Embrace the Entropy; from Order to Disorder

From Order…entropy worldle

“Shipshape and Bristol fashion.” -John Davis, 1803

“Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere.” -Barney

“Cleanliness is next to godliness.” -Francis Bacon, 1605

To Disorder…

“Entropy. It isn’t what it used to be. ” -Unknown

“Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty-dumpty had a great fall. All the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.” -Nursery rhyme

“A living organism feeds upon negative entropy. Thus, the device by which an organism maintains itself at a fairly high level of orderliness, i.e. a low level of entropy, really consists in continually sucking orderliness from its environment.” -Erwin Schrödinger (the cat guy)

“Everything moves from where there’s a lot to where there’s not.” -David Stanley (me)

“Kids, who made this mess?” -Every parent, ever.

Why Fight It?

Entropy is a measure of a thing’s tendency to move from order to disorder. In atoms, electrons, over time, fall from higher energy levels to lower levels. In the living world, you’ve never seen a road-killed squirrel magically rebuild itself into a jabbering nut-chasing maniac, have you? No, the squirrel which your neighbor’s Hummer turned into Flat Stanley first rots, then dries, and then ‘disappears.’ The late Rocket J. Squirrel went from a highly organized, energy-using entity into disorder, and finally, nothingness; its atoms now a part of another being in accordance with the Laws of Thermodynamics.

When you put few drops of food coloring into a glass of water, what happens? Over time, diffusion occurs and the particles of dye become randomly and evenly dispersed throughout the water.

Have you ever seen the rug become less clotted and covered with dog hair, dried mud, bits of cheerios, and splotches of applesauce?

Do the shelves ‘un-dust’ themselves?

The world goes from a state of ‘more ordered’ to a state of ‘less ordered.’

It is physics and you are powerless to halt it. So why, as a parent, are you tearing out your hair over the current state of disorder in your home?

What happens when the neighborhood playdate meets up at your house and the tots are set down in front of the toy chest? Just as with food coloring, the toys become evenly and randomly dispersed throughout the playroom.

Face it, there is nothing quite like a bunch of toddlers racing around your home to speed up the natural progression of the world.

From order to disorder.

From toddlers tearing maniacally around your home, to wee ones snoozing angelically at nap time.

Higher energy to lower energy.

Your best bet is to stop your battle with the Laws of Physics. Learn to accept disorder as a form of order.

And when you decide to make chocolate chip cookies, make sure you have 3 cups of flour on hand- 2 cups go in the bowl, and one goes all over the countertop. Play a clean-up game later.

You’ll remember the cookies lots longer than you’ll detest the mess.


The Beginning
About David Stanley

Teacher & science guy, writer, musician, coach, skier and bike racer, I am interested… in everything; your story, food & spirits and music and everything in the natural world, spirit & sport. My son is 22 and still needs his Dad. I am 56 and so do I.
I blog on life and death, cancer and sports, kids and education at http://dstan58.blogspot.com/


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  1. Brad the Dad says:

    “Your best bet is to stop your battle with the Laws of Physics. Learn to accept disorder as a form of order.”

    Love this article. Entropy has always been one of my favorite words since my (short-lived) days as a Physics major. I agree with the principle and see it daily in the examples you mention (especially my boys and their toys) and more. Driving around on the roads and highways, my daily life as a demolition project manager, and the split-second nature of the delicate dance we see in sports, youth and professional alike.

    There is no guarantee I’m even going to be sitting at my desk long enough to click the “Post Comment” button below, and I’m with you that the sooner we all recognize such, the better.

  2. Brad the Dad says:

    Phew. 😉

    • The great baseball announcer Vin Scully once said, “”Andre Dawson has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day (pause). Aren’t we all?”
      Whew, indeed.

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