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9/3/2014 » 9/7/2014Wonders of Science, Marshalltown, IA
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There's a helpful article written by Georgi Gladyshev in Entropy that addresses appropriate ways of thinking about entropy in evolution. You can find it at http://www.mdpi.org/entropy/papers/e1040055.pdf and I attach it for convenience
I'm afraid the article was over my head. I sent an email to Professors Granville Sewell and Andy McIntosh with the Gladyshev article asking for help. Sewell and McIntosh wrote the articles I attached on June 5.
If that's over your head, you should not be asking a journal to retract a paper on the basis of thermodynamics. As you admitted in a pervious post, your understanding of thermodynamics is limited to a gas in a box. The theromdynamic concepts, however, do apply to liquids, gels, solids and ensembles of those objects and you may be interested in learning how it does.
I appreciate your references to the papers by Sewell and McIntosh but I find neither paper persuasive. Those papers, take us in a very different direction from your assertions. They are focused on a discussion of the mechanisms of entropy change, if I may state it in those terms. You took the approach that thermodynamic parameters are not valid for biological systems, an assertion not supported by anyone, as far as I know.
On the whole, one may assert that both internal factors (characteristics of the biosystem) and external factors (characteristics of the environment) determine the trend of biological evolution, whose progress is, of course, possible thanks to the inflow of solar energy and energy from other sources.
Keep studying the article until you understand all of it. It's good. Note especially the distinction he emphasizes between kinetics and thermodynamics. This is something that Sewell misses as well. Styer is not talking about kinetics and saying anything like what you are attributing to him. He is talking thermodynamics and showing that total entropy is increasing. That is, while the entropy may be decreasing ever so slightly with evolution, properly taking the entire system into account with the energy flow, the overal entropy still increases and the second law is not violated. That is a result independent of the kinetics of what drives the evolution.
Yes, yes, yes, Boltzmann's constant is involved in relating the density of states to the entropy which is in the Gibb's function which is in Gladyshev's article. If you still cannot understand how temperature and entropy apply not only to gases but also to solids and liquids, then we'll just have to stap this conversation. I've repeated it often enough and explained it thoroughly. Maybe one more hint since you seem to think only in terms of gases contained in a box. Perhaps you might think of each atom in a solid body, or a liquid systems, or the like, as being in a box by itself where the box is formed by the neighboring atoms in a nearly fixed fashion. Yes, it all has a temperature and its entropy is calculated through Boltzmann's constant.
They [Pinker and Bloom] particularly emphasized that language is incredibly complex, as Chomsky had been saying for decades. Indeed, it was the enormous complexity of language that made is hard to imagine not merely how it had evolved but that it had evolved at all.But, continued Pinker and Bloom, complexity is not a problem for evolution. Consider the eye. The little organ is composed of many specialized parts, each delicately calibrated to perform its role in conjunction with the others. It includes the cornea,…Even Darwin said that it was hard to image how the eye could have evolved.And yet, he explained, it did evolve, and the only possible way is through natural selection—the inestimable back-and-forth of random genetic mutation with small effects…Over the eons, those small changes accreted and eventually resulted in the eye as we know it. (Christine Kenneally, The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language, pp. 59–60)
Perhaps an analogy will help illustrate why your critique of Styer misses the mark. Suppose Alice and Bob are discussing an ice maker.
Bob: When ice freezes, the entropy decreases. Therefore it violates the second law of theromdynamics.
Alice: No, it doesn't! The ice maker works by plugging it into the electrical outlet and the power from the electric power source provides more entropy than the water/ice system loses, so the second law of thermodynamics is preserved.
Bob: FOUL! You just said that energy from the electric power source causes a decrease in entropy of the ice which is absurd.
Alice: Of course not! The electrical power runs the motor which runs the compressor which transfers the heat from the water to the environment.
In that analogy, Bob made exactly the same mistake you've made. Styer's argument is just like Alice's--looking at the thermodynamics of the entire system, not needing to comment on the kinetics of the compressor and pump that transfer the entropy from the water to the environment. Similarly, Styer didn't need to deal with the kinetics of how the entropy is transferred, only that the total entropy flow is consistent with the second law. Gladysheve rightly articulates the distinction between theromdynamics and kinetics.
The entropy of a star does increase. It heats up, doesn't it? The second law does state the entropy will increase in a closed system and indeed that has never been violated to our knowledge.
Your characterization of anyone (and it's not just atheists but also Christians who understand science) responding in panic is rather far off the mark. The response is usually one of exasperation towards people who ought to know better but keep insisting wrongly that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics. It doesn't at any level of the hierarchy, as Gladyshev rightly points out. In every case, those who argue that evolution violates the second law have in some way misunderstood or misstated thermodynamic principles.
You in particular failed to see that the basic concepts of temperature and entropy apply to more than gases but also to solids and liquids and biological systems. And you wrongly accused Styer of claiming the sun's heat was a mechanistic cause of the reduction of entropy in evolution.