Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life. Eric D. Schneider, Dorion Sagan

Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life

ISBN: 9780226739366 | 344 pages | 9 Mb

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  • Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life
  • Eric D. Schneider, Dorion Sagan
  • Page: 344
  • Format: pdf, ePub, fb2, mobi
  • ISBN: 9780226739366
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
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Scientists, theologians, and philosophers have all sought to answer the questions of why we are here and where we are going. This natural basis of life has proved elusive, but in the eloquent and highly creative Into the Cool, Eric D. Schneider and Dorion Sagan look for answers in a surprising place: the second law of thermodynamics. This second law refers to energy's inevitable tendency to change from being concentrated in one place to becoming spread out over time. Although the second law is usually and correctly associated with molecular chaos-and thus with aging, loss, and death-Schneider and Sagan show that it is also vital to life and complexity; it is behind evolution, ecology, economics, and even life's origin. More observable than divine caprice, more real than computer simulations, and more basic than natural selection is the organizing, complexity-giving power of the second law. Working from the precept that "nature abhors a gradient," Into the Cool details how complex systems emerge, enlarge, and reproduce in a world tending toward disorder. From hurricanes here to life on other worlds, from human evolution to the systems humans have created, this pervasive pull toward equilibrium governs life at its molecular base and at its peak in the elaborate structures of living complex systems. Schneider and Sagan organize their argument in a highly accessible manner, moving from descriptions of the basic physics behind energy flow to the organization of complex systems to the role of energy in life to the application of their concept of energy flow to politics, economics, and even human health. A book that needs to be grappled with by all those who wonder at the organizing principles of existence, Into the Cool will appeal to humanists and scientists alike. If Charles Darwin shook the world by showing the common ancestry of all life, so Into the Cool has a similar power to disturb-and delight-by showing the common roots in energy flow of all complex, organized, and naturally functioning systems. Read More Show Less