Thermodynamic Theory of the Evolution of Living Beings

Thermodynamic Theory of the Evolution of Living Beings

In famous publications, Thermodynamic Theory of the Evolution of Living Beings
is a 1997, 142-page book, written by Russian physical chemist Georgi Gladyshev, which set forth the first unified theory of the origin and evolution of living beings from the view point of thermodynamics, built on the chemical thermodynamics work of American mathematical engineer Willard Gibbs.

The book was originally published in Russian as the 86-page book Thermodynamic Theory of the Evolution of Life Forms, of which 1,000 copies were printed, and is described by Russian polymer thermodynamicist Yuri Lipatov as an “extraordinary publication event”, in that it draws the conclusion that the evolution of life forms can be explained without implementing the concepts of dynamic self-organization or dissipative structures, by the supposition that the first life form originated as a “thermodynamic self-organized (self-assembled) polyhierarchic system.” [2]

The essential features or postulates of Gladyshev’s theory are:

(a) That biological evolution is an irreversible process, characterized as a documented historical variation of life with respect to a given evolution timescale.
(b) That light, acoustic and magnetic fields, mechanical torsions, smells, and psychological stresses initiate the reaction of biological objects and determine their behavior.
(c) That optical activity of biological substances the principle peculiarity of the living world.
(d) That biospheric “thermostats”, or time-delineated surrounding mediums of relative constant compositions, temperatures, and pressures, exist owing to the periodic, diurnal, and cyclical nature of earth dynamics over the last 4.5 billion years.
(e) That thermostats can be used as a criterion for the identification of biospheric subsystems (within systems) in states of micro-evolution or system chemical reaction evolutions.
(f) That a law of temporal hierarchies exists such that any living system of any temporal hierarchical level in a normal state has a "thermostat", which is a surrounding medium that is characterized by slightly changing average values of thermodynamic parameters.
(g) That the definition of the “thermodynamic system” is that which is temporally surrounded by a "thermostat".
(h) That systems are arranged in “hierarchies”, such that a “principle of substance stability” characterizes the movement of substance between systems owing to variations in stabilities of the molecular substances.
(i) That the definition of ΔG is the energetic measure of system structure formation in a given system evolution relaxation window.
(j) That only the initial and final states of a process under study are of interest.
(k) That the variations of the Gibbs function of the system, at any stage of evolution, particularly ontogenesis and philogenesis (where ontogenesis, meaning the development of the individual, represents a curtailed repetition of philogenesis, or the development of the race or species), can be calculated by thermodynamic methods.
(l) That a function Gsystem-formation = f(t), can be obtained using thermodynamical data, thus representing the “state” of the system at a fixed moment in time.
(m) That variations of calculations of ΔG characterize stability changes in the system.
(n) That this outline, being consistent and unified to that of logic of standard physical chemistry, quantifies the physical essence of the evolution tendency and is the “general law” (combined law of thermodynamics) that Charles Darwin postulated as that which determines the principles of life.

These logic constitute what Gladyshev calls "hierarchical thermodynamics". This theory, to note, was in direct contrast to the more-established 1970s paradigm of the far-from-equilibrium dissipative structure theory of Belgian chemist Ilya Prigogine, who developed an “internal entropy” generation function model to account for the appearance of spontaneously forming ordered structures in the high heat flow regime of viscous mediums, such as the formation of Bénard cells in silicon oil placed on a hot plate, in which the heat is turned up past the turbulent flow regime.

1. (a) Gladyshev, Georgi, P. (1997). Thermodynamic Theory of the Evolution of Living Beings. Commack, New York: Nova Science Publishers.
(b) Newspaper interview (1999) with Prof. Georgi P. Gladyshev (correspondent Mr. A. Gubanov).
(c) Forward (origin of book)Thermodynamic Theory of the Evolution of Living Beings.
2. (a) Lipatov, Yuri S. (1997). “Book Review: G.P. Gladyshev, Thermodynamic Theory of the Evolution of Life Forms, Luch, 1996, 86 pages – in Russian” (abs), Journal of Biological Physics, 23: 129-31.
(b) Liopatov, Yuri S. and Nesterov, Anatoly E. (1997). Thermodynamics of Polymer Blends. CRC Press.

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