Next Article in Journal
Modeling Structures and Motions of Loops in Protein Molecules
Next Article in Special Issue
Interval Entropy and Informative Distance
Previous Article in Journal
Quantitative Comparison of Conformational Ensembles
Previous Article in Special Issue
On the Role of Entropy Generation in Processes Involving Fatigue
Article Menu

Export Article

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

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

Department of Life Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan
JST, CREST, Sambancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0075, Japan
Received: 12 December 2011 / Revised: 22 January 2012 / Accepted: 7 February 2012 / Published: 10 February 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Concepts of Entropy and Their Applications)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [513 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]   |  


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 (CC BY 3.0).

Scifeed alert for new publications

Never miss any articles matching your research from any publisher
  • Get alerts for new papers matching your research
  • Find out the new papers from selected authors
  • Updated daily for 49'000+ journals and 6000+ publishers
  • Define your Scifeed now

SciFeed Share & Cite This Article

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.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Entropy EISSN 1099-4300 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top