Study Explores How Accurate Clocks Produce Entropy and Help Destroy the Universe

Entropy. The Arrow of Time. It’s why you can’t unscramble an egg, or why Christmas lights somehow wind up in a giant ball of tangles every single year. It’s the universe’s steady march toward increasing disorder.

Even something as small as a ticking clock creates entropy in the universe.

According to a new study highlighted by LiveScience, researchers at the University of Oxford have been attempting to better understand the relationship between a clock’s accuracy and the amount of entropy it creates.

What they’ve found — by creating a specially made simplified clock to test their hypothesis — is what they expected: As a clock ticks “more regularly and accurately,” more heat is added to the system, thus creating more entropy.

As study co-author Natalia Ares says:

“We don’t know for certain yet, but what we’ve found — for both our clock and for quantum clocks — is that there’s a proportional relationship between accuracy and entropy. It might not always be a linear relationship for other clocks, but it does look like the accuracy is bounded by the laws of thermodynamics.”

Think about that next time you look at your watch.


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.