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Thermodynamic Degradation Science by Alec Feinberg

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Special Topics C: Negative Entropy and the Perfect Human Engine

C.1 Spontaneous Negative Entropy: Growth and Repair

While devices and systems that we use every day will not spontaneously repair themselves, Mother Nature has apparently provided life forms with this capability. In fact, we can think of growth as a sort of negative entropy which occurs in the first part of our lives. The overall growth or repair process must still generate positive entropy. Still, in our definition of entropy for a system, we understand spontaneous positive entropy change ΔS > 0 as the amount of disorganization that occurs; then spontaneous negative entropy change

(C.1) images

is a term that we might argue can apply to Mother Nature’s life forms. In human life, as we grow we become more organized; we have a larger capability for doing more useful work so our free energy is essentially increasing. In a sense we can label this as spontaneous negative entropy. Furthermore, when we are injured, our bodies will try and repair the damage by creating a spontaneous amount of negative entropy equal to or greater than the entropy damage (see Equation (1.13)) change that occurred during our injury. This quantity, in thermodynamic terms, is estimated in Equation (1.14).

Negative entropy was first introduced by Erwin Schrödinger in a non-technical field in his 1944 popular-science book What is Life [1]. Schrödinger ...

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