Special Issue "Emergence in Chemical Systems"
A special issue of Entropy (ISSN 1099-4300).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2011).
Interests: self-replicating chemical systems and protocells; interface catalysis and membrane chemistry; microcompartmentalization; non-enzymatic polymerization; RNA world
The concept of emergence in chemical systems is challenging to define. In general, the term refers to phenomena in which the structures and behavior of multicomponent systems exceed those predicted from knowledge of the individual components. Entropy is at the core of emergent properties, driving essential processes such as self-assembly of lipid bilayers and folding of macromolecules, as well as molecular recognition.
The first appearance of living systems on the early Earth can be understood as an emergent phenomenon, because the simpler progenitors of living cells referred to as protocells were composed of a self-assembled collection of molecules that by themselves were non-living, yet together exhibited properties of self-maintenance, self-reproduction and evolution.
Because such system-level processes also occur in simpler chemical assemblies, emergence can be studied in model systems that display functions similar to those of living systems. Examples of such systems include dissipative structures like those generated by the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction, and molecular networks that consume energy and resources to achieve cooperative growth and self-replication, as well as to react to external constraints.
Studies of such systems conducted both in laboratory settings and in silico are leading to a deeper understanding of the complexity underlying emergent properties. This special issue of Entropy provides a repository for information, research and insight regarding emergent phenomena in chemical systems.
- emergent properties
- chemical systems
- molecular networks
- dissipative structures
- minimal cell
- logic gates