Physics of Life 1. Thermodynamics

Energy and life

Life exists in a world constrained by laws of physics and chemistry. Life is still distinct from the physical world, and this course explores why. The answer lies in the fundamentally biological phenomenon of adaptation. Physics of life thermodynamics is the first of a series of four courses that deal with this question. Physics of light thermodynamics considers such questions as the thermodynamic definition of life, how metabolism works, the thermodynamics of the origin of life, and the thermodynamics of ecology and community structure.

What you’ll learn

  • Have a better understanding of the thermodynamics of life.
  • Learn how the laws of thermodynamics apply to living systems.
  • Gain new insight into the origin of life and how principles of thermodynamics illuminate this long-standing problem.
  • Learn how thermodynamic constraints shape ecosystems and how thermodynamics can provide predictive tools for analyzing extinct ecosystems.
  • Learn how life is a disequilibrium state and how thermodynamics illuminates basic phenomena like homeostasis and metabolism.

Course Content

  • Introduction –> 5 lectures • 31min.
  • Thermodynamic systems and life –> 5 lectures • 36min.
  • Thermodynamics and the origin of life –> 8 lectures • 1hr 1min.
  • Scaling of open thermodynamic systems –> 6 lectures • 45min.
  • Thermodynamics, ecology and evolution –> 7 lectures • 1hr.

Physics of Life 1. Thermodynamics

Requirements

Life exists in a world constrained by laws of physics and chemistry. Life is still distinct from the physical world, and this course explores why. The answer lies in the fundamentally biological phenomenon of adaptation. Physics of life thermodynamics is the first of a series of four courses that deal with this question. Physics of light thermodynamics considers such questions as the thermodynamic definition of life, how metabolism works, the thermodynamics of the origin of life, and the thermodynamics of ecology and community structure.

This is not your standard approach to physics.The course is not heavily mathematical, and is geared towards how biology exploits physics in the service of adaptation.

I assume that you have a basic background in high school physics and chemistry, as well as introductory level college biology.