirt to find its way in, and it accumulates on every surface. On particularly humid nights, HB and I climb into bed between damp sheets: I worry that we'll get pneumonia, although I know it's not particularly likely.

Of course, if the weather were constantly 72 degrees and 20% relative humidity, none of these things would occur. Instead, the tropical environment encourages decay, adds to the entropy in the natural system. The sun bakes the paint off buildings and cars; the rain falls so heavily it washes away roadways; the humidity in general causes everything to be subject to mold and mildew. The wind downs trees and power lines. The weather works to decay and destroy the buildings and flora and fauna alike.

So to Dr. Pinkerton, my 10th grade chemistry teacher, I can finally say I get it. Entropy. I understand.

1 comment:

  1. Such a protected childhood! You made me laugh...I only hope Dr Pinkerton reads this!!!!


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