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The entropy of nations
Date:1/3/2014

lled the Gini coefficient, or G (named for Italian sociologist Corrado Gini), defined as area between the Lorenz curve and the solid diagonal line divided by half the area beneath the diagonal line. G is then somewhere between 0 and 1, where 0 corresponds to perfect equality and 1 to perfect inequality. The curve corresponding to the maximum-entropy condition, has a G value of 0.5.

The JQI scientists calculated and graphed G over time, showing how G has dropped over the years. In other words, inequality in energy consumption among the nations has been falling. Many economists attribute this development as a result of increased globalization in trade. And as if to underscore the underlying thermodynamic nature of the flow of commodities, a recent study by Branko Milanovic of the World Bank features a Gini curve very similar to that of the JQI curve. However, he was charting the decline of global income inequality by tracking the a parameter called purchasing power parity (PPP) among nations (4).

CAN IT CONTINUE?

The JQI curve suggests that the trend toward lesser inequality in energy consumption will start stalling out, as the energy consumption distribution begins to approach full exponential behavior. Is this because of the inexorable applicability of the laws of thermodynamics to national energy consumption? Just as with gas molecules, where some molecules are "rich" (possess high energy) and others "poor," are some nations destined to be rich and others poor?

Maybe not. Professor Yakovenko believes that one obvious way to alter the circumstances of energy distribution expressed in the figures above is the further development of renewable sources of energy. "These graphs apply to a well-mixed, globalized world, where a finite pool of fossil fuels is redistributable on a global scale. If the world switches to locally-produced and locally-consumed renewable energy and stops reshuffling the deck of
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Contact: Phillip F. Schewe
pschewe@umd.edu
301-405-0989
Joint Quantum Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3 4

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