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The Natural Philosophy of Work
AbstractWork, by dissipative structures (DS), imposes delay on energy gradientdegradation. It diverts energy flow into DS maintenance while enhancing energy degradation.DS can be viewed as tradeoffs between enhancing entropy production maximization (themaximum entropy production principle, MEP) by way of convective gradient degradation,and the need to maintain DS form, which is what mediates the convective dissipation. Thistradeoff frameworked the origin of living DS. In the Big Bang, the Universe departedincreasingly from an ordered state of low entropy. As a result the Second Law (locally, dS>or = 0) became an ever more powerful attractor, insuring that work could have only limitedenergy efficiency (utilization / throughput). That is, the ‘>’ in ‘dS > or = 0’ increased onaverage locally as the universe departed further from thermodynamic equilibrium. Energyefficiency becomes significant in the context of possible energy shortage, which impliesembodied agency, implying in turn the possibility of some stability into the future. Energyefficiency is needed in living DS which yet serve MEP by becoming relatively less energyefficient when striving. Biodiversity multiplies modes of energy consumption, alsofurthering MEP by compensating for the diversion of energy flow into the maintenance ofliving DS. Modular (hierarchical) structure is very stable to perturbations, and also generatesthe variety requisite for adaptive flexibility, affording as well evolutionary access toincreased adjacent possibilities. Dynamical rate separation between hierarchical levelsstreamlines energy flows, enhancing orderly energy gradient degradation. I conjecture thatnew levels are interpolated when that fosters MEP overall. Of the three phases of energyflow -- low level conduction, mid level convection, and high level explosion -- orderlyconvection associates with DS form, constraining moderated energy flows, and defusingpotential explosions.
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Salthe, S.N. The Natural Philosophy of Work. Entropy 2007, 9, 83-99.View more citation formats
Salthe SN. The Natural Philosophy of Work. Entropy. 2007; 9(2):83-99.Chicago/Turabian Style
Salthe, Stanley N. 2007. "The Natural Philosophy of Work." Entropy 9, no. 2: 83-99.