My coffee mug full of my favorite morning brew will not re-heat itself, much to my annoyance. After being filled with hot coffee, it will gradually cool in the air hovering around my desk until it reaches the same temperature as the room. The reason it cools is the resultant of the “Second Law”, and the mysterious physics surrounding that law, a physics which is still not entirely understood, as this is also related to “time’s arrow” why things tend to proceed in a certain direction but not in another. What is also fact. There are no molecules that I can add to that cup that will assist in performing a reversal of that process. Yes there are molecules I can add that add heat. But this heat, once released will also dissipate. (think of the “icy” hot pack cooling). The molecules in the cup “wish” to relieve themselves of their excessive excited energy, transferring it to other’s they encounter at the wall, then returning inwardly to “pick up” more energy from other encounters inside the cup of coffee. They will do so until things have reached equilibrium. I placed some terms in quotations deliberately so as to not imply there is anything actively occurring in the molecules actions, but these ideas are important I believe to illustrating the point.
What of the problem of “self-replicating molecules? How does coffee relate? Coffee relates to everything, as everyone knows. It's said to fuel entire cities. The problem is related thus. If we imagine adding these special molecules, that can re-heat the coffee as it sits on my desk, how would they work? Perhaps there is some very clever way to make molecules do this. After all scientists are doing some rather ingenious things. Well, they would have to in some way, reverse their normal tendency to “grab” energy from higher energy or faster moving molecules, and instead collide with the slower ones on average more often than not. In other words, to go against their natural tendencies. (in other words they’ would have to be self-directional. Are these possible? Maxwell proposed such a molecule, a ‘demon’. Which came to be known not surprisingly as "Maxwell's demon," but that should give some indication of their physical possibility.[On that note, we can now tie in the problem of life on other planets, as this issue is also related to specially functioning molecules. actually molecules which do a whole lot more than "simply" reverse the flow of heat in a system. these are self replicators. In addition to increasing their local energy supply, they make copies of themselves.]
Self replicating molecules on the other hand, would need to operate in a similar way as self heating molecules in my coffee mug, but with a special caveat. They also must copy themselves. Like a cooling coffee mug, a chemical process of any kind also will proceed forward until it reaches equilibrium, as anyone who’s lit fireworks on the 4th has found out, fireworks after they're burnt, don’t re-light. They're expended. (And by the way, any process molecules is "chemistry". Self replicating molecules can only replicate by chemistry, by "reactions" with other species.) So returning to self replicating molecules, those claimed by various scientists, what this really means is "self reacting" or continuously reacting. And we’ve replaced the fancy jargon with a more accurate depiction of what is occurring. They would need to perform a reaction, say some conversion, but then instead of completing their task and sitting in continuous equilibrium they would recruit more energy from their surroundings AND more molecules in order to do more reactions. Imagine fireworks that instead of going out, sit for a moment while they collect energy from their surroundings and perhaps organics from the grass or wherever, and then continue to burn. Sound too good to be true? We’ve just described the very process by which these self replicating molecules would need to operate. And we see that there isn’t just a problem of heat being driven back inwardly, from the surroundings, there is also the issue of recruiting molecules from the surroundings that are already spent, reacted, and are known as “waste”. Biological systems have these same issues. But so would so-called "primordial" molecules on other planets ones on which life hasn't yet started (the proto-disk in Taurus for example we showed earlier).
A chemical process using very special molecules is going to have the same thermodynamic issues as the molecules in my coffee mug, heat will be actively removed (active in the sense that to reverse this, it takes work to oppose it), hence the reason I have to continuously put the mug back on the burner. Where are these self-heating molecules?
In order for (our self replicant) molecules to replicate they need to shuffle energy, (recruit it to do work) but where will this energy be supplied? We can imagine that heat is being supplied, ambiently and perpetually to the system itself, which is containing the molecules. Will they heat up? We have a closed system problem, what I have described as a "virtual closed system" in which the system does not appear to be closed, as it is being bathed in potential energy, and yet it still undergoes thermodynamic equilibrium. It is not reversed. So perhaps that is a definition, such systems (virtual closed systems) can be immersed in potential energy but still not “see” a reversal. If you notice, also, we’ve biased the system. We’ve assumed a potential and therein lies the problem that is revealed by such a system. Lets place the mug on our balcony in full sunlight. It is now exposed to the energy of the sun and the surroundings. There is in fact considerable energy in these surroundings, relatively speaking, if we consider the alternative, the vacuum of space near earth , which is extremely cold, sufficient to freeze our cup-of-joe solid in minutes. The mug is surrounded in heat, sunlight and heat from the earth, will it under these conditions, heat up? The answer is that it will sometimes, say in broad daylight, but it will also cool at night, so your answer might then depend on the time of day. The correct answer, however, is that it does not heat, as it is merely reaching equilibrium, a continuity status with its surroundings. The technical reason for proving this fact, is to simply measure the temperature of the liquid. One reason it seems to be warmer is because we’ve placed it in an organized structure, but also because we are not measuring surrounding walls etc. You’d have to be very convincing science to convince anyone that this is a means of heating our coffee (leaving it out on the balcony.) and yet it IS receiving considerable heat from its surroundings? Why doesn’t it concentrate this heat in our mug?, and perhaps there are molecules that can do this, or at least help to do this, as they have claimed. And that is what is claimed, as we just noted self-perpetuating chemistry must recruit heat towards itself actively opposing the Second law. That is false, of course, as even well known "heating molecules" (hot packs) expire and give up energy, just like energetic hot water molecules do.
The point of “being warmer”, of having a warmer cup of joe as opposed to luke warm” is regarding the issue of traversing the "entropic horizon." A boundary , we can think of as roughly the mug itself, through which cooler molecules pass, but hotter molecules do not go back through the entropic horizon in the reverse. We're already aware that hotter molecules do not pull themselves out of the air and find our cooler mug like fireflies, at least not in this universe. We also note. Nothing is being done in the case of the mug on the balcony, to reverse the Second Law process. Thus the cup is the same average temperature as the air, the walls and floors of the balcony. Not much of an improvement, and technically, this action we've taken seems less and less like “heating” the mug. Not in the special sense that we’re using in this new theory (which is to OPPOSE the Second Law in some way). Considering the above issues, is leaving the mug out on the balcony opposing the Second Law, even if it is being warmed, is the law being opposed at any time? Are the molecules recruiting higher energy molecules and building up heat or are they passively dissipating to their surroundings? It's a good question to ask those who quickly answered that it must be in the process of being heated by the sun. (Again we must act as though we are imagining the mug as though we are not physically in the room, because we CAN influence its likelihood of heating or cooling but that is a distinct problem, not relevant here. Our initial question or subject you will recall, was "life on other planets.." if life already existed there, such questions as self heating coffee mugs are irrelevant). The other issue however, is to consider probability of that mug heating, next to say, its surroundings. If we take the temperature of the back side, not exposed to the sun, and average this, we will get a temperature roughly equivalent to the temperature of the water inside the mug. It turns out that heating the water in the mug is not achieving a temperature much different if any, from the air temperature. Would special molecules assist in changing this situation? How would these molecules aggregate in nature, what force would help them to coalesce into a region like a “virtual mug” somewhere in the ocean or a pond or anywhere else, to alter this outcome of temperature differential? So what we've done is to imagine that the mug, is simply a volume of liquid, roughly 8 oz, and could be a puddle that we'd "walk by" in virtual space. Does one walk around in nature and imagine one puddle getting warmer than another by sunlight? The same reasoning applies to the mug of coffee.
It is easy to be tricked by the context of the problem, the mug appears to be heated by the sun, as we are observing it and interpret these results differently than what they physically are. Self reacting or continuously reacting molecules, are the more correct physically accurate name of such a technology, a “technology” we can test in our virtual mug example, but any other example will do. We also realize now, that to do reactions continuously, molecules need to move themselves in ways that oppose natural physical forces, they must recruit new, reactive molecules from their surroundings, AND also more heat from their surroundings (to do work), they must do at least what is IMPOSSIBLE for my coffee mug to do on my desk, self heat. In reality, this process of heating a mug is 1) not a process for heating the mug, 2) not more likely to heat the mug than any other solid object nearby, or to raise it above the temperature of the surrounding air. The mug we realize is a virtual closed system, but allows us to catch a glimpse of how this problem is so universal, even to much more profound issues as self-replicating molecules.
We have also seen the problem of virtual closed system in which a system is bathed in a potential energy stream. Despite the mug being bathed in external heat from the sun and from the earth, it does not heat up, not in the sense that is critical to perpetual reactions or self-heating mugs, (that’s an illusion of our observation, we measure only the heat from the sun warmed side, not the average of the water) instead it achieves the ambient temperature of its surroundings. We cannot realistically say we’ve heated our mug, when it required heating the entire cosmopolitan area to that temperature. Conclusion: putting your mug out to “heat” in the sun simply doesn’t work. Let’s use on other example. The untidy room. The untidy room is littered with shoes, some loose papers, and odd items that don't belong. But we can use this as a good example of how the Second Law applies even here but also to self-ordered molecules. If we expose the room to constant heat does this “un-mess” the room? Why not? Shouldn’t there be some probability that adding heat will reverse SOME process here in the room? In reality, adding heat to the room can in fact do nothing to restore order, in fact, it only degrades or reduces order, (as ambient heat energy degrades any material) and I discuss this Condition I and II, but that runs contrary to the predictions of disequilibrium thermo of the papers I’ve sited. These examples of its failures show that the virtual closed system is correctly predicting what is required for actual self-replication, but also segues into the concept of imposed resistance force that is FL.In conclusion: Thermodynamics is universal across the universe. If it is so impossible to find self-perpetuating chemistries here on this planet, or self heating molecules to heat our coffee mugs, why should we expect, based on current physics, that these molecules would originate elsewhere?