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Evolution and the Emergent SelfThe Rise of Complexity and Behavioral Versatility in Nature$
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Raymond Neubauer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231150705

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231150705.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

Energy Flows

Energy Flows

(p.177) 9 Energy Flows
Evolution and the Emergent Self

Raymond L. Neubauer

, Xuan Yue
Columbia University Press

This chapter explores theories in physics that see unity in the increasing complexity of matter from the first elements to molecules and life. The field of physics now recognizes a special class of “dissipative structures” that arise at energy gradients and use the flow of energy to “self-organize” structural complexity. All life requires nourishment to sustain its structure and goes through cycles of birth, maturity, and death, and thus may be a special form of the dissipative structures found all over nature. Eric Chaisson's theories show a common pattern of increasing energy flows that support increasing complexity of organization in both living and nonliving forms, revealing a unity between the inorganic and organic realms. This chapter first explains the correlation between brain size and energy and proceeds by discussing how the biosphere becomes more complex over evolutionary time. It then considers thermodynamic flow in a variety of ecological successions, along with the economic aspects of energy. It also analyzes Chaisson's ideas in relation to the concepts of complexity and entropy.

Keywords:   complexity, dissipative structures, thermodynamic flow, energy, Eric Chaisson, energy flow, brain size, biosphere, ecological succession, entropy

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