Game of entropy

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A summary of the various versions of the so-called "game of entropy" (Lewis, 1925), aka "laws of thermodynamics game version", as it later came to be called (Bloch, 1977), or "Thermodynamic Chutes and Ladders" as Thims upgraded the game, in respect to the coupling theories of Fritz Lippmann (1941).

In hmolscience, game of entropy (LH:1) is a phrase used by Gilbert Lewis (1923) in his discussion of organisms, who he referred to as being seeming "cheats" in the game of form change, according to thermodynamics; later referred to, by Isaac Asimov (1970), as the “game of energy and thermodynamics”; which by 1975 became the so-called “laws of thermodynamic game analogy”, aka Ginsberg’s theorem, about not being able to win, break even, or quite the game, variously attributed to Allen Ginsberg.[1]



In 1925, Gilbert Lewis, in his The Anatomy of Science, stated that humans or “living organism”, apparently, are “cheats” in the game of entropy:

“Living creatures are cheats in the game of entropy, [which] alone seem able to breast the great stream of apparently irreversible processes. These processes tear down, living things build up. While the rest of the world seems to move towards a dead level of uniformity, the living organism is evolving new substances and more and more intricate forms.”
— Gilbert Lewis (1925), Anatomy of Science (pgs. 160, 178) [2]


In 1970, Isaac Asimov, in his “In the Game of Energy and Thermodynamics You Can’t Break Even”, presumably building on Lewis, stated that in the "game of energy and thermodynamics", you can't break even. The full quote is:[3]

“Another way of stating the second law then is: ‘The universe is constantly getting more disorderly!’ Viewed that way, we can see the second law all about us. We have to work hard to straighten a room, but left to itself it becomes a mess again very quickly and very easily. Even if we never enter it, it becomes dusty and musty. How difficult to maintain houses, and machinery, and our bodies in perfect working order: how easy to let them deteriorate.
In fact, all we have to do is nothing, and everything deteriorates, collapses, breaks down, wears out, all by itself -- and that is what the second law is all about.
You can argue, of course, that the phenomenon of life may be an exception. Life on earth has steadily grown more complex, more versatile, more elaborate, more orderly, over the billions of years of the planet's existence. From no life at all, living molecules were developed, then living cells, then living conglomerates of cells, then worms, vertebrates, mammals, finally man. And in man is a three-pound brain which, as far as we know, is the most complex and orderly arrangement of matter in the Universe. How could the human brain develop out of the primeval slime? How could that vast increase in order (and therefore that vast decrease in entropy) have taken place? The answer is it could not have taken place without a tremendous source of energy constantly bathing the Earth, for it is on that energy that life subsists. Remove the Sun and the human brain would not have developed-or the primeval slime, either. And in the billions of years that it took for the human brain to develop, the increase in entropy that took place in the Sun was far greater- far, far greater- than the decrease represented by the evolution of the brain.”


In 1975, Allen Ginsberg, in his poem “Yes and It's Hopeless”, in New Dimensions magazine, talked about thermodynamics and the universe; a segment of which is:

“That boy from Jersey City last night hopeless; locked in plaster of Paris leg cast, bones, skull heart, intestines, liver, eyes and tongue; all hopeless, the entire solar system running on thermodynamics second law; down the whole galaxy, all the universes brain illusion or solid …”
— Allen Ginsberg (1975), “Yes and It's Hopeless” (pg. 66)[4]

That same year, in an article of The Coevolution Quarterly, the following three points were entitled "Ginsberg's theorem":[5]

  1. You can't win.
  2. You can't break even.
  3. You can't quit the game.

Presumably, in this period, Ginsberg in his poetry circle, and letter of communication, was mixing thermodynamics ideas into poetry.


In 1977, Arthur Bloch, an American humor writer, referred to Ginsberg's theorem as so-called “game version” of the three laws of thermodynamics.

“If you doubt this, witness the laws of thermodynamics as they are restated in Ginsberg’s theorem: 1. You can’t win. 2. You can’t break even. 3. You can’t eve quit the game. Murphy’s law of thermodynamics is simpler: Things get worse under pressure.”
— Arthur Bloch (1977), Murphy’s Law and Other Reasons Why Things Go Wrong! (pg. #)

Bloch's rephrasement became very popular thereafter, in colloquial circles.


In 1977, Eric Solomon made a two-person Entropy Board Game, themed on the supposed "eternal conflict in the universe between order and chaos", wherein one person is "Order" the other person is "Chaos".[6]

A comparison of the Egyptian "Theta model", the theta "Θ" symbolic of the good sun doing battle with an evil snake each night, and the Greco-Roman derived Thanatos-Mor model, which became the "Grim Reaper" model, which through the 20th century slowly morphed into the "entropy as death model", or something along these lines.

Monopoly Entropy Reaper

In the 2010s, the Murphy's law game version of the three laws was made into a Monopoly-style image, with the "Monopoly Man", aka Rich Uncle Pennybags (modeled after J.P. Morgan)[7], switched out for "Grim Reaper", as shown above (and adjacent), as the supposed new "icon of entropy"?

This "entropy and Grim Reaper" connection, to note, is not completely off-base, per reason that the Grim Reaper derives from the Roman god of death Mor (see: Mor, Mortua, Morality), who derives from Greek god Thanatos, who derives from an admixture of gods of Egyptian mythology, rooted in the Theta "Θ" concept, aka Egyptian sun symbol, wherein good, evil, life, death, and morality were bound up in a complex theology (see: Theta and Theos). Hence, as the Grim Reaper derives from Egyptian religio-mythology solar models, and as entropy, by definition is a unit of "heat", specifically an inexact differential of heat "" divided by absolute temperature "", at the point of measurement, the two are identity cousins, so to say. Though, to note, morality as defined by entropy is quite different than morality defined by the Grim Reaper, to say the least (e.g. see Goethe's 1809 the "moral symbols"[8] model).

In any event, since about 2017, the "Entropy Monopoly" game spoof image has been selling in popular amounts, on T-shirts[9], mugs, posters[10], and laptop sleeves[11], among others, per reason that many people believe this "entropy as death" ideology, employing it as their creed, so to say.

Chutes and Ladders

A 2020 Chutes and Ladders re-interpretation of the Hwang model (2001)[12], discovered by Thims (see: progress report) in 2004.

In 1941, Fritz Lippmann, in his “Metabolic Generation and Utilization of Phosphate Bond Energy”, introduced the concept of free energy coupling, according to which exergonic reactions, e.g. ATP bond cleavage, powers endergonic processes and reactions, e.g. muscle contraction, after which the so-called Lewis' entropy cheating model of "life" (or existence), became defunct. Little of this new coupling view, however, has been scaled up to the social level of public consumption, save the views put forward Norman Dolloff[13] and his 1975 Heat Death and the Phoenix: Entropy, Order, and the Future of Man.

In short, the so-called "game of existence", thermodynamically speaking, in modern terms, is more akin to a game of "Chutes and Ladders", or “Snakes and Ladders”[14], aka Moksha Patam (Indian), as it was called in ancient India, wherein one’s journey is complicated by virtues (ladders) and vices (snakes), with the twist that ladders and chutes are replaced by uphill and downhill slopes on the so-called reaction energy landscapes[15] of existence (see: Gates model).[16]

In this model, the ladders are "endergonic" (dG > 0), i.e. Gibbs energy absorbing, the chutes are exergonic (dG < 0), i.e. Gibbs energy releasing, the formerly conceptualized “dead level” of maximum entropy, is re-conceptualized as equilibrium saddle points of maximum values of equivalence values of all uncompensated transformations[17], and morality is re-formulated, as can be explained to children (see: flower stealing model)[18], as "virtues" being slides down into energy well locations below the equilibrium line (stable states of happiness), see adjacent, and "vices" being slides down into energy well locations above the equilibrium line (unstable states of unhappiness).[19]

Sims model

In 1924, Newell Sims, in his “Mechanisms of Revolutions” section, gives a fairly-cogent verbal depiction stable, and unstable "equilibriums", with focus on social revolutions, which helps to illustrated the basic conception of the Chutes and Ladders model (Thims, 2020), as compared to the Monopoly model (Lewis, 1925), e.g. note Sims use of the term "monopoly" (below), wherein he talks about “locked up energy” (social bond energy), “unstable equilibriums” (unstable chute drop points), and how revolutions can be likened to “unequal pressure systems that produce storms”, etc; the main statement of which is as follows:[20]

“In any large component society, these unequally endowed classes mean so many unequal energy bodies or areas. They range through very and degrees of power from the almost static and inert to the fully dynamic. The difference in potential thus produced renders the equilibrium of the whole very unstable. This is due, however, not alone and directly to the unequal distribution of the social surplus, but also to the indirect effect of that distribution on the personality of the socii. As pointed out elsewhere, the degree of individuation attained depends upon access to and participation in the surplus. Such opportunity, varying in the most radical fashion, splits all political and industrial nations into personality planes or type groups on the basis of individual freedom and autonomy. There are, inconsequence, some groups whose members are but slightly individualized, others in which they are more so, and a few in which they are much so. From this as one cause society becomes inharmonious and unstable. Thus, from what may be called a collateral source, the equilibrium is further disturbed and the social instability reinforced. After this manner in all civilized nations in every age have the forces that produce revolutionary change gathered themselves.

Given a situation such as we have described, and in obedience to the law of energy behavior, an equilibrium will seek to establish itself. Although in the sphere of human association, it never quite reaches the point where a perfect balance is secured, there is always striving to that end. An incessant strain toward it or an actual redistribution will be accomplished either gradually without giving rise to a serious clash and cataclysmic disturbance or else it will come about suddenly with the furor and violence of revolution.

The immediate condition that precipitates revolution may be likened to that which obtains in the physical atmosphere where unequal pressure areas produce storms, provided we do not press the analogy too far, for it is only on fundamental lines that the two phenomena follow exactly the same law. Among the variously energized classes there are some that form static or low-pressure areas and others that make dynamic or high-pressure areas. The class that is gaining energy, absorbing new increments of surplus and so becoming self-assertive, ambitious, readily adaptable to the environment, restive, an aggressive, forms a high-pressure area; while on the other hand, a class that is losing energy, letting the surplus slip from its grasp, and consequently becoming self-satisfied, unambitious, passive and supine gives a low-pressure area.

When in any society two such have been formed and reach a state where the difference becomes too great, a storm follows with the ‘fierce beating of blind rebellion against blind obstruction’ until the pressure is shifted and possibly an equilibrium is approached, or at any rate until a transference of power from one class or faction to another has taken place.

The presence of such areas of unequal stress giving rise to storms in society are evidenced by many signs. They are class hatred, propaganda, an antagonism breaking forth ever anon in acts of violence, strikes, and retaliatory measures together with riots and minor clashes on many fronts indicating impending disturbance of far greater moment. Such intermittent conflicts as these are just little eddying gusts, but they may, and sometime do, grow in volume and extent until whole nations are swept into the whirlwind of revolution.

The revolutionary process as described is obviously largely mechanical and yet slow to come into force. Though often threatening to break forth, it seldom does so. Notwithstanding the fact that situations of the most inharmonious an unbalanced sort usually prevail, a cataclysmic redistribution of the surplus is rare, because easily forestalled by those who dominate as we carry our analysis of the surplus control and manipulation a bit further, this will be made clear.

A rabbits and turtles version of Chutes and Ladders. When one begins to actively "play" the so-called Gibbs energy version of Chutes and Ladders, applied to the paths of their own existence, one will quickly encounter many so-called deep "rabbit holes", in their search thought this deep untapped labyrinth of hidden knowledge, e.g. as Goethe famously said two-centuries ago: right and wrong is found in the "moral symbols"[8] of physical chemistry, the clue he left us being that he was referring to the symbols used by Torbern Bergman in his A Dissertation on Elective Attractions (1775).

Let it be recalled that the dominating class in every society monopolizes, and has at its disposal most of the surplus; and so long as this continues it retains supremacy. Its problem, however, is always to maintain the monopoly . In any absolute sense this, of course, is not possible. Nowhere in the universe do we find energy locked up so that it may not escape and will not redistribute itself more or less freely. And certainly, no form is much less able to securely lock up energy Human bond (icon).jpg than a group of human beings surrounded by other similar groups. For social energy embraces numerous elements that are exceedingly varied in nature, some of them being tangible and others thoroughly intangible an elusive, while all of them undergo constant change both patent and hidden.

So long as a dominant class under ordinary conditions pursues this policy, and does not itself become divided into quarreling factions that betray it's united interests, and therefore allow the subordinate classes to flinch from its control of a margin of energy, or so long as no untoward events or ‘uncontrollable mutations’ [?] take place that play into the hands of the masses, a society with ever so great inequality, and consequently in the most, may be held for a long time in what practically amounts to a status quo.”

Rabbit holes

In reference to the "Turtles and Rabbits version"[21] of Chutes and Ladders, depicted adjacent, once one starts playing the so-called "Chutes and Ladders: Free Energy Version", as outlined above, one will encounter many "rabbit holes"[22], as the fall down the tubes or chutes:

“For those interested in seeing how deep the rabbit hole goes, there is a nod to Goethe’s Elective Affinities. While it will provide more place for traction, it will certainly be without solace for the questions brought up in Affinity, with or without Goethe, bear the mark of great art: They keep the conversation going.”
— Corey Nuffer (2011), “Film Review: Affinities (Afinidades)” [23]
“Ooh, I have found a fascinating and deep rabbit hole while doing some writing-related research, specifically on ‘anti-entropy[24] [see: entropy antonyms][25]. The Encyclopedia of Human Thermodynamics. @eschwitz, this looks right up your alley too. Hmolscience.”
— S.B. Diva (2019), Tweet (Ѻ), Jun 6

Some of these deep rabbit holes, above, discuss falls back through Goethe, and his 1809 Elective Affinities, who famously said that morality is found in the "moral symbols" of affinity chemistry, the forerunner to chemical thermodynamics and physical chemistry.

Game of life

A worldview stylized game of "life" diagram[26], modeled on Ravi Zacharias’ 2003 Washington Post interview comments, according to which, everyone, theist, pantheist, atheist, skeptic, polytheist, has to be able to answer the shown four questions of existence.[27]

In 2003, Ravi Zacharias, in his Washington Post interview, stated that the atheist has to be able to answer the following four questions[27], in the so-called "game of life", as parodied adjacent[26], cogently, in respect to their "world view":

  1. How does it start?
  2. What are the rules?
  3. What is the goal?
  4. How does it end?

End matter


  1. Laws of thermodynamics (game version) – Hmolpedia 2020.
  2. Lewis, Gilbert N. (1925). The Anatomy of Science (cheats, pgs. 160, 178). Silliman Lectures; Yale University Press, 1926.
  3. Asimov, Isaac. (1970). “In the Game of Energy and Thermodynamics You Can’t Break Even”, Smithsonian Institute Journal (txt) (pg. 10), June.
  4. Ginsberg, Allen. (1975). “Yes and It’s Hopeless”, New Dimensions (pg. 66). Publisher.
  5. Author. (1975). “Article” (pg. 138), The Coevolution Quarterly, 6-9:138.
  6. Entropy (1977 board game) – Wikipedia.
  7. Rich Uncle Pennybags – Wikipedia.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Moral symbols – Hmolpedia 2020.
  9. Entropy T-Shirt –
  10. Entropy Art Print –
  11. Entropy Laptop Sleeve – RedBubble.
  12. Hwang model – Hmolpedia 2020.
  13. Norman Dolloff – Hmolpedia 2020.
  14. Snakes and Ladders – Wikipedia.
  15. Energy landscape – Hmolpedia 2020.
  16. Gates model – Hmolpedia 2020.
  17. Equivalence-value of all uncompensated transformations – Hmolpedia 2020.
  18. Flower stealing model – Hmolpedia 2020.
  19. Thims, Libb. (2015). “Chemical Morality: Natural vs Forced Arrangements”, Atheism for Kids: Lecture 11 (YT), Atheism Reviews, Aug 10.
  20. Sims, Newell L. (1924). Society and its Surplus: a Study in Social Evolution (§10, §§:Mechanism of Revolution, pgs. 420-25). Appleton and Co.
  21. Chutes and Ladders (rabbits and turtles) – Pinterest.
  22. Rabbit hole – Hmolpedia 2020.
  23. Nuffer, Corey. (2011). “Film Review: Affinities (Afinidades)”,, Jun 27.
  24. Anti-entropy – Hmolpedia.
  25. Entropy antonyms – Hmolpedia 2020.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Scotton, Danny. (2018). “Worldview Questions” (txt), Catch For Christ, Oct 10.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Anon. (2014). “Ask Intro” (WB),

External links

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