On the Thermodynamics of Self-Organization in Dissipative Systems: Reflections on the Unification of Physics and Biology

Bong Jae Chung, Benjamin De Bari, James Dixon, Dilip Kondepudi, Joseph Pateras, Ashwin Vaidya

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

In this paper, we discuss some well-known experimental observations on self-organization in dissipative systems. The examples range from pure fluid flow, pattern selection in fluid–solid systems to chemical-reaction-induced flocking and aggregation in fluid systems. In each case, self-organization can be seen to be a function of a persistent internal gradient. One goal of this article is to hint at a common theory to explain such phenomena, which often takes the form of the extremum of some thermodynamic quantity, for instance the rate of entropy production. Such variational theories are not new; they have been in existence for decades and gained popularity through the Nobel Prize-winning work of theorists such as Lars Onsager and Ilya Prigogine. The arguments have evolved since then to include systems of higher complexity and for nonlinear systems, though a comprehensive theory remains elusive. The overall attempt is to bring out examples from physics, chemistry, engineering, and biology that reveal deep connections between variational principles in physics and biological, or living systems. There is sufficient evidence to at least raise suspicion that there exists an organization principle common to both living and non-living systems, which deserves deep attention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141
JournalFluids
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Keywords

  • dissipative systems
  • entropy production
  • fluid mechanics
  • self-organization

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