Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics

  • Alan J. Sangster


Complex structures such as the cellular building blocks of living things are not at equilibrium in the traditional thermodynamic meaning of the term. They are stable only in the sense that they can continually feed off energy sources supplied by electromagnetic field, chemical, thermal and pressure gradients. Thermodynamically, life has to be viewed as a complex non-equilibrium gradient reduction system. In fact, as non-equilibrium systems, life forms require feedback to prevent them degenerating to equilibrium (and death) in accordance with the second law. The chapter provides a summary of some recent scientific developments in the area of non-equilibrium thermodynamics including some quite controversial thermodynamic explanations for the emergence of life on earth.


Complex Gradient Early Earth Gradient Reduction Incremental Entropy Primordial Soup 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited  2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Engineering and Physical ScienceHeriot-Watt UniversityEdinburghUK

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