The Thermodynamic Dissipation Theory for the Origin and Evolution of Life

Speaker: Dr. Karo Michaelian (Virtual), Institute of Physics, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
Friday, December 8, 2023
Time: 3:00 – 4:45pm
Location: ISB 431 (In-person)

The most general scientific framework incorporating the laws of Nature, applicable to most
known processes to good approximation, is that of thermodynamics and its extensions to treat
out-of-equilibrium phenomena. In this talk I employ the framework of Classical Irreversible
Thermodynamics to describe the origin of life as a set of microscopic dissipative structuring
events leading to a “Pigment World”, once the external force and the initial conditions are
specified. Inherent non-linearity in the chemical and photochemical reactions gives rise to
numerous stationary states permitting the system to evolve, on amplification of a fluctuation,
towards concentration profiles of pigment molecules and their complexes providing generally
greater photon dissipation. Thermodynamic selection has both deterministic and stochastic
components and is based on dissipative efficacy for such a non-linear system. The example of
the microscopic dissipative structuring of a UV-C pigment, and one of the fundamental
molecules of life, adenine, from HCN in water solution under UV-C light is presented.


About the speaker:

Karo Michaelian is a Canadian researcher at the Institute of Physics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). His bachelor’s is in Geophysics, 1981, and his PhD in Nuclear Physics “Proton-Proton Bremsstrahlung”, 1987 (both at the University of Alberta, Canada). He did postdoctoral work on pion absorption in nuclei at the Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland. He now works on nanophysics and the non-equilibrium thermodynamics of life and evolution. He has developed a robust framework for the UV-C dissipative structuring of the fundamental molecules of life and their evolution which he calls the “Thermodynamic Dissipation Theory for the Origin and Evolution of Life”. He is recipient of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) “Gold Medal” 1981, and of the Mexican Academy of Sciences “Lomnitz-Adler Prize in Complex Systems “, 2002.


Recording of the talk: