The many faces of irreversibility

Irreversibility, it is claimed, is a much broader concept than is entropy increase, as is shown by the occurrence of certain processes which are irreversible without seeming to involve any intrinsic entropy change. These processes include the spreading outwards into space of particles, or of radiation, and they also include certain biological and mental phenomena. For instance, the irreversible and treelike branching which is characteristic of natural evolution is not entropic when it is considered in itself—i.e. in abstraction from accompanying biochemical and physiological activity. What appears to be the common feature of all forms of irreversibility is the fanning out of trajectories, new entities or new states, in the temporal direction towards the future.
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