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My other answer was a bit flip, and doesn't really address your
argument. Let me give a more thoughtful response:
> > I think that you are confused about candle flames. I would call a
> > candle flame a system far from thermodynamic equilibrium.
> And I would disagree with you: Compare a living thing (LT)
> with a candle flame (CF):
> LT: It takes in nutrients (chemicals and energy in some form), and
> rebuilds the chemicals to be more like its own pre-existing material
> than like the nutrients were before being converted. These converted
> chemicals, as well as the pre-existing material within the living
> thing, are all very far from equilibrium in the sense of being very
> unlikely patterns of atoms that would never occur by chance even if
> exactly the correct proportions of atoms were tossed into a mixing
> chamber together.
> Although there is increase of entropy in the
> environment, in order for the living thing to obtain usable energy in
> order to perform work in chemosynthesis, there is no significant
> increase of entropy in the chemicals being taken in as nutrients nor in
> the chemicals originally present in the living thing.
Trying to separate out an "increase in entropy" in "the chemicals"
(taken in or already present) strikes me as impossible. You can
only measure an increase in entropy in the system as a whole. The
"chemicals" you refer to are continuously being consumed and recreated.
> So long as the
> thing is alive, it maintains its internal chemical mix very far from
> equilibrium, in a relatively constant pattern which is grossly
> improbable for molecules tossed together at random.
> CF: It takes in nutrients, into a plasma, whereby everything is broken
> down into mere atoms or very simple multi-atom ions, and chemical
> reactions are allowed to run uncontrolled towards chemical and thermal
You may be onto something with that "uncontrolled". But all chemical