|An artistic rendition of relationship between Gibbs free energy G and the formation, “creation”, or synthesis of a human (human molecule) from standard state atoms and molecules of the periodic table and earlier earth conditions; from American physicist Daniel Schroeder’s 2000 Thermal Physics textbook, who comments: |
“We conclude that there exists a principle of the human body which comes from the ‘great process’ in which so many millions of atoms of the earth become many millions of human molecules.”
“What man, what society dare express such sentiments? seeing that we cannot easily known anyone from his youth up, nor criticize the rise of his activity. How else does character finally prove itself, if it is not formed by the activity of the day, by reflective agencies which counteract each other? Who would venture to determine the value of contingencies, impulses, after-effects?Who dare to estimate the influence of elective affinities?
At all events, he who would presume to estimate what man is, must take into consideration what he was, and how he became so. But such barefaced pretension are common, and we have often enough met with them; indeed they are always recurring, and they must be tolerated.”
“How can we compute or even evaluate the entropy of a living being? In order to compute the entropy of a system, it is necessary to be able to create or to destroy it in a reversible way. We can think of no reversible process by which a living organism can be created or killed: both birth and death are irreversible processes. There is absolutely no way to define the change of entropy that takes place in an organism at the moment of death.”In other words, although an animate thing, such as a rabbit or a human has an entropy, we paradoxically (see: Bridgman paradox) may not be able to calculate, compute, or evaluate it exactly or even approximately. The entropy of an animated thing is needed before the free energy of formation of the thing can be calculated.
|American physical chemist Martin Goldstein, in his 1993 section "Entropy of a Mouse", argues that to determine the free energy of formation of a mouse, we need to ask: |
“What net energy and entropy changes would have been if simple chemical substances, present when the earth was young, were converted into [the mouse]. To answer this question, we must determine the energies and entropies of everything in the initial state and final state.”
This very same logic, by extrapolation, can be applied to humans, in the calculation of the standard human free energy of formation.
“To apply thermodynamics to the problem of how life got started, we must ask what net energy and entropy changes would have been if simple chemical substances, present when the earth was young, were converted into living matter [as in the formation of a mouse] … to answer this question [for each process], we must determine the energies and entropies of everything in the initial state and final state.”
“To create a [human] out of nothing and place it on the table, the magician need not summon up the entire enthalpy, H = U + PV. Some energy, equal to TS, can flow in spontaneously as heat; the magician must provide only the difference, G = H – TS, as work.”