The thermodynamics of life

The thermodynamics of life

Credit: Institute of Industrial Sciences, University of Tokyo (UTokyo-IIS)

The revelation of the scientific laws that govern our world is often considered the “holy grail” by scientists, because such discoveries have wide-ranging implications. In an exciting development from Japan, scientists have shown how to use geometric representations to encode the laws of thermodynamics, and apply these representations to obtain general predictions. This work may greatly improve our understanding of the theoretical limits that apply in chemistry and biology.

While living systems adhere to the laws of physics, they often find creative ways to take advantage of these rules in ways that nonliving physical systems can rarely do. For example, every Organism He finds a way to reproduce himself. This mainly depends on autocatalytic cycles in which a particular molecule can catalyze the production of identical molecules, or a group of molecules produce each other. As part of this, the space in which the molecules are located grows in size. but, scientific knowledge It lacks a complete thermodynamic representation of these self-replicating processes, which would enable scientists to understand how living systems can emerge from nonliving things.

Now, in two related articles published in physical review researchIn this study, researchers from the Institute of Industrial Sciences at the University of Tokyo used an engineering technique to characterize conditions that correspond to the growth of a self-reproductive system. The guiding principle is the famous second law of thermodynamics, which requires that entropy – generally understood to mean disorder – only increases. However, it may be possible to increase the order, such as bacteria absorbing nutrients to enable them to split into two types of bacteria, but at the cost of increasing entropy elsewhere. “Self-repetition is a hallmark of living systems, and our theory helps explain Environmental conditions to determine their fate, whether they grow, shrink or balance,” says senior author Tetsuya J. Kobayashi.

The main idea was to represent thermodynamic relationships as superficial surfaces in a multidimensional space. Then, the researchers can study what happens when you perform different operations, in this case, using the Legendre transformation. This transformation describes how to map the surface into a different geometric object with significant thermodynamic meaning.

“The results were obtained only on the basis of the second law of thermodynamics according to which the total entropy must increase. For this reason, there was no need for assumptions of an ideal gas or other simplifications about the types of interactions in the system,” says the first author. Yuki Sugiyama. The ability to calculate the rate of entropy production can be vital for the evaluation of biophysical systems. This research could help lay the study of thermodynamics of living systems on more solid theoretical foundations, which could improve our understanding of biological reproduction.

Articles have been published in physical review research As “Hessian geometry structure for thermochemical systems with stoichiometric constraints” and “Chemical thermodynamics of growth systems”.


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more information:
Yuki Sughiyama et al, Hessian geometric structure of thermodynamic chemical systems with stoichiometric constraints, physical review research (2022). DOI: 10.1103/ PhysRevResearch.4.033065

Yuki Sughiyama et al, Chemical thermodynamics of growth systems, physical review research (2022). DOI: 10.1103/ PhysRevResearch.4.033191

Provided by the University of Tokyo Institute of Industrial Sciences (UTokyo-IIS)

the quote: Thermodynamics of Life Forming (2022, September 12) Retrieved September 12, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-thermodynamics-life.html

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