The Entropy Law and the Economic Process
Cover of 1971 book The Entropy Law by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen. [1]
In famous publications, The Entropy Law and the Economic Process is a 1971, 457-page book by Romanian mathematician Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen in which a verbalized or dictionary-definition view of what entropy (or economic entropy) and free energy are supposed to be in economic systems, according to the second law of thermodynamics. The book has since become sort of a cult classic in various economics and ecologial economics circles, having been cited, according to Google scholar, over 2,500 times since its publication. This work is cited almost as much as Schrodinger's 1944 What is Life?. Italian architectural thermodynamicist Luis Galiano describes Roegen's book as the "obligatory reference" for the economy-ecology polemic. [3]

Popular terms to have originated from this publication include: the pharse "entropy law", the theory of material entropy, among others.

The book derived from the introductory essay to Georgescu-Roegen’s 1966 Analytical Economics, which by way of a second edition turned into the 1971 book. [2]

The general difficulty with the book is that Georgescu-Roegen is a mathematician, by training, and has never had any formal education in thermodynamics. This comes across clearly in his book, where, e.g., on the opening pages he cites Webster's Collelgiate Dictionary as a reference for defining entropy. He uses the terms available energy and bound energy in his own unique way, referring to a solid piece of coal as bound energy, and heat released to power economy as available energy, having no idea that these originated in the 1882 paper "The Thermodynamics of Chemical Operations" by German physicist Hermann Helmholtz, and are are defined differently in chemical thermodynamics. The two biggest errors promulgated in the book include the idea that the second law dictates that matter tends to disorder and that free energy refers to the available energy of natural fuels.

See also
The Entropy Effect
The Entropy Institute

1. Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas. (1971). The Entropy Law and the Economic Process. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
2. Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas. (1986). “The Entropy Law and the Economic Process in Retrospect”, Eastern Economic Journal, Vol. XII, No. 1, Jan-Mar.
3. Fernández-Galiano. (2000). Fire and Memory: On Architecture and Energy (pg. 207). MIT Press.

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