On Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 08:46:13AM -0500, Roger Clough wrote:
> Hi Hal,
> 
> You seem to be saying that life is a form of, or is related to, energy.
> But one way of defining life is that of all the components in the universe,
> it has the ability to extract energy (or order) from chaos or randomness.
> 
> Maxwell's Demon is a symbolic representation of that process,
> but what makes the demon similar to life is his intelligence .
> 
> So in my book, intelligence, if not life itswelf, is a sign of life.
> 
> And unlike energy, intelligence is nonphysical. As is life.

One major difference between Maxwell's daemon and life is that in the original
formaulation, MD abrogates the second law of thermodynamics, whereas
life obeys it.

What they do have in common is the creation of order (or information),
at least locally. In life's case, this is achieved by exporting
entropy into the environment - some have categorised life as
"information pumps", which aligns with your first sentence/

Of course, this conception of life is entirely
physical. Distinguishing between life and arbitrary dissipative
systems (eg Benard cells), which also locally create order, is a bit
more tricky though :). I know of at least one physicist (Charley
Lineweaver) who is prepared to label these other sorts of dissipative
systems as living, so for example - stars should be considered alive.

Cheers

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
Principal, High Performance Coders
Visiting Professor of Mathematics      hpco...@hpcoders.com.au
University of New South Wales          http://www.hpcoders.com.au
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