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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to revisit C.P. Snow’s “Two Cultures” lecture in light of the cultural dominance of information technology. The crisis of communication in the information age, whether in fake news, political polarisation or science denial, has come about because both scientific and literary cultures, in seeking a world without entropy, have inadvertently stumbled upon a world without meaning. In order to explain how this has happened, the paper first explores Snow's challenge: to describe the second law of thermodynamics. The paper then provides a description of entropy that is neutral with regard to thermodynamics and information, and not simply a measure of something more intuitive like disorder, uncertainty, mixed-up-ness, diffusion, complexity or emergence. Finally, the paper argues that Snow's suggestion that everyone should be able to describe the second law is timely right now because entropy is the bridge between information and reality, and the difference between science and science fiction.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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