rineholdr's title, not mine. This is a spinoff of 'The Big Bang - Questions from a Teen' in the 'Big Bang and Cosmology' forum.
quote:Issac Asimove concluded: Another way of stating the Second Law then is: "the universe is constantly getting more disorderly!" Viewed that way, we can see the second law all about us. We have to work hard to straighten aroom, but left to itself it becomes a mess again very quickly and very easily.
and I responded:
quote:Where did Isaac Asimov (who didn't take kindly to mispellings of his name, btw) say that? I have his Guide to Earth and Space and I don't see that quote; it doesn't sound like the way he'd put it. But to be fair, the quote isn't off the mark. The entropy of the universe is increasing. But if you try to use this fact to disprove evolution you'll lose. It is not necessary that the entropy of the earth increase in order for the 2nd law to hold, because earth is not a closed system.
The earlier topic is straying from the original intent of the thread, therefore I'm proposing we move the discussion here.
quote:The second law of thermodynamics poses no problem at all for evolution: abiogenesis is a different story.
I didn't realize we had moved so quickly from evolution to abiogenesis. I'm making no claims regarding abiogenesis. Until your 'prebiotically plausible mechanism' is discovered it seems pointless to argue whether abiogenesis conflicts with the 2nd law.
I'm not sure I understand why you brought this point up. I thought the discussion was about evolution and the 2nd law. If I missed something somewhere I'm sorry.
Your point that the 2nd law is insufficient to explain abiogenesis is well taken. I don't think there's anyone here who is confused by it. The only reason I was confused is because the point is so obvious is didn't seem to warrant mentioning.
Why is it necessary to explain abiogenesis in order to discuss whether it or evolution conflict with the 2nd law? Abiogenesis happened. Only creationists dispute it. No one here is trying to explain abiogenesis; in fact, no scientist has yet explained it. There aren't even any widely held theories on the matter, unless I'm mistaken.
The question I was intending to explore in this thread was: Does the 2nd law (or any of the other laws of thermodynamics, for that matter) conflict with the theory of evolution or the origin of life? To my mind it does not. I did not intend to ask the question: How did abiogenesis occur? Therefore that discussion, as has been noted by several posters in this thread, belongs in another topic.
EDIT: I'm leaning toward a caprice here. I've read over this thread again and I'm now a bit more interested in what DNAunion has to say. The original discussion I intended to draw here from the earlier thread has instead continued where it was. The discussion that has taken over here is not what I intended, but it's interesting anyway.
DNA is correct to say that he isn't off-topic, at least considering the thread's title.
My only argument with you, DNA, is that I don't see it necessary that one should explain a mechanism by which abiogenesis could occur before one can consider the thermodynamic implications of abiogenesis. You still haven't made your case on this point.
[This message has been edited by berberry, 04-14-2004]
Good point. I didn't think of that. But in fairness, it must be acknowledged that abiogenesis as envisioned by creationists is an entirely different matter than abiogenesis as envisioned by scientists.
quote:Life is just complicated chemistry. Abiogenesis was also complicated chemistry. Chemistry obeys all laws of physics, including 2LOT (which began life as a chemical law, anyway). There are no "themodynamic implications of abiogenesis" that uniquely distinguish it from all other chemical reactions.
Yeah, I see what you mean and I realize that was a poor choice of words. What I meant was that identifying a mechanism by which abiogenesis can occur should not be necessary before we can observe that abiogenesis obeys the 2LOT (as well as the 3 or 4 other LOT, I forget the exact number). To put it another way: until that mechanism is identified it is pointless to speculate that the 2LOT might have been violated.
I tried to follow your link, but each time I click on it I get nothing. Something appears to be loading for a second or two, then I get a blank screen without even an error message.
Somewhere up the line in this thread (I did a brief search but couldn't find it, it might have been in the parent thread) someone objected to the use of the word 'disorder' in defining entropy. I agree that that is a poor definition but there is still a rather simple way to look at it: equalization of energy. If I remember correctly, a scientist studying the principles by which a steam engine operates was the first to stumble across the 2LOT. The uneven distribution of heat allowed the engine to operate. Once the heat was used, the energy it contained was dissipated into the environment. The energy still exists but is unusable for work because it can't be harnessed (or made uneven again).
Therefore, entropy could be better defined as the even distribution of energy, unless I am very much mistaken.
EDIT: Changed my mistaken use of the word 'uneven' in the final sentence to 'even'.
[This message has been edited by berberry, 04-15-2004]
I follow your first paragraph but you lost me in the second, Brad. From what you say I gather that you are involved in abiogenesis research. Is that true? If so, do you work for a lab? Is it a private or government lab?
I don't mean to pry so feel free to ignore this. I'm just curious.
Just a quick note to Brad that there's a bit of news today about Einstein's theory. Seems NASA is set to run some tests on the theory from a satelite that was to have been launched today but has been delayed. You'll find details here. Sounds very interesting to me, but I never really understood that theory.
I took a look at the site Brad linked in his post 82 above. It is one of Professor Gladyshev's pages and on it I found what I think sums up at least part of what Brad has been trying to tell us. The following quote is from that linked page:
During the last decades, an opinion has widely spread that there is the apparent contradiction between biological order and laws of physics - particularly the second law of thermodynamics. Besides, it is claimed that this contradiction cannot be removed as long as one tries to understand living systems by the methods of equilibrium thermodynamics. The author of the present work states: if living systems are described in the framework of hierarchic equilibrium thermodynamics, this contradiction does not exist.
(edited to remove extraneous formatting)
Portions of Gladyshev's book Themodynamic Theory of the Evolution of Living Things are available for online viewing at the site.
The book is published by Nova Science Publications of New York. I don't know anything about that publishing house.
The book goes WAY over my head, as do Brad's posts about Gladyshev. Gladyshev's work sounds interesting to me, but I only understand the laws of thermodynamics at a very basic level. I have no idea whether the Professor's work is useful.
Can anyone with a higher-than-average knowledge of physics answer a couple questions:
1. Is there any serious charge of a conflict between evolution and the 2LT coming from scientific quarters? If not, I should think that the paragraph I quoted above must be referring to creationism.
2. Is Gladyshev's theory established among scientists studying evolution? Is his work considered important?
3. What is Gladyshev's theory (expressed in the simplest possible language)? Does it alter or simply build on ToE? Is it more concerned with abiogenesis?
4. Is Gladyshev trying to accommodate creationism or refute it?