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October 02, 2015 Friday 05:14:33 PM IST

Enhance the exergy of life

Creative Living

What is the difference between Barak Obama, President of the United States of America, and an ordinary citizen of America? What is the difference between Pope Francis and an ordinary Catholic? Of course, they occupy higher hierarchical positions in the respective communities, they rule over greater territories, they decide upon more important things, their decisions bring about a lot of changes in society, and they are revered members of their respective communities. However, the daily chores they undergo do not differ much from the ordinary mortals: they wake up in the morning, finish the morning routines, eat breakfast, receive visitors, work in the office, do some physical exercises, pray for some time, retire for a good night’s sleep! What then makes them different and important? The difference could be with respect to the Exergy of life. Great and creative people regularly minimize the entropy of life and enhance the exergy of life. They make the maximum out their life energy, making it available to many, avoiding its wasteful use. They make the maximum use of the available time, resources, talents and office. And, that defines their greatness!


What is Entropy?


Entropy is a physical concept used in thermodynamics that describes useless energy, energy which is not available for work, one which is dissipated and diluted. According to physics, it is rather impossible to convert a given amount of thermal energy entirely into some useful work. As the temperature of the thermal ambient increases, so decreases the percentage of the useful thermal energy. This is obvious for a motor engine, which needs to be cooled by fanning to reduce the entropy generation and to increase its work efficiency.  


Entropy also describes the amount of disorder in a closed system. According to this understanding, left alone, entropy of a system will only increase. The disorder can remain the same, at the most. It cannot ever be reduced; it only increases. Energy gets dissipated easily, but the dissipated energy does not get concentrated! It is easy to squeeze toothpaste out of its tube. How about drawing it back into the tube? It is extremely difficult, and often impossible! It is easy for a cup of glass to fall down and break into pieces; however we do not see the broken pieces of glass organize themselves to re-create the cup.


Murphy’s Law


This defines a popular Murphy’s Law ascribed to Capt. Edward A. Murphy, an engineer in the US army in 1949. The well-known statement of Murphy’s Law is: “If it can go wrong, it will go wrong”. There are a few corollaries to this law, which states:


1) If something can go wrong, it will go wrong at the worst possible time,


2) If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong,


3) If anything simply cannot go wrong, it will anyway,


4) Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse,


5) Matter will be damaged in direct proportion to its value.


However, Murphy’s Law will never be in effect when you want something to go wrong. For example, though watering your garden usually seems to bring rain, watering the garden in order to bring rain will assure clear, hot, dry weather.


Entropy of Life

Murphy’s Laws are substantiated in manifold ways in one’s life. Let us list a few such Murphy instances here collected from different sources.


1. Murphy’s Law of Chance: The chance of an open-faced buttered toast landing face down on a floor covering is directly proportional to the newness and cost of the carpet.


2. Murphy’s Law of Necessity: After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch and you’ll have to go to the rest room.


3. Murphy’s Law of Probability: The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.


4. Murphy’s Law of Connectivity: If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal and someone always answers.


5. Murphy’s Law of Queue: If you change queues or traffic lanes, the one you were in will always move faster than the one you are in now. This also works in supermarkets and shops. Or, whatever queue you join, no matter how short it looks, will always take the longest for you to get served.


6. Murphy’s Law of Urgency: When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings. Or, the phone will always ring when you’re just dashing out of the door. Or, every time we sit down to eat a meal at the dining room table the phone rings.


7. Murphy’s Law of Encounter: The probability of meeting someone you know increases dramatically when you are with someone you don’t want to be seen with.


8. Murphy’s Law of Proof: When you try to prove to someone that a machine won’t work, it will.


9. Murphy’s Law of Itch: The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.


10. Murphy’s Law of Packing: At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle arrive last.


11. Starbucks Edict: As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.


12. Murphy’s Law of Lockers: If there are only two people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.


13. Murphy’s Law of Logic: Anything is possible if you don’t know what you are talking about.


14. Brown’s Law of Suitability: If the shoe fits, it’s ugly.


15. Murphy’s Law Disease: If you don’t feel well, make an appointment to go to the doctor, by the time you get there you’ll feel better. Don’t make an appointment and you’ll stay sick.


16. Will and Guy’s Law: If you don’t save things on your computer you will, sooner rather than later, delete them.


17. Murphy’s Law of Selection: If I need a Phillips screwdriver, all the ones in my toolbox are straight bladed. If I need a regular screwdriver, everyone is a Phillips.


18. Murphy’s Law of Need: When I crawl under the car I have the wrong tools, I lent them to Joe and he won’t be back for a week.


19. Murphy’s Law of Accidence: If you are in a rush the traffic lights are always red when you get to them.


20. Murphy’s Law of Rush: The more of a rush you are in the harder it is to find the start of a roll of cello tape.


These examples of Murphy’s Law obviously carry certain amount of pessimism associated with it. However, one could easily identify them with one’s own life experiences. Knowledge of these laws equips one to expect the unexpected, and to anticipate the worst, so as to be prepared for the eventualities and not to get disappointed at mishaps. Murphy’s Law derives itself from the basic principle of entropy, which makes energy more and more unavailable and brings order to disorder. Left to itself, nature behaves as if it is fully governed by the Law of Entropy and Murphy’s Law.


Energy, Exergy and Anergy


Certain amount of our life energy is doomed to get dissipated via Entropy of Matter and Mind, described by Law of Entropy and Murphy’s Law. That is inevitable. The remaining question is how to translate our life energy into useful work for the benefit of many, as great people do it.


According to Physics, the energy convertible to useful work is known as Exergy. The unavailable portion of energy that cannot be converted to any useful work is known as Anergy. Hence the relation connecting energy, exergy and anergy could be simply stated as:


Energy = Exergy + Anergy


According to this relation, to enhance the useful work or exergy for a given amount of energy, the anergy should be reduced.  To reduce anergy, the entropy of life has to be lowered to as small a value as possible. The energy dissipation via heat, sound and friction has to be minimized.


This necessitates distinction between quantity and quality of energy. Low quality energy registers great amount of losses on conversion into another form. They possess greater fraction of anergy within it and less amount of available work or exergy. Hence, irrespective of the methods of transfer, the net efficiency drops. Thermal energy is a classical example of low quality energy. It could be converted into useful work incurring great losses. The theoretical maximum of conversion efficiency from thermal energy to work is slated by the famous Carnot Efficiency, which is necessarily below 100%. For an ideal internal combustion engine operating at an ambient temperature of about 30 degree Centigrade, the Carnot efficiency could reach up to 73%. However, in practice for ordinary automobile engines, the efficiency of conversion falls around 35% only. The rest 65% of energy is wasted in the process of burning the fuel and in converting the thermal energy into motor work. Heat energy is a form of energy with lesser exergy in comparison, e.g. with high quality electrical energy, which contains almost 100% exergy.


Exergy of Life


A Similar observation can be made about one’s life also. Certain amount of our life’s efforts will be irrevocably lost. They dissipate into some background energy, with respect to which success of life’s efforts can be graded. It includes the time and energy spent over daily chores of life including that spent over physical and psychological fitness, including night’s sleep, feeding and meditation, etc. It can be described as anergy of life. The amount of anergy of life differs from person to person and depends radically on personal decisions. On the whole, however, certain amount of anergy is a necessary evil of life, without which the life processes will come to a standstill. Certain amount of “laziness” is warranted and is part and it to perform.


The focus of life, hence, shall not be over lost life energies or anergy of life; rather it shall be on the exergy of life. How much of our life energy could be converted into something creative, something useful, something good and something beautiful? What could be the contribution of my life?


A word of caution is in order here: Efficacy of human activities cannot be as accurately measured as in the physical world. It often defies the rules of measurability. Intention plays a vital role in deciding efficacy of human thoughts, words and deeds. In the metaphysical world, in which a human person exists, value judgments are paradoxical! Which is more beautiful: a flower that silently communicates the essence of beauty or a person adorned with expensive costumes and paraphernalia? Who is richer: a miser or a poor? Who is more enlightened: an innocent child, who lives the present moment with all its playfulness or a yogi who does penance for the purpose? What is better: a silent prayer of the loser or the loud cry of the winner? It is extremely difficult or nearly impossible to judge the efficacy of human actions or inactions. More important is to create conditions to optimally transform life energy to exergy, minimizing the anergy. A conscious effort to reduce the entropy of life goes a long way to improve the creativeness of daily life along with all its chores.


How to Enhance Exergy of Life?


The great person is one who reduces anergy of life to its minimum, and maximizes exergy of one’s life to the maximum. He/she converts the life energy into useful works for the benefit of many. Life’s contributions of some people even assume cosmic significance. For example, life of love by Jesus Christ, life of nonviolence by Mahatma Gandhi, life of compassion by Buddha are said to have cosmic impact. They refresh and renew cosmic correlations and coexistence. Such great people have immortalized their lives in history.


We are all called to greatness! Anybody can create history, notwithstanding the amount of natural talents one is gifted with and irrespective of the life’s context. Given below are some practical tips to enhance the exergy of ordinary lives:


• Develop a tremendous amount of inner freedom, which is out of reach of others, untouched and unaffected by anything and anybody. Your life is too precious to leave its control to fate or to the contexts. Such an attitude serves an initial capital to build up the empire based on exergy maximization.


• Start the day, reconnecting with the Source of all Exergies, God, whose cherished gift is our life. Recharge oneself with the original intentions and revisit the dreams of God for one’s life. Pray that the life activities assume sufficient exergy.


• Start the day with a perfectly positive attitude, discounting the failures of the day before. Consider that the success or failure of human activities cannot be taken for granted. In the apparent failures often sleeps the seeds of novelty.


• Encounter the entropies of life (daily chores) with equanimity of mind, considering that attitudes often convert entropy of life into its exergy. A small sacrifice can be more effective than victory over the world. Nothing is wasteful for one who has eyes to see and a mind in control!


• Invest time daily to do something totally new. Today shall not be a carbon copy of yesterday.


• Even if you are incapacitated with disease or other handicaps, try to live the inactivity of life with more zeal, with more love and with more fervour.


• Make the best use of time. Somebody living in India, according to the current statistics has an average life expectancy of 68 years, which is 25000 days. We need to live at least half of those days vibrantly with creative and innovative thoughts.


• Do everything in life, however trivial it is, assiduously. This habit has led great people to unexpected encounters with the “newness”. It adds to the exergy of life!


Make the maximum out of life’s energy, reducing the anergy component of it and enhancing its exergy component. And convert the remaining anergy of life into its exergy!

Dr. Varghese Panthalookaran

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