Saturday, October 17, 2009

Can science see the future?

Since the laws of nature appear to be independent of time, many scientists believe they can predict the future. The second law of thermodynamics tells us that the entropy of the universe is increasing. This means that the quality of energy available to do work is decreasing. Everything is moving towards a more uniform temperature. In the 19th century some physicists anticipated the "heat death" of the universe.

This idea captivated modern culture and was featured in a novel La Fin du Monde (The End of the World) published by Camille Flammarion in 1893. The figure above is a woodcut taken form the novel. Flammarion was also responsible for having Foucalt's pendulum, reinstatlled in the Pantheon.

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