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Turbulence, Life and Shannon's Entropy

Updated: Feb 21

According to some theory, turbulence has so much to do with the advent of compounds that have been the foundation of life in its most primordial form. How does this theory go? Prompt addressed to OpenAI Large Language Model ChatGPT-4

This has been the reply.

"The theory you're referring to likely relates to how the chaotic and turbulent conditions in early Earth's environment could have played a significant role in the formation of complex organic molecules, which are considered the building blocks of life. This idea is rooted in the understanding that turbulence, particularly in the context of fluid dynamics, can significantly increase the mixing and interaction rates of different chemical species.

"Here's a simplified outline of how this theory might go:

1. Early Earth Conditions: In the primordial soup of early Earth, the atmosphere and oceans were filled with a mixture of simple molecules like water (H₂O), methane (CH₄), ammonia (NH₃), and hydrogen (H₂).

2. Turbulence: The early Earth was likely very turbulent due to high levels of volcanic activity, asteroid impacts, and possibly rapid rotation. This turbulence would create chaotic flows in the atmosphere and oceans.

3. Enhanced Mixing and Chemical Reactions: Turbulence can greatly enhance the mixing of these molecules. The chaotic motion ensures that molecules are brought into close proximity and collide more frequently, providing the necessary conditions for chemical reactions to occur more readily.

4. Formation of Complex Organic Molecules: Through these enhanced interactions and reactions, simpler molecules could combine to form more complex organic compounds, such as amino acids and nucleotides, which are the building blocks of proteins and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) respectively.

5. Role in the Origin of Life: These complex organic molecules are critical for life as we know it. They could have eventually led to the formation of the first living organisms, possibly through further reactions and the formation of self-replicating molecules.

"This theory is supported by experiments such as the famous Miller-Urey experiment of 1953, which demonstrated that amino acids could be synthesized from simple molecules through chemical reactions stimulated by energy sources such as electric sparks, simulating lightning in early Earth's atmosphere. While turbulence wasn't a specific focus of this experiment, the principle of increased interaction and reaction rates among molecules due to environmental conditions was a key aspect."

"The role of turbulence in the origin of life is an area of ongoing research and exploration, involving fields such as chemistry, biology, and physics, to better understand the complex processes that led to the emergence of life on Earth."

From some equilibrium -- as with thermoclines underneath oceans nearby some hydrothermal vents deep under the oceans -- the tendency is for the equilibrium to inevitably breakdown leading to some turbulence. Expected as per Shannon's Entropy prediction -- events flow into where there is "more information."

Space-X, in a way, is a venture into some turbulence. Same with X with its current policies under Elon Musk. Long term, if sustained, these ventures are expected to yield new systems that would probably open more doors for expansion of human civilization as everyone knows it. Shannon's Entropy applied, both are in the direction of "more information."

The convergence provided by Shannon's Entropy between Space-X project, X under its current policies under Elon Musk, and turbulent events near hydrothermal vents deep under oceans is weak. Nevertheless is there. This becomes stronger when long-term period is considered.

(Photograph above is of Bomod-Ok Falls of Sagada. Taken by the author in 2018.)

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