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Re: 2nd Law of Thermodynamics



In a message dated 97-03-27 14:07:00 EST, you write:

<< The truth is, no biological process follows this law.  Take the growth of
a fertilized egg to an adult; that is a process that gets more complex over
time.  How can an organism do this?  Because a living thing is not an
isolated system; it is constantly taking in energy (all living things feed in
some way).  This input of energy overwhelms the effect of entropy on a
biological organism.  Further, since there is a input of energy, biological
systems don't fit with the definition of the 2nd law, and one cannot assume
that a biological system will follow the definition to the letter.
  >>
 I concur with your views of life as an open system (ie with an external
energy source) not falling prey to the entropic degradation that a closed
system (ie one with no source of new energy).  But the genesis of the
complexity of multicellular organisms is actually more complicated than that.
 If multiple cells band together and begin subspecializing, they become
capable of elaborate mass productions of material and energy which single
cell organisms can not exploit.  In essence in a multicellular organism, each
cell consumes less energy and is "wealthier" thqan it would be if it were
struggling on its own.  

As an analogy, look at all of the goods we have available in our consumer
culture.  If it were not for the fact that different individuals specialize
in the mass production of different goods, we could never afford to have such
goods.  If I had to mine or produce all the materials necesary to make my
automobile, design it and then drill my own oil well to get the fuel . . .
well, I'd be walking.

So external energy is not a sufficient explanation for increasing
evolutionary complexity on its own.  There is also the fact that the whole is
greater than the sum of the parts when it comes to exploiting resources.

Art