John Bernal

John BernalIn hmolscience, John Bernal (1901-1971) (CR:6), often cited as J.D. Bernal, was an Irish-born English physicist noted, in animate thermodynamics, for his 1949 introduction of the term "biopoesis", referring to a hypothetical three-step origin of life process, and for his 1951 physical theory of the origin of life.

In 1949 (or before 1957), Bernal coined the term “biopoesis” (or biopoiesis), to refer to the origin of life, i.e. life arising from non-living matter (e.g. simple organic compounds), arguing that it occurred in three stages”: the origin of biological monomers, the origin of biological polymers, and the evolution from the former two into life (Ѻ); or Stage 1: Origin of bio molecules. Stage 2: Biological polymers. Stage 3: Evolution to cell. (Ѻ)

In 1951, Bernal, in his The Physical Basis of Life, outlined the following theory: [1]

Life is one member of a class of phenomena which are open or continuous reaction systems able to decrease their internal entropy at the expense of free energy taken in from the environment and subsequently rejected in degraded form.”

Hungarian-born American physicist Eugene Wigner (1961), supposedly, expressed a similar view. [2] Bernal's chemical thermodynamic definition of life has been cited by those including: James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, among others. [3]

Bernal, according to some accounts, is a said-to-be “two-culturesgenius. [4]

Bernal, at some point, seems to have either coined and or adopted the term “eobiont”, a conjunction of eo- [earliest / oldest] + -bio [life] + -nt [?], meaning “hypothetical precursor of living organisms in the chemical evolution preceding the occurrence of life”. [5]

Note, however, that other sources credit the coining of “eobiont” to British biochemist and “dogmatic atheist” Norman Pirie (1907-1997); supposedly, and equivalent to Soviet biochemist Alexander Oparin’s protobiont. [6] Pirie’s coining of the term was such that he used it to designate the entire process of development from the evolution of organic out of inorganic compounds, including the production of the first protoliving creature or "eobiont”. (Ѻ)

1. Bernal, John D. (1951). The Physical Basis of Life. Routledge and Paul.
2. Wigner, Eugene P. (1961). The Logic of Personal Knowledge (free energy, pg. 28). Free Press.
3. Lovelock, James. (1992). “What is Gaia?”, In: Gaia’s Hidden Life: the Unseen Intelligence of Nature (Bernal, pgs. 67-68), editors: Shirley Nicholson and Brenda Rosen. Quest Books.
4. Slack, Nancy G. and Wilson, Edward O. (2011). G. Evelyn Hutchinson and the Invention of Modern Ecology (polymath, 12 pgs; two cultures, pgs. 1, 323). Yale University Press.
5. Danner, Horace G. (2014). A Thesaurus of English Word Roots (pg.256). Rowman & Littlefield.
6. Anon. (1992). The New Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume 4 (pg. 513)

Further reading
● Bernal, John. (1939). The Social Function of Science (abs). Publisher.

External links
John Desmond Bernal – Wikipedia.

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