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Physicist has groundbreaking idea about why life exists...

Physicist has groundbreaking idea about why life exists Business Insider

Physicist has groundbreaking idea about why life exists Business Insider

Physicist has groundbreaking idea about why life exists Business Insider


Using Jarzynski and Crooks’ formulation, he derived a generalization of the second law of thermodynamics that holds for systems of particles with certain characteristics: The systems are strongly driven by an external energy source such as an electromagnetic wave, and they can dump heat into a surrounding bath. This class of systems includes all living things. England then determined how such systems tend to evolve over time as they increase their irreversibility. “We can show very simply from the formula that the more likely evolutionary outcomes are going to be the ones that absorbed and dissipated more energy from the environment’s external drives on the way to getting there,” he said. The finding makes intuitive sense: Particles tend to dissipate more energy when they resonate with a driving force, or move in the direction it is pushing them, and they are more likely to move in that direction than any other at any given moment.

“This means clumps of atoms surrounded by a bath at some temperature, like the atmosphere or the ocean, should tend over time to arrange themselves to resonate better and better with the sources of mechanical, electromagnetic or chemical work in their environments,” England explained.

Screen Shot 2014 12 08 at 4.31.10 PMCourtesy of Michael Brenner/Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesAccording to new research at Harvard, coating the surfaces of microspheres can cause them to spontaneously assemble into a chosen structure, such as a polytetrahedron (red), which then triggers nearby spheres into forming an identical structure.

Self-replication (or reproduction, in biological terms), the process that drives the evolution of life on Earth, is one such mechanism by which a system might dissipate an increasing amount of energy over time.

As England put it, “A great way of dissipating more is to make more copies of yourself.”

In a paper in the Journal of Chemical Physics, he reported the theoretical minimum amount of dissipation that can occur during the self-replication of RNA molecules and bacterial cells, and showed that it is very close to the actual amounts these systems dissipate when replicating.

He also showed that RNA, the nucleic acid that many scientists believe served as the precursor to DNA-based life, is a particularly cheap building material. Once RNA arose, he argues, its “Darwinian takeover” was perhaps not surprising.

The chemistry of the primordial soup, random mutations, geography, catastrophic events and countless other factors have contributed to the fine details of Earth’s diverse flora and fauna. But according to England’s theory, the underlying principle driving the whole process is dissipation-driven adaptation of matter.

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I think we knew intuitively that this must be true.  Good to set out to start seriously looking to explain it.

So... Life exists as an efficient way to make copies?

Or just that life is a natural consequence of light?

Life, and copies, exists as a faster path to overall entropy than not.  In other words, a little local organization (anti-entropy) can be the path to more global entropy.  It has been assumed that life was fighting against the second law of thermodynamics, but if certain organization and replication is achieving 2LTD, then that changes the perceived likelihood of life.  It is inevitable.

So life is an INEVITABLE consequence of light.

Our universe, in starting with light, was always going to end up with life. 

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