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I was just reading some of Ted Chiang’s excellent short story collection “Stories of Your Life and Others”, and was reminded of a story of his I read much earlier, Exhalation.  This Hugo-winning short story didn’t just catch my imagination and sense of wonder (something that a good Sci-Fi writer can do extremely well in the short format) like Asimov’s Last Question, but also is a wonderful pedagogical tool for explaining thermodynamic concepts.  I won’t blow any of the fascinating world that Chiang built, but I will tell you that the final revelation the protagonist faces is a perfect illustration of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  This story is such a good way of explaining it to people, precisely because it is a story. Any skeptic or psychologist can tell you that the emotional connection a good story provides is among the most effective ways of compelling people (after all, what is mythology but a good collection of stories?).  So, in other words, go read his story here: