There is a famous-ish quote from Ludwig Boltzmann, which, in English translation, reads (emphasis added):
The general struggle for existence of animate beings is therefore not a struggle for raw materials - these, for organisms, are air, water and soil, all abundantly available - nor for energy which exists in plenty in any body in the form of heat (albeit unfortunately not transformable), but a struggle for entropy, which becomes available through the transition of energy from the hot sun to the cold earth.
This is a beautiful quote, partly because Boltzmann, writing in 1886, foresaw concepts that wouldn't be fully developed until well into the 20th century.
However, the quote (in this English version) isn't quite correct, because it's not entropy that becomes available, but negative entropy, the same quantity but with a different sign. Boltzmann gives a definition of entropy earlier in the essay, so I know he's using the same sign convention we use today. It's always seemed odd to me that, being one of the first people to understand these ideas, he would make such an elementary mistake.
So my question is whether the original German text (below) can be read as meaning something different from the "struggle for entropy" of the English translation.
Specifically, is he really talking about a struggle for entropy, in the sense that entropy is the resource that organisms compete for, or could he instead be indicating a general struggle regarding entropy, in which organisms compete for something related to entropy, but not necessarily for entropy itself?
Der allgemeine Daseinskampf der Lebenswesen ist daher nicht ein Kampf um die Grundstoffe - die Grundstoffe aller Organismen sind in Luft, Wasser und Erdboden im Überflusse vorhanden - auch nicht um Energie, welche in form von Wärme leider unverwandelbar in jedem Körper reichlich enthalten ist, sondern ein Kampf um die Entropie, welche durch den Übergang der Energie von der heißen Sonne zur kalten Erde disponibel wird.
Of course, it's possible that Boltzmann made a mistake or (more likely) decided to simplify things for a popular audience - I'd just be interested to know if this is really what he said.
The English translation is from Theoretical Physics and Philosophical Problems (1974), p. 24, and the German original is from Populäre Schriften (1979), p. 41. (Here's a direct link to chapter, which seems to have a pdf link.)
(P.S. if this is more appropriate on History of Science and Mathematics please let me know. I thought it might be better here, since it's really about the German language.)