Johann Willard Gibbs Clerihew

Johann Willard Gibbs –
Dispelled more than a few fibs
In thermodynamics –
And also in sound acoustics

07.12.95

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Copyright by Minh Tan on listed dated of completion
and published in Perspectives, ISBN 0-9686250-0-2.

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Notes to this poem…

Compare this clerihew to that which I wrote for Linus Pauling and you may have a better understanding about what I said in my notes there about why I admired him. Johann Willard Gibbs lived in a time when there was no Nobel Prize so it would not be fair to compare the two, but I guess what it comes down to, for me, is what is the legacy that you leave behind. Gibbs has a law of thermodynamics to his name, which would easily be argued to be a far more desirable legacy than a few Nobel Prizes, which are often politically charged and not as pure as a scientific result. However, the diversity of excellence and the human recognition for it that has value to society was of greater value to me. Mind you, I could also understand the value of Gibb’s Second Law of Thermodynamics to applied science and its value to society today being hugely larger than a lot of what Pauling’s work could ever claim, but that’s someone else taking it and applying it. I’m not so sure Pauling would not have figured it out put in Gibbs’ place. Gibbs getting the double Nobel in Linus’ shoes might be another matter. But that’s pure guessing on my part.

One thing I will tell you about Gibbs’ Second Law in Thermodynamics regarding entropy always increasing in the universe, is that it’s always on my mind. I fret about it every time I’m cleaning up anything, from my apartment to files on my work drive. Any time I think of anything in society that needs to be organized, or administered since I am a public servant and administration in one form or another is related to what I do, I think of the futility of it all with this ever increasing entropy concept. That’s not to say I’m a pessimist. I just know it to be true, I’m not in denial and so it’s always on my mind, especially now with things like the Internet that has allowed the number of things created by society to increase exponentially. I also see things used to try to organize it or sift through it, like Google and Blackberries, and pleasantly smile cause I know it’s a losing battle. 🙂

Entropy is also one of my favourite words. I don’t believe Gibbs invented it, but he brought it to the forefront enough to mean something to me.

Oh, yes, Gibbs’ work on acoustics. You know what? I don’t really give a damn about any of that so I’m not going to bother researching it or linking it to pretend I do and waste time writing on it.

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