Spontaneous generation possible?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by SarahEllard, Aug 7, 2021.

  1. SarahEllard Registered Member

    Very recently, Google has apparently proven through their ''time crystal'' invention that the 2nd law of thermodynamics can be broken - https://www.techradar.com/uk/news/g...t-have-created-physics-breaking-time-crystals

    This implicates a lot of things. We're often told that spontaneous generation is an impossibility because it violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics, but Google have just proven that breaking the conservation of energy law is possible. Does that mean spontaneous generation is a possibility? Are there any species on Earth which may have arisen from spontaneous generation rather than evolution?
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    1. There's never been any question that the 2nd law can be violated on small scales and for short times. It happens all the time. It's as simple as oxygen being formed into ozone in the upper atmo.

    2. The Earth doesn't qualify. It is drowning in energy from the Sun, so there's plenty of high energy floating around to push molecules into higher-energy states.

    3. No. All species on Earth that we know of have a common ancestor.

    4. Creating an organism that is complex enough to metabolize and make copies of itself is a bit of a stretch from violating the 2nd law temporarily.
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  5. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    If you're being told that often, you're listening to the wrong people.
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  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    I'm not sure this is being reported accurately. According to the description in the article, all that happens is that entropy does not increase, not that it decreases - which you would to show to break the 2nd Law of TD.

    As Dave has said, the 2nd Law can be "broken" for fleeting instants in some quantum systems, but when enough time elapses to give expectation values of the properties involved, the 2nd Law is always obeyed.

    None of this has anything to do with "spontaneous generation", in any case. If you can cite a reference to anyone arguing this is impossible because of the 2nd Law, I'd like to see it.
  8. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Spontaneous generation is an antiquated idea. But understandable how it arose before the arrival of microscopic instruments and other lab tests that could undermine the appearances it was derived from.

    Abiogenesis is what you want to shift to, which can at least be commended for not overflowing with the optimism that SG had that life arising from inanimate matter was so commonplace that you couldn't help but trip over it anywhere you stepped.

    Self-replicating molecules, either protected by an outer envelope or not, would have probably been the initial cases of anything passing as "proto-life". They seem to be either long-extinct or evasive to human cognition. To qualify as or be discriminated as species, they would have to be deep residents of the taxonomy rather than prior in rank to or on the fringe of biological status.
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    What do you mean by "spontaneous generation"?

    My understanding of that term was that it was used in the past to describe things like the appearance of maggots on rotting meat, seemingly "out of nowhere". This was before the invention of microscopy, the germ theory of disease and so on. The idea was that some forms of life could - sometimes at least - just appear out of nowhere, spontaneously.

    Are you using the term to mean something different?
  10. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    All species on Earth that we know of have a common ancestor
    That ancestor originated here on earth
    Did the ultimate ancestral organism
    spontaneously generate?

    Is abiogenesis just another way of saying spontaneous generation?
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2021
  11. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    They do. As far as we have studied. All organisms on Earth replicate using DNA.

    The OP may be using the terms interchangeably, but they really mean two different things.

    "Spontaneous generation is a body of thought on the ordinary formation of living organisms without descent from similar organisms. The theory of spontaneous generation held that living creatures could arise from nonliving matter and that such processes were commonplace and regular. It was hypothesized that certain forms, such as fleas, could arise from inanimate matter such as dust, or that maggots could arise from dead flesh"...

    "...abiogenesis... is the natural process by which life has arisen from non-living matter, such as simple organic compounds. While the details of this process are still unknown, the prevailing scientific hypothesis is that the transition from non-living to living entities was not a single event, but an evolutionary process of increasing complexity that involved molecular self-replication, self-assembly, autocatalysis, and the emergence of cell membranes."
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  12. Q-reeus Banned Valued Senior Member

    Wrong. You misunderstand the inherently statistical nature of the 2nd Law. Small scale temporal fluctuations exhibiting 'negative entropy increase' are not examples of 'tiny violations' but fit within the modern statistical mechanics understanding of the 2nd law's fundamental nature. Such statistically inevitable 'violations' are a fundamentally necessary property of the 2nd Law properly understood. As to whether the 2nd Law is truly fundamental is another question. I have shown elsewhere it isn't - but that's another story best not pursued here.
    Wong again. Photo-dissociation of O2 in upper atmosphere leading to ozone i.e. O3, and various other 'higher' molecular oxygen species such as O5, O7 etc., has squat to do with supposed violations of the 2nd Law. Do your research!
  13. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    The Law itself says nothing about statistical variation; it is simply a Law.
    As you say - they 'fit within the 'modern statistical mechanics understanding'. But the 2nd Law itself does not speak to that.
    IOW, small decreases in entropy violate the 2nd Law, though they do not violate our larger understanding of how we apply the 2nd Law.
  14. Q-reeus Banned Valued Senior Member

    The problem here is for every article I could quote stating the 2nd 'law' is statistical not absolute in nature, another one will agree with your traditional interpretation. Various povs.
    But I notice you avoided commenting on my second passage in #9. You wish to maintain that photo-dissociation of O2 and subsequent recombination into other polyatomic O species is a continual violation of the Second Law "It's as simple as oxygen being formed into ozone in the upper atmo."? Well?

    Hmm...silence says it all. Nothing unexpected here,
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2021
  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    • Please post on topic
    I see the term spontaneous generation as being applicable to "smart materials" that respond to certain external stresses in predictable and controllable ways.

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    • Synthetic spider web. This material is not only five times stronger than steel, but also has great elasticity. Its potential uses include: bulletproof clothing, artificial skin for burns or waterproof adhesives.
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    Seems to me that many emergent properties of complex patterns would qualify as spontaneous generating objects.

    Water and Ice are spontaneously generated substances.
    Is that not covered by the concept of self-assembling emergent patterns?
  16. Q-reeus Banned Valued Senior Member

    'Smart material' examples given there have zero relevance to the notion of prebiotic-to-biotic 'spontaneous generation'. Try hard to control the impulse to impulsively post.
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  17. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Why don't you adherence to that sage advice yourself?
    OK, and what, pray tell, is this all about? Spontaneous generation? Thermodynamics?

    Spontaneous generation
    Description and terminology[edit]


    By the Law of Cause and Effect , spontaneous generation would require an a prior smart material (such as once living tissue) that could transform itself back from a non-living form to a living form.

    Why do you place "do not enter signs" on a street no one knows where it leads to.

    What you seem to completely overlook is the fact that a living organism is a collection of living things, called a microbiome. When an organism dies it is only the brain that stops functioning and maintenance of homeostasis of the biome ceases.

    But many of the millions of resident bacterial organisms do not die and find another host.

    Can you work with that?
  18. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Reported for derailing the thread with random crap from off of the internet. Again.
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  19. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Reported for prejudicial off-topic response without a valid argument. First time, but keeping the ledger open.......
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  20. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Thanks for spelling me off. My Report Button finger is blistered.
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  21. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Spontaneous generation? Has anyone actually tried to visualize this concept?

    If not, try a peek at this example of the range and size of spontaneous generation

  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    According to Darwinian theory there probably is no such thing as the ultimate ancestral organism - like the "first woodpecker", it's unlikely in the extreme.

    As far as "spontaneous generation" in general, it's the current consensus explanation for how living beings came to exist on this planet. But it's slow and complicated - many human lifespans would be required.
  23. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Moderator note: Write4U has been warned for off-topic posting.

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