Philip Moriarty

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In existographies, Philip Moriarty (13- AE) (68- ACM) (CR:160) (LH:1) (TL:161|#60) is an Irish physicist, noted for []


Entropy | Applicable to people

Moriarty explaining (23 Apr 2009) how students can be thought of as being in high entropy states or low entropy states, based on how scattered or packed they are; a view he later back tracks on, denying that orderings of people have a real entropy.

On 23 Apr 2009, Moriarty, in his “Entropy”, Sixty Symbols video, attempted to explain the symbol "S" of entropy with reference to Ludwig Boltzmann using the following equation:[1]

To explain this equation, he then says the following:

“We can think about the students who are milling about here and filling out this state quite well as a high entropy state. Then we can think about bringing them into what we term a low entropy state, where we pack them all nicely together, nicely ordered in the center of this lovely green.”
— Philip Moriarty (2009), “Entropy”, Sixty Symbols, Apr 23[1]

He then says that "this is what entropy is really about", namely:

“This is what entropy is really all about. It’s about this ‘dispersal’ of energy, about this moving from a state where everything is nicely packed and tightly ordered, into a state where everything is spread out, and you can apply that to gas molecules, just as easily as you CAN apply it to students.”
— Philip Moriarty (2009), “Entropy”, Sixty Symbols, Apr 23[1]

At this point, Moriarty has presented the view, on video, with students behind hims, that entropy CAN be applied to the arrangements of student or people.

Entropy | Not applicable to people!

On 30 Apr, Libb Thims, then unaware of Moriarty's video, made a "What is Entropy?" video, for his Human Chemistry 101 channel, wherein he explained entropy in terms of Clausius' model of transformation equivalents model, which is where "entropy" originated as a concept.

Thims then found Moriarty's video, and began to engage, in YouTube thread posts, into debate and criticism about many of the incorrect statements made in his video, e.g. that the "S" symbol comes by Boltzmann, correctly Boltzmann used the symbol "E" in his distribution formula, that S = k ln Ω, correctly this was penned by Planck, his discussion on the Poincare recurrence theorem and entropy, among others. Moriarty then argued back, in video threads, that before he was only speaking in analogy form, and that in reality, arrangements of people do not have a thermodynamic entropy:

“Concepts of entropy [only] apply to gas molecules; you CANNOT say [in reality] that a particular arrangement of students [people] has a thermodynamic entropy.”
— Philip Moriarty (2009), “Comment to Libb Thims”, YouTube, May[2]

One person responded to this:

“So, why are we exempt from this application of thermodynamics? Why would energy alter its behavior in a fundamental way when it began manifesting as the patterns of human behavior? Recursion is everywhere.”
— Penguin Jin (2009), "Comment to Moriarty", YouTube, May

Moriarty replied:

“The main points are: first, an arrangement of students (or socks, or objects in a room) will not ‘spontaneously’ rearrange themselves (unlike the milk molecules mentioned in the video). Second, there is no change in the thermodynamic free energy of, e.g., socks [or students], if we rearrange them.”
— Philip Moriarty (2009), “Comment to Penguin Jin”, YouTube, May

He also says:

“Thims suggestion that the relationships of groups of humans, romantic or otherwise, ARE associated with a thermodynamic entropy, and other functions of state, is very worrying to me! Thims seems to be making the same type of fundamental error pointed out in the essays of Frank Lambert.”
— Philip Moriarty (2009), “Comment to Libb Thims”, YouTube, May

On 2 Sep 2009, Moriarty's confused arguments bubbled over into a two-month long so-called: Moriarty-Thims debate, which took place in the threads of Hmolpedia 2020, which attracted commentary from a number of leading thermodynamics authors, including Ingo Muller, author of A History of Thermodynamics: the Doctrine of Energy and Entropy (2007), wherein the history of the application of thermodynamics to social phenomena is discussed.[3]


An visual of the two river branches of thermodynamics, showing the Gibbs-Lewis branch, applicable to all reactions occurring on the surface of the earth, and the Boltzmann-Planck branch, applicable to specific situations, e.g. gas theory or radiation phenomena. Moriarty only understands entropy according to the Boltzmann-Planck branch; hence the confusion.

The central confusion, seen above, is that Moriarty, being a physicist, only has a physics understanding of entropy, aka a partial understanding of entropy. Correctly, the foundational model of entropy is that defined by Rudolf Clausius, building on Sadi Carnot, James Joule, and William Thomson. The Clausius model of entropy applies to every body or system in the universe.

In 1870s, Ludwig Boltzmann began to see if he could make a formula for entropy, using the probability distributions of gas molecules as varying with temperatures. He arrived at his so-called "heat theorem" or H-theorem, which is an approximation of entropy, derived from gas theory. This is the model that Moriarty employs in his video talks.

Hence, when Moriarty says entropy applies to humans, distributed in a field, his is using a figure of speech, i.e. humans modeled as gas molecules. But, when questioned about whether entropy, in reality, applies to groups, distributions, or arrangements of humans, e.g. a dihumanide molecule, he gets confused, and denies that entropy applies to humans, because he lacks an understanding of the Gilbert Lewis (1923) model of entropy, and how a measure of entropy CAN be calculated for all chemical species, hydrogen to human, based on the reaction energies required to form the species, from base elements, at STP.


Quotes | On

The following are quotes on Moriarty:

“I looked at the Moriarty-Thims debate. My god: what a Babylonian cacophony! And so much innuendo! Is that the level of communication at which we have arrived? I dare say that, instead of Yes/No boxes at the end of the comments, there should be an injunction to sleep at least one night over a response. And good old Muschik—with the talent for obfuscation—predictably is putting his oar in. But yes, of course one may define an entropy for a group of students ‘in the field’ as well as for a battalion of marching soldiers. And for an anchor chain, and a polymer chain. And for a protein molecule and the human genome. The question is, however, what to do with such entropies and what predictions are possible—at this time—by the use of the concepts.”
Ingo Muller (2009), “Email to Libb Thims”, 4:40AM CST Sep 9

Quotes | By

The following are quotes by Moriarty:

“Where did Gibbs state that ‘a society is one such material system’? He didn't. That is your particular incorrect reading of the application of thermodynamics.”
— Philip Moriarty (2009), reply to Libb Thims on the "entropy of students" video[1], YouTube treads, turned Hmolpedia threads[4]
“The thing I was slightly uncomfortable about, in that [entropy] video, which I think I could have put across a lot better, was to really point out the difference between an ‘analogy’ and what is actually going on.”
— Philip Moriarty (2009), “Entropy – Professor’s Response”, Sixty Symbols, Aug 4[5]
Thims has taken the abuse of the term entropy to an entirely new level, by suggesting that it — and, unbelievably, quantum mechanics — can be applied to ‘interactions’ in romantic human relationships.”
— Philip Moriarty (2014), “Comment reply to Libb Thims”, Aug 30

End matter


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Moriarty, Philip. (2009). “Entropy – Sixty Symbols” (YT), Sixty Symbols, Apr 23.
  2. Comment posted to YouTube video threads, then deleted later by Moriarty; this was one of the main comments that sparked the "Moriarty-Thims debate".
  3. (a) Moriarty, Philip; Thims, Libb. (2009). “Debate on Entropy of Students” (debaters: 15+; comments: 258) (pdf), Hmolpedia 2020 Threads, Sep 2-19.
    (b) Moriarty-Thims debate – Hmolpedia 2020.
  4. Moriarty, Philip; Thims, Libb. (2009). “Debate on Entropy of Students” (debaters: 15+; comments: 258) (pdf), Hmolpedia 2020 Threads, Sep 2-19.
  5. Moriarty, Philip. (2009). “Entropy – Professor’s Response” (YT), Sixty Symbols, Aug 4.

Debate | Threads

Further reading


  • Moriarty, Philip. (2009). “Entropy – Sixty Symbols” (YT), Sixty Symbols, Apr 23.
  • Moriarty, Philip. (2009). “Entropy – Professor’s Response” (YT), Sixty Symbols, Aug 4.
  • Moriarty, Philip. (2014). “Entropy Confusion” (YT), Sixty Symbols, Nov 3.
  • Moriarty, Philip. (2016). “Thoughts in a Mars Bar?: Entropy, Energy, Information, Bits, and Maxwell's demon” (YT), Sixty Symbols, Aug 23.

External links

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