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New theory sees origin of life as inevitable, and Darwinian evolution a special case

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self-organizing phospholipids/Villarreal

MIT prof Jeremy England has developed a math formula that, he says, explains how life forms, which exceed inanimate matter in capturing energy and dissipating it as heat, can come into existence.

The formula, based on established physics, indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.

This is a “law-based” theory, an approach pioneered by the late Christian de Duve (1917–2013). as opposed to a chance-based theory.

England’s theory is meant to underlie, rather than replace, Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, which provides a powerful description of life at the level of genes and populations. “I am certainly not saying that Darwinian ideas are wrong,” he explained. “On the contrary, I am just saying that from the perspective of the physics, you might call Darwinian evolution a special case of a more general phenomenon.”

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.

He thinks it applies to many instances of self-replication in non-living matter as well, particularly ones that form patterns like snowflakes.

“He is making me think that the distinction between living and nonliving matter is not sharp,” said Carl Franck, a biological physicist at Cornell University, in an email. “I’m particularly impressed by this notion when one considers systems as small as chemical circuits involving a few biomolecules.”

England is currently running computer simulations to test his theory.

Interestingly, biophysicist Ard Louis offers,

If England’s approach stands up to more testing, it could further liberate biologists from seeking a Darwinian explanation for every adaptation and allow them to think more generally in terms of dissipation-driven organization. They might find, for example, that “the reason that an organism shows characteristic X rather than Y may not be because X is more fit than Y, but because physical constraints make it easier for X to evolve than for Y to evolve,” Louis said.

Oh. Do biologists realize a need for such a liberation? Who knew they recognized that it sounds like rubbish?

Interestingly, in the comments, one person claims credit for this idea from 2009 and another explains why it doesn’t work thermodynamically:

Thermodynamics tells us that all nonmanaged, or random, systems ALWAYS pass to a state of greater disorder. Disorder is the statistical trend of nature simply because for any given collection of atoms the number of disorderly combinations is vastly greater than the number of orderly combinations.

See also: We know too many ways life could have got started?

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Dear Colleague, The origin of life can be understood on the foundations of hierarchical thermodynamics without representations about dissipative structures and any fantastic ideas. Hierarchical thermodynamics was created on the foundation of the theory of Gibbs - the most rigorous physical theory. Nature seeks to the minimum values of the specific Gibbs function (to the specific free energy) of formation of supramolecular structures. The same we can say also about the interactions between atoms. One can also say that these structures are looking for stability. This statement corresponds to the familiar doctrine that nature to strive for the densest packing of interacting supramolecular structures. In other words, nature tends to "the maximum satisfaction." It is looking for a maximum matching of “the key to the lock." We see this situation at the crystallization and the recrystallization of minerals, biological crystals and liquid crystal structures. Biological structures are improved in ontogeny, phylogeny and evolution. The structure of catalytic systems also is improved, which leads to acceleration of biological processes in the evolution. Finding of appropriate structures in nature is associated with cyclical changes of environmental parameters. I am sending you the information. Have a look at it please. Sincerely, Georgi Gladyshev Professor of Physical Chemistry As part of its applicability thermodynamics explains everything that happens in the world. To understand the origin of life and its evolution we should use the hierarchical thermodynamics and principle of substance stability (1977). http://www.mdpi.org/ijms/papers/i7030098.pdf Life: The principle of substance stability establishes the common life code in the universe http://endeav.net/news/19-origin-of-life.html The origin of life can be explained through the study of thermodynamics of universe evolution http://gladyshevevolution.wordpress.com/ Origin of Life (Abiogenesis) - Darwin's selection: the survival of stable supramolecular structures. Why does life originate and exist now? Origin of life and its evolution are the result of action of laws of hierarchical thermodynamics and the principle of substance stability. The criterion of evolution of living system is the change (during evolution) of the specific free energy (Gibbs function, G) of this living system formation. http://endeav.net/news.html The hierarchical thermodynamics has predicted the observed effects many years ago. About the phenomenon of life has been written in many articles and some monographs (for example, see: Gladyshev Georgi P. Thermodynamics Theory of the Evolution of Living Beings.- Commack, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.- 1997.- 142 P., Thermodynamics optimizes the physiology of life http://ru.scribd.com/doc/87069230/Report-Ok-16-11-2011 , Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2006, 7, 98-110 http://www.mdpi.org/ijms/papers/i7030098.pdf , Site in English: Hierarchical thermodynamics solves the puzzle of life. The role of catalysis http://gladyshevevolution.wordpress.com/article/hierarchical-thermodynamics-solves-the-puzzle-of-life/ http://creatacad.org/?id=48&lng=eng http://creatacad.org/?id=57&lng=eng , http://www.eoht.info/page/Georgi+Gladyshev+%28biography%29 http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Georgi-Pavlovich-Gladyshev )! Thermodynamic evolution http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Thermodynamic-evolution Misunderstandings in ideas about entropy Many misunderstandings in understanding the problems of life and evolution from the standpoint of physics and physical chemistry are typically associated with misconceptions in understanding entropy. The term "entropy" coined Rudolf Clausius. According to his "model" of the world (universe), he presented a statement: "The energy of the world is constant. The entropy of the world tends to the maximum". Later this statement was chosen by JW Gibbs as an epigraph to the paper "On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances". These scientists have given this statement in relation to their model of the universe. This model corresponds to a simple isolated system of ideal gas, i.e. isolated system of ideal gas, energy and volume of this system are constant and in which only the work of expansion is performed. Entropy of such a system can only increase! It should be noted that when we say on ideal model, which would correspond to the real universe, it would be necessary to accept the unreal assumption that any form of energy real universe will be transformed into thermal energy. Only in this case, also under additional unrealistic assumptions, the real universe "would turn" into the model of ideal system of Clausius - Gibbs. However, lovers of science have applied representations on simple systems to systems of other types, in which the interactions takes place between particles of different nature (interactions of molecules or other objects of different hierarchies) and to systems which interact with the environment. Some scientists, who are not professionals in the relevant fields of knowledge, have not escaped such errors. This has led to unimaginable confusion. This has slowed down the development of science, more than on a century. There are thousands of publications in scientific journals and popular literature containing marked misunderstandings. To these were added incorrect ideas on the negentropy and on the dissipative structures in the living world. The origin of life and its evolution can be easily explained from the standpoint of hierarchical near equilibrium thermodynamics of complex dynamic systems. This thermodynamics established on a solid foundation of equilibrium thermodynamics - thermodynamics of Rudolf Clausius, JW Gibbs and other great scientists. http://www.membrana.ru/particle/17266 http://www.eoht.info/page/Entropy+%28misinterpretations%29 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYr1G5TZO50 Detailing theories about the origin of life and evolution is presented in the new sites (Knol moved to Wordpress): Some work: http://gladyshevevolution.wordpress.com/ http://creatacad.org/?id=48&lng=eng http://ru.scribd.com/doc/87069230/Report-Ok-16-11-2011 http://creatacad.org/?id=48&lng=eng http://ru.scribd.com/doc/87069230/Report-Ok-16-11-2011 Georgi Gladyshev
Mahuna, I would go even further with your thinking, in that why does every aspect of evolutionary concepts seem to have been so easy to have occurred some far away land in the past, but the conditions are never right for any of it happening still today. If things like kidneys and gills and talons are really just a result of fortuitous aberrations of body plans, why do all these aberrations appear to have disappeared from the vast pool of new options for natural selection to keep working on. Where are all our modern components to start making new tools? Surely someone needs to be born with a catalytic convertor to filter out carbon dioxide in their bodies, or at least a liver that is like a sponge on your elbow, that you can just wring the alcohol out of your body. How long do we really have to wait for some new artillery? phoodoo
Oh, boy. This sounds about as believable -- and useful -- as that "life is a kinetic state" nonsense Nick tried foisting on us several months ago. Furthermore, the discussion of Darwinian evolution in the context of OOL is confused. Sure, buddy. Add energy and life forms. Sure. Eric Anderson
Assuming the theory works, why isn't new life, with substantially different body plans and DNA or its equivalent, appearing all the time all over the planet? Offering a theory that claims that a natural, uncontrolled reaction occurred exactly ONCE a billion years ago and has NEVER occurred again, given uncountable instances of similar conditions, does not sound like Science. It sounds like Magic. Or a Miracle. According to the theory, what is suppressing recurrence of the mechanical generation of Life? Some tiny difference in chemicals or water temperature? mahuna
"I don't believe in England." ;-) From Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard, 1966 -Q Querius
Ok, if it's just that simple, why hasn't some scientist cranked out some life in a pot of goo? OldArmy94
Dissipation-driven organization, eh? Jeremy England is obviously a crackpot and a scam artist, using math as a cover to hide his deception. It's an old, tried and tested trick of the priesthood. Mapou

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