Evolution & the 2nd law?
Armin.Sepp at bbsrc.ac.uk
Tue Nov 28 07:08:30 EST 1995
Dear John,Ken and others,
ladasky at leland.Stanford.EDU (John Ladasky) wrote:
>Ken Howe <howe at DARWIN.UCSC.EDU> wrote:
>>I agree with your line of thinking, but isn't this a bit biocentric or
>>anthropocentric? or at the very least, deterministic?
>] Locally, life may be observed as a tendency towards order. But
>] universally, life is a catalyst for the process of disorder. Life merely
>] harnesses energy to externalize the disorder that life itself generates.
>] Have you been to a garbage dump lately?
The physicist's answer to the problem why there is life on Earth is perhaps offered by a Belgian
physicist (and Nobel man) Ilya Prigogine who devoted his life to the thermodynamics of
non-equilibrium systems. As I understood, if there is flux of energy through an open system this
can lead to _local_decrease in entropy, i.e. to the rise of ordered systems, that persist as long
as there is input of energy. Classical examples are chemical oscillations, vortexes in heated
liquids. Like elswhere in thermodynamics these processes can be formally described . To the best
of my knowledge he also made an attempt to apply the same principles to living organisms
(colonies of ants).I recall also an article in Nature where people demonstrated the rise of
ordered patterns of bacterial colonies on Petri dishes sewn with certain bugs but I don't remember
In summary, even if we don't know the chemistry of the origin of life , the physics seems to be
largely in place.
* Armin Sepp, PhD \ *
* Department of Immunology \ "Every little helps." (Tesco) *
* Babraham Institute \ *
* Cambridge CB2 4AT,U.K. \ Armin.Sepp at bbsrc.ac.uk *
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