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From Molecules to Galaxies

Updated on April 19, 2017

Part Seven

Continued from:

In previous chapters we saw how living self organizing systems differ from non-living ones and we also noted a connection between the two, that is, gravity and the underlying thermodynamic principle of eternal matter in motion. We assume that all H-atoms are interconnected by the two strand electromagnetic rope of Rope Hypothesis, and that these are woven from a single closed loop thread. We note that a living thing can not be considered apart from its environment, because there really are no open, closed, or isolated systems. These systems are just a convenient way of observing and measuring energy flow, or motion. Life begins, at the fundamental level: the cell, the moment it begins to move on its own against gravity and against or along with the path of least resistance. Life itself had no beginning or ending because motion itself had no beginning, nor will it ever end.

Since there is a single closed-looped thread that weaves throughout all objects, whether looking at cosmic scale objects like galaxies, or nano sized objects like molecules, we will always arrive at the same place: a journey “upward” leads to the same conclusion as the journey we take “downward.” Every H-atom is connected to every other and so the furthest galaxy from Earth is connected to the smallest ecological niche here.

It is no more possible to isolate the category living from that of non-living than it is to remove thread from ropes, or ropes from H-atoms. When we arrive at the fundamental level of matter we understand that one of its properties is motion! The types of motion or the quality of motion varies according to relative size of objects and whether those objects are inanimate or animate, but motion never ends at the fundamental level of matter. Therefore motion can never end at the atomic, nano, micro, macro or cosmic scale.

It is the changes at the micro level which maintains any self organizing system at the macro level, and changes at the macro level can feedback to the micro level. Feedback and feed forward are a consequence of the interconnecting ropes. The constant pushing and pulling of matter between a system and its environment allows a tornado, a microbe, a planetary system, or a galaxy to persist. It is the closed-looped thread which leads to this circularly causal relationship at the fundamental level between thread, rope and atom, and also explains why there will never be equilibrium at a universal scale.

Often, we find that persons refer to living organisms as complex biological machines. I have even heard living objects referred to as death-dodging machines. The term molecular machine is used in different contexts:

“A molecular machine, or nanomachine, refers to any discrete number of molecular components that produce quasi-mechanical movements (output) in response to specific stimuli (input). The expression is often more generally applied to molecules that simply mimic functions that occur at the macroscopic level.” – Wickedpedia

We can see the disconnect between physics and biology. We read “mimicking functions,” but are offered no definitions, or clearly distinguished difference between living and non-living.

As is typical among researches, mathematical equations are formulated with both mathematical and grammatical terms and are used differently across diverse and varied fields of inquiry. Volkenstein’s equation uses a term “R,” which means “the rate of information in bits per second.” For information, Shannon means “bits per second or bits per symbol,” and many molecular biologists use the term "information" to mean “bits per base or bits per binding site.” Gibson (originator of the “Field Theory”) uses the term to refer to unchanging relationships between living systems’ energy distributions and the sources of energy originating in their environment (for example optic flow).

According to “The Nature of the Mechanical Bond” (a review of the current literature) there is no mechanical bond shared between atoms. Bonds occur when molecules get “entangled.” Mechanical bonds create something called mechanicomolecules. Examples of these emerging bonds are catenanes and rotaxanes which have “new” properties useful for chemical, electronic and medical applications, collectively referred to as nanotechnology.

Recently, Sauvage, Stodart and Feringa received the Nobel Prize on Chemistry for their work with molecular machines, or nanomachinery. In their case, a nano-machine “refers to any discrete number of molecular components that produce quasi-mechanical movements (output) in response to specific stimuli (input).” This can be either synthetic or biological. Currently nanomachines are being developed mostly for use as switches and motors at a molecular level.

Technology is empirical and lacks the explanatory power of science, but through trial and error nanomachines can be made to work in spite of the belief that there are no mechanical bonds between atoms. We are looking at nanomachines to relate living to non-living systems and also to understand how different size scales affect motion. Molecular switches, or shuttles, can not use chemical energy to move a system away from equilibrium, but a motor can.

Some synthetic nanomachines include: motors, propellers, switches, tweezers, sensors, and logic gates. Biological nanomachines; proteins like myosin and kinesin, the ribosome and motile cilia.

Biological machines like proteins are far more complex than any synthetic machine created thus far. Not to disparage the nano crowd however, they have showed us something quite remarkable. Check out Feringa’s motor which rotates at 12 million revolutions per SECOND.

Compare that to some other achievements:

  • Induction motor:

“The synchronous speed of an AC induction motor is given by (120∗frequency/no.ofpoles)

”For a motor to work, it needs at least two poles. With the usual frequency being 50 Hz (60 Hz in USA), we have a maximum speed of 3000 rpm (3600 rpm in USA) for an AC Induction motor used in households.

”Hence, Induction motors cannot turn the shaft at a speed faster than that allowed by the power line frequency.[1]

However, Universal Motors can be operated at high speeds and are hence used in Blenders, Hair dryers, Drills etc. They achieve speeds up to 30,000 rpm.” Source: Quora

  • Fastest vacuum cleaner motor:

“Sir James Dyson has unveiled his latest invention, a hand-held vacuum cleaner which is run on "the fastest motor in the world", ten times quicker than the engine of a Boeing 747 aircraft. (Dyson is holding a motor in his hand, roughly the size of a thick hockey puck.)

”At 120,000 revolutions per minute, the motor turns ten times as fast as a commercial aircraft, five times as fast as a Formula 1 engine and more than twice as fast as the most powerful industrial milling machines.

“The only thing quicker is a dentist's drill, but that is technically a turbine, not a motor.” Source: Telegraph

  • Matchbook Sized Motor:

“Researchers from ETH Zurich's Department of Power Electronics have developed a matchbook-sized motor that can spin faster than any other machine in the world—over 1,000,000 rpm.” Source: Giszmodo

  • Fastest spherical motor: 600M rpm:

”Scientists at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland spun a man-made sphere of calcium carbonate at 600 million revolutions per minute.

“For reference, 600 million revolutions per minute happens to be 500,000 times faster than a standard washing machine, and 300,000 times faster than a standard car engine.

”In this case, the microscopic sphere -- measuring four millionths of a meter in diameter -- was held in place within a vacuum with tiny pulses of laser light that were exploited, thanks to the concept of polarization, as the light passed through the object to exert torque.” Sourse: CNET

So we notice here that a motor smaller than a human hair, which typically is a few dozen micrometers (millionths of a meter), is magnitudes faster than a mathbook sized motor. And there is magnitudes of difference between the 600M rpMINUTE/millionths of a meter motor and Feringa’ 12M revolution per SECOND/billionths of a meter motor. We also note that Feringa’s several billionth's of a meter motor can turn an object 10,000 times bigger (28 micrometers) than itself. Not sure how this torque relates to other motors, but must be significant, and I suspect it has to do with the speed of the motor.

This from Richard Feynman’s lecture in 1959, “There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom”

Why cannot we write the entire 24 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica on the head of a pin?

“Let's see what would be involved. The head of a pin is a sixteenth of an inch across. If you magnify it by 25,000 diameters, the area of the head of the pin is then equal to the area of all the pages of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica. Therefore, all it is necessary to do is to reduce in size all the writing in the Encyclopaedia by 25,000 times. Is that possible? The resolving power of the eye is about 1/120 of an inch – that is roughly the diameter of one of the little dots on the fine half-tone reproductions in the Encyclopaedia. This, when you demagnify it by 25,000 times, is still 80 angstroms in diameter – 32 atoms across, in an ordinary metal. In other words, one of those dots still would contain in its area 1,000 atoms. So, each dot can easily be adjusted in size as required by the photoengraving, and there is no question that there is enough room on the head of a pin to put all of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica.”

Feynman would then not be surprised at our advancement in writing techniques (indeed he mentioned DNA coding in the lecture when he said, “information is contained in a very tiny fraction of the cell in the form of long-chain DNA molecules in which approximately 50 atoms are used for one bit of information about the cell.”) if he could read this from Craig Venter Institute:

“…in the team's 2008 publication …they described the successful synthesis of the M. genitalium genome, they designed and inserted into the genome what they called watermarks. These are specifically designed segments of DNA that use the "alphabet" of genes and proteins that enable the researcher to spell out words and phrases. The watermarks are an essential means to prove that the genome is synthetic and not native, and to identify the laboratory of origin. Encoded in the watermarks is a new DNA code for writing words, sentences and numbers. In addition to the new code there is a web address to send emails to if you can successfully decode the new code, the names of 46 authors and other key contributors and three quotations: "TO LIVE, TO ERR, TO FALL, TO TRIUMPH, TO RECREATE LIFE OUT OF LIFE." - JAMES JOYCE; "SEE THINGS NOT AS THEY ARE, BUT AS THEY MIGHT BE."-A quote from the book, "American Prometheus"; "WHAT I CANNOT BUILD, I CANNOT UNDERSTAND." - RICHARD FEYNMAN.”

Regardless of scale of size, be it molecular or galactic, thermodynamics, or, the “Law of Eternal Matter in Motion” is at work, and we see varying manisfestations of phenomena at these size scales. We’ll look at electrostatics versus gravity, and also plasticity, malleability, and friction at different scales later, but for now let’s see about gravity at a galactic scale.

Entropy at a Galactic Scale

Consider Quantum’s “gas in a box” thought experiment. When the partition is removed from the center of the box all the gas molecules are said to spread out and fill the entire box as entropy increases. Add gravity to the mix and discover that the molecules will gather together in one place. How does entropy relate to gravity and the formation of stars, planets and galaxies? There are two opposite positions to this question. Cosmologist Ellis claims it is imperative to consider entropy of the gravitational field, while David Wallace says it is of no consequence. Let’s look at their two opposing views as, I find that, when attempting to unravel a knot it is best to locate the two ends first.

Interstellar gas resists contracting into a star as thermal pressure offsets the gravitational attraction. As gas does contract entropy decreases, but contracting increases temperature and as a result entropy increases. Whether or not there is a net increase or decrease of entropy depends on the initial state of energy. If the system starts off with a positive energy state (greater than 0), then entropy is maximized by expanding. But entropy also increases when contracting if the initial energy state is balanced (gravity and thermal pressure equal) as long as some heat leaves the system. Heat flows out, contraction continues until enough pressure triggers nuclear fission. Heat flowing out actually can increase the heat in the system because of something called negative heat capacity. As long as fusion at the center of the star creates enough heat to balance out the heat flowing out of the system thermal pressure and gravity balance and contraction stops.

However, heat flowing out of a system decreases entropy, but entropy of the gravitational field does not need to be considered. As the system contracts there are more collisions between particles and some of the atoms move above their steady state to higher energy states. Consequently, when these excited states decay, energy is released to the environment in the form of photons thereby increasing entropy of the system. Of course, there is a great deal of difference between gas in a box and a Galaxy, not the least of which is size and environment.

On a cosmological scale, physicists, using agreed upon thermodynamic principles, argue whether or not the entropy state at the beginning (after the Big Bang) was higher or lower than it is now. In short, they wish to understand how particle physics in the early universe relates to the large scale (global, cosmic) structure of the universe today. We could also look at what is happening on a global scale and relate it to what is happening locally. Mach’s Principle is a good example of this, and is covered in RS Vol V, Chapter 11, Mach’s Principle:

"The idea, principle, or hypothesis may be generally considered as this: locally, inertia is determined by the distribution of matter cosmically. In other words, physical laws that govern the motion of stars and galaxies Far Far Away also insure that you will experience the centrifugal force here.

There is a great deal more to say on this subject, and to deal fairly with this would require, at the very least, an entire volume all its own. I intend to do just that at a later date, but for now these two individuals, Ellis and Wallace, represent the basics of the arguments of entropy on a galactic scale.

At the onset of this series of chapters I said that, generally, there is confusion because mainstream physics is based on the concepts space and time (and spacetime), and also considers everything in terms of discrete particles where there are none. We break eternity into pieces of time, and matter into particles, or clumps of particles as a matter of convenience to order things and make them fit our schedules and equations. This is the source of our confusion.

Up next, Thermodynamics on a Cosmic Scale:


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