Living organisms and entropy

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ATP Bmole
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Living organisms and entropy

Post by ATP Bmole » Wed Aug 30, 2006 4:08 am

From my basic understanding of entropy, life is a very efficient way of allowing matter to move into a more disordered state. Which is what all matter is trying to do. stabilize. This can explain how life fits into universe. Is anyone educated in this area and care to elaborate? I'm very interested.

Is this a good area of the forum for this question? or should it be posted in another area?

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MrMistery
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Post by MrMistery » Wed Aug 30, 2006 6:19 am

The post is Ok where it is.
Now, you misunderstand entropy. The principle of maximum entropy(second rule of termodynamics) states that the universe tends to maximise it's entropy. That means it tends toward disorder. Life is a very ordered state of matter, so has a very small entropy. Think of it like this: what is more ordered? A pile of sugar, aminoacids and oil or a cell that has complex organelles, all different kinds of enzyme and self-regulation?

Now, pay attention that the 2nd rule of therodynamics only refers to a closed system(aka the universe-the only closed physical system in existance) so it is possible for life to appear and be more organised, as long as it deorganises it's environment more than it orgnises itself. in other words, entropy inside an organism can increase, as long as overall, the entropy of the organism and his surroundings decrease.
Neil Campbell, in Biology, made a fun analogy: Living organisms are islands of high entropy in a disorganised world.

Hope this helps, cheers
"As a biologist, I firmly believe that when you're dead, you're dead. Except for what you live behind in history. That's the only afterlife" - J. Craig Venter

ATP Bmole
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Post by ATP Bmole » Wed Aug 30, 2006 6:06 pm

so life can exist as a highly organized organism, because we disorganize our environment more than our intake of nutrients organizes our cells?

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Post by MrMistery » Thu Aug 31, 2006 5:31 pm

something like that. but this has nothing to do directly with the intake of nutrients. It's just that organisms need energy.
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Post by ATP Bmole » Thu Sep 07, 2006 7:31 pm

What do you mean that it doesn't have to do with intake of nutrients. Can you explain then how we disorganize our environment?

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Post by MrMistery » Thu Sep 07, 2006 7:37 pm

we take in substances that have higher potential energy and release others that have lower potential energy(aka glucose vs CO2 and water)..
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Post by herb386 » Fri Sep 08, 2006 12:31 pm

Our bodies also give off a lot of heat which is an increase in the external entropy.

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