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Warning: Dr Mark Foreman is about to comment on thermodynamics, those of a delicate nature should go and read something else.

The other day at work I commented to one of my friends and coworkers about a world where everything goes backwards. It was the Red Dwarf episode where things go backwards (Series III episode 1). Rather than eating people disgorge food, muggers force people to accept money at knife-point and cab drives call you back to give you a tip. I thought that this world was rather funny.

My coworker pointed out that it is likely that entropy works backwards on this world. Smashed objects would suddenly and spontaneously repair themselves and become whole. So breaking anything would be very difficult. Imagine trying to break an egg open on this world. Messy rooms would suddenly become tidy. This idea of a world where things are very different has been thought of before, for example see the “The Gods Themselves” by Isaac Asimov.

Many heat engines would not be able to work quite the same way as they do here. But the Victorian idea of “heat death” would no longer be a worry for us. The Victorian idea of heat death was the idea of an entropy crisis which was an early version of the idea of the “energy crisis”. But the backwards trend with entropy would lead to an inverse heat death.

We speculated that this world might be quite peaceful as few explosives would be able to work. Many explosives work by creating lots of gas molecules. But then I understood that while I might be unlikely to be bombed or shot on this world there are some other very nasty things which could happen there.

I considered the mortal threat which a simple meal could pose, I might on this world make a great effort to increase the entropy of my food by cutting it up into small bite sized pieces. These would then reassemble inside my body to make steaks, carrots and other items which would block up my digestive system (horrible !). So overall I think that I am better off in this world with normal entropy.


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