Everything falls apart…
In my previous incarnation as a blogger, I wrote an absolutely riveting and hysterically funny explanation of the phenomenon known by physicists as “entropy”. Sadly, that entire blog was wiped out during the zombie apocalypse of 2012.
It’s very unfortunate that you’ll never see how awesome and informative it was. Take my word for it, though, it was, well… yeah. Now, because it’s crucial to the understanding of why cobwebs are miraculous, I’m going to have to explain entropy all over again… I blame the zombies. Damned, stinking zombies…
… it’s the Law
Congress may not be able to get anything done these days, but physicists are constantly tinkering with, and fine-tuning the “laws of physics” in order to achieve a more precise, if less understandable, explanation of the Universe we live in. Fortunately for you, though, I went to school a long, long time ago, when there were three simple laws of thermodynamics, namely:
- 1. Conservation of Matter
- 2. Conservation of Energy
- 3. Entropy
Those first two can be explained by the phrase, “What happens in this Universe stays in this Universe.” You may suspect there’s more to them than that, but you’ll be setting yourself up for a huge brain ache if you decide to find out just how much more.
The third rule of thermodynamics, Entropy, can be summed up thusly:
… which is to say, unless energy is applied to it, any system will go from an orderly state to a disorderly state. You know, like your sock drawer.
God is a Pinko Communists!
If you’re a religious person at all, by now you’re wondering when I’m going to stop talking all this “science” doo-doo and get on to the miracle I promised in the title. If you happen to be an Evangelical Christian of the American persuasion, you’re probably trying to come up with a way to stone me to death without going to jail. Fair warning, people have been trying to get me stoned since high school, and have never succeeded. Your chances are slim.
“Just say No to thugs!”
Why, in God’s name, would I say He’s a Communist? Well, if you believe in God, you believe He created the Universe, in effect, giving birth to Nature, and Nature hates inequality… hate, hate, hates it!
Don’t believe me? Do a little experimentDo Not Do This!: take a garden hose to a pool that’s at least eight feet deep. Secure one end of the garden hose to something solid above water. Put the other end of the garden hose in your mouth, jump into the pool and, once you’ve sunk to the bottom, try to breath.
Not Really, You Moron!
Being as no one is perfect, I can’t say I’m a perfect idiot, but I actually did try the above experiment, and here are my scientific findings: I felt like my lungs were going to be sucked out through the goddamned garden hose!
My senses were lying
It’s ridiculous to think anything was sucking my lungs out. The fact is, having only air in them, my lungs were “emptier” than the space surrounding me, which was full of water! The water was simply trying really, really hard to equalize things by “pushing” the emptiness–my lungs– out of the way. Where else could they go but up the hose? That’s what Nature does all the time: it redistributes stuff from areas of more to areas of less… Hey, I didn’t make it up; it’s God’s plan.
Entropy makes sugar dissolve in your coffee, makes that same coffee spread all over the table when it’s liberated from the cup, and makes a bridge collapse after being ignored for fifty years or so.
Then where the Hell do Cobwebs come from?
Let’s get something straight right off; I am not talking about spider webs.
It was not very surprising to me that when I did a Google search for images of cobwebs, the vast majority of photos I was directed to were, in fact, spider webs.
A spider web is an “open system” wherein an outside source (the spider) puts energy into maintaining the order of that system (the web). No miracles there! A cobweb, on the other hand, is an amorphous cluster of dust that seems to spontaneously self-generate, most typically, in that penultimate icon of three dimensional space, the corner of a room, where two walls and a ceiling all meet. After an annoyingly long time searching, I finally found a photo of a bona fide cobweb!
Finally, The Miracle
In physics, a “system” is any collection of subatomic particles, which are, themselves, inconceivably I know what that word means small “dust”. Every object and group of objects is, therefore, a system. Entropy says that, in due time, and unless some force is exerted that keeps them together, all systems must fly apart in order that their resources will be spread evenly throughout the Universe. And yet… there are cobwebs. Collections of plain old dust particles that, instead of distributing themselves evenly throughout the atmosphere, have clustered together to form something greater. The only other place that happens is in space, where gas and dust, urged by gravity, will collect to form vast, beautiful nebulae, or even suns and planets.
Careful, there’s a new universe forming in that dark corner of your basement.