13: Reproduction

Figure 13.1
energy and an isentropic set

We are now ready for the last step in this biological cycle of the generations.

The second law of thermodynamics is still in force. By that law, all energy must degrade. The number of molecules in the cell has returned to its initial value, but the molecules are still vibrating at their increased level. They are still bound by double bonds.

By the second law of thermodynamics, every action has a cost in wasted heat. This includes the forming of the double chemical bonds which was the end result of the added nonmechanical chemical energy and added vibrational modes introduced into our cell.

Our ideal biological cell now opens its exit aperture, and as shown in Figure 13.1. It has already succumbed to the second law of thermodynamics and eliminated its waste mechanical chemical energy. It must follow the second law again and now radiate out the stock of the unusable nonmechanical variety that accompanies every work-style transaction and energy conversion.

Our prototype now undertakes a set of spontaneous reactions and steadily loses in its nonmechanical energy, and so in its internal energy. As it follows its obligations and surrenders its nonmechanical energy, all its double bonds revert back to single ones. The excess is radiated out to the surroundings as heat energy. It exits the exit aperture as low-grade heat in a reverse set of energy interactions. The molecules return to vibrating in their original modes as the internal energy decreases.

The prototype cell is changing in the following ways:

  1. Since the net stock of nonmechanical chemical energy is decreasing, the entropy is DECREASING.
  2. However, since the single chemical bonds are weaker than the double ones being surrendered, the components are less closely bound. They adopt a more open configuration and occupy an increased volume within the cell. So the entropy is simultaneously INCREASING by an exact and matching amount.

Since two contrasting processes are now underway, the entropy remains the same as the internal energy decreases. The cell stays in the same isentropic set. And further since the entropy at the end of this process is the same as it was when we first began, we will have a clone: a cell that is identical to the one we first started with … except that it has flushed out (A) all the energy, and (B) all the chemical components that it had when the cycle first began. Its internal energy has returned to the same value and configuration it had before.

All we now need is for the cell, at the end of this process, to close its exit aperture and ready itself to open its entry orifice. It has then completed the entire cycle.

As always, the nonmechanical chemical energy is released in established quantities, and at the given rates, as are characteristic of that population.

Our prototype progeny is now ready to undertake the identical process as its preceding progenitor. It can once again absorb a new set of chemical components. It can also take on a complete new tranche of both mechanical and nonmechanical chemical energy. It can undertake the process we have indicated, with the same end result of cloning—or reproducing—itself, and leaving another behind it.

This sequence is now capable of endless and indefinite repetition for the earth, the sun, the surrounding universe and the cell can all always retain exactly the same condition and keep going, all with the appropriate total quantities and rates in mass and energy … and therefore in entropy.

And now that we have created an ideal biological cycle, we have also given ourselves a base line we can use as a standard for comparison.

The maxim of number

A mathematical aside

Since this is a declining nonmechanical chemical energy flux, it is producing a convergence or negative divergence. The quantity of energy held per each individual entity, which is the flux density, is decreasing. Its value, however, is still ∇ • P = P/n = , with this average value and its distribution again being a distinguishing characteristic.

We can now render our latest discoveries, in the above mathematical aside, verbally as:

The second maxim of ecology

The maxim of number

The number of progeny produced depends upon the number of progenitors maintained.

Statement | Discussion

We can at last begin relaxing these somewhat onerous and unrealistic conditions, and describe a real cell and a real case.