The Physics theory of the origin of LIFE
BBC
The Physics theory of the origin of LIFE
  • 함예솔
  • 승인 2019.05.08 23:05
  • 조회수 284
  • 댓글 0
이 기사를 공유합니다

From the expansion of the Universe to the motions of the tiniest subatomic particles, modernday physics can help us interpret a dizzying number of natural phenomena. But can it  explain perhaps the biggest mystery of them all: how did life as we know it begin?

 

Dr Jeremy England, assistant professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), thinks it can. He is currently working on a bold theory that hopes to reveal how lifelike behaviours could emerge from an inert collection of chemicals. “I was always interested in how the physics of big, messy assemblies of particles becomes lifelike, ever since I was doing research on protein folding as an undergraduate,” England says. “It was the way I could successfully refuse to choose between theoretical physics and biology, which both were fascinating to me.”

 

England’s work is based on the well-established physics of thermodynamics – the science that describes how heat moves from place to place and is crucial for many natural processes. He calls his theory ‘dissipative adaptation’, as it aims to describe how structures emerge and change through the dissipation of energy, primarily heat, into their environment. This process increases the entropy (the amount of disorder) in the surroundings, which Austrian quantum physicist Erwin Schrödinger identified as necessary for living organisms to function. Crucially, the increase in entropy makes it possible for the evolving structures to stay in what is known as a ‘non-equilibrium state’. Usually a system (which could mean anything from a box of gas to a complex structure) comes into equilibrium with its environment.

 

This means that there is no net flow of heat between the system and its surroundings. For example, if you leave a cup of hot tea on the table, it will eventually reach the same temperature as the room, much to the chagrin of the tea-lover who was looking forward to a cuppa. But living things are in a non-equilibrium state, taking energy from sources such as sunlight and food and pushing that energy out – ‘dissipating’ it – into their surroundings. This enables a living organism to reduce its own entropy, so it can grow and build structure. And it is the physics of such non-equilibrium states that England and his team investigate, by using computer simulations to look for situations where life-like behaviours emerge spontaneously.

 

본 기사는 유료회원용 기사입니다.
로그인 및 구독신청 후 이용해주세요.


댓글삭제
삭제한 댓글은 다시 복구할 수 없습니다.
그래도 삭제하시겠습니까?
댓글 0
댓글쓰기
계정을 선택하시면 로그인·계정인증을 통해
댓글을 남기실 수 있습니다.

  • 충청남도 보령시 큰오랏3길
  • 법인명 : 이웃집과학자 주식회사
  • 제호 : 이웃집과학자
  • 청소년보호책임자 : 정병진
  • 등록번호 : 보령 바 00002
  • 등록일 : 2016-02-12
  • 발행일 : 2016-02-12
  • 발행인 : 김정환
  • 편집인 : 정병진
  • 이웃집과학자 모든 콘텐츠(영상,기사, 사진)는 저작권법의 보호를 받은바, 무단 전재와 복사, 배포 등을 금합니다.
  • Copyright © 2016-2019 이웃집과학자. All rights reserved. mail to contact@scientist.town
ND소프트