Sun 4 Oct, 2009 05:46 pm
Entropy vs. Anti-Entropy (How DNA Defeats the Blackhole)
Entropy vs. Anti-Entropy the two opposing forces that balance the existential equation. Entropy is the tendency (or force if you will) to decrease the organization or complexity of systems. Anti-entropy is the opposite tendency which is to increase the organization o systems. This is simplistically stated but sufficient for our purposes.
These are the two sides of the war for existence. The goliath in the camp of entropy, and its ultimate expression is the black hole. Although there are many generals that operate on behalf of entropy, the black hole is the beast with no equal that we know of. Likewise, the ultimate expression of anti-entropy is, believe it or not, an equally potent goliath which may seem more like a David, is the DNA molecule. Yes, life is the ultimate expression of the tendency to increase order throughout existence.
These two opposing forces wage the war for dominance throughout existence. Entropy and its handy work are very familiar to us. The tendency toward disorder of everything around us seems intuitive and obvious even if we aren’t familiar with the terms Entropy and anti-entropy. We realize that even the most robust of structures ultimately are eroded to increasingly minute components. Even the blackhole, after it is good and done carrying out the work of entropy by reducing any organization within its reach, finally circum to its master’s appetite.
Then there is life. We are part of life. We are privileged enough to have life all around us. Make no mistake however; life may be just as rare as it seems to be in the universe. You see, where a blackhole requires a tremendous amount of hardware (matter) to exist, its nemesis, life requires an equal amount of software to exist. This software is present and contained in DNA’s genome and epigenome combination. That’s right the existential equation is balanced on one side by the likes of blackholes which do the bidding of entropy, and on the other side of the equal sign by the likes of DNA and its constituent structures of anti-entropy.
Everything that happens in existence, in this universe as well as in all the other universes, in all dimensions, are factors in this equation. You, me, every atom and every planet, the galaxies and quarks, and superstrings everywhere in existence are all factors in the existential equation. And the equation must always balance.
In Human politics we have the concept of justice, sometimes represented by the scales held by the blind folded lady of truth. When we perceive an injustice has gone unanswered we think that there may be imbalance in the world after all. But the reality is that even on this level, the eternal forces of entropy and anti-entropy are ever present and neither will be denied it’s just deserts.
Of course human politics make many demands that nature cares little about. Like the concept of justice too long delayed is justice denied. While true in human terms, nonetheless the time scale of nature is its own, and the methods of compensation in resolving these inequities are largely unfamiliar to us humans. Although, from time to time, we bear witness to the natural resolution of these matters, nature does not insist on an audience.
Our ancestors although largely ignorant to the concept of entropy had an intuitive feeling about these concepts. They represented them as all seeing gods and their agents. Little did they know that the actual incarnation of their religious ideas and faith had a fundamentally scientific basis in entropy and anti-entropy.
Interestingly, in our science we have studied entropy far more than anti-entropy. This is curious because it is anti-entropy that created life for the purpose of, and with the power to, independently increase the organization of the universe, even if the only mechanism to do so is to procreate. In this regard humans are an ultimate weapon of sorts in that we have an extra potential for increasing order through science and technology, even while resisting an almost equal pension for creating disorder. But weather we are human, or beaver, or bird, our skills and talents are the least of it. Our DNA is anti-entropies real weapon.
This line of thought much to my personal surprise supports a concept that I’ve always found rather distasteful. That is the idea that humans are somehow special and at the center of all existence. The idea that the universe was created for us has never felt right to me. However, as apparently insignificant as we appear to be, although not central we may actually be very significant in the cosmos. You see, life balances the existential equation. Each DNA molecule on this planet, or anywhere else, contains a magnitude of anti-entropic order able to balance the disorder of an untold number of blackholes working hard for many years.
Life is how anti-entropy provides the mathematical impact that balances entropies’ unrelenting influence. The cosmic frequency of something coming apart or reducing in complexity is quite high and each occurrence has a tiny probabilistic impact on the grand formula. Whereas the cosmic frequency of DNA level order and the resulting living organisms it produces is comparatively extremely low but each occurrence has a significant probabilistic impact on the grand formula.
You see we hardly ever consider how important the software of the universe is to the grand process. We are instinctually hardware rational. The touchy feely is clear to us. But nature operates on levels that we can barely fathom at this point. In nature the ‘small’ packs as much punch as the very large in the existential formula. The quantum particles that ultimately erode the blackhole need no help in doing their work.
Part of the difficulty for us in understanding the war of the entropies is that much of the battle is invisible to us. After all, how can the order expressed by tiny life forms in a universe balance the epic disorder in that universe? How can the little ‘David’ DNA molecule sustain against the awesome Goliath of a blackhole? You see the war of the entropies is statistical in nature. It is interesting that we all have an innate feeling that nature is somehow governed by statistics or probabilities. Our science has recognized and very accurately quantified the probabilistic nature of existence, which is at the heart of Quantum Physics. The statistics is not the anomaly; it is the point. For existence to persist, the statistics must balance. From the quark to the Galaxy clusters the mathematics must work out. The existential equation must balance. That is why mathematics is the language of the universe and can expose phenomena that we could never see. Existence persists mathematically. In this regard, a single life can statistically balance the contribution of a black hole.
I have on occasion wondered about our solar system. It is quite an amazing place in space. It houses the earth which hosts life. This solar system is the crucible for life on earth. Earth-life could not exist without most of the elements of our solar system being in place as is. By solar system I am not being terribly specific to the confines of the space within the ort cloud. I suspect gratitude may need to be paid somewhat beyond even that. But for this discussion let’s agree that the sphere contained by our ort cloud defines our solar system.
The statistical effect on the cosmic balance of what has transpired in our solar system is cosmically significant to a region of space that extends far, far beyond our system. The sphere of influence in balancing the existential equation could encompass many, many galaxies beyond our own. If it turns out that we are in fact the only life in this universe then our statistical significance is pivotal. This is not to say that we are in anyway protected. It must be understood that the balance required in the universe will be maintained one way or another. As incredible and unlikely as life is, it came into being because life became necessary to balance the existential equation. Let’s face it, matter getting up and walking around and talking and learning and procreating is even to us very strange which is why we have always struggled with life’s existence. If one rock told another rock that it once saw a planet full of matter being alive… well I’m sure he would never hear the end of it.
As the magnitude of entropy reached a critical point in the developing universe anti-entropy operated at the relatively tiniest scales that are less vulnerable to the majority of the chaos reeked by entropic forces like explosions and fire and impacts etc. The smaller things get the harder they are to break apart. While entropy is a very obtuse operator, anti-entropy on the other hand is more subtle. It requires long spans of time to do its work and relatively stable environments, laboratories if you will. These laboratories are principally defined by a relatively low magnitude of entropy. Anti-entropies’ principle ally are the laws of statistical probability which are oddly fundamental to the laws of physics. These laws dictate and enforce that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, every push has a pull, every hot produces a cold, you get the point. These laws together with applicable cosmic speed limits and relativistic mass-energy build up constraints guarantee that however rampant entropy and its agents may get it can’t be everywhere at once in a universe as appropriately immense as this one.
So, what occurred here in our solar system, with the presence of special conditions too numerous to list, each as incredible and statistically unlikely as the next, is a statistical tour de force. Anti-entropy has done some of its best work here. What has occurred here is somewhat like a Las Vegas casino that has paid out a million grand-jackpots in a row. Not only would this get our attention, but we would investigate it to the hilt because we would be certain that something is up at that establishment, even if we were unable to discover what was afoot. Likewise it should be clear to us that something statistically significant is going on in our neck of the woods. Something may be special in this region of space that has allowed Anti-entropy to maximize its magnitude on a grand scale by creating DNA and life.
Life is only another instrument in the tool kit of anti-entropy. So how does life work? (See; Life-The Ultimate Network)
I'm no longer very interested in these matters but at one time I read a paper by Albert Szent-gyorg (?) on what he called syntropy. I never followed it up, and suspect that he was considered a kook.
I'll follow along on the conversation. Welcome to a2k.
What is the difference between anti-entropy and exergy?
Killer qustion !
entropy ? i.e. Who decides what is "order" or "disorder.
micro and macro
quantum and galaxies
Either what you say is true or..... guess again...!!!.
You neglect the sun. It is not DNA it is the sun. The entropy there is increasing more than the organization of life here causes its decrease. If that is true then all life is dependent on the sun... wait a minute... all life IS dependent on the sun.... wonder why?
Try again. This time don't guess.
Nature doesn't require our definitions or our understanding. Nature does and has only ever done one thing and one thing only: "crunch the numbers" balance the math. It is doing that every time you stand on one leg, every time a baby gestates in the womb, every time the mail man puts mail in your mailbox, every time a car hits the brakes, every time a star goes nova, every time a big bang occurs etc. The only thing going on in nature is running the numbers. Everything else emerges from this metaphorical number crunching. We don’t possess the mathematical or computing capabilities to model very much of nature but this is mostly just circumstantial up to a point. We are making steady progress.
The point of the article is to submit for your consideration that the mathematics of life, if we're ever able to fully realize it we would see is very potent in the mathematics of nature.
So what exactly am I comparing between the DNA molecule and a Black hole?
Our most powerful computing systems programmed with our best models running non-stop for months can barley model the folding of a basic protein. Step that concept up to the full expression of a complex protein not to mention the Ribosome which is the tiny factory that builds proteins in living organisms, step that up all the way to modeling a living bacteria... keep going.
This mathematical contribution of DNA and its systems, regardless of how we define them, is potent to the mathematics of nature and each instance is a multiplier of this mathematical potency. Each instance is each DNA strand in each cell that has ever been created in the four plus billion years that DNA has existed on Earth. Put in these terms you can begin to appreciate how earth life has contributed to nature as a very potent mathematical factory contributing to balancing the existential formula.
On the other hand, we are much more capable of modeling a star like our Sun or even a black hole which we all know are both physically much larger than a DNA molecule or a Ribosome or your cat. As I'm sure you can see size doesn't matter in this regard. Likewise complexity can be deceptive to the human eye but is well defined in mathematical terms. The reason we are more able to model a Star is because the processes that make a star are far simpler mathematically than those that define a protein to a bacteria. Modeling a star is only a few orders of magnitude more difficult than simulating the aerodynamics and thermodynamics of the Space shuttle. Simulating even a single bacteria is far, far more complex.
I’m not presuming to suggest how these complex factors combine, or cancel, or interact with each other or even suggest that they are fundamentally separate and distinct entities. On the most fundamental levels I suspect they may be ultimately indistinguishable. Nature balances itself and we can only hope for a glimpse into its workings. There is some profoundly important perspective to be gleaned from the comparisons.
In thermodynamics there is a term known as Gibbs free energy
. It is a function of the Enthalpy
and the Entopy
of an open system . The Gibbs free energy is a function that quantifies the first two laws of thermodynamics. Summarizing, what it says is that any thermodynamic process acts to minimize the Gibbs free energy (change in Gibbs free energy is zero).
As a result, thermodynamic processes that a decrease in system entropy change (increasing system order) are thermodynamically possible if the system enthalpy change is positive.
Now for DNA and the earth--the earth is not a closed system. This is the basic fault that the anti-evolution crowd makes in their 2nd law argument. The open system enthalpy change is great enough to make the system entropy positive. So on this little rock, system order can increase as long as there is an external energy source.
BTW the blue text are wikipedia links defining terms.
This is the basic fault that the anti-evolution crowd makes in their 2nd law argument.
The god-squad loves that silly argument--it makes them look all scientific and clever . . . or so they think.
I think Intelligence is a paradox, a type of ordered complexity versus the familiar concept of entropy and intelligence. So, the increase in complexity does not necessarily imply disorder, such as in the case of intelligence, that increases both order and complexity.
Hey tonylang - This was a fascinating read and I've been thinking a lot about similar concepts myself. Do you have an e-mail contact? I have some ideas that I'd like to show you and possibly get your comments. Thanks