Life as the Reduction of Entropy

During the present century a few physicists have tried to define life. Bernal, Schroedinger, and Wigner all came to the same general conclusion, that life is a member of the class of phenomena which are open or continuous systems able to decrease their internal entropy at the expense of substances or free energy taken in from the environment and subsequently rejected in a degraded form. This definition is not only difficult to grasp but is far too general to apply to the specific detection of life. A rough paraphrase might be that life is one of those processes which are found whenever there is an abundant flow of energy. It is characterized by a tendency to shape or form itself as it consumes, but to do so it must always excrete low-grade products to the surroundings.

We can now see that this definition would apply equally well to eddies flowing stream, to hurricanes , to flames, or even to refrigerators and many other man-made contrivances. A flame assumes a characteristic shape as it burns, and needs and adequate supply of fuel and air to keep going, and we are now only too well aware that the pleasant warmth and dancing flames of an open fire have to be paid for in the excretion of waste heat and pollutant gases. Entropy is reduced locally by the flame formation, but the overall total of entropy is increased during the fuel consumption.


Definition of life as something that generates syntropy within itself while exporting entropy, and the problem with this definition as it would include fire and hurricanes as being living.

Folksonomies: physics life definition entropy syntropy

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/science/physics/thermodynamics (0.325094)
/business and industrial/energy/oil (0.237524)

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Schroedinger:City (0.890332 (neutral:0.000000)), Bernal:Person (0.853910 (neutral:0.000000)), Wigner:Person (0.738254 (neutral:0.000000))

Entropy (0.972449): dbpedia | freebase
Heat (0.934026): dbpedia | freebase
Life (0.877517): dbpedia | freebase
Thermodynamics (0.606836): dbpedia | freebase
Temperature (0.512591): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Energy (0.492968): dbpedia | freebase
Second law of thermodynamics (0.490642): dbpedia | freebase
Thermodynamic system (0.422800): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Lovelock, James (2000-11-23), Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, Oxford University Press, USA, Retrieved on 2011-04-11
Folksonomies: evolution gaia environmentalism earth ecology


15 APR 2011

 Two Perspectives on Entropy and Life

Evolution as Entropy Versus Organization > Comparison > Life as the Reduction of Entropy
Two ways of describing life as resistance to entropy. Once is life versus death, organization versus disorganization, the other as the intake of energy to maintain syntropy within the organism.
Folksonomies: entropy syntropy. life
Folksonomies: entropy syntropy. life


30 DEC 2013

 Life Fights Entropy

Memes on the fact that life is increasing organization in a world of increasing chaos.
Folksonomies: life entropy thermodynamics
Folksonomies: life entropy thermodynamics