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A Thermodynamics Theory of the Origins of Life 185

New submitter SpankiMonki writes "Natalie Wolchover at Quanta Magazine has written an article about how Jeremy England, a MIT professor, may have found a theory of the origin of life grounded in physics. In a paper published last August by The Journal of Chemical Physics, England describes his theory, the 'Statistical physics of self-replication.' Wolchover writes, 'England['s]...formula...indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.' England says his ideas pose no threat to Darwinian evolution: 'On the contrary, I am just saying that from the perspective of the physics, you might call Darwinian evolution a special case of a more general phenomenon.'"
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A Thermodynamics Theory of the Origins of Life

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  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @12:01PM (#46056919) Homepage Journal

    Obviously this does not threaten the evolution in any way, why would it? Why is that sentence in there in the first place?

    Evolution of species vs. how physical structures may create patterns that allow it to maintain lowest energy state..... I don't understand the confusion of ideas that may lead somebody to believe there is some conflict there in the first place.

  • Re:Not new (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24, 2014 @12:38PM (#46057313)

    And thus Michaelian falls victim to Stigler's Law [].

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @02:59PM (#46059171)

    >It is clear to everybody versed in even rudimentary chemistry that a concentration of noble gasses would not give rise to life

    That depends entirely on the environment - at sufficient temperatures and pressures the noble gasses become quite active. In fact they might be some of the few elements still non-volatile enough to build a stable chemistry around.

    Yeah, chemistry is weird - it's built directly upon quantum mechanics after all. And we're only beginning to understand how extremely biased our understanding is towards "chemistry that can occur at STP".

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