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Duke U mechanical engineer: Origin of life is 100% physics

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Suzan Mazur Suzan Mazur, author of The Origin of Life Circus, interviews Adrian Bejan, orignator of the constructal law at Huffington Post:

I’ve quoted Adrian Bejan numerous times in books and articles about evolution, about academic mafias and peer review, but somehow we never got around to having a full conversation. So I called him recently at Duke University, where he is now J.A. Jones Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering, to chat about both his constructal law of design in nature — which he considers one of the few laws of physics — as well as his formative years in the 50s and 60s in communist Romania.

Suzan Mazur: There continues to be some debate about which came first in origin of life — metabolism or genetics. Some scientists, like Ricardo Flores, think a viroid-like entity may have played a role as the first replicon.

Adrian Bejan: The beginning of your question is not in the direction of my thinking. Because with the constructal law life is defined as a phenomenon of physics. Therefore life originated on Earth before the biosphere ever existed. Life was from the beginning with all these freely morphing, flow configurations. Evolution from winds to thunder to river basins and turbulent flow from the beginning.

The biosphere came later with its myriad of designs moving and morphing into more designs as an add-on, in a way in which to allow the Earth’s crust to flow more easily and make itself faster and faster, with a more and more complex this, and a more and more efficient that all the way to technology evolution today.

Suzan Mazur: You’ve said origin of life is 100% physics. Do you see a difference between origin of life and evolution?

Adrian Bejan: In my work, life is defined as a phenomenon of physics. So is evolution. Evolution in physics means design change, meaning changes in a drawing that happens in a predictable, discernible direction in time. So life is the flow system that morphs freely and persists. Evolution is, literally, from the dictionary design change over time in a discernible direction, which is the opposite of random. Discernible is the opposite of chaotic.

I know the river basin will evolve in order to vehicle its way more and more easily. That’s river basin evolution. Because of the constructal law I know that everything including my own daily activity or that of the United States of America is to evolve over time through highly complicated superimposed flow designs in order to vehicle the respective bodies more and more easily on the landscape. More.

Readers? Thoughts?

See also: Other origin of life theories

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groovamos, Be careful, yourself. The cases you present are vector summations of very many point to point instances of the inverse square laws of gravity and electrical attraction. A nit-pick of your nit-pick. Did you read to understand the writer's message, or to find something to criticize so there was no need to engage his thoughts? Stephen SteRusJon
rhampton7: I don't think it's being "negative" about Bejan's ideas to disagree with the vocabulary in which Bejan expresses his ideas. If "design" means any law-generated pattern, then of course we can speak of "design" in nature even if there is no designer. But if "design" is used in the strict sense, then it's tautologous that one cannot have design without a designer. One could grant that Bejan is on to something, without consenting to the use of the word "design" to describe what he is on to. We had Elizabeth Liddle here, who argued that Dembski was right about intelligent design in biological nature, but wrong for thinking there was a designer. But of course, by "intelligent design" she meant something entirely different from what Dembski meant. Such equivocation just confuses everyone. It's better to stick to the standard understanding of terms than to try to convert the public to a new use of the terms. Of course, many academics, especially social scientists, love changeovers in terminology, because it creates make-work for a whole new generation of academics, spreading the new jargon and posing as the only ones who understand it. Other academics, and the generally literate public that does not dwell in the ivory tower, think that terminology should be changed only when absolutely necessary. Timaeus
People who guess about such undiscoverable things are dumb if they claim its from science thinking. they are rejecting the bible. they are dumb about that too. Solve sickness and poverty if you think you know the origins of the universe. how much can a tailless primate figure out?? Robert Byers
According to the constructal law, the constructal law must be a result of the constructal law. Another self refuting reductionist world view. StuartHarris
Aside from Gregory, the UD comments about Bejan's ideas are consistently negative, along the lines of "it's impossivle to have design without a designer". rhampton7
"There is a difference between a flood washing away a factory and leaving a gully and a flood washing away a gully and leaving a factory." Ahh, but it is an open system! :)
“Although the tiniest living things known to science, bacterial cells, are incredibly small (10^-12 grams), each is a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of elegantly designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world”. Michael Denton, "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis," 1986, p. 250. The Cell as a Collection of Protein Machines "We have always underestimated cells. Undoubtedly we still do today,,, Indeed, the entire cell can be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each which is composed of a set of large protein machines." Bruce Alberts: Former President, National Academy of Sciences; http://www.imbb.forth.gr/people/aeconomou/documents/Alberts98.pdf " To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometres in diameter and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the portholes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings with find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus of itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometer in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell. We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines. We would notice that the simplest of the functional components of the cell, the protein molecules, were astonishingly, complex pieces of molecular machinery, each one consisting of about three thousand atoms arranged in highly organized 3-D spatial conformation. We would wonder even more as we watched the strangely purposeful activities of these weird molecular machines, particularly when we realized that, despite all our accumulated knowledge of physics and chemistry, the task of designing one such molecular machine – that is one single functional protein molecule – would be completely beyond our capacity at present and will probably not be achieved until at least the beginning of the next century. Yet the life of the cell depends on the integrated activities of thousands, certainly tens, and probably hundreds of thousands of different protein molecules. We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of parts and components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices utilized for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction. In fact, so deep would be the feeling of deja-vu, so persuasive the analogy, that much of the terminology we would use to describe this fascinating molecular reality would be borrowed from the world of late twentieth-century technology. What we would be witnessing would be an object resembling an immense automated factory, a factory larger than a city and carrying out almost as many unique functions as all the manufacturing activities of man on earth. However, it would be a factory which would have one capacity not equalled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours. To witness such an act at a magnification of one thousand million times would be an awe-inspiring spectacle." Michael Denton PhD., Evolution: A Theory In Crisis, pg.328 https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/on-the-impossibility-of-replicating-the-cell-a-problem-for-naturalism/
We need to start asking these guys about the usefulness or applicability of their theories. Even ask them about the theoretical applications then we get to see more ridiculous wasting of time. Gravity and electromagnetism are both inverse square laws of the form: F=Km1m1/r^2. Careful. The inverse square law is an ideal model description of certain geometrical systems only. As applied to gravitation it is better than approximation for point masses only, and here the gravitation of a proton is not very useful concept in every day science. And a sheet mass does not conform to inverse square except at great displacement where it looks like a point and the law is an approximation. Same thing with electromagnetism. Inverse square works great for point charges like the proton, but near a Yagi antenna or a dipole emitter, does not. Here is a graph of gravitational acceleration of the earth and you can see the inverse square law is an approximation (as stated in the article) only at altitude and the approximation totally breaks down with a discontinuity at the surface: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_of_Earth#/media/File:EarthGravityPREM.svg groovamos
Just because different phenomena can be described by similar mathematical relationships doesn't mean they are caused by the same phenomenon. Gravity and electromagnetism are both inverse square laws of the form: F=Km1m1/r^2. But that doesn't mean they are caused by the same thing. And, to paraphrase John Lennox, Who made the laws of nature? It would not be controversial that the pattern of river tributaries works well for animal lungs. But that doesn't mean lungs are not designed by intelligence. The airport layout in the video did not arise naturally it was produced by intelligence. Laws of nature put constraints on engineering designs. I don't think that is controversial. I also think he is ignoring thermodynamics (probability). There is a difference between a flood washing away a factory and leaving a gully and a flood washing away a gully and leaving a factory. The order of nucleotiedes in DNA is nothing like river tributaries. The constraints on biological forms are due to natural laws but the origin of the biological information that produces those forms cannot be produced by those laws. Jim Smith
Prof. Lennox nailed it (re: Hawking but applicable here): "Nonsense, even when uttered by highly credentialed scientists, is still nonsense." AnimatedDust
"with the constructal law life is defined as a phenomenon of physics" "Because of the constructal law I know that everything including my own daily activity or that of the United States of America is to evolve over time through highly complicated superimposed flow designs in order to vehicle the respective bodies more and more easily on the landscape". Substituting the first quote into the second, we get: "Because life is defined as a phenomenon of physics, I know that everything including my own daily activity or that of the United States of America is to evolve over time through highly complicated superimposed flow designs in order to vehicle the respective bodies more and more easily on the landscape". content-free gibberish cantor

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