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  1. Finding Home (MacAllan Clan Series Book 2).
  2. Larry Niven.
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Systems, like a box of gas, can be in many states, with some more ordered than others. All the atoms in the box could be neatly packed into a corner. That is a high order and low entropy state. The atoms could also be bouncing around everywhere in the box. That's a low order and high entropy state. What does this have to do with the view of cities from the roof? On the roof you can literally hear the city acting like a giant engine. The sounds of traffic, music, construction and sirens all merge together into a cacophony, into a clamor, into noise.

But what is noise in this case? It's an acoustic measure of the second law at work. It's the city's entropy made audible! Every moment of every day, vast quantities of energy stream into the city through all that plumbing we saw on the street. The city then uses that energy to do work, to organize itself into vast architectures of order. But the second law will not let the story end there. Waste, pollution and disorder must follow. There is a word that applies to the sound of cities which almost never gets applied to nature: "Din.

The first time I became aware of this din of acoustic entropy, I was sitting across from Manhattan on the cliffs of Weehawken, N.

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It was night and the great city was blazing from horizon to horizon. Its low rumble of noise flowed like a breeze blown at me from a mile away across the dark river. There it was, the second law made real in sound and light. The great might of that city — its vast converging streams of energy, creating a singular nexus of activity — was no more stunning than the visceral realization that it was also radiating disorder like a mad star. The second law is a thing of great beauty, because it is just as true for a box of atoms as it is for a star, or a single cell or a great city.

The dynamic balance of energy and entropy is a universal law of systems in whatever form they take. But it has its darker side, too. The second law is a kind of warning to cities and civilization. No matter how clever we are, there will always be disorder, waste and pollution following in the wake of our work organizing societies into cities.

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There is another way of putting the second law that states the entropy of the universe always increases. So the work we do to create and maintain cities means we are also raising the level of disorder, waste and pollution for the planet as a whole. The second law tells us that doing work always leads to unintended consequences. That is what we have seen happen with our relentless city building.

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What else is global warming but the unintended consequence of burning fossil fuels to power the highly organized culture we have created? We live at a moment when cities are poised to become the dominant mode of human habitation on the planet. But we don't yet know if such a mode can be made sustainable for more than a century or two.

Coming to grips with that question can only mean coming to understand the physics of cities — the physics of thermodynamics and its ever-present second law. Cities are like engines, vast systems for turning energy into work. And today, I gather you are on a roof? This is actually the first steel-frame skyscraper that was built in Rochester.

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Right now, I'm in the elevator room but I'm about to step outside onto the roof right now. And we saw that there, we could think of the city as a machine or simple machines - wheels and plumbing. So, we're out on the roof today because, once again, we're looking at the city as a physics lab. And from this level, what we see is that the city is not a simple machine but it's actually a vast interconnected system, an engine for turning energy into useful work. All right, wait a second - second law.

We need to actually remind us all about the First Law of Thermodynamics. When you climb stairs, like if you wanted to climb up these 11 stories, the food that you ate turns into the energy of your muscles. So you can never lose energy, you just transform it from one form into another. Now, when you look out on this city you see the thing happening all the time.

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There's electricity running through wires and that's turning into movement of a fan or it's turning into the illumination street lights. So energy is always conserved but it can be transformed from one form to another. So that's the first law. You can't just take percent of energy and use it for useful work.

When you do useful work with energy, you always generate waste. And physicists call this entropy. And entropy is a great word. Much of his writing since the s has been in collaboration, particularly with Jerry Pournelle and Steven Barnes , but also Brenda Cooper and Edward M. One of Niven's best known humorous works is " Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex ", in which he uses real-world physics to underline the difficulties of Superman and a human woman Lois Lane or Lana Lang mating.

Niven's most famous contribution to the SF genre comes from his novel Ringworld , in which he envisions a Ringworld: a band of material, roughly a million miles wide, of approximately the same diameter as Earth's orbit, rotating around a star.

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The idea's genesis came from Niven's attempts to imagine a more efficient version of a Dyson sphere , which could produce the effect of surface gravity through rotation. After publication of Ringworld , Dan Alderson and Ctein, [12] two fannish friends of Niven, analyzed the structure and told Niven that the Ringworld was dynamically unstable such that if the center of rotation drifts away from the central sun, gravitational forces will not "re-center" it, thus allowing the ring to eventually contact the sun and be destroyed.

Niven used this as a core plot element in the sequel novel, The Ringworld Engineers. This was further developed by Iain M.

Alastair Reynolds also uses ringworlds in his novel House of Suns. Subsequent sets have featured no new cards featuring Nevinyrral, although the character is sporadically quoted on the flavor text of various cards. Netrunner paid a similar homage to Larry Niven with the card "Nevinyrral".

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Department of Homeland Security as to future trends affecting terror policy and other topics. Larry Niven is also known in science fiction fandom for "Niven's Law": "There is no cause so right that one cannot find a fool following it". Over the course of his career Niven has added to this first law a list of Niven's Laws which he describes as "how the Universe works" as far as he can tell. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. American science fiction writer. California Institute of Technology no degree Washburn University.

Hard science fiction Fantasy. This section of a biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification.


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  • Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately , especially if potentially libelous or harmful. Main article: Niven's laws. Main article: Larry Niven bibliography.