Origin of Life: Can A Liability Be Turned Into an Asset?

first_imgMost of us know the Second Law of Thermodynamics (2TD) as the law of decay and disorder, and would tend to assume it would constitute a major obstacle to theories of the origin of life by chemical evolution (see online book); certainly creationists Duane Gish and Henry Morris frequently employed the 2TD skilfully in their debates with evolutionists.  Surprisingly, Eric Schneider and Dorian Sagan (Carl Sagan’s son by his first wife, the Gaia theorist Lynn Margulis) praised the 2TD as a life-giving principle in their new book, Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics and Life.  “Cool is not enough” remarked J. Doyne Farmer (Santa Fe Institute) in his review of the book in Nature.1  Unimpressed with the concept, he smirked, “There’s more to life than the second law of thermodynamics.”    How could Schneider and Dorian Sagan turn a liability like 2TD into an asset?  Farmer gives their thesis a two-paragraph synopsis:The authors’ central thesis is that the broad principle needed to understand self-organization is already implicit in the second law of thermodynamics, and so has been right under our noses for a century and a half.  Although the second law is a statement about increasing disorder, they argue that recent generalizations in non-equilibrium thermodynamics make it clear that it also plays a central role in creating order.  The catchphrase they use to summarize this idea is “nature abhors a gradient”.  Being out of equilibrium automatically implies a gradient in the flow of energy from free energy to heat.  For example, an organism takes in food, which provides the free energy needed to do work to perform its activities, maintain its form and reproduce.  The conversion of free energy to entropy goes hand in hand with the maintenance of organization in living systems.    The twist is to claim that the need to reduce energy gradients drives a tendency towards increasing complexity in both living and non-living systems.  In their words: “Even before natural selection, the second law ‘selects’, from the kinetic, thermodynamic, and chemical options available, those systems best able to reduce gradients under given constraints.”  For example, they argue that the reason a climax forest replaces an earlier transition forest is that it is more efficient at fixing energy from the Sun, which also reduces the temperature gradient.  They claim that the competition to reduce gradients introduces a force for selection, in which less effective mechanisms to reduce gradients are replaced by more effective ones.  They argue that this is the fundamental reason why both living and non-living systems tend to display higher levels of organization over time.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)Interesting, Farmer mumbles, but uh-uh.  “This is an intriguing idea but I am not convinced that it makes sense.”  He proceeds to criticize their vagueness of the “selection” process or why things should tend to increase in complexity.  Yes, the 2TD is important for understanding the operation of complex systems, but “the authors’ claim that non-equilibrium thermodynamics explains just about everything falls flat,” he contends.  For example, “consider a computer.”  A computer has a power supply, but “the need for power tells us nothing about what makes a laptop different from a washing machine.”  At this point, things get interesting.  Farmer starts arguing intelligent design; is this J. Doyne Farmer speaking, or Stephen Meyer?To understand how a computer works, and what it can and cannot do, requires the theory of computation, which is a logical theory that is disconnected from thermodynamics.  The power supply can be designed by the same person who designs them for washing machines.    The key point is that, although the second law is necessary for the emergence of complex order, it is far from sufficient.  Life is inherently an out-of-equilibrium phenomenon, but then so is an explosion.  Something other than nonequilibrium thermodynamics is needed to explain why these are fundamentally different.  Life relies on the ability of matter to store information and to implement functional relationships, which allow organisms to maintain their form and execute purposeful behaviours that enhance their survival.  Such complex order depends on the rules by which matter interacts.  It may well be that many of the details are not important, and that there are general principles that might allow us to determine when the result will be organization and when it will be chaos.  But this cannot be understood in terms of thermodynamics alone.With this, Farmer left the origin of life as an unsolved problem.  “Understanding the logical and physical principles that provide sufficient conditions for life is a fascinating and difficult problem that should keep scientists busy for at least a millennium,” he wrote.  Thermodynamics is just one of many actors in the play, and not even the principal one; “The others remain unknown.”1J. Doyne Farmer, “Cool is not enough,” Nature 436, 627-628 (4 August 2005) | doi: 10.1038/436627a.They’re not unknown; they’re right in your hotel room drawer.  This review was interesting because Farmer invoked arguments similar to those used by creationists and intelligent design theorists.  Since it is highly doubtful that Farmer’s review was religiously motivated, this supports the contention that arguments against chemical evolution arise from the facts, not the motivation.    Contrary to the habits of their opponents, Morris and Gish always stuck to the scientific principles and observational facts, not theological arguments, in their famous debates on college campuses with leading evolutionists.  Like Farmer, they stressed that energy is necessary, but not sufficient, for life or for any other directed process that uses energy to accomplish work.  They argued that two other principles always need to be applied: (1) an energy conversion mechanism, and (2) a program to direct the energy toward the desired end.  In an automobile, for instance, the chemical energy of the gasoline is converted into kinetic energy of the drive shaft by channeling the “explosion” of the fuel in the piston according to a programmed sequence of events: inlet, spark, explosion against the moveable piston, outlet for the waste gases and heat, etc.  In a plant leaf, the energy of sunlight is directed into very complex conversion mechanisms of photosynthesis to direct it into metabolic processes.    Gish always emphasized that the application of raw energy is even more harmful than none at all: pouring gas on the car and lighting a match does not help it drive uphill, and holding a dead stick up to the sunlight will not make it sprout and grow fruit.  Only when the far-from-equilibrium energy is channeled by intelligent design will the tendency toward disorder be overcome, and that only locally and temporarily.  The downhill effects of the Second Law of Thermodynamics are inexorable; all real processes must obey the law of entropy.  In this book review, Farmer admitted as much, and even made the case stronger by pointing to computers.  A laptop computer channels electrical energy into complex programmed pathways that we all know are the result of intelligent design.  Software engineers may be far from equilibrium, but there’s more to the story than that!    That Schneider and Dorian Sagan would try to turn the Second Law into a driving force for evolution is almost comical.  The Big Science establishment treats Gaia theory, even its most naturalistic incarnations, with nearly the same disdain as it does creationism.  Nature would not let this book get by with any more than faint praise for some aspects, but that they would let the reviewer employ implicit ID/creationist reasoning to debunk its primary thesis is instructive.(Visited 19 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

How to Semantically Analyze Web Pages With Delicious

first_imgUsing the API is simplicity itself. You don’t even need a key and it supports JSONP callbacks, allowing you to access it even within completely browser-based applications. To demonstrate how to use it I’ve put up some PHP sample code on github, but the short version is you call to http://feeds.delicious.com/v2/json/urlinfo/data?hash= with the MD5 hash of the URL appended, and you get back a JSON string containing the tags. If you want to see how accurate it is, here’s a live version of the code you can play with. Growing Phone Scams: 5 Tips To Avoid There are many reasons to love delicious and hope that it survives its current rocky patch, but as a programmer there’s one thing I’ve found it essential for. I often write applications that need to process and organize thousands or millions of Web pages.To do that, I need to know something about their meaning, what topics they’re associated with, if they’re blogs, political, technical, commercial, and what other categories they fall into. One way is run an API like Zemanta or OpenCalais on the pages’ text, and hope to use significant terms to pick categories. This is an extremely intensive process on large collections, and even the best semantic analysis is nowhere near as good as a human summary. What if you could get millions of people to categorize the pages for you, for free?That’s exactly what delicious’s urlinfo API gives you. It returns the top 10 tags for any URL, together with a count of how many times each tag has been used. Tags:#hack#How To pete warden Related Posts center_img 7 Types of Video that will Make a Massive Impac… You can then use these tags to enrich your own application with a spooky level of intelligence about websites. You could restrict searches to particular categories or industries for example, in a similar way to Blekko’s slashtags, or organize referrer analytics by what kind of site the links are coming from. For most sites the top 10 tags for most sites are both very informative, and highly accurate, so you can get some very effective results. Why You Love Online Quizzes How to Write a Welcome Email to New Employees?last_img read more

How to Write an Effective Logline for Your Next Film or Video

first_imgIdentify Your Characters and Their Goals Let’s take a look at some loglines from popular shows and movies.Nine noble families fight for control over the mythical lands of Westeros, while a forgotten race returns after being dormant for thousands of years.Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his close friend, the maverick scientist Doc Brown.After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.To craft your logline, begin by identifying your main character. Let’s take the Netflix show Ozark for example.A Chicago-based financial advisor secretly relocates his family to the Missouri Ozarks when his dealings with a drug cartel go awry.We can see here that we begin with a description of our main character. Are there many other characteristics or traits about Marty that we find out later in the series? Yes. However, a logline is a condensed version of only the most essential information.Next, we identify Marty’s main objective: to relocate his family. Again, although he has many goals, this is the foundation of them all: to keep his family out of harm’s way.Lastly, we introduce the main conflict of the story: the drug cartels. By introducing the main conflict into your logline, you tell the audience what stands in the protagonist’s way. If our main character simply moved his family to Missouri and everything was fine, the logline wouldn’t be very tempting.Questions and ConversationLoglines aren’t meant to answer all of the audience’s questions. If it’s an effective logline, it should leave the audience with questions about intrigue. It should open up a line of dialogue that inspires more questions about the plot of your story. If your logline piques the interest of the audience, you know it’s effective. A good logline can relay the message and plot of your film or video during its early stages and on into its release. Cover image via Shutterstock.Brevity We’ve all made that long-winded three-minute spiel about the plot of our next film. And most of the time, we still feel like we’ve left out important aspects of the story. This is where a logline comes in.A logline is essentially a one-to-two sentence summary of the plot of your film. It’s a sentence, or two, that identifies your main character, their motive, and the conflict they face. Yes, that is a lot to squeeze into one or two sentences. However, a logline should be dense and packed with information. No fluff.Loglines will become your elevator pitch. You will recite this time and time again. So crafting a good one is essential.last_img read more

Kushwaha warns of violence against ‘vote loot’

first_imgRashtriya Lok Samata Party president Upendra Kushwaha on Tuesday threatened that there would be violence and bloodshed if attempts were made to tamper with EVMs and the results of the Lok Sabha polls. Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Kushwaha urged the people of Bihar to take up arms to prevent the “loot of votes”. “If anyone attempts to tamper with EVMs or the Lok Sabha poll results, there would be violence and bloodshed,” he said. Leaders of other parties in the Mahagathbandhan — the Congress, the RJD, the Vikassheel Insaan Party and the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) — were also present at the press meet. Mr. Kushwaha has contested from Karakat and Ujiyarpur Lok Sabha constituencies against strong NDA candidates Mahabali Singh (Janata Dal-United) and Nityanand Rai (BJP). Under the seat-sharing pact of the Mahagathbandhan, the RLSP contested from five seats of the total 40 in Bihar.‘Exit poll illusion’ Mr. Kushwaha recalled the time when incidents of booth capturing were common in Bihar. “Today booth capturing does not take place but attempts are being made to loot the election results. If any attempt like this happens, then I would urge the people of the State and Mahagathbandhan to pick up arms to protect their votes,” he said. “An illusion is being created through the exit polls by BJP leaders… we do not accept these exit polls,” he added.His remarks came in the wake of reports of alleged movement of EVMs in trucks and vans from one place to another in the State. Earlier, former Chief Minister and RJD leader Rabri Devi had tweeted: “EVMs are being confiscated from trucks and vans near strongrooms in the country. When, why, who and for what are they taking these EVMS? Is it a part of a pre-scheduled programme? The Election Commission should make it clear soon.”last_img read more

NESO to hold protest marches against Citizenship Amendment Bill in all northeastern States

first_imgThe North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) on Sunday announced that it will hold protest marches against the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) across all the States in the region on Monday.All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), which is a major constituent of the NESO, and other seven member organisations will hold their demonstrations in front of the respective Raj Bhavans in all the States.“Through each Governor, the protesters will submit memorandums to the Prime Minister and Home Minister against the bill, which is strictly against the indigenous people of the region,” a NESO release said.“North East is not a dustbin of illegal Bangladeshi people. Under no circumstances, the CAB will be accepted. Our protest against the anti-indigenous CAB will continue,” the statement said.The BJP is bringing in the CAB only to garner votes of the illegal Bangladeshis and the ruling party is going ahead with the decision on the CAB on the back of their numbers in Parliament, it alleged.The member organisations of the NESO are AASU, KSU, GSU, AMSU, NSF, TSF, AAPSU and MZP.The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill had been passed in Lok Sabha on January 8 but lapsed later as it could not be placed in Rajya Sabha.The CAB seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of stay in the country even if they do not possess proper documents.last_img read more