The Idle Book Club 6: The Crying of Lot 49

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Is this one as difficult as Gravity's Rainbow? Because I bounced off that one so hard.


It's certainly very different, and much shorter. Personally, I think the prose in Crying of Lot 49 was meant to read like an acid trip flows. There's a stream of consciousness sort of rambling to it, and every discovery is somewhat ridiculous and only gives rise to more questions. The book is very much a product of the time it was written, though I think if you're going to read only one Pynchon book, this is the one to read.


Regarding Maxwell's Demon. The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy in a system will always increase. Basically, if you light a fire in one corner of a room, the entire room will slowly get warmer. So energy transfer is always in a direction that results in a state of eventual equilibrium. Maxwell's Demon is basically a mental exercise regarding some force that violates the second law of thermodynamics--imagine a tiny magical creature who eternally separates heat from cold. There are philosophical discussions that could be had, but in a practical sense, if Maxwell's Demon actually existed you could use it to drive a perpetual motion machine. Free energy forever. It's like the Philosopher's Stone of thermodynamics.


Now if you're really into computers you may have heard of Peltier coolers (heat pumps). They basically perform a similar task as Maxwell's Demon, but they don't violate the second law because of the amount of energy required to make them work. It's important to note that the work performed by Maxwell's Demon is done for free.

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It's certainly very different, and much shorter.

I guess you didn't read further before replying, I loved this book :)

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