To facilitate discussion, we are publishing the abstracts and conclusions/summaries of the 24 papers from the Cornell Conference on the Origin of Biological Information here at Uncommon Descent, with cumulative links to previous papers at the bottom of each page.
Note: A blow-by-blow account of the difficulties that the authors experienced from Darwin lobby attempts to censor the book by denying it publication with Springer are detailed here. Fortunately, the uproar resulted in an opportunity for readers like yourself to read the book online. That said, the hard cover version is now shipping.
The Abstract for “Entropy, Evolution and Open Systems” by Granville Sewell:
It is commonly argued that the spectacular increase in order which has occurred on Earth is consistent with the second law of thermodynamics because the Earth is not an isolated system, and anything can happen in a non-isolated system as long as the entropy increases outside the system compensate the entropy decreases inside the system. However, if we define “X-entropy” to be the entropy associated with any diffusing component X (for example, X might be heat), and, since entropy measures disorder, “X-order” to be the negative of X-entropy, a closer look at the equations for entropy change shows that they not only say that the X-order cannot increase in an isolated system, but that they also say that in a non-isolated system the X-order cannot increase faster than it is imported through the boundary. Thus the equations for entropy change do not support the illogical “compensation” idea; instead, they illustrate the tautology that “if an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is isolated, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering (or leaving) which makes it not extremely improbable.” Thus unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.
See also: Origin of Biological Information conference: Its goals
Open Mike: Origin of Biological Information conference: Origin of life studies flatlined
Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference— Can you answer these conundrums about information?
Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference—Is a new definition of information needed for biology? (Chapter 2)
Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference—New definition of information proposed: Universal Information (Chapter 2)
Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference—Chapter Three, Dembski, Ewert, and Marks on the true cost of a successful search
Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference—Chapter Three on the true cost of a successful search—Conservation of information
Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference—Chapter Four: Pragmatic Information
Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference—Chapter Four, Pragmatic information: Conclusion
Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference Chapter Five Abstract
Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference Chapter Five – Basener on limits of chaos – Conclusion
Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference Chapter Six – Ewert et all on the Tierra evolution program – Abstract
Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference Chapter Six – Ewert et all on the Tierra evolution program – Conclusion
Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference Chapter 7—Probability of Beneficial Mutation— Abstract
Open Mike: Cornell OBI Conference Chapter 7—Probability of Beneficial Mutation— Conclusion