Entropy Man

PBN’s Jonathan Calles contributed to this report.

PHILADELPHIA, PA — For the past 72 hours, a man on the corner of 34th and Walnut has been performing seemingly random, repetitive tasks. Students have reported that the University of Pennsylvania has been filled with shattered glass, huge piles of refuse and the sound of clanging metal pots in significantly larger quantities than normal. PBN interviewed the man causing the commotion, one Willard Gibbs Maxwell, in an effort to uncover his motivations.

“Oh it’s quite simple really,” said Maxwell, wearing a poorly stitched together patchwork vest, a helicopter hat and one leg warmer, “I’m out here trying to make more entropy.”

Entropy, a measure of the disorder of a system, is said to increase over time due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Maxwell claims that it is his job to make sure this happens.

“You keep hearing about all these laws of physics. Gravity, conservation of energy and all that jazz. But have you ever really tried any of that stuff out?” asked Maxwell as he simultaneously lit a bucket of gasoline on fire and shattered a small porcelain ballerina figurine with a hammer. “Well, it’s really fun.”

Maxwell is a sophomore in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Penn, and is majoring in Materials Science. His exasperated girlfriend Sarah Klein commented on her boyfriend’s activities.

“I mean, I support him and everything. Everyone has to experiment with laws of physics sometime in their lives, and college is the right time to do it. But entropy is some really hard stuff to mess around with. I mean, I know chemistry majors who won’t even touch that kind of thing,” lamented Sarah, clearly distraught by the situation. “Now don’t get me wrong, it was way better than that time he tried to enforce Mendel’s Laws of Genetics. Everyone was really worried for him, but still at least we got enough peas to feed my pet bunny Whiskers for a year.”

Whiskers was unavailable for comment.

Maxwell’s professor of thermochemistry, Dr. Ludwig van Clausius, has a much more supportive view of his new habits.

“It’s really wonderful to see students taking lecture material to heart,” said Clausius, the jarring image of Maxwell violently tearing apart finished jigsaw puzzles visible from the window of his office. “While Willy’s actions have been…eccentric to say the least, it’s great to see him getting a hands on experience with these rather tough thermodynamic principles. He’s a great example for the rest of the class.”

According to Clausius, Maxwell’s past entropic antics include: the forced diffusion of 150 pounds of table salt in the Pottruck swimming pool, the thermal equilibration of 50 cups of ice water and 48 cups of rather hot coffee (the 49th and 50th ended up all over the dress of a pleasant, well mannered and horrifically burnt nursing student), and the smashing of 42 pumpkins.

“The last one was actually my favorite” said Clausius with a smile. “The chemistry department ended up making a whole lot of pies out of the clean bits, but then Willy took a bunch of them and started splattering them all over unfortunate students walking through DRL”.

Student’s interviewed agreed “the pies tasted pretty good”.

Several of Maxwell’s friends and classmates participated in an intervention last week in the hopes of ridding him of his disordered lifestyle.

“I will stand by him, but I won’t see him throw his life away,” said Sarah. “He’s gonna have to choose between his precious entropy and me if he keeps up. That awful professor of his keeps pushing it on him, but he can say no whenever he wants to.”

“Of course I was at the intervention, I think its pretty lame of him to be doing this,” said Vaughn Patel, transfer student from the University of New Delhi. “I mean, doesn’t entropy increase by itself? Am I the only one here who see’s the flaw in this logic?”

In response to the intervention, Maxwell reportedly grew increasingly irate, screaming violently at the participants some quotes from Nicholas Cage movies.

“He asked me how it got burnt. I… I [sob] I didn’t know,” said Sarah.

Regardless of the efforts of Sarah and his loved ones, Maxwell remains steadfast in his ways.

“As long as there are eggs left unbroken in their cartons, as long as there are containers filled with uniformly distributed ideal gases, as long as there are unburned fuels, energy unconverted, work not done, I will be there.”

Maxwell’s future plans involve shuffling every deck of cards on the Eastern Seaboard and heading Al Gore’s 2016 presidential campaign.

 

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