3132 - Breaking the Laws of Thermodynamics

c0238 -- Mon, 2008 Mar 17
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The third law concerns absolute zero (in temperature) and zero
entropy.  Basically, it says that as you get colder and approach
absolute zero, you will always go to a zero entropy.  This means there
is no disorder at all.  The molecules are not vibrating, AND they are
in a perfect crystal lattice.  If they weren't in a perfect crystal
lattice, there would be disorder, and the entropy would be non-zero.
We can't reach absolute zero (yet?), but we can get ridiculously

Most things do crystallize as the temperature is lowered.  However
some things don't-- they just start moving slower and slower, and
remain disordered.  These things are called amorphous solids, of which
the best known example is glass.  Just maybe this is my field of
research, too...

Some books are clever and understand this (in fact, most that I've
read).  They say that the third law states "the entropy of a perfectly
ordered crystalline solid at zero Kelvin is zero."  Since they specify
crystalline, they get around this issue.

Note: I use the concepts disorder and entropy interchangeably here,
since that is the most clear way to discuss this to the broadest
audience.  However, entropy has a precise definition which is NOT in
terms of disorder, for example, see this site if you are interested.

Granted, this joke will only be funny if you already were somewhat
familiar with thermodynamics and are familiar with Star Trek.  For the
record, this has been forming in my head for at least 6 months now,
and been drafted on paper, passed around and reviewed by my friends
for several weeks.  It's about time I finished it.  In other news,
I'll try to update more often, but who knows how well that will

- [kirk] Scotty, I need a non-zero entropy at absolute zero NOW or
  we're all dead.
- [scotty] I canna do it, captian!  I canna break the laws of
- [kirk] That's not good enough, Mr. Scott.
  - [scotty] Aye, then I'll cook yye up an amorphous solid, the
    third's more of a suggestion anyway.