I have suspected that life is really "just" negative entropy (negentropy, syntropy). The Theory of Evolution is supported by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but apparently the Theory might even be derivable directly from the Law!

"...the process of natural selection responsible for such local increase in order may be mathematically derived from the expression of the second law equation for non-equilibrium connected open systems, arguably making the Theory of Evolution itself an expression of the Second Law."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_law_of_thermodynamics#Applicati...

If this claim were true, it would effectively draw a complete line of reduction of all life down to physical processes.

However, it does not look like the hypothesis is actually proven. Does anyone have any other info?

Tags: entropy, equilibrium, evolution, law, natural, second, selection, system, theory, thermodynamics

Views: 38

Replies to This Discussion

I have suspected that life is really "just" negative entropy (negentropy, syntropy).

It could be seen that way, but only if you don't take into account the energy input necessary to sustain life. No living organism is a closed system, in thermodynamical terms. Life on Earth couldn't develop without the massive energy input from the Sun (photosynthesis, etc.). Taken as a whole, the entropy of biological life and its prerequisites (our solar system in this case) is always increasing.

apparently the Theory might even be derivable directly from the Law!

"Directly" is way too strong a word here. You'd need more than just plain thermodynamics to explain life - last time I checked, electromagnetism wasn't reductible to thermodynamics, to give only one exemple - and, I suspect, more than a few intermediate steps.

it would effectively draw a complete line of reduction of all life down to physical processes.

That's already what most 'hard scientists' think, actually. They don't need the hypothesis that the entropy of a non-closed system may decrease, since I don't think any of them will dispute it can happen (refrigerators being an often cited example).
Yeah, one interesting somewhat-related idea that I've heard is that some structures (for example some types of crystals) tend to form because they increase entropy most quickly globally (even if they decrease it locally), and that life may be one such structure. Think about it: living things use a lot of energy by moving around, building new bodies and the like, and anytime you use energy entropy increases.
The technical details here are over my head, but I still find this subject interesting. I'm always interested in reductionism, giving that the alternative seems to be dualism or some sort of mysticism.

Another reason this is interesting is that the creationists (well maybe I should say intelligent design people, but I don't really see the difference) have been arguing that thermodynamics disproves evolution. Anyone want to bet how long before some creationst starts using this in their arguments against evolution? I can definitely see Ray Comfort or Michael Egnor or some other kook (maybe there are better examples of people likely to argue this, I couldn't think of many names at the moment) arguing that this is just an atheist attempt at undermining the proofs against evolution by making up theories as needed.
I always saw life as a mechanism that attempts to create order out of entropy. ATP, the energy of the cell, is created by breaking down complex molecules and using the energy from that process to construct new molecules, which are in turn broken down. That's what Bio 101 taught me, anyway.
There's also a short piece titled: Life as an Agent of Energy Dispersal by Scott D. Sampson that appears in the book What Is Your Dangerous Idea?. For what my humble opinion is worth, I found the whole book very stimulating. (Wish I could take credit, but I'm completely unaffiliated with the publication, and I wouldn't profit from any sales.) Off topic- Why can't I get the words following italics to move away a space?
Giving it   a     try now.
Thanks! My first bit of knowledge on working with HTML.
Another bit of knowledge, if you want to spell out the code for a sign you don't have to do what Scott did there with periods between the characters, you can get an ampersand (&) by typing & follow this with whatever the code is for the sign you want like this:   resulting in  
In this particular case, at least, it worked without the periods (SB said to leave them out immediately following the code, above). Being clueless in this area, I was certain to read very carefully. Thank you for the tip, nonetheless!

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