Recently we have been looking at human behaviors and their relation to the third law of thermodynamics. The third law explains why we consume, sleep, work, and reproduce, which account for close to all of the behavior we engage in throughout life. We can see how nature mandates these behaviors by looking at the consequences of not engaging in them. Life is a precious and spectacularly improbable gift, and if we violate the laws of nature, the creator of life, we justly relinquish that gift.
Specifically, we know that if we stop breathing we will die after a few minutes. If we stop taking in fluids we will die in a few days. Stop sleeping and we will last a week or so. Without solid food we can live a bit longer, some weeks. It is more difficult to know, but we could probably find a way to survive months without engaging in work or activity of any kind.
But what about sex? On an individual level abstinence would appear to have little impact on lifespan. Isaac Newton, alchemist and great contributor to the laws we are discussing, was famous for dying a virgin. If we all made that choice, though, humans would die as surely as if we all decided to stop eating.
This week I pose a question to everyone – how long would humans exist if, as VHEMT proposes, everyone stopped reproducing? Contact us with your answer or let us know in the comments section. I will post the most thoughtful responses along with next week’s write-up. Extra awesome points for graphical representations, formulas, and other geek paraphernalia. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and sharing them and my own next week. Until then, (re?)productive week ahead!
P.S. for the computer artistically incline, you might generate some cool 3D stuff plotting human population vs time and birth rate. And for those still in finance this would be a great question to use in interviews. You can also use the topic to gauge candidates’ moral compass (naturally, if they have one they aren’t suited for your profession;).
- My Dissertations on Dissipation: What I Do for Fun Part 2
- How to Live by the Sun of God: Why We Reproduce