The “Physics” of History

Imagine building a house. Initially, all you have is wood, nails, glass panes, and a whole bunch of other materials just lying in random places. The first step is to somehow make a design to fit all those pieces together. Then, the builder actually starts working, by first building a base, and from the base he works bottom up. Through various techniques, a lot of work, and a lot of adjustments, the end product is one full house where a person can live in.

Scientists call this a reversal of entropy. The 2nd law of thermodynamics states that the natural order of things is to go from order to disorder. For example, the reason why every process generates heat is because the heat is the most disorderly of the energy forms for which other more orderly energy forms (i.e. electricity) can convert to. Or you can take a glass of wine. It’s easy to drop a glass of wine and watch all of it spill out and the glass shatter- that’s natural. But it’s near impossible to do the reverse of that.

However, in this case with the house, we see it going from disorder (a bunch of shit materials lying around) to order (one functioning house). Pretty much the reverse of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. And as all physicists know, to go from disorder to order, it requires an input of energy- as seen with the energy and effort exerted by the builder.

This analogy of the house is just like human history itself. We started off as a bunch of roaming primitives, but later came together to form one single unit- say a village. That right there was the first spark of the reversal of entropy- in other words, the first spark of history.

That was the first event. And each and every event that came after was another step towards a reversal of entropy. The formation of cities. The rise of a centralized government. The initialization of trade and commerce. A developing system of written laws. The Industrial Revolution, in its more efficient and unified way of manufacturing. The rise of the Internet. All these events helped in creating a more unified and less disorderly world. And all these events make up what we call now as history. It’s sort of like an arrow moving into a direction of orderliness- this is like history itself.

As mentioned, this direction towards orderliness requires input of energy. Where do this input of energy come from in terms of history? By the many individuals and groups that changed history. The kings, tyrants, inventors all were part of this input of energy. A anti-entropy reaction can only work because of an input of energy; similarly, history could only exist because of the many people that can allow it to happen.

World War 2 actually resulted in more order, such as the creation of what is now United Nations

Of course, people might point out to war events- how could these cause society to be more orderly? Wouldn’t it cause it to be more chaotic? The thing is, no. In fact, you could say that wars and bad events are like catalysts of this progression towards orderliness. A catalyst is an enzyme or anything that speeds up a reaction. This “reaction” here- history and its progression towards orderliness- has been sped up many times by bad events. Take the many conquerors throughout human history- they waged so many wars, but in the end, not only do they create a unified empire, but they also spread their own culture to other cultures and intake new cultures into their own.  Therefore, not only is it more orderly literally in terms of land controlled, but more importantly it is more orderly in terms of the exchange of ideas, money, etc. And all of this could be just from one big war.

Another way bad events serve as catalysts is because they force people to confront their problems which are making their lives disorderly and thus fix it, becoming more orderly. Another step into the direction of the arrow of history.

Pretty much, I am redefining history into this- history is the continual movement of the reversal of entropy. There may be some times in which disorder seems to dominate, but in the end, it all speeds up the general trend into orderliness.


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