Entropy and life – Wikipedia

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Entropy and life – Wikipedia

Entropy and life

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Research concerning the relationship between the thermodynamic quantity entropy and the evolution of life began around the turn of the 20th century. In 1910, American historian Henry Adams printed and distributed to university libraries and history professors the small volume A Letter to American Teachers of History proposing a theory of history based on the second law of thermodynamics and on the principle of entropy.[1][2]

The 1944 book What is Life? by Nobel-laureate physicist Erwin Schrödinger stimulated further research in the field. In his book, Schrödinger originally stated that life feeds on negative entropy, or negentropy as it is sometimes called, but in a later edition corrected himself in response to complaints and stated that the true source is free energy. More recent work has restricted the discussion to Gibbs free energy because biological processes on Earth normally occur at a constant temperature and pressure, such as in the atmosphere or at the bottom of the ocean, but not across both over short periods of time for individual organisms.

Ideas about the relationship between entropy and living organisms have inspired hypotheses and speculations in many contexts, including psychologyinformation theory, the origin of life, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

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Entropy and life – Wikipedia