More on Entropy, but not a fight over it! (yet)

Question from Keisha:

Thanks for “Entropy 101”. It helped me a lot. Are you saying that the sun has an infinite amount of “fuel” ?



Answer by SmartLX:

A lot of fuel, but not an infinite amount.

What the sun has is a vast amount of hydrogen, which burns in constant nuclear fusion and thus fuses together to make helium. It will take about 5 billion years (it’s had 5 billion already) but eventually all the hydrogen will be helium and that specific reaction will no longer occur. The helium will start burning but the reaction will be different and not sustainable, which is why the sun will become a red giant and ultimately shrink to a white dwarf. We’ll all be gone long before then, whether we’ve found a way to escape the solar system or just perished right here.

My point earlier was that as long as the sun burns, it’s an unfathomably huge rate of entropy – “loss of order” – which balances out almost any emergence of order that could possibly happen on Earth. Regardless of the exact mechanics of that process, it’s in no danger of violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

5 thoughts on “More on Entropy, but not a fight over it! (yet)”

  1. This is perhaps the first time I read here something else but about ‘afterlife’ and the out of body ‘experiences’ of ALMOST died people, who ‘came back’ from the ‘other side’ of life.

    Good for a change, but I don’t thing it will last, because, for some reason that I cannot understand, this site has been occupied for ages by people trying to prove that there is afterlife. hahaha

  2. The universe has already reached peak star production actually. The amount of fuel available for stars to come together and create light is starting to run out (in terms of cosmic time scales). At some point, far in the future, the universe will go completely dark once all the stars use up all the fusible hydrogen and helium. That is where our universe is eventually headed.

      1. Energy is inherent to the universe, the total sum of energy in the universe is a constant. A star, however, takes matter and through fusion creates heavier elements. Because the lighter elements contain more energy than the heavier element that gets created, that extra energy is released by the star in the form of photons (light) and heat (and other forms too).

        It takes a tremendous amount of hydrogen to form something big enough to create the massive pressures needed for fusion. That’s why the Sun is a star (it’s big enough) and Jupiter isn’t (made of hydrogen and helium but doesn’t have the mass to cause fusion).

        Once the hydrogen in the universe runs out, there won’t be any stars, and therefore no major sources of light. That won’t happen for an incredibly long time, but it will happen eventually assuming our understanding of the universe is accurate in that regard.

        Great question Niki, I hope this additional information helps.

  3. Tim, thank you very much, thou I didn’t understand all of it so well, but I understood enough that the Universe will one day remain without light, and that that in effect will end it. Please, don’t think that I am afraid of it or disappointed, but I wonder if Albert Einstein was right when he said energy is forever. I guess that thou what you told me is true, providing, as you said, that the Universe is the way scientists in the field understand it, that in spite of that, Einstein was right, bc energy will pass into another form, there would be no light, but energy will not be destroyed, vanished into thin air. Please, don’t try to explain it to me better, because I am sure that you said it in most lay terms as it can be said, but, if I am wrong, if you can put it in even simpler terms, please do so, because, I love Einstein, not only because he was the greatest scientist that has ever lived so far, and perhaps forever in the future, but because he, just like I, adored WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART. So, I love them both, but MOZART is my first love, I live science, but I adore classical music, and MOZART is its emperor. I am in awe with him, he helps me endure things that I would rather not think of and speak of, too painful. My one of the two little grandsons has AUTISM. He has not spoken a word ever and is 8,5…

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