The Summing Up
With a nod to Somerset Maugham, whose title I have liberally borrowed, I now present British physicist and novelist C. P. Snow's humorous modification of a popular summary of the laws of thermodynamics, with commentary by myself and Professor Paul Hewitt. The zeroth law is not in the original version.
Zeroth Law: You must play the game. You don't have a choice as to whether you are in or out. One is reminded of Don Corleone's offer you can't refuse.
First Law: You can't win. You can't get any more energy out of a system than what you put into it - no cheating is allowed, ever.
Second Law: You can't break even. You can put in useful energy but you can't ever get as much useful energy out. Your return on your investment of 100 units will yield you 40 or 20 or 15 - 10 units back, for example. Of course it goes without saying that it is impossible for you to invent a perpetual motion machine.
Third Law: You can't quit the game. You can't get out of the game, as you are trapped in a universe where entropy is always increasing and there is nothing you can ever do about it. Period.