Living state

In thermodynamics, living state or “living state theory” refers to labels and quantifiers attempting to define or categorize moving, metabolizing, animated entities in terms of the thermodynamic-physics term “state”, on the logic that various states exists, such as the gaseous state, liquid state, solid state, ferromagnetic state, ferroelectric state, superfluid state, superconducting state, far-from-equilibrium states, equilibrium states, among others. [4] Cell biologists like to define the living state as a system that is open, capable of self-organization, able to channel matter and energy across its boundary, and always be far away from equilibrium. [5]

In 1972, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi wrote a book on The Living State, in which he attempts, in one part, to define the biological state in terms of Gilbert Lewis and Merle Randall’s 1923 notion of the existence of several equilibrium states, in chemical thermodynamics terms. [3]

The term “living state” seems to have originated in a series of international seminars, held at Shillong, India (1984-1986), attended by Ilya Prigogine, George Wald, among others, the session and papers of the first seminar being compiled by editor R.K. Mishra. [1] A followup-inspired chapter to these seminars include “What is a Physical Theory of Living State?” by V.S. Vaidhyanathan. [2]

1. Mishra, R.K. (1984). The Living State (Prigogine, 28+pgs). Wiley.
2. Mishra, R.K. (1990). Molecular and Biological Physics of Living Systems (ch. 10: What is a Physical Theory of Living State?”, pgs. 147-). Taylor and Francis.
3. Szent-Gyorgyi, Albert. (1972). The Living State: with Observations on Cancer. Academic Press.
4. Musha, T. and Sawada, Y. (1994). Physics of the Living State: Dynamics of Information and Fluctuation in Biology. IOS Press.
5. Ashley, Ruth, Hann, Gary, and Han, Seong S. (date). Cell Biology (living state, 8+ pgs, esp. 1.2: Living State and the Second Law, pgs. 2-4). New Age International.

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