Chapter 8: Implications for Everyday Systems

Section 5: Fundamental Issues in Biology

Analogies with thermodynamics

Over the past century there have been a number of attempts to connect the development of complexity in biological systems with the increase of entropy in thermodynamic systems. In fact, when it was first introduced the very term "entropy" was supposed to suggest an analogy with biological evolution. But despite this, no detailed correspondence between thermodynamics and evolution has ever been forthcoming. However, my statement here that complexity in biology can occur because natural selection cannot control complex behavior is rather similar to my statement in Chapter 9 that entropy can increase because physical experiments in a sense also cannot control complex behavior.

From Stephen Wolfram: A New Kind of Science [citation]