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Maxwell’s Demons Everywhere: Evolving Design as the Arrow of Time

Closed system in steady state, with heat flow in and out. (a) Without flow organization (design); (b) With flow organization;

Science holds that the arrow of time in nature is imprinted on one-way (irreversible) phenomena, and is accounted for by the second law of thermodynamics. In this article from Nature Scientific Report, Prof. Bejan show that the arrow of time is painted much more visibly on another self-standing phenomenon: the occurrence and change (evolution in time) of flow organization throughout nature, animate and inanimate. This other time arrow has been present in science but not recognized as such since the birth of thermodynamics.

It is Maxwell’s demon.

Translated in macroscopic terms, this is the physics of the phenomenon of design, which is the universal natural tendency of flow systems to evolve into configurations that provide progressively greater access over time, and is summarized as the constructal law of design and evolution in nature. Knowledge is the ability to effect design changes that facilitate human flows on the landscape. Knowledge too flows.

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