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Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Laboratory Cool. Fuel.

Social Thermodynamics: Sophistication versus Evolution

Conformity versus Originality

Reproduce versus Reinvent

Generalize versus Customize

Sophistication versus Evolution

Work versus Heat

In Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book the Selfish Gene, he defines the word meme as the propagation of memories, ideas, and values in cultures similar to the propagation of genes in Darwinian evolution. Stated simply, advantageous memes or genes propagate from individuals into the collective. This concept is the core of the spiral value-Meme (vMeme) … » More …

Social Thermodynamics: The Phase Change that led to ‘Kind of Blue’

Shit. Screwed up the note.

Try the other pattern.

Another sour note. SHIT.

I’m not going to pull it off. That’s it. I’ve had enough of this…

(insert sound of record player screeching to a halt)

It was zero hour Jazz band during my senior year in high school. It was 7:10 am. If you’re not familiar with jazz, it’s meant to be played after 9 pm. Jazz is uniquely performance-based in value v-Memes — once you’ve mastered the scales, rhythm, and your instrument, you’re suppose to improvise. Seriously. You have the freedom to solo … » More …

Social Thermodynamics: The first and last questions

The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time
when humanity first stepped into the light…

(man asks) “How can the net amount of entropy of the
universe be massively decreased?”…


–“The Last Question” 1956, A short story by Isaac Asimov

I keep waiting for an engineer at Amazon to program Alexa with that response.

Isaac Asimov was a professor of biochemistry at Boston University. Many consider him the greatest science fiction writer of all time. He … » More …

Social Thermodynamics: Empathy scaffolding, Social Media, and the 2nd Law of Humanity

The student walked down the hallway led by a scientist in a lab coat. A room was opened and they were sat in front of a microphone and a button. “The instructions are simple” said the study administrator. “You are to teach a person in another room simple facts to remember. If they get one wrong, you are to press this button. Each time you press the button the amount of electricity they are shocked with increases; eventually you can reach up to 450 volts.” Then the study administrator left and the student was left in the role of the teacher, to shock the person … » More …

Jacob Leachman

My Story


My background is like most WSU students. I grew up in Lewiston Idaho, which is about 45 minutes from Pullman. My father is a brilliant mechanic and my mother is a small business and housing consultant. Suffice it to say, we really didn’t get out much. When it came time to apply for college I lacked that definitive story expected to propel me off into college and career that many admissions staff are looking for. Luckily I had decent grades, knew I had a knack for coaching and mechanical design, and had a gift for playing football. My football … » More …

How non-equilibrium transport leads to social structures

“Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling workhorse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function and this is the law.” — Louis Sullivan 1896
How Thermodynamic Laws Shape Structures
The challenge any engineer faces is the optimal form for a design. Why is a try shaped like a tree? And why does this look like a river delta, or a lung, or a neuron?

In the 1990’s mechanical engineering professor Adrian Bejan developed the “Constructal Law of … » More …

Social Thermodynamics: Rethinking Education

It was around eight in the evening. She came to my dorm room in a panic. She was scared. She had no idea what most of the material on our chemistry exam at eight the next morning was about. Fear not. I had it together. We got to work… and boy did we. When we got the exams back the next week, she got an A, and I got a C.

I wish I could say that was the only time I was bested by one of my proteges. After something happens often enough, you realize you may have a natural gift — I took … » More …

Social Thermodynamics: Creative. Art. Work.

I was in Madison for a conference and the annual Art Walk happened to be on the Capital Square. As I was walking through the displays, I noticed a strongly consistent theme: each booth had it’s own theme. Take a random sampling of pieces out of display booths, put them in a lineup, and ask a team of children to match them with the original display booths. I’d bet they’d match 80% or better.


Because the same artist made the pieces. Duh! But really, if artists are the creative ones, that produce works that correspond to a plausible human experience, that help us see … » More …

Social Thermodynamics: The mathematics of creativity

Five years ago I would’ve read that title and thought I was crazy. But it’s what the mathematical model says… Creativity, almost by definition, is taught to us as something that you’re born with and cannot be developed or predicted, let alone calculated. That’s why this is going to take some time.

Please, before we get into this, take a moment and write down when, where, and how you feel when inspiration, originality, and creativity hit. We’ll need this towards the end.
Originals, Outliers, and new Paradigms
We’re not taught to be creative because ‘creativity’ is incredibly challenging to teach. We don’t know … » More …

Social Thermodynamics: Explaining the Bubonic Plague and Rennaissance

The Bubonic Plague, also known as the Black Death, is generally considered one of the most empathy generating, and wealth redistributing events in human history. Dr. Chuck has a nice article about how this led to the Enlightenment. In a recent post on the Social Thermodynamics of Wealth Distribution, I discussed how Walter Scheidel, a renown author and Professor of History at Stanford University used the Black Death as one of the key examples in his recent book “The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century.” This event is one of a handful … » More …