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Author Topic: Life chemistry is anti-entropy, and other issues.  (Read 4405 times)

Offline ericqb

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I would like to ask for comments on the following issues,(and more, see new site: stopdown.net, click on science).
(1)In the April 8, '94 issue of Science two German scientists pointed out that molecules in a cell behave like insects in a colony. Doesn't the cooperative intelligence of molecules, as they perform tasks like repairing a stretch of faulty DNA, warrant speculation and discussion about how this high level of goal-oriented communication occurs? We marvel at ants' ability to manage tasks without managers, and we admit we don't know how this happens. Why don't molecules get the same credit? Molecules are supposed to be dumb blips that bump and react, but they don't behave like that. A related question is what "selects for" large molecules and the whole labyrinth of life chemistry, when, according to physical chemistry, these big molecules should come undone like a house of cards in a room full of puppies, and the labyrinth of life chemistry should not form due to merely input of incident light.
Does it not appear that something we don't understand is going on in life chemistry?
(2)In destructive interference light waves cancel each other, and their energy seems to disappear. How does this energy hide? In news groups (on the internet) it is claimed that the energy shows up on the constructive part of the pattern. I thought waves add, not multiply, when they reinforce. Amid the insults thrown at those who argue that conservation of energy is violated, I have not been able to understand the arguments that conservation of energy is not violated. Participants tend to talk in physics shorthand and I don't get what they're saying. Could someone please help me on this question?
(3)The Michelson-Morely experiment's negative result is explained in textbooks by invoking Special Relativity. But, without the ether the M.M. result makes sense as is. The split beams should recombine without incident, in terms of interference changes when the device is rotated, because there is nothing to cause changes: no ether. If we imagine the device is sitting still, the M.M. result makes sense, true? Well, the device is an inertial frame, not accelerated, so it is, in physics terms, sitting still. There is no need to invoke "the speed of light is  of the experiment using starlight is not the one presented in textbooks.)...........And, since the light source in M.M. is contained in the inertial frame of the device, it is out of context to invoke the issue of "different moving frames." We are not dealing with different moving frames, we are dealing with one inertial frame, with an internal light source. Is that not correct?  







 

Offline gsmollin

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Re: Life chemistry is anti-entropy, and other issues.
« Reply #1 on: 09/04/2004 21:41:33 »
1. Self-organization of complex systems is an important part of scientific study, and it includes physics, chemistry, and biology to name only three. While this is a difficult subject, beyond our discussion, the self-organization of molecules is well acknowledged, and the molecules do get the attention they deserve. This is at the heart of the whole question of the beginning of life.

2. This is easier. There is constructive as well as destructive interference in the diffraction patterns you refer to. The energy goes from the destructive part to the constructive part, just as you were told. Without getting into any flame wars, energy IS conserved.

3. The MM experiment does make perfect sense without any ether. It was one of the experiments that showed the ether could not exist. Special relativity is not necessary to understand this, but at the time M and M performed the experiment, they were expecting a very significant shift in the speed of light, due to the experimental reference plane moving through the ether.

The way in which Maxwell's equations are formulated, one gets an entirely different set of equations if there is a moving magnetic field and a stationary conductor, as compared to a moving conductor through a stationary magnetic field. It was always necessary to have a fixed reference frame to set the experiement into, and nobody could find the fixed frame! Einstein was not happy with this, and reformulated Maxwell's equations so that they did not require a fixed reference frame, only an inertial reference frame, i. e., one un-accelerated. This is the postulate of special relativity: Any experimenter in an inertial frame will get the same results when he does physics experiments.

So... I think you are invoking special relativity when you explain the results of the MM experiment.
 

Offline MayoFlyFarmer

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Re: Life chemistry is anti-entropy, and other issues.
« Reply #2 on: 10/04/2004 05:21:32 »
GSM's response to question #1 triggered a question of mine.  I remember hearing in highschool about a famous experiment that was performed years ago (known as the"Miller-Urey experiment" if memory serves me well, after the scientists who peformed it.  While I know little of this experiment, I remember it was something along the lines of they put a bunch of general organic molecules into a closed environment and gave it an electric shock, and let it react for a long period of time.  After a while they began to observe very complex organic molecules begin to form and I believe even found some RNA-like structures in the mix.  
This was noted as a wonderful insight to how life might have begun somehow in a lifeless universe.
I was just wonderinfg if anyone knew more about this experiment and more importantly (since I believe that it was performed years ago) if there has been any followup work along these lines, since the results are facinating,a nd I would think our technology to perform such an experiment must have improved over the years.
Anyone have any info??

Oh and I agree with gsm... that molecules to get plenty of credit and attention for the amazing things they do (although they COULD always get more!!!):D

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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Life chemistry is anti-entropy, and other issues.
« Reply #3 on: 09/04/2004 21:41:33 »
1. Self-organization of complex systems is an important part of scientific study, and it includes physics, chemistry, and biology to name only three. While this is a difficult subject, beyond our discussion, the self-organization of molecules is well acknowledged, and the molecules do get the attention they deserve. This is at the heart of the whole question of the beginning of life.

2. This is easier. There is constructive as well as destructive interference in the diffraction patterns you refer to. The energy goes from the destructive part to the constructive part, just as you were told. Without getting into any flame wars, energy IS conserved.

3. The MM experiment does make perfect sense without any ether. It was one of the experiments that showed the ether could not exist. Special relativity is not necessary to understand this, but at the time M and M performed the experiment, they were expecting a very significant shift in the speed of light, due to the experimental reference plane moving through the ether.

The way in which Maxwell's equations are formulated, one gets an entirely different set of equations if there is a moving magnetic field and a stationary conductor, as compared to a moving conductor through a stationary magnetic field. It was always necessary to have a fixed reference frame to set the experiement into, and nobody could find the fixed frame! Einstein was not happy with this, and reformulated Maxwell's equations so that they did not require a fixed reference frame, only an inertial reference frame, i. e., one un-accelerated. This is the postulate of special relativity: Any experimenter in an inertial frame will get the same results when he does physics experiments.

So... I think you are invoking special relativity when you explain the results of the MM experiment.
 

Offline MayoFlyFarmer

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Re: Life chemistry is anti-entropy, and other issues.
« Reply #4 on: 10/04/2004 05:21:32 »
GSM's response to question #1 triggered a question of mine.  I remember hearing in highschool about a famous experiment that was performed years ago (known as the"Miller-Urey experiment" if memory serves me well, after the scientists who peformed it.  While I know little of this experiment, I remember it was something along the lines of they put a bunch of general organic molecules into a closed environment and gave it an electric shock, and let it react for a long period of time.  After a while they began to observe very complex organic molecules begin to form and I believe even found some RNA-like structures in the mix.  
This was noted as a wonderful insight to how life might have begun somehow in a lifeless universe.
I was just wonderinfg if anyone knew more about this experiment and more importantly (since I believe that it was performed years ago) if there has been any followup work along these lines, since the results are facinating,a nd I would think our technology to perform such an experiment must have improved over the years.
Anyone have any info??

Oh and I agree with gsm... that molecules to get plenty of credit and attention for the amazing things they do (although they COULD always get more!!!):D

This is a signature.... AND YOU WILL LIKE IT!!
 

Offline ericqb

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Re: Life chemistry is anti-entropy, and other issues.
« Reply #5 on: 23/04/2004 13:03:06 »
Thank you so much gsmollin and MayoFlyFarmer for your comments. I would love to be able to ask questions like this. I'm sorry I didn't get back here sooner. I have not been able to find my posts later on newgroups, and I have not held much hope for getting responses.
To gsmollin, re: question (1)
I know that self-organizing molecules is a happening area of science, but isn't it true that general science pieces, like "News and Views" in Nature and the Perspective pieces in Science are not talking about how biomolecules are smart like insects in a colony? The two scientists who wrote the piece to that effect in 1994 Science seem to be all alone and we haven't heard from them again.
There is a lot to say and speculate about here. Its a fun area of thought where many science followers think there will be a big breakthrough someday explaining how biomolecules can be so smart,a new level of communication that is beyond, but involved with covalent bonds and field bonds. Life looks like a conspiracy of molecules, a collaboration towards a goal, as if a pile of nuts and bolts assembled them selves into a car because somebody put them in a crate and shook it. Life does not look like an accident of randomly colliding, sometimes reacting molecules.
  Accidents of molecules may account for some RNA, proteins, sugars -- and studies have shown these molecules form just like that out of precursers on certain substrates. Cell membranes form by self-organizing molecules. But what makes the cell become a metabolizing creature with organelles, locomotion, a sense of self and non-self, awareness of its own kind as in bacteria, the ability and motivation to reproduce etc.? What selects for the very complex, articulate networks in life chemistry, what selects for the dance of life molecules, if we call it accidental?
 

Offline ericqb

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Re: Life chemistry is anti-entropy, and other issues.
« Reply #6 on: 23/04/2004 14:05:08 »
to gsmollin
re: interference
Can you give me some idea of how the energy gets from the destructive part to the constructive part?
re: Michelson-Morely
Are textbooks not wrong to invoke Special Relativity as an explanation of MM result? Wrong for two reasons, (1) without the ether MM makes sense so no further explanation is needed, and (2) MM is a single inertial frame with an internal light source, so Special Relativity's assertion about different moving observers and light sources is not applicable. Is this not correct? Textbooks and books for the public say, after presenting MM., that the concept that "the speed of light is constant in all moving frames" explains MM. Different moving frames are not an issue with M.M. (The version using starlight is not the version they cite in textbooks.)
Could you recommend a website where I could read about the diparity between moving magnetic fields and moving conductors you cited?
Thank you, ericqb
 

Offline ericqb

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Re: Life chemistry is anti-entropy, and other issues.
« Reply #7 on: 23/04/2004 14:25:07 »
To MayoFlyFarmer
re: spontaneous formation of RNA et.al.
I saw something about this recently in an issue of Science, but I have no idea of year. I have a copy in my room, so I'll post the citation here if I come across it.
What I would like to say about this is that such self-organation does not constitute some sort of proof that life is an accident of molecular bonds. The fact that complex life molecules or a cell membrane form spontaneously does not explain the mindboggling labyrinth of life chemistry. I discuss this in my abovereply to gsmollin. But even if we stick to these early stages of life it is not clear that the accident of molecules paradigm is supported by the facts. It can be argued when RNA forms spontaneously that there are levels of molecular collaboration that we don't understand. Even with a snowflake, I find the explanations of symmetry meaningless. How does symmetry maintain itself on the new forming perimeter, so that new water molecules are bonded in the same way?
  Thank you.....ericqb
 

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Re: Life chemistry is anti-entropy, and other issues.
« Reply #7 on: 23/04/2004 14:25:07 »

 

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