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My friend told me about a photographer on Twitter who takes pictures of decaying things. She knows about my fascination with entropy and thought I’d like his work. I do. The photographer is Tim Suess, though his Twitter name is lordyo. Tim lives in Switzerland and regularly visits junkyards and dilapidated buildings to find his subject matter. His photos are clean and filled with natural light, qualities which bring out the beauty in the decay. You can see some of his work on Flickr.

We traded a few tweets on the nature of decay and entropy, with Timm sending me this one:

@woowooteacup not sure if entropy is the right word though – nature builds structures too, it’s two extropies colliding

“the prediction that human intelligence and technology will enable life to expand in an orderly way throughout the entire universe”. The term is relatively new, having been coined by Tom Bell, and defined by Max More in 1988. Wikipedia (linked at beginning of last sentence) has this definition: “the extent of a living or organizational system’s intelligence, functional order, vitality, energy, life, experience, and capacity and drive for improvement and growth.” It further states that extropy is not the exact opposite of entropy.

Entropy has several definitions. (Just google “define: entropy” and you’ll see what I mean.) The definition I’m most fond of is entry #4 under the word in my giant copy of “The New Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language.” It says, “a state of disorder or disorganization or a hypothetical tendency toward such a state.” When I think of entropy, I think of collapsing barns and rusted gates and crumbling asphalt and dismal, dusty unused factories. And it’s the forces of nature that bring these human constructions to their state of disorder and disorganization. Entropy works so quickly that human beings have to work continually to keep our constructions in a state of repair.

I had been concentrating so much on entropy, that I hadn’t considered that nature also builds structures, not until Timm pointed it out to me in his tweet. Of course, nature builds all sorts of structures – cliffs and pine trees and sunflowers and snow crystals and human beings. It is two extropies colliding – human extropy colliding with nature’s extropy. And human beings are just as capable of entropy as they are of extropy, so our entropy also collides with nature’s entropy. Somehow, with all that colliding going on, it’s a wonder natural and human structures last for any length of time.

While I was writing this post, Timm posted new photos to his website from his visit to an automobile graveyard near Bern, Switzerland. Click on the photo to see the entire photo set.

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