The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

   The Inevitability of Life

Kauffman proved that life is vastly more probable than traditionally assumed.

The US physicist Jeremy England ("Statistical physics of self-replication", 2013) showed that when matter is driven by a strong external source of energy (like the sun) and surrounded by a “heat bath” (like the sea), it tends to restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy, i.e. to behave like living matter. That “restructuring” can occur in many ways but two are obvious: self-replication and self-organizing. These are two processes that cause (allow?) a system to dissipate increasingly more energy.

The Belgian (but Russian-born) physicist Ilya Prigogine had analyzed the behavior of open systems near equilibrium. The behavior of systems that are far from equilibrium because driven by stronger external sources of energy was studied  by the Australian physicist Denis Evans ("Probability of Second Law Violations in Shearing Steady States", 1993) and by the Polish physicist Chris Jarzynski ("Nonequilibrium Equality for Free Energy Differences", 1997). Then the British chemist Gavin Crooks ("Entropy production fluctuation theorem and the nonequilibrium work relation for free energy differences", 2008) discovered a simple law: the probability that atoms will undergo a thermodynamic process divided by the probability of the same atoms undergoing the reverse process (such as reconstituting the original lump of sugar) increases as entropy production increases. In other words, the system’s behavior becomes more and more irreversible. From these observations England derived his theory.

At the same time others showed that self-replication is not a property of living beings alone. Philip Marcus ("Three-Dimensional Vortices Generated by Self-Replication in Stably Stratified Rotating Shear Flows", 2013) and Michael Brenner ("Self-replicating colloidal clusters", 2013) have discovered it in nonliving matter too.


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