Thermodynamics and life

Zygon 19 (4):395-432 (1984)
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Abstract

The basic features of thermodynamics as the “science of the possible” are outlined with a special emphasis on the role of the concept of entropy as a measure of irreversibility in natural processes and its relation to “order,” precisely defined. Natural processes may lead to an increase in complexity, and this concept has a subtle relationship to those of order, organization, and information. These concepts are analyzed with respect to their relation to biological evolution, together with other ways of attempting to quantify it. Thermodynamic interpretations of evolution are described and critically compared, and the significance of dissipative structures, of “order through fluctuations,” is emphasized in relation both to the evolutionary succession of temporarily stable forms and to kinetic mechanisms producing new patterns.

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References found in this work

Chance and necessity.Jacques Monod - 1971 - New York,: Vintage Books.
The Architecture of Complexity.Herbert A. Simon - 1962 - Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 106.
Mysticism and logic, and other essays.Bertrand Russell - 1917 - Totowa, N.J.: Barnes & Noble.

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