If entropy always increases, how did the chicken ever create the ordered egg to begin with? A common explanation, advanced by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger in 1944 in a brief and charming book, “What is Life?”, is that living systems somehow borrow order from their environment and pay it back by somehow making the environment even more disordered that it would have otherwise been. That extra order corresponds to “negative entropy”, which the chicken can use to make the egg without violating the second law….. Chickens don’t access some storehouse of order to make the thermodynamic books balance: they use processes for which a thermodynamic model is inappropriate, and throw the books away because they don’t apply.
The scenario in which an egg is created by borrowing entropy would be appropriate if the processes the chicken used were the time-reversal of an egg breaking up into its constituent molecules. At first sight, this is vaguely plausible, because molecules that eventually form the egg are scattered throughout the environment; they come together to form the chicken, where biochemical processes put them together in an ordered manner to form the egg. But that’s not how the chicken operates. Some molecules happen to end up in the egg and are conceptually labelled as part of it AFTER the process is complete. Other molecules could have done the same job — one molecule of calcium carbonate is just as good for making a shell as any other. So the chicken is not creating order from disorder. the order is assigned to the end result of the egg-making process — like shuffling a deck of cards into a random order then numbering them 1, 2, 3 and so on with a felt-tipped pen. Amazing — they’re in numerical order!
— “In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World”, Ian Stewart