June 14-17, 2021

Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics in Biology:
from Chemical Reaction Networks to Natural Selection

Larry Li, Bill Cannon and I ran a session non-equilibrium thermodynamics in biology at SMB2021, the annual meeting of the Society for Mathematical Biology. You can see talk slides here! Here is the basic idea:
Since Lotka, physical scientists have argued that living things belong to a class of complex and orderly systems that exist not despite the second law of thermodynamics, but because of it. Life and evolution, through natural selection of dissipative structures, are based on non-equilibrium thermodynamics. The challenge is to develop an understanding of what the respective physical laws can tell us about flows of energy and matter in living systems, and about growth, death and selection. This session will address current challenges including understanding emergence, regulation and control across scales, and entropy production, from metabolism in microbes to evolving ecosystems.
Click on the links to see talk slides:

Copyright held by the authors; figure by Joseph Vallino and Julie Huber.