Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Natalie Wolchover — First Support for a Physics Theory of Life

The biophysicist Jeremy England made waves in 2013 with a new theory that cast the origin of life as an inevitable outcome of thermodynamics. His equations suggested that under certain conditions, groups of atoms will naturally restructure themselves so as to burn more and more energy, facilitating the incessant dispersal of energy and the rise of “entropy” or disorder in the universe. England said this restructuring effect, which he calls dissipation-driven adaptation, fosters the growth of complex structures, including living things. The existence of life is no mystery or lucky break, he told Quanta in 2014, but rather follows from general physical principles and “should be as unsurprising as rocks rolling downhill.”...
Quanta
First Support for a Physics Theory of Life
Natalie Wolchover | Senior Writer

6 comments:

jrbarch said...

I must say that I got more out of looking at the photo of Jeremy England than I did from the article.

When Jeremy was born, no one was worried about was he a boy or a girl; would he grow up to be an assocprof. of physics? Everybody in that room stopped dead still for a moment and looked – breathing, or not breathing? Because if that breath did not arrive, nothing else matters. And when Jeremy leaves this world, it will be the same thing: - breathing, or not breathing? Something comes into the dirt to make it alive; and when it’s gone – that’s it. While it’s there, the dirt can think and laugh and play and cry. Hypothesise that life has an underlying physical mechanism that is the origin of life itself.

If someone taught Jeremy how to go inside, and discover that same life inside of himself; that energy, that power – then he would not have to hypothesise any more. He would know. It would make him look really happy. The knowledge would dance in his eyes. It doesn’t have to be mysterious or a big deal – you may not know the full extent of the ocean, but at least you can bathe at the shore.

That energy, that comes from out of nowhere, to make the heart beat and the lungs bellow, pulses throughout the universe within and without – and in Jeremy too. ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth’. It’s just a matter of consciousness, of practice; being aware – being able to listen, to feel, touch, and see that wind, even though it is invisible; like salt dissolved in water. Jeremy could learn that awareness if he wanted to; just like anyone else. If you are a crocodile, maybe not – if you are human, perfect! But Jeremy would have to be strong enough to survive the world of men.

Matt Franko said...

Nah jr random chance mutation sounds a lot better....

Matt Franko said...

I'm still pissed we didn't get an eye in the back of our heads out of the deal....

Andrew Anderson said...

Ah, this is a much more testable hypothesis than the untestable multiverse hypothesis.

And there's the problem for those who chafe at the idea of a Creator since our Solar System has quite a few places where life SHOULD have arisen given it's so-called inevitability. We'll soon be exploring those places (e.g. Mars, some of Jupiter's and Saturn's moons, etc.)

jrbarch said...

... ha Matt :-) ! Some people think that life is like a billiard ball table because that is their experience. Of course it 'sounds' better because it is in accord with their experience. Change the experience is all I am saying ...

jrbarch said...

.. you could have ended up with your nose next to your anus too. How random .... :-) !