- Hardcover: 182 pages
- Publisher: W H Freeman & Co; Second Edition edition (January 1, 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0716718499
- ISBN-13: 978-0716718499
- Package Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.9 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,968,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Energy and the Evolution of Life Second Edition Edition
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It covers the gamut from the molecular origins of life to the impact of petroleum on society.
Such arcane topics as phosphagens and the brain as a rapid simulator are broached.
A self-contained introduction to nonlinear dynamics makes up the core of the book.
dG = dU + PdV - TdS
and indicates that we can drop PdV for small volume changes in a large environment. This is correct however if we keep that assumption and return to the first law of energy conservation, we have the change in internal energy equal to the heat transfer or
dU = dq [Integrating q = <>U. Note that the term enthalpy is usually introduced such that q = <>H in the open system case]
and at constant temperature entropy change dS = dq/T so there is no distinction between the change of internal energy and entropy under his own assumptions! We will see in a moment that it is the entropy that is the real driver and requires a cosmological explanation. But first I'll mention that he does do a good job in explaining why a reduction in Gibbs' free energy is not in conflict with the 2nd law of thermodynamics (the law of entropy increase in closed systems) as he says 'biological systems are not isolated' although his mathematical approach of adding more terms might confuse some. The fact that the standard or 'short form' formula for Gibbs' free energy is based on measurements of the system and not it's surroundings is again only possible by dealing with open systems where dV (volume changes) can be ignored.
Changes in entropy of the surroundings dS(surr) = -dH(sys)/T for an open system where pressure is constant and then all terms ignore the surroundings in standard analysis, i.e.
dG(sys) = dH(sys) - TdS(sys) and the subscript becomes redundant and is usually dropped.
It is this mathematical manipulation that creates misunderstandings about the entropy of the surroundings being irrelevant and he recognizes this but he does not recognize the fact that entropy is the driving mechanism due to his error above concerning internal energy. Enthalpy is the measure of the entropy change of the surroundings and not vice versa despite the equivalency in the formula above where dS(surr) drops out. Mathematical equivalencies do not express causes. As P.W. Atkins says in his book 'The 2nd Law' -
" The Universe falls upward in entropy: that is the only law of spontaneous change. The free energy is, in fact, just a disguised form of the total entropy of the Universe."
In his book 'The Road to Reality' Roger Penrose again clearly illustrates the flaw of the 'energy as the driver' theory-
"There is a common misconception that the energy supplied by the Sun is what our survival depends on. This is misleading. For energy to be of any use to us at all, it must be provided in a low-entropy form...what we get from the Sun is in the form of [relatively few] individual photons of high energy (basically yellow high-frequency photons because of the Sun's high temperature ), whereas this energy mostly goes back in space in the form of [more] photons of low energy (infrared, low frequency)...The Sun's smaller number of photons means fewer degrees of freedom and therefore a smaller phase space and smaller entropy than in the photons returned to space. The plants make use of this low-entropy energy in their photosynthesis, thereby reducing their own entropy...[and so on]"
The problem with the energy-driver theories is that they can lead to false inferences. For instance, in addition to ignoring the quality of the energy that leads to ignoring the role of entropy as Penrose pointed out, it ultimately led Fox to reject Darwinian evolution. He says (page 130)-
"In a driven system, a small amount of energy input leads to the spontaneous self-organization of space and space-time patterns. This is the meaning of energy flow-ordering." However this is a tautology and does not explain underlying causes (and cannot by ignoring the quality of the energy) which is precisely what Darwinian evolution is designed to do. As author Jochen Fromm says in his book 'The Emergence of Complexity'-
"...evolution is the main reason and the driving force for the complexity and diversity which can be found in nature, and neither the concept of self-organization nor the phenomena of emergence can really replace evolution or natural selection."