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Thread: Why does life exist? A new theory

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    Why does life exist? A new theory



    Why does life exist?

    The answer to the million dollar question: dissipation-driven adaptation of matter. A mouthful, but possibly one of the greatest discoveries of man kind.

    Please read the article I would not give it justice in a small summary. I will give a layman's interpretation.

    If you radiate enough energy on a clump of atoms it will self organize to diffuse the energy captured. Life according to this new theory is extremely well adapted to do this such thing. The the act of replicating a system can diffuse energy more efficiently. Life may not be a lucky random act, but a basic universal principle. They use an example in the paper, and I'm paraphrasing - gather a bunch of atoms radiated with heat (from the sun), and get a plant. It opens the door to why certain genetic traits occur, that don't look to be of natural selection.

    https://www.simonsfoundation.org/qua...heory-of-life/

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    So I guess you're saying that life exists because it has a tendency to do so - the universe is just designed that way. That sounds like a rather theistic interpretation of life, the universe and everything.

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    Did you read the article? I'm confused on your statement. You apparently didn't read the article or you wouldn't of made such a stupid statement.

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    I read the article and I thought it was a stupid article. But I guess we can agree to disagree.

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    It just happens that some configurations of molecules, like RNA, can copy themselves. This self replicating process gave start to evolution and ever more complexity of molecules, and life as we know it. This process requires energy and material of course.
    I'm not sure how important energy dissipation is for this process though. Too much energy and everything burns and breaks down, too little and everything freezes to a halt. Well, certain balance is required to sustain life, therefore constant receiving and dissipating of energy is good and needed. More energy makes molecules more energetic/dancing rearranging, less energy makes them settling down and bond together, therefore energy fluctuation (to certain degree) is vital for life.

    I think the story of self replicating molecules, few years back, was a gigantic step in understanding beginning of life.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    Agree to disagree on what? You made a comment that made zero sense. There is nothing theistic about the article. It's a theory by a MIT physicist on the possible science of Life and possibly many other universal mysteries. It was interesting, so I thought I'd share. So, if you thought that was dumb, then you probably think theory of relativity, black holes, evolution, and quantum mechanics are dumb as we'll. Interesting, I guess Ignorance is bliss.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    It just happens that some configurations of molecules, like RNA, can copy themselves. This self replicating process gave start to evolution and ever more complexity of molecules, and life as we know it. This process requires energy and material of course.
    I'm not sure how important energy dissipation is for this process though. Too much energy and everything burns and breaks down, too little and everything freezes to a halt. Well, certain balance is required to sustain life, therefore constant receiving and dissipating of energy is good and needed. More energy makes molecules more energetic/dancing rearranging, less energy makes them settling down and bond together, therefore energy fluctuation (to certain degree) is vital for life.

    I think the story of self replicating molecules, few years back, was a gigantic step in understanding beginning of life.
    I agree that the concept of self replicating molecules was an important step forward in understanding abiogenesis. I didn't find the Miller-Urey experiments to be all that convincing, and thought that life on Earth probably originally came from outer space but of course life had to be created from non-living matter at some point, whether on Earth or elsewhere. And I gather that Miller's subsequent experiments provide a better basis for understanding how life could have developed solely from complex chemical reactions that occurred on this planet. But I don't think this particular article about energy dissipation really illuminates the problem. Abiogenesis must have involved a very complex series of events, and I'm not sure it's something that could ever be fully duplicated in a science lab.

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    Bravo Aberdeen!

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    If we follow this line of thinking to it's logical conclusion, we must infer that there is something after death.

    According to the principles of Thermodynamics... energy cannot simply disappear.

    Or am I missing something?

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    Not disappear, but reach entropy. It makes no prediction of an after life. It is a possible explanation on how a system enters entropy. Every system wants to reach equilibrium. The mechanism of cell replication may be a form of entropy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nordicquarreler View Post
    If we follow this line of thinking to it's logical conclusion, we must infer that there is something after death.

    According to the principles of Thermodynamics... energy cannot simply disappear.

    Or am I missing something?
    Neither energy or the matter contained in us disappears at all. When we die we just lose our appearance, shape and form, but all the atoms are still here on earth, with all their energy. Actually energy is not contained in people (being arrangement of atoms) but in atoms themselves. They receive energy and they radiate energy all the time and they "live" forever, but not the people.

    In case you are referring to some spiritual energy in people, then no, it doesn't adhere to Thermodynamics principle. Only to human imagination. ;)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebAmerican View Post
    Not disappear, but reach entropy. It makes no prediction of an after life. It is a possible explanation on how a system enters entropy. Every system wants to reach equilibrium. The mechanism of cell replication may be a form of entropy.
    I think energy is more hungry for entropy because it always on the move. If you trap it in something like batteries or a sun, sooner or later it will escape and fly away.
    I'm not sure if matter "cares" much for entropy. After all matter is a trapped form of energy (E=mc2), and is "happy" in any arrangement. Either in form of complete glass or its broken pieces. In either form matter can exist to the end of the world. Energy that makes matter is very "organized" therefore of minimum entropy. My guess.

    PS. I always found theory of entropy in connection to evolution of universe very confusing.

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    LOL, so it seems now some physicists try to strike back against Darwinists like Richard Dawkins who claimed that even Universes/Multiverses undergo evolution, so actually whole physics.
    But it seems they shot their own foot: "England then determined how such systems tend to evolve over time as they increase their irreversibility." Ouch!
    Survival of the fittest = survival of the most irreversible. Makes sense.

    Seriously, very interesting, and it makes a lot of sense to me (as a layman!), but I think both approaches, the physicist's and darwinist's will meet each other, they just start from opposing angles.
    If I understand England correctly, energy supply to a constrained system forces the system to respond in a directed (ordered? reasonable? or even intelligent?) way!?
    I wonder whether this follows from mere statistics where any constraint to randomness implies stochastic bias, which then must appear like order to us observers. The crucial thing to understand now is that also these constraints themselves are just random events. From this it follows that any interaction of events is basic selection/evolution, because event A "selects" B by interacting (e.g. changing) with B. The same in turn hold for B-->A. It only depends on the viewpoint whether something is random vs. ordered (for instance some physicist vs. darwinist viewpoints). In other words: if two random events A and B encounter each-other, A is not random any longer with respect to B, and vice versa. But looking from another random event C (f.i. random observer), the pair occurence A and B can still be observed as random event, but there are people who (often erroneously) start to see non-random causation between A and B (Why did the bullet miss me? It must be destiny or higher power!).

    Here is Richard Dawkins explaining the weak Anthropic Principle:



    I think the weak anthropic principle is a very elegant interpretation of how randomness and order relate to each other. It might be the hint that randomness and order are not absolutely distinguishable.

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    I think part of the problem is sloppiness about using terms from one body of science to discuss another body of science. Once you try to apply terminology from biology to the study of physics, for example, I think it's very easy to subconsciously assume that molecules and protons will behave the same way that living matter will. And, as I suggested before, that opens the way for a kind of back door theism - that molecule wanted to behave in a certain way because it was designed to want to do that.

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    Is it safe to equate high entropy with high order and low temperature? In information theory, entropy is often used synonymously for information content, where low entropy is high randomness (high temperature) and high entropy is low randomness ('order', information, low temperature):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_content
    Last edited by ElHorsto; 25-01-14 at 17:00. Reason: mixed-up terms fixed

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    If the information is not fair it has low entropy. If it is fair it has entropy. We are talking about probabilities in an information system. If there is entropy in a system then the random variables can hold a value and a probability can be determined. A 4 sided dice will have 1/4 chance of rolling any particular side. If there was not entropy lets say the dice automatically changed randomly between 4 and 6 sides, then you could not determine the probability or information and it would have low entropy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebAmerican View Post
    If the information is not fair it has low entropy. If it is fair it has entropy. We are talking about probabilities in an information system. If there is entropy in a system then the random variables can hold a value and a probability can be determined. A 4 sided dice will have 1/4 chance of rolling any particular side. If there was not entropy lets say the dice automatically changed randomly between 4 and 6 sides, then you could not determine the probability or information and it would have low entropy.
    Thanks, but what means 'fair' then? I understand your example merely as switching to a conditional probability: There are two dices (= random variables) D1 and D2 which both represent a different 'universe' of possibilities: 4-sided D4={11 12 13 14} and 6-sided D6={21 22 23 24 25 26}. You say that if there is a third random variable universe C={D4, D6} which does the selection of the actual dice, then this is lower entropy? I would agree if it is meant like this:

    Entropy(C x D4 x D6) < Entropy(D4=y|C=D4)
    and
    Entropy(C x D4 x D6) < Entropy(D6=y|C=D6)

    But I think it is not relevant whether you can measure probabilities P(D4=y|C=D4), P(D6=y|C=D6) or P(C x D4 x D6). They still do exist, namely under certain conditions. In terms of Multiverses, D4 and D6 are each one universe and we can measure only probabilities within that universe of which we are part of and we assume the probability of it's existence to be equal 1 because it is already there currently and we can not escape from it (Antrophic principle). But maybe the entropy of the whole multiverse is completely different than our particular universe. This would be in accordance with the idea that our universe exists by random chance and each actually occuring event represents "darwinian" selection (in the way Dawkins means it) because it switches the probability space from (CxD4xD6) to (D4) or (D6), resulting in lower entropy, cooling and lower variability/randomness.
    Sorry in case the above is utter nonsense, but just for the case it isn't...

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    We're getting off subject a little here. Entropy is sometimes used to describe information content within the larger information theory. The article focus on thermodynamics and the universe's observable entropy. The article "energy tends to disperse or spread out as time progresses". England believes that life may be one of many processes for the dispersing of energy. Life may be a common phenomenon in the universe and not this rare phenomenon once believed. I would expect that life will be found (simple unicellular life) any where a heat bath and closely bunched atoms are found. Life seems to do a better job of dispersing heat energy from the sun, then inanimate objects. It would be interesting if England could prove his theory that life's only purpose is to help the universe reach entropy. It is a little anticlimactic don't you think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebAmerican View Post
    We're getting off subject a little here. Entropy is sometimes used to describe information content within the larger information theory. The article focus on thermodynamics and the universe's observable entropy. The article "energy tends to disperse or spread out as time progresses". England believes that life may be one of many processes for the dispersing of energy. Life may be a common phenomenon in the universe and not this rare phenomenon once believed. I would expect that life will be found (simple unicellular life) any where a heat bath and closely bunched atoms are found. Life seems to do a better job of dispersing heat energy from the sun, then inanimate objects. It would be interesting if England could prove his theory that life's only purpose is to help the universe reach entropy. It is a little anticlimactic don't you think?
    Perhaps it would sound less anticlimatic when saying that that life is caused (instead purpose) by the low entropy of the universe? I think cause and purpose might mean the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebAmerican View Post
    We're getting off subject a little here. Entropy is sometimes used to describe information content within the larger information theory. The article focus on thermodynamics and the universe's observable entropy. The article "energy tends to disperse or spread out as time progresses". England believes that life may be one of many processes for the dispersing of energy. Life may be a common phenomenon in the universe and not this rare phenomenon once believed. I would expect that life will be found (simple unicellular life) any where a heat bath and closely bunched atoms are found. Life seems to do a better job of dispersing heat energy from the sun, then inanimate objects. It would be interesting if England could prove his theory that life's only purpose is to help the universe reach entropy. It is a little anticlimactic don't you think?
    I think that's overstating England's conclusions. However, he does seem to have a childishly simplistic misunderstanding of the circumstances in which life can evolve, and a tendency to attribute purpose to chains of chemical reactions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    I think that's overstating England's conclusions. However, he does seem to have a childishly simplistic misunderstanding of the circumstances in which life can evolve, and a tendency to attribute purpose to chains of chemical reactions.
    Often it is very healthy for science to have a look at things from different and unorthodox angle just to make sure we are on right track.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Often it is very healthy for science to have a look at things from different and unorthodox angle just to make sure we are on right track.
    That's true, but abiogenesis is a very complex subject. There's a lot more to it than a few cool math equations - life just doesn't arise that easily from inorganic compounds.

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    Occam's razor Aberdeen. It was an article I found interesting like LeBrok said "Often it is very healthy for science to have a look at things from different and unorthodox angle just to make sure we are on right track." It shouldn't be a surprise that life first originated around hydrothermal ducts 3.5 billion years ago. Like England said it doesn't replace Darwinism, it's complimentary to it. I don't think it can be duplicated in a lab (atom reorganization to the needed form probably took a few hundred million years), but mathematically it might be able to be determined. All you have to do is figure out unicellular organisms, and the rest falls into place through Darwinism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebAmerican View Post
    Occam's razor Aberdeen. It was an article I found interesting like LeBrok said "Often it is very healthy for science to have a look at things from different and unorthodox angle just to make sure we are on right track." It shouldn't be a surprise that life first originated around hydrothermal ducts 3.5 billion years ago. Like England said it doesn't replace Darwinism, it's complimentary to it. I don't think it can be duplicated in a lab (atom reorganization to the needed form probably took a few hundred million years), but mathematically it might be able to be determined. All you have to do is figure out unicellular organisms, and the rest falls into place through Darwinism.
    With respect to the situation we're discussing, I don't think Occam's razor will give you the kind of shave you're looking for.

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