Scientists, theologians, and philosophers have all sought to answer the questions of why we are here and where we are going Finding this natural basis of life has proved elusive, but in the eloquent and creative Into the Cool, Eric D Schneider and Dorion Sagan look for answers in a surprising place the second law of thermodynamics This second law refers to energy s inevitable tendency to change from being concentrated in one place to becoming spread out over time In this scientific tour de force, Schneider and Sagan show how the second law is behind evolution, ecology,economics, and even life s origin Working from the precept that nature abhors a gradient, Into the Cool details how complex systems emerge, enlarge, and reproduce in a world tending toward disorder From hurricanes here to life on other worlds, from human evolution to the systems humans have created, this pervasive pull toward equilibrium governs life at its molecular base and at its peak in the elaborate structures of living complex systems Schneider and Sagan organize their argument in a highly accessible manner, moving from descriptions of the basic physics behind energy flow to the organization of complex systems to the role of energy in life to the final section, which applies their concept of energy flow to politics, economics, and even human health A book that needs to be grappled with by all those who wonder at the organizing principles of existence, Into the Cool will appeal to both humanists and scientists If Charles Darwin shook the world by showing the common ancestry of all life, so Into the Cool has a similar power to disturband delightby showing the common roots in energy flow of all complex, organized, and naturally functioning systemsWhether one is considering the difference between heat and cold or between inflated prices and market values, Schneider and Sagan argue, we can applEric D Schneider served as senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and director of the National Marine Water Quality Laboratory of the Environmental Protection Agency His work on thermodynamicsa topic he has pursued forthan twenty yearshas been widely anthologized and cited Dorion Sagan is coauthor of Acquiring Genomes and Up from Dragons Called an unmissable modern master of science writing by New Scientist, Sagan has written for the New York Times, Natural History, and Wired, among other publications