Biology: Motion is Function

cited authors

  • Koch, Lauren G; Britton, Steven L


  • In 1966 Francis Crick declared that: "The ultimate aim of the modern movement in biology is to explain all biology in terms of physics and chemistry." This motivated us to contemplate approaches that unify biology at a fundamental level. Exploration led us to consider the features of energy, entropy, and motion. Overall, it can be considered that motion of matter is the feature of life function. No motion. No function. In initial work we evaluated the hypothesis that the scope for biologic function is mediated mechanistically by a differential for energy transfer. Maximal treadmill running capacity served as a proxy for energy transfer. The span for capacity was estimated "biologically" by application of two-way artificial selection in rats for running capacity. Consistent with our "Energy Transfer Hypothesis" (ETH), low physical health and dysfunction segregated with low running capacity and high physical health and function segregated with high running capacity. The high energy yield of aerobic metabolism is also consonant with the ETH; that is, amongst the elements of the universe, oxygen is second only to fluorine in electronegativity. Although we deem these energy findings possibly correct, they are based on correlation and do not illuminate function via fundamental principles. For consideration of life, Entropy (2nd Law of thermodynamics) can be viewed as an open system that exchanges energy with the universe operating via nonequilibrium thermodynamics. The Principle of Maximal Entropy Production (MEP) states that: If a source of free energy is present, complex systems can intercept the free energy flow, and self-organize to enhance entropy production. The development of Benard convection cells in a water heat gradient demonstrate simplistic operation of MEP. A direct step forward would be to explain the mechanism of the obligatory motion of molecules for life function. Motion may be mediated by operation of "action at a distance" for molecules as considered by the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox and confirmed by JS Bell. Magnetism, electricity, and gravity are also examples of action at a distance. We propose that some variant of "action at a distance" as directed by the property of Maximal Entropy Production (MEP) underwrites biologic motion.

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