The Earth Engine Hypothesis was described by G. Becker in 1914. In that hypothesis, and others that have followed, the earth is compared to a heat engine, where the “cold reservoir” is the upper atmosphere (at the edge of space), and the “hot reservoir” is either solar radiation or geothermal heat. It is asserted that these “hot” or “cold” “reservoirs” serve to do actual work and manifest themselves as phenomena such as the earth’s hydrological cycle. For simplicity, this and other “natural heat engine” theories are abbreviated as the “Earth Engine” (EE) hypothesis in this paper. The earth engine hypothesis (see recent source) has been cited as an important factor in the emergence of life on earth, which is posited to have driven processes critical to life’s emergence. This EE hypothesis factors significantly in current origins of life theories.
The EE hypothesis rests on the following assumptions:
- A hot and a cold reservoir can be located in the natural system of the earth. The cold reservoir being the upper atmosphere or space, and the hot reservoir being solar radiation absorbed by the planet or geothermal heat emanating from the interior of the planet.
- The natural hot and cold reservoirs are said to do “work” on their surroundings, by the conversion of thermal to kinetic energy, at an efficiency determined by their difference in temperature, which can be understood as analogous to the efficiency of a Carnot heat engine.
- Such natural heat engines have been proposed to operate by the Carnot cycle for heat engines. These cycles are described as four different processes as shown in the Carnot cycle. For example, during the hydrological cycle, water vapor laden with latent heat rises into the upper atmosphere where its gravitational potential energy is converted to kinetic energy when it condenses.
Such natural heat engines are proposed that would overcome forces that are normally hostile to life’s origins. These are diffusion of molecular “feed stocks” (higher energy molecules) and concentration of “waste” (lower energy products), but also the formation of primordial “cell” structures, structures which in themselves, are proposed to oppose normal forces that are hostile to catalysis of primordial chemistries. The EE hypothesis has been proposed as a mechanism to drive concentration gradients (e.g. in deep sea vents) that would favor the formation of primordial chemistries. Thus, this is an oppositional force which on the scale of the reservoirs would be “microscale” environemnts.
This paper takes the position that such “natural” engines do not in fact exist, and further that the phenomenon described as a natural “heat engine” is in fact dissipation of heat within a single reservoir or volume. One cannot have an engine if no force, F can be shown to be generated. Thus, it is irrelevant for these arguments, how much energy is absorbed by the total volume, Vearth, per unit time. in a constant volume, Vearth, the total work done in a process within the volume is zero, W =0. The issue turns upon the dimensional and material problem of defining the reservoir(s), either its dimension in space or its mass, and hence its temperature. The convention of arbitrarily assigning the reservoir based on man-made observation or man imposed observation of the system or Vearth, makes as much sense as allowing one to pick and choose which molecule to include or exclude from a volume and thus to “create” a perpetual energy machine by actively allowing or disallowing only energetic molecules from a chamber filled with gas. (see Maxwell’s demon experiment) as just such a device was proposed but only as a thought experiment. Since no one has the power to select “hot” gas molecules from a reservoir the position that one can take sections of space and designate these as “hot” or “cold” reservoirs is prohibitive for the same reasons as Maxwell’s demon is prohibited.
Let us suppose, as in Fig. 1, that we have a volume equivalent to the earth, Vearth. If we zoom in to a region on the surface, we can now imagine drawing arbitrarily, two regions. One region will be the “cold reservoir” and one will be the “hot reservoir”. The drawer of such “reservoirs” encounters immediate problems:
- What dimension should these reservoirs be drawn? How large or how small is each?
- Where should these reservoirs be located?
It is by no means a trivial issue, since nature does not make such distinctions as to what a hot reservoir is and a cold reservoir is.
The mean speed of a molecule in a gas is of use here, as the average kinetic energy per molecule is roughly: (½)mv2=(3/2)kT where (½)mv2 is an avg kinetic energy/molecule, k is Boltzmann’s constant (Serway 1990 p563).
The temperature of an ideal monatomic gas is related to its average molecular velocity. Molecules move about much more rapidly when heated to higher temperature. The reason this is critical is because of the argument we made previously about energetic molecules. Nature does not devise systems of molecules i.e. gas molecules, which alter by themselves, the distribution or mean speed of the molecule in a system.
If the “reservoir” which is extremely small, is allowed to be “selected” by a superior being, this means that the total energy of the selected region exceeds the temperature of gas by a factor of between (average highest speed) such that the difference in the average speeds must be the difference in temperature or Q. The observer has done work on the system. What this implies is that a theoretical "engine" would necessarily have to supply additional work in the atmosphere or oceans or wherever we might imagine such a natural engine would operate.
To do work on the system, however, the observer must have added energy which was virtual and hence unavailable.
As we can see in Fig 1, according to Carnot’s relation, if we are to consider a greater volume V, V earth, and imagine work W is possible between two regions in that volume, of greater and lesser energy, or heat Q, then these regions of greater and lesser heat will correlate to non-random selections of sub-volumes, which are designated V1 and V2 for convention. The observer by setting the reservoir in either case, has violated the first law and also the second law, as entropy has been reduced according to Boltzmann’s relation, S=k ln w where w is the probability of the distribution of the “reservoirs” selected.
The random selection of reservoirs should mimic closely the model gas problem, where any two mean speeds are selected at random. (The two packets of energy are capable of being in contact during collisions and heat energy will be transferred from the higher “packet” to the lower packet.) We should expect that these two “reservoirs” or molecules, at energy 1/2m(V2)avg, should on average, fall within the average velocity, without being skewed necessarily in any particular direction. In other words, “directionality” in terms of seeing higher or lower energies is non-existent as all direcitons are possible. This also means that the random selection of reservoirs would on average produce an equivalent energy difference, between any two average molecules. So no appreciable difference would be expected. The work we would calculate would be Qhmol - Qcmol and W=0. [Note: We can extrapolate the “reservoirs” containing heat Q should be composed of N molecules, but our derivation will apply to larger collections if these are also randomly selected. What is interesting is that if the N molecules are selected from arbitrary volumes, Vn in direct thermal contact with each other, we cannot know if Qh and Qc will be different, or if their Work will be negative or positive. “Sampling” of these point reservoirs of heat, fromm a smaller region of Vtotal will also generate –W and+W, values, which will cancel to zero. ]
A problem is thus: how would the selection of the reservoir , hot or cold, which is expected to do Work on the system, NOT increase the total energy?
Perhaps a way out of this predicament is to assume that we will begin with the Work done by the proposed natural heat engine. But this is as difficult as observing or for that matter, defining, as we attempted above, the hot and cold reservoir. Particularly, if these are regions of volume V1 or V2 taken at random from the greater volume Vearth as in Fig 1. Where specifically, on earth, is the identifiable region where the work is generated by the earth’s heat engine, either solar or geothermal? Or, is the work generated continuously, at all points, throughout the volume of the earth?
It seems obvious that the winds for example, which are reported to contain (X watts of power) are only one example of the work done by heat engines of the earth. They no doubt contain vast, unharnessed power, as anyone is aware from witnessing their force. Few are probably aware that the tornado or hurricane they witness is the direct resultant, in energy, of radiation from the sun, trapped in the atmosphere as heat. This energy was gained by the earth’s atmosphere as a direct result of matter in the sun being lost, and converted to pure energy. The storm is that result of matter being converted to pure energy, by Einstein’s relation E=mc2 and some fraction then falling on our earth during our orbit (the remainder lost to space). We might witness dozens of tropical storms in a year, incurring horrific damages on cities, and yet few realize this energy driving these maelstroms, may have only been a few kilograms of mass lost by our sun.
The total work performed by a heat engine, on earth or anywhere else, W, is equal to the total heat Qtot flowing into the engine. So W= Qh- Qc
In the case of winds, the heat supplying the power is absorbed from solar radiation, which is, not too surprising, at a higher temperature when incident upon the earth, than when it is reradiated into space. The energy of the light, infrared, was translated to motion of mostly gases in the atmosphere, water vapor which has the highest specific heat, and much higher molecular velocity (avg speed) than other gases. (compare H2O at ^600 m/s vs CO2 at 200 m/s at 20C) The amount of heat absorbed by this solar radiation could be Qsolar, and the amount in the upper atmosphere, leaving, would be Qspace (the “cold reservoir).
According to Carnot’s relation, the theoretical work (total possible) done by any heat engine is the amount of heat transferred from the hotter reservoir, in this case Q solar, to Q space.
Further, the efficiency, e, of such a heat engine operating between the hotter solar radiation and space, would be given by
The total solar energy absorbed by the earth is estimated to be
We find here, that the current hypothesis described as the “heat engine” hypothesis, is incorrect for these reasons:
Unlike Carnot’s engines, which are manmade and even require virtual “sand bags” to be removed or added during adiabatic compression and expansion, there are no “pistons” or “chambers” in nature for such “engines” to operate against. And thus, no force can be generated. A resultant that is expected from our argument we made previously in The Crisis Equation 2B” that “A system cannot do work against itself”.
It is not possible to identify in a natural heat engine hypothesis, where a force would be translated and the point where such a translation would begin. It fails to identify the necessary and critical components that are necessarily defined by the equations of its exemplary model, the Carnot heat engine. Such terms as W, and e, cannot be calculated based upon undefined quantities.
The EE hypothesis fails to properly identify the vectorial requirements in a force diagram of its theoretical operation. We find that the force it purports to claim it generates in its processes, is non existent, that is, we find there is no evidence for this force. Furthermore, and more unexpectedly, we find that according to a new theory of causality, this supposed force” generated by a natural heat engine, such as a “earth heat engine” should not be expected to be observed or theoretically present in the system.
In a true thermal equilibrium state, of volume V, we can imagine taking hot and cold reservoirs at random and assessing their generation of work, W. What we have in this case is comparable to a gas problem, in which the entities of matter are point regions without dimension, and thus are molecular. We have an equipartition of these hot and cold reservoirs in the total volume V at any time t, and further we find that the energy of any of these reservoirs is given by the relation. When any of these reservoirs is selected at random and evaluated for W generated, it is an average value W(avg) given by QH-Qc or the total heat energy translated between them that is available. The work done should be found to be zero in this case, W=0 because on average these energies when taken at random, will cancel out. Surprisingly, if however, the reservoirs are “selected” by the observer any observer, then we find that the difference in heat energy transferred is thus W(equilibrium) – W(observer)= Wi. The apparent work that has been claimed for natural Heat Engines is derived artificially, by artificial partitioning of desired warmer molecules from cooler ones. Further, this has been done by neglecting cooler regions of the reservoir, which will cancel any net work done by –W. For example, if these are accounted for, the total work by reservoirs will include negative work –W done AGAINST the reservoir and all other interactions of the cooler and warmer regions. It is or should be obvious that although temperature differences are observed in natural systems of volume V, these are not different than observing differences in molecular mean velocities of a gas. The arbitrary partitioning only those desired molecular velocities to create a population of “warmer molecules” is unjustifiable for the same argument. Nature heat engine advocates see only the warmer regions amidst the cooler ones in the same system or “reservoir” that they have neglected to report. In view of the arguments provided herein, the falsity of this physics of natural heat engines, should be evident to those familiar with Maxwell’s Demon. Earth engine advocates serve as such a Demon, selecting only the hotter reservoirs they wish to see, and disregarding the cooler ones in the “system” thereby calculating Work, presumably as much as they desire.
The so called efficiencies of “Earth Engines” and other natural heat engines, such as those reported for planets such as Venus, and other bodies like Titan, are allegedly calculable due to arbitrary assumptions that the two reservoirs, their volume and more basically, that they “exist” or are physically differentiable bodies. Those assumptions are false. In reality, this faulty reasoning assumes two systems which are not separable physically. A warm region of the ocean for example is in direct physical contact with all other regions, cooler or warmer, and so the actual temperature of this system would be in question. The proponents fail to average these temperatures and instead take the higher region to be the “hot reservoir.” We have also proven that under these circumstances, in which an observer is allowed to make such distinctions and only take the warmer collections of molecules he desires, is in fact adding energy to the system which does not exist. And violating the first law of thermodynamics, if not the second, by artificially adding positive entropy to the system. If the hot reservoir is “made” artificially, by designating only the warmer molecules, from the cooler ones, this is partitioning and altering the statistical entropy in the relation S=k ln W. On the contrary, the negative result of this experiment i.e. failure of earth “heat engines” strongly supports the central hypothesis of the Crisis Equation.
Whereas it appears “obvious” to its proponents, (of EE hypothesis) that one can measure the force of the wind, what is not obvious is that this is done relative to a fixed reference point, exerting a normal force against the wind. The fixed reference point is supplied by an Observer.
Becker speculates that the “efficiency” (p85, last paragraph) would be very small for an earth engine, but a “the boiler capacity would be enormous”, further assumes that an engine would “be competent to bring about all the dynamical effects with which geology has to deal.” The data are not contested (which everyone is familiar) i.e. Young’s modulus, or that the force on granite can withstand some 250000 kg/cm2 (p81). But showing that a force exists on a column of water, or a column of earth, however numerous these data are, does not prove or show the existence of a causal entity, there is nothing identified that is of substance or is defined, as a causal agent, other than collections of atoms.
And regarding the work that such natural engines may perform, in reality the work has already been done. There is no need for a theory to explain why or how the winds or ocean currents are driven, as there is no additional heat engine(s) necessary to push storms or move ocean currents. Should we expect there to be? Are storms the resultant of rising warm air, moving towards cooler regions of the upper atmosphere? Or is this not an additional causality that is imbued in such systems- "rising air” like precipitation, is itself the action, the phenomenon we are observing, not an additional causality of weather. That is a mechano-psychological assessment of stream flow, a teleological inference relating stream flow to human engineering. There is confusion about the state of a system vs causality of the system, of the forces responsible for the behavior that is observed. We stated that an engine performs no work if it "applies" no force. We have just shown that without a fixed normal force opposed to a theoretical causal force in the atmosphere, or in the oceans, at a real fixed point, there can be no applied force. Thus, despite the fact that an enormous quantity of kinetic energy is supplied via the sun, causally, there is no basis to claim that there are causal "forces" within the atmosphere or oceans driving the currents. The solar energy is the force in these cases, and the only relevant force. Nor is there a "sun engine" hypothesis required. The sun does not supply the heat to the earth because the earth is a "reservoir" of cooler water and mass.
- “On The Earth Considered As Heat Engine” George F Becker, 1914. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1090741/?page=1
- “Planetary Atomospheres as Heat Engines” Schubert G. and Mitchell J.L. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013cctp.book..181S