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emergence's avatar

What do you know about negentropy?

Asked by emergence (213points) April 8th, 2010

Negentropy is a concept I am endlessly fascinated with, and am always looking for de-jargoned explanations of it. I am also interested in the philosophical applications of the ideas inherent in the concept. And any related concepts.

So, what do you know about negentropy?

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14 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

What do you find so fascinating? It is not a difficult concept and there is a lot or research that will answer the second part of your question. Look at some of the “Hydrogen” engine research.

FutureMemory's avatar

I know a thinly disguised request for help with a homework assignment when I see one.

About Negentropy, all that I know about it is contained in this article.

emergence's avatar


It’s not that I don’t understand it in a basic sense, but it seems like it has such vital applications that aren’t being made- call it a hunch. So I want to understand it as in depth as possible despite a lack of a scientific background. I also want to discover areas in which it is applied that are perhaps not so easily googled. I will google ‘Hydrogen engine research’- thanks!

emergence's avatar


No I’m not a student, thanks. And I’ve already read every article that comes up on a google search, at least the first 4 pages of a google search or so. I guess I’m looking for insight beside the obvious that is out there. Though maybe I need to come up with a more specific question to get it. I just suspect there’s a wealth of information on the subject that I’m not finding as I don’t know what exactly to ask about, part of the problem I guess.

FutureMemory's avatar

Sorry for being a jerk in my first post, it was uncalled for. Kudos for your first question revolving around something I’ve never even heard of, much less know anything about.

emergence's avatar

Ha, no worries. Check it out though, it’s very interesting. Like, apparently in science the concept of time is based on entropy, so what effect does negentropy have on our concept of time? IDK… these are the things I like to ponder late at night.

davidbetterman's avatar

Wow…Negative Entropy. it seems that your best bet will be to study and understand Entropy first.

emergence's avatar


Good point. The better I understand entropy the better I’ll be able to understand negentropy. Though it is negentropy specifically that I am interested in, if that makes sense. There’s something special about it.

Shuttle128's avatar

Well, it’s not necessarily negative entropy. Really it is the relative difference of entropy within a system compared to the amount of entropy of the surrounding environment. We use negentropy to describe information contained in signals and storage devices. We also use negentropy in biology to explain the amount of organization that living organisms have compared to their environment.

I would second understanding entropy before trying to understand negentropy. Entropy is an interesting subject in itself, but requires a bit of thermodynamics to fully wrap your mind around.

CMaz's avatar

I know it makes mt head hurt, reading about it.

emergence's avatar


the relative difference of entropy within a system compared to the amount of entropy of the surrounding environment…. interesting, thanks!

would it be accurate to understand negentropy as a sort of life force energy? I suppose that depends on how you define life itself, haha. But in that entropy is a sort of decay, it seems like negentropy is a sort of creative life force.

@ChazMaz lol

Shuttle128's avatar

@emergence “would it be accurate to understand negentropy as a sort of life force energy?”

No. Energy is the potential to do work and a force is an influence that causes a free body to accelerate. A difference in entropy is not necessarily a potential to do work nor does it influence the acceleration of objects. It is simply the result of the use of actual energy to put things in an ordered state. Life creates negentropy, negentropy does not necessarily create life. It is found in systems that take advantage of relative entropies. A living organism uses energy from chemical reactions in order to maintain an entropy state lower than its surrounding environment. That’s it.

Entropy is not really a decay, it is simply the movement from ordered to less ordered states. I wouldn’t call heat transfer a form of decay, but heat transfer is the increase of entropy of a cooler system.

LeeFred's avatar

It seems to me that negentropy explains why any matter and pattern emerged in the universe after the tremendous flash of energy of the Big Bang. Unfortunately, that still doesn’t explain what negentropy is. One person I know defines negentropy as god, but that’s not very helpful either.

Autopoietic's avatar

A meaningful interpretation of negentropy is that it measures the complexity of a physical structure in which quantities of energy are invested, e.g., buildings, technical devices, organisms but also atomic reactor fuel, the infrastructure of a society. In this sense organisms may be said to become more complex by feeding not on energy but on redundancy. (Krippendorff, 1986)
If you line up a continuum with maximum order (complexity) in one end and maximum disorder (non-complexity) in the other, the latter will be the heat death of the universe (google it) and will thus be equal to maximum equality. The former will conversely be maximum inequality (or the state prior to the Big Bang, if you like). Anything in between are different measures of local complexity.Cheers

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