Archive for December 22, 2011

A Guy With A Beard Sits Here And Talks About The Four Laws Of Thermodynamics

Ah yes, the four laws of thermodynamics. Can’t live without ’em. And if you can, that means you live in an alternate dimension, and I would like to shake your hand, if you even have one. But what exactly are the four laws of thermodynamics? How to they apply to your life? Allow me to explain in the following post. As a side note, I haven’t shaved since Halloween, and I’ve noticed that everything is better with a beard. So I used beard analogies to make everything easily understandable.

*To begin, the first law of thermodynamics is actually the zeroth law. How there can be a zeroth law? That’s this whole other thing that goes into like philosophy and math and logic and other esoterica that this guy with a beard is going to have to research, and maybe someday explain.

Here it is, the zeroth (first) law of thermodynamics:

If two systems are in thermal equilibrium with a third system, then they are by law in thermal equilibrium with each other.


Imagine that there’s a man with a beard – thick and commanding, like the picture that would be next to “beard” in the dictionary. The thought of a scarf has never crossed his mind. He goes to a circus, and is appalled to see that the devious carnies claim to have in their midst a “bearded woman.” He sees her in her cage, but all she’s got is that weak peach-fuzz all over her face that most (but not all) women just wax off. “THAT’S NO BEARD!!!,” the man with the real beard yells as he throws the gnarled remains of his Pronto Pup at her cage. Looks like those two beards will never achieve equilibrium with each other.

But wait. Let’s go to the dictionary.

Beard – noun \beerd\ – the collection of hair that grows on the chin, cheeks, and neck of human beings.

Two very different beards – one a high-water mark in the world of facial hair, one weak and controversial. Opposite ends of the spectrum. Yet, they are both hair growing on the chin, cheeks, and neck of a human. Therefore, the two systems (man beard and woman beard), are in flocculent equilibrium with a third system (the definition of a beard), thus by law equilibriumizing them with each other.

The first (really the second) law of thermodynamics:

“Energy can be transformed, that is, changed from one form to another. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed.”

Interesting, again.

Go back a few months, and imagine again the man with the beard from the zeroth law parable. Only now it’s months earlier, and he doesn’t have a beard. He has only recently decided to stop shaving for a while. In the coming weeks, hair appears, from seemingly nowhere, on his face. Was this hair (hair = energy in this example) created from nothing? As a person with a beard knows, it seems as though your face just spews the stuff out from nowhere. Get ready to have your socks rocked off. The hair (energy) isn’t being magically created out of nothing. The bearded man’s face makes it out of other stuff that already exists in his body (proteins, I think), that came from other stuff, that came from other stuff, and on, and on, and on (who knows where the original “stuff” came from). And when he shaves it off, it will be transformed into something else, possibly a merkin.

The second law of thermodynamics:

“In time, differences in temperature, pressure, and chemical possibility eventually equalize in an isolated physical system.”

Very simplified, heat flows from hot to cold.

Back to the man with the beard. It is the present day again, and he has his full, glorious beard. He’s working the late shift at White Castle, and some hair falls out of his beard onto a delicious slider that is cooking on the grill. He sets that one aside, telling himself that he’ll pick the hair off in a moment. He later eats it, forgetting to pick the hair out. Afterwards he realizes that he didn’t even taste the hair. This is because the heat from the meat flowed into the hair, equalizing their temperatures. The numerous chemicals present in a White Castle hamburger were absorbed by the hair, giving it flavor, therefore equalizing in that area as well. This is why it is estimated that the average American ingests about three to seven pounds of hair per year from eating in public restaurants. Nobody even knows it’s there! Hell, half of an average White Castle burger alone is probably hair. All the employees there are just so hip to the laws of thermodynamics that they can get away with it.

The third (fourth) law of thermodynamics:

It is impossible to cool a system to absolute zero (for A-muhr’icans, that’s -459.67 °F, for Celsiites, -273.15 °C, and for whoever uses the Kelvin scale, 0 K).

Let’s say the man with the beard is locked in a freezer – the coldest freezer EVER conceived by man. Actually, I don’t really know how to explain this. The closer something gets to absolute zero, the less energy it has available to get colder, I think. Similar to trying to reach the speed of light, like E=mc². To go faster, the mass has to exponentially increase in proportion to the energy or something like that. Ergo, it can’t really happen.

*There’s a good chance most of this is wrong.

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