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Entropy 2012, 14(2), 233-251; doi:10.3390/e14020233
Article

Scientific Élan Vital: Entropy Deficit or Inhomogeneity as a Unified Concept of Driving Forces of Life in Hierarchical Biosphere Driven by Photosynthesis

1,2
Received: 12 December 2011; in revised form: 22 January 2012 / Accepted: 7 February 2012 / Published: 10 February 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Concepts of Entropy and Their Applications)
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Abstract: Life is considered something different from non-living things, but no single driving force can account for all the different aspects of life, which consists of different levels of hierarchy, such as metabolism, cell physiology, multi-cellular development and organization, population dynamics, ecosystem, and evolution. Although free energy is evidently the driving force in biochemical reactions, there is no established relationship between metabolic energy and spatiotemporal organization of living organisms, or between metabolic energy and genetic information. Since Schrödinger pointed out the importance of exporting entropy in maintaining life, misunderstandings of entropy notion have been obstacles in constructing a unified view on the driving forces of life. Here I present a simplified conceptual framework for unifying driving forces of life at various different levels of hierarchy. The key concept is “entropy deficit”, or simply, ‘inhomogeneity’, which is defined as the difference of maximal possible entropy and actual entropy. This is equivalent to information content in genetic information and protein structure, and is also defined similarly for non-homogeneous structures in ecosystems and evolution. Entropy deficit or inhomogeneoity is a unified measure of all driving forces of life, which could be considered a scientific equivalent to ‘élan vital’ of Bergson.
Keywords: élan vital; entropy deficit; information; inhomogeneity; photosynthesis élan vital; entropy deficit; information; inhomogeneity; photosynthesis
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Sato, N. Scientific Élan Vital: Entropy Deficit or Inhomogeneity as a Unified Concept of Driving Forces of Life in Hierarchical Biosphere Driven by Photosynthesis. Entropy 2012, 14, 233-251.

AMA Style

Sato N. Scientific Élan Vital: Entropy Deficit or Inhomogeneity as a Unified Concept of Driving Forces of Life in Hierarchical Biosphere Driven by Photosynthesis. Entropy. 2012; 14(2):233-251.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sato, Naoki. 2012. "Scientific Élan Vital: Entropy Deficit or Inhomogeneity as a Unified Concept of Driving Forces of Life in Hierarchical Biosphere Driven by Photosynthesis." Entropy 14, no. 2: 233-251.


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