Paradox: Dirty Laundry in a Low Entropy State

Oct 23, 2017

Small aside: I write this article in contrast to a feminist that once said, it's not possible (or feasible) for housewives to have time to ponder the universe and come up with grand science theories since they are so busy cleaning the house, doing laundry, cooking, etc. - their time is already filled with too many tasks. As a house man (not house wife) I came up with this article, while doing laundry, after making a meal and doing misc house chores.

Diry Laundry Holds Highly Packed Information

Since laundry after being worn for a day (or two) becomes dirty, it would appear to be in a high entropy state that needs energy added to become more organised, ordered, or in common terms "clean".

Upon further closer thought, actually dirty laundry contains highly packed, extremely useful "information" in a low entropy state. Why is this so? Simple answer: dogs. A dog's nose is an information system, information receiver, information analysis center. When laundry becomes dirty, it becomes highly packed with scents or odors that a dog can use to determine and identify his proper master. Clean laundry (after performing about 1 hour of work in the washer on the clothing, adding energy to the clothes to clean them) is much harder for a dog to determine who his master is, especially if many people use the same detergent. The body odor in laundry, if the laundry is left unclean for a day, is much easier for a dog to determine who's laundry it is, or what person is the owner of the laundry. This is extremely highly packed, concentrated, and useful energy that the shirt contains: odors.

The dirty laundry is not so useful to humans: in fact it's a disgrase and a disguist, and a nuisance. It would seem then, that dirty laundry should be, subjectively, a high entropy item, needing work performed on it to become in a lower entropy state. Is this another case of subjective entropy, which I have written about before? (and I cringe to use the word "subjective" in science, as science is usually about objective values).

The interesting part about dirty laundry, is that you perform work on the laundry to make it clean, which adds new information or swaps new information into the laundry after it is completed: soap scents (or no scent at all, or the scent of calcium in the water) is added to the laundry which is a low entropy packed information state also. Normally, when one performs work on an object, one intends to decrease the entropy of the object in some way, to improve it's status, to make it better. Cleaning laundry does seem to be a better state - I love clean laundry and a small fresh smell, but not too much soap scent. However, to an information receiver, and information analyzer, such as a dog, the information state of the laundry is actually better and more highly packed with useful information, if the laundry contains the scent of his owner on it (some body owner, doesn't need to be much), than if it was 100 percent fresh bleached, clean, and free of all odor. Why? Because to the dog, his entire information system through his nose and brain is based upon identifying objects he recognizes: especially his master. Without this highly packed information in the shirt or pants, he cannot identify who's clothes it is, who wore them, possibly even what intensity of exersize the person was doing when they wore them, etc.

So when one performs work (adds energy) to clothing to make it clean, it does not neccessarily return or change the clothing to a lower entropy state. It changes the information, but to a dog the information could be less useful after the washing is done, than before it was done. All the people in the house wear the same soap scent, so the dog would have a harder time identifying laundry with the same scent, than if each clothing peice had a unique information state and information packed scent.

This doesn't mean we should purposely leave laundry dirty for the benefit of information receivers and information analyzers (friends around the house, or pets) - it's just a unique and interesting way of analyzing information theory, entropy, the second law of thermodynamics.

Most interesting is: adding energy to a system does not always return it to a low entropy state, it can simply change the information, to possibly a higher or lower entropy state, or a similar state; or, is it subjective. Looking at it more objectively: odors contain information, whether we like them subjectively or not. Arm pit areas, especially, produce highly packed information, which the shirt receives when in contact with the body. A dogs nose is literally an information receiver, analyzing millions of bits of information - and dirty (even slightly after a few hours of use) laundry contains millions of information states that a dog can find extremely useful. Subjectively, humans find this information state to be highly obnoxious, so they throw the laundry in the washer to return the shirt to a different information state (cleaned, possibly soap scented). Much of the information stored in the shirt or pants is removed from the object and sent down the drain, and new scent information is added (if the detergent is scented), and new iron/calcium water scent is added to the clothing.

What again is very interesting, is that adding plenty of energy, in fact hundreds of watts (washer and dryer) to an object does not neccessarily reduce the entropy - it can fact scatter information (send it down the drain into a river eventually) so that that information can no longer be retrieved, and at the same time pack the object (clothing) with new information (detergent scent) which is less useful to certain information receivers (dog's nose) than the generic information (laundry scent). This touches on general information versus unique information: 2.8 million people could all wear the same scent from a certain brand of laundry, so it is very generic and typical information. Yet each individual's body odor is unique, and extremely concentrated and packed information, that identifies a person like a key only unlocks one door, or one encrypted file. Adding energy to laundry, reduces the amount of concentrated unique information, and makes the information more generic, general, and even less useful (to certain information receivers).

The information is densly packed or concentrated into certain areas of the clothing more than other areas (pit stop...). This means that there is an area of compressed or concentrated data, more than other areas, on (and in) the clothing. Mathematically it means more bits of information are packed into certain areas compared to others.

Continue to do laundry, but remember the scientific consequences. Every item around the house is a potential scientific information discovery - all items around a house are packed full of information and information states. Appliances often change the information states of objects - i.e. a stove changes information stored in food, a clothes dryer changes the information stored in clothing, a vacuum compresses dust into a highly packed small area, information flows out of a tap just by turning it on. Every house wife, or house husband, or house person, could easily take events around his house and turn them into scientific thoughts, if one so wished it to be the case.
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