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Does this physicist have a groundbreaking idea about why life exists?

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Sure. Why not? There are hundreds of them out there.

Here or below, Jeremy England sees life as a drive to expend more energy.

Friend Mark Fitzmaurice writes,

I just watched this video of his talk. I suggest you do not waste your time on it. I find it hard to believe that people can take this guy seriously.

His entire lecture is about his” general intuition about systems of self organization”. In the only experiments mentioned he does what he calls “play chemistry” where he uses 15 or 30 discrete particles in an oscillating energy field and observes fairly trivial features from which he wishes to generalize something about self organizing systems and life.

His use of physics applied to life is like saying we understand reproduction when we describe it by the equation 1 human+ 1 human => 3 humans. A true but fairly facile simplified description is not an explanation.

Heat and entropy are not the drivers of life. Information utilisation and duplication is the characteristic of life. The heat and entropy change in life is very much a side show and bears little relationship to the nature of life itself.

Although all systems are driven by energy flux, what goes on in a computer has very little to do with the heat generated by the computer or the entropy change. This can be demonstrated by comparing heat paths in an ancient thermal valve computer and the heat transfers in a modern micro chip that does far more with a minuscule use of energy compared with the valve computer.

They must be really desperate to publish this stuff as a new insight!

Indeed they are “really desperate.” For brief background, see “Solution to origin of life just around corner … in another universe” and Baylor’s Charles Garner on the current state of origin of life science Even senior researchers admit the problem now.

That’s good because admitting the existence of a problem sometimes enables us to admit its nature: Life is about information, not matter. How is information really generated? How does it work? What are its laws?

At the worst, we could be spared more of the usual: Maybe if we throw enough models at the origin of life… some of them will stick?

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